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Gawler Main Street Walking Tour

Home > Adelaide > Places of Interest | Historic Houses | Free | Day Trips | Walks
by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published September 16th 2015
Exploring Light's vision of a grand main street
It was 1839 and Colonel William Light's vision for Gawler was slowly becoming apparent, the vision of a settlement that could prosper on the banks of the North and South Para Rivers bounded by rolling hills and within close proximity to Adelaide. At the centre of this vision was a Main Street that would prosper and thrive on the agricultural, mining and industrial booms that would arise during the 19th century and beyond.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Gawler Bunyip Building - Steve Hudson


It is now 175 years on and Light's vision is largely intact with Gawler's Main Street fast becoming a cosmopolitan centre in this nearby regional town while retaining the heritage and history that made the town what it is. To reflect and celebrate, the Gawler Council have pulled together a tour of the Main Street and the buildings which have helped contribute to its being.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Old Post Office - Steve Hudson


The tour starts adjacent at Pioneer Park adjacent the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, where you can pick up brochures for this tour, the Church Hill Walking Tour and the Gawler Town Drive 10. Pioneer Park was originally planned to be the town cemetery but the growth of the town saw that plan scuttled in favour of a pleasant park where the community can gather and reflect on major achievements of the town's folk.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Pioneer Park - Steve Hudson


One such achievement was that of John McKinlay, whose memorial outside the Park notes that he led the expedition in 1861 to search for the ill-fated Burke and Wills. Meanwhile across the road is a memorial to Charles Sturt who passed through Gawler in 1844 en-route to explore Central Australia.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
McKinlay Memorial - Steve Hudson


The Bunyip building is home to the Bunyip newspaper, a local paper that has been in continuous production since 1863. Next door is Essex House, a building that has been synonymous with drapery, general merchandise and fashion since the 1880's. A quick look inside and you can see one of the last examples of a flying fox money carrier, the only other such one I have seen is at Emily's Bistro in Quorn.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Essex House - Steve Hudson


Further down the street, the Italianate villa style ANZ Bank building stands tall alongside the Gawler Institute, Gawler Town Hall and NAB Building. Perhaps it was the nearby Golden Fleece Hotel or the Kingsford Hotel that has helped, but it is a credit to the town that each of the buildings remains in existence today, and in operations in some form.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
NAB Building - Steve Hudson


At the end of the Main Street is Dead Man's Pass. Many theories exist in respect of the naming of this pass, but the most common one is that Light and his survey team stumbled across a dead man's body lying near a tree when they began surveying this area. There are no dead bodies there today, but rather a bitumenised walking trail that runs the length of the rivers through the town, and joins up to the Jack Bobridge Track heading towards the Barossa Valley.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Deadman's Pass - Steve Hudson


Following the river back towards town we pass the former Waterworks Building, the Gas Works and the Union Mill Complex before entering the popular Apex Park. With playgrounds, bathroom and cooking facilities scattered amongst some magnificent Moreton Bay Fig trees, this is the place to be when picnicking in Gawler.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Moreton Bay Fig Trees - Steve Hudson
Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Apex Park - Steve Hudson
 


Continuing along the river trail and we pass a statue of John Martin, the father figure of Gawler who founded the largest engineering and agricultural implement manufacturing establishment in SA. At the height of the industrial revolution Martin was manufacturing trains, tractors and also anything else that moved.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
James Martin - Steve Hudson


Beyond the statue and a short detour along Tod Street sees the magnificent Methodist Hall, Tortola House with its exquisite iron lace work fence, the Uniting Church and the former Undertaker's premises at 1 Tod Street on the corner of the Main Street. The tour ends back on the Main Street opposite a number of cafes and bakeries where good coffee is a key ingredient of a good day out, and where the Java Hut always attracts a strong crowd.

Gawler Main Street Walking Tour, Pioneer Park, Deadmans Pass, Murray Street, Gawler, Java Hut, Bunyip Newspaper
Java Hut - Steve Hudson


The Main Street Walking Tour is just over 2km long, and takes around an hour to complete. Further details are available from the Gawler Visitor Information Centre or from their website.
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Why? Historical look at an old town
When: Any time
Where: Gawler, South Australia
Cost: Free
Your Comment
I love historical walking tours. Must keep this one in mind necxt time in SA.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6154) 1154 days ago
Nice pictures Steve:)
by Maria M (score: 2|661) 1154 days ago
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