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8 Prominent South Australians Buried in North Road Cemetery

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by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at www.facebook.com/Down-to-Earth-Tours-1491827191071798/
Published October 11th 2016
Silent Sentinels to our past
Tucked in away behind busy Main North Road at Nailsworth is a substantial place for the deceased, called North Road Cemetery, some 7.3 hectares or 18 acres in size and established in 1853.

Unless you have loved ones interred at a particular cemetery, normally it is not front of mind for a place to visit, however the North Road Cemetery contains the plots of many former prominent South Australians. A stroll around is like re-visiting the 'who's who', revealing many who have shaped the development of South Australia over the years.

The cemetery itself was established by South Australia's first Anglican bishop, Augustus Short, when he purchased four acres of land for ecclesiastical purposes. Originally intended for only members of the Church of England, since 1989 the cemetery has been open to all Christian denominations.

On my visit to the historic cemetery, I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer size of the site and wondered how I would be able to locate any of the prominent South Australians read about over the years. The only clue to my exploration and findings was a map hanging on the wall of the office of the curator, together with some verbal instructions by him, and a wave of his hand in the general direction of the historic part of the cemetery.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
Formidable family memorial


The graves of 8 Prominent South Australians that I discovered on my wanderings included:

1. Daisy Bates

Daisy Bates was well known for her welfare work amongst Aboriginals as well as being an anthropologist back in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. It was also believed she married the renowned Boer War soldier, Harry "Breaker" Morant, although they were not together very long.

Daisy was never afraid to endure harsh conditions living amongst the Aboriginal people, so as to discover first-hand their plight and stories. She recorded much in the way of language, myth, religion and kinship about the Aboriginals and much of her work was published in newspapers and sent to the Commonwealth National Library in Canberra.

Highlighting the plight and conditions that some of the Aboriginal people faced helped prompt the government to start looking at improved medical as well as child care.

Daisy died in an aged care facility aged 87 in 1951.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
Daisy Bates Memorial


2. Edward Meade Bagot

Think of the Bagot family and the discovery of copper up at Kapunda in the mid north during the 1840's comes to mind, as Edward Bagot's father, Charles, discovered copper in the area. Edward soon followed in the family tradition and worked as both grass-captain and accountant at the mines, also gaining pastoral experience.

In 1850 Edward became a director of the South Kapunda mine and bought up pastoral properties near and on the River Murray as well as acreage at Beefacres in Adelaide. In the 1870's Ned (as he was commonly known as) won a contract for construction of part of the Overland Telegraph (the section between Port Augusta and north of Lake Eyre).

As well as Ned's pastoral pursuits and subsequent expansion, he also invested heavily in Northern Territory gold mines during the 1870's. With sheep from his pastoral stations, Bagot also started up a boiling down works at Thebarton, which in one year handled over 70,000 sheep. The manufacture of the meat became known as "Bagots", however it was not as successful as first thought, as the meat unfortunately acquired a nick-name of "maggots", which for some reason put people off purchasing the product.

Tragically Ned left home one day and failed to return, and after a long search by police, his body was found in a quarry at Yatala. The year was 1886 and Ned was 63 years of age.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
Edward (Ned) Bagot Memorial


3. Dr John Woodforde

Dr Woodforde, upon migration to South Australia on the survey ship "The Rapid" in 1836, accompanied by Colonel William Light, became South Australia's first colonial surgeon and set up practice soon after in Adelaide.

The good doctor became Coroner of Adelaide in the 1850's for a ten year period and was the fifth doctor ever registered with the medical board. Woodforde lived for some time at Belmont House, on Palmer Place at North Adelaide.

Dr Woodforde died at the age of 56 in 1866.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
Dr John Woodforde plaque


4. George Charles Hawker

George Hawker was well known as a member of a family succeeding in pastoral activity around South Australia, having arrived originally in 1840. George soon gained a love of this country, having surveyed up north with the renowned explorer, Edward John Eyre.

Having found good water up at Bungaree, in the mid north of the colony, the Hawker family leased 500,000 acres, with George eventually purchasing some 130,000 acres and running hardy and large framed sheep, capable of walking long distances to water.

Hawker also entered politics representing Victoria in the House of Assembly as well as North Adelaide. In the 1880's Hawker visited India to study irrigation methods, with some of those findings published upon his return in "The Register".

Having fathered 15 children, George, together with his family, established himself at a home in Medindie, where George died in 1895, aged 77 years.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
George Hawker Memorial


5. Frederick George Scarfe

The name might ring a bell - yes, it is the same Scarfe who was part of the iconic department store, Harris Scarfe, formed back in the 1860's.

George Scarfe, as he was known, had started up an ironmongery in Port Adelaide in 1855, then moving his business to premises in Hindley Street, Adelaide in the 1860's. It was during this period that George Harris and Scarfe formed a partnership, and as they say, the rest is history.

Today Harris Scarfe still continues to operate, despite going into receivership in 2001. It was bought by South African retail group, Pepkor.

George Scarfe died in 1903.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
Frederick George Scarfe memorial


6. Richard Schomburgk

Believed to be the man responsible for transforming the Adelaide Botanic Gardens from a sterile waste into one of the most beautiful spots in South Australia, Schomburgk was appointed curator of this fine green space back in the 1860's.

Some of his achievements during his tenure included opening the rosery and experimental gardens as well as the Palm House, a herbarium and a museum of Economic Botany. Schomburgk also introduced a phylloxera- resistant vine, and some of his newly introduced grasses were able to withstand severe drought.

In 1891 Schomburgk reported that he had increased the number of known South Australian plant species within the gardens from 5,000 to almost 14,000, a massive increase which saw the whole complex flourish.

Schomburgk died at the age of 79 in his house located within the grounds of the Botanic Gardens, in 1891.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
Schomburgk Headstone


7. William Ranson Mortlock

The Mortlock family were wealthy pastoralists who established themselves in the mid-north of South Australia back in the mid 1800's. William started out in the flour milling business and expanded into pastoral pursuits with properties being acquired around Port Lincoln back in the 1840's.

William then gained leases around the Pichi Richi area, Mt Arden and Yudnapinna, in total running around 100,000 sheep. William also entered politics and represented Flinders in the House of Assembly for a combined total of around 12 years.

His son, Andrew Tennant Mortlock eventually bought Martindale Hall near Mintaro in the mid-north from the Bowman family.

William died at his home in Medindie in 1884, aged 63 years.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
William Mortlock Gravesite


8. Charles Rasp

The beginnings of the giant BHP in Broken Hill can be attributed to Charles Rasp, a German emigrant who arrived in Australia back in 1869 as the result of a serious lung weakness. It was hoped that a warmer climate would improve his health.

Having worked in several roles initially, Charles jumped on the bandwagon of seeking to discover more silver, which had been found around the Broken Hill/Silverton area.

In 1883, Charles staked the first block on the "Broken Hill", which he thought was a mountain of tin. A syndicate of seven was formed and the whole ridge was pegged. Each member subscribed 70 pounds to the unregistered Broken Hill Mining Company and paid 1 pound a week towards working the claim.

It took a few months until, to their surprise, silver was discovered at the site, in 1885 and therein was born the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. Within 5 years Charles had made a fortune and moved with his family to Adelaide and lived at Medindie, also investing in Western Australian mines.

Charles died at his home in 1907 from a heart attack at the age of 60 years.

8 Prominent South Australians buried in North Road Cemetery
Charles Rasp gravesite


These are but a few of the prominent citizens lying peacefully in the North Road Cemetery. You'll be surprised by who you might come across on a wandering through this site.

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Why? An opportunity to view some of our prominent South Australian burial sites
When: Any time of the year
Phone: 08 8344 1051
Where: North Road Cemetery
Cost: Free
Your Comment
What an interesting article, Graeme - the family memorial in your first pic is very impressive!
by Elaine (score: 3|6760) 1128 days ago
The article on the North Road Cemetery was fantastic. Many of my ancestors are buried there (mostly along the back fence). Great that people like you are interested and keeping our history "alive",
Kirsty Mortlock
by kamor (score: 1|14) 1120 days ago
Fascinating, thanks!
by jellybean (score: 1|50) 1122 days ago
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