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Published July 13th 2015
175 years old and getting better all the time
From a history of being South Australia's first country town, Gawler is a proud and popular centre built around two natural river corridors and some significant built environments. First surveyed in 1839, and a major contributor towards the State, Gawler's history saw it declared as a State Heritage Area in 1985.
The self-guided Gawler Town Drive (Tourist Drive 10) reflects on those significant formative years of Gawler, it contribution to the north of Adelaide, and its emergence in to a major regional centre just under an hour north of Adelaide. The drive starts at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre in the middle of town, where tourist information can be found about not only Gawler, but also most of significant tourist centres in SA.
The tourist drive initially heads towards Gawler East where we pass the old Hutchinson Hospital (1913) and some old horse stables (1869) which have been converted in to a dance studio. Gawler East, on the top of the hill, has been one of the later developed areas of Gawler, and we pass some newer houses that have appeared on some subdivided blocks or in new subdivisions overlooking the South Para River.
Trevu House (1868) was the original home of James Martin, one of Gawler's and SA leading industrialists and community leaders, often known as "The Father of Gawler". Around the corner is the stately home of Martin's nephew, JF Martin. This home, known as Martindale, is architecturally significant for the way in which it reflects the large residences of the time. While near the main street of Gawler is the historic James Martin & Co manufacturing facility, where many steam locomotives were built from 1888 onwards. Today the facility forms part of a unique shopping complex.
Heading south, the drive passes over the South Para River, and brings visitors to a famous area known as Dead Man's Pass. Legend has it that Colonel Light and his Surveying crew discovered a body in a tree when surveying this area. Today the area is home to a picnic area, park, and a walking trail alongside the river.
Gawler South is next up, and the Wintulichs smallgoods factory is on Hill Street. Open daily, Wintulichs is one of the last remaining smallgoods manufacturers in the northern / Barossa region. The drive continues past the large city-like Gawler Racecourse. Home to the Gawler and Barossa Cups, the racecourse has many popular mid-week events. Today, in an effort to maximise land usage, portions of the racecourse have been sold to developers with retails outlets appearing towards the south.
The heritage listed Gawler Railway Station is next on the drive. This old building now sees use as a Community Gallery and Kiosk, with the majority of rail related services being automated. The Steam Locomotive reflects some of the forms of transport seen by the residents of Gawler over the years. Further west of the Station is the Old Gatehouse of Para Para, another beautiful historic mansion which was the former home of Walter Duffield, a renowned pastoralist and Member of Parliament.
Heading north and the momentous Sunnybrae appears on a crest. This building was formerly the home of Frederick May, the owner of a foundry that operated near the Gawler Station. The drive continues past a number of sporting facilities including Prince's Park, Gawler Sport and Recreation Centre, Skate Park and the Petanque Club. The Gawler Primary School (1878) is a well maintained and still operational building overlooking the sports complexes.
King Street in the centre of Gawler is one of the originally tenanted streets of Gawler with many houses remaining in near original form. The former Eagle Foundry has changed internally in that it is now a B&B, but the external fašade looks unchanged. The magnificent residence known as Hemingby stands across three blocks, and is the former home of Headmaster Burton, who served across several public and private schools in Gawler.
Heading north, the drive takes visitors through the industrial estate of Willaston, past the Willaston Football Club and to the base of the Airforce Cadets 608 Squadron before continuing along Dawkins Avenue to the Willaston Cemetery. Many of Gawler's founders were laid to rest in this cemetery, and just inside the entrance there are a series of headstones from Pioneer Park, which was the original burial site in town.
The drive returns back to town via Main North Road, and Clonlea Park which is where the Reid family, one of Gawler's pioneering families first built a home in 1839. The "end of the line" appears on your right for the Gawler line which terminates at the Gawler Central Station, and just behind the supermarket which occupies the building previously used as the Albion Mill. Across the road is the Pioneer Park, with the McKinlay Memorial, which marks the end of Tourist Drive.
Tourist Drive 10 is approximately 22 kilometres, and takes around an hour to complete. Brochures are available from the Visitor Information Centre at the start of the Barossa Valley Way, or online at their website. Alternatively, the self-guided is well signposted with many "10" signs throughout, which makes it hard to get lost.
Very good article again Steve.Gawler,so often overlooked as a tourist destination in it's own right.King st. may be the street I have been searching for,when I visit there again.I just remember a street near the centre of town that I liked,for it's olde world charm.Maybe I will catch a train from the city,to have a walk around in the near future.Church Hill,is another area I recall, with the Catholic and Anglican Churches each other.And so many old pubs in the town..it must have been a pretty lively place,way back in the town's early days.I just wonder if one of these days,you will convert all these historical trips into a book..it would make a wonderful gift/home library addition and an educational read for new and old South Australians.I have a feeling you have almost covered the state by now,but no doubt,you still have some surprises up your sleeve.