Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
Published December 13th 2014
Peace and tranquilty with Riverton's pioneers
I might have missed a visit to Riverton's Pioneer Garden if that rabbit hadn't caught my eye. It is peeping out from behind some agapanthus, its black eyes wide. I enter the garden from Torrens Road (Barrier Highway) through an arch framed by stone walls. I step carefully on the gravel path, tiptoeing like a guilty child on Christmas morning, so as not to spook the rabbit. Then I notice the bricks at the path's edge, four deep and many with names upon them.
This is the site of Riverton's first cemetery. An information panel and commemoration plaques touch briefly on its history. The garden is a scattered assortment of shrubbery, flowers and trees. Agapanthus, lavender, yellow daisies and white roses bloom beneath mature trees. A park bench just off the path is framed by blooms. There is another, shaded by a large tree in an area circled by stones. I can imagine sitting here in this peaceful place, reading the paper or listening to birdsong. The rabbit hops past the tree and under a wire fence to the adjoining property. Three more join it as it flees
Originally consecrated as an Anglican cemetery in 1855, this was the final resting place of Riverton's pioneers until 1906 when 86 year old Mary Plew was the last person to be buried here. In the rear of the gardens, at the Frederick Place entrance, some of the headstones have been preserved, like that of Elizabeth Sheply, who married young and passed away on 21st September 1856 at only 19 years of age. I can only wonder at what hardship she may have endured, the headstone gives no clue. Records show 93 children were buried here and it is believed an additional 25 were interred without record.
Headstones preserved at the Frederick Place entrance to the garden
To commemorate the pioneers who founded the district, the gardens were redeveloped in 1956 as part of Riverton's centenary celebrations. In 2006, to celebrate the 150 year jubilee, the engraved pavers were laid to honour those people who made a difference in the community. If this history piques your interest, pay a visit to the Local History, Family Research and Information Centre at 21 Torrens Road which is open between 11am and 3pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Pioneer Garden is at 4 Torrens Road (Barrier Highway) Riverton. It is sandwiched between a private art studio built in 1872 as the Parish Hall and St. Matthews Lutheran Church, built in 1874 as the Bible Christian Church.
The Garden can be accessed from both Torrens Road and Frederick Place. Free on street parking is available in both. Entry to the garden is free.
There are public toilets at the Riverton Council Offices at 21 Torrens Street, (open Monday to Friday 6am to 8pm), at the Community Hall on the corner of Elizabeth and Torrens Street (Open 24 hours) and at the Duck Ponds (Gilbert River Park) in Oxford Terrace (open 24 hours).
Riverton is in the Gilbert Valley, around 100kms from the Adelaide CBD.
Time to revisit Riverton I think - lovely town, many shady green trees, which I love (rural SA towns are sometimes too bare of trees for me).
Interesting old homes and gardens around by the old railway station.
Robert Hannaford, an incredible award winning portrait artist lives nearby - his work is known and loved worldwide.
I'll watch for the birds on our visit.