Welcome!

Welcome to the blog of the Pioneers Association of South Australia Incorporated.

The Pioneers Association of South Australia Incorporated was founded in 1935 and has the following principal objectives:

  • To perpetuate the memory of the pioneers of early settlement in South Australia.
  • To establish and maintain a faithful record of the pioneers for the benefit of present and future generations.
  • To encourage the preservation of records, portraits, relics and historical materials associated with pioneer settlement.
  • To promote awareness and knowledge of South Australian history.
  • To affiliate with any other organisation with objectives similar to those of  the Association.
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Giles Abbott & Sarah Bews: from North Adelaide hoteliers to Middleton land owners

This is one of the posters created for the 2014 SA History Month display presented by the Pioneers Association of SA.

02 Abbott & Bews APPROVED

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Junior Pioneers ‘do time’ at the Adelaide Gaol

On Saturday 26 October our Junior Pioneers visited the historic Adelaide Gaol. There were fifty of us altogether including Junior Pioneers, their family and friends, grandparents and Pioneer members. On our arrival, finger prints and mug shots were taken and then we divided into two groups for intensive guided tours of the Gaol. Our time at the Gaol finished with afternoon tea and a range of learning activities. It was with a sense of relief that we all managed to escape.

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The following two reports from Riley and Tessa (Pioneer member Jill Davy’s grand daughters) describe their thoughts on our Junior Pioneers ‘doing time’ at the Adelaide Gaol.

from Riley Pahl….

The tour of the Old Adelaide Gaol gave me an insight to the lives of the prisoners, that I would have never known. During the tour, I was surprised at the information the guide told us. I learnt all about the conditions the prisoners put up with, and just how little you had to do, to be but in the gaol. A theft of only two pieces of fruit, and a six week sentence would set you straight.

Discovering about the food that was served at the goal, may have put you slightly off your appetite, yet learning about the horrible circumstances, was engaging.

If the prisoners were too fed up with the little amount of water, disgusting food and small cells, it was almost impossible to escape. I never knew about the loose bricks on top of the walls, that were there to make the prisoners fall, if somehow they reached the top. They were called honeycomb bricks, as the wall would hold their weight, yet not be secured down, so they would easily fall and crumble.

To end the tour, we had our own afternoon tea (luckily not what the prisoners ate!). I was intrigued by the day, and left knowing more than I thought I would find out. On the whole, I am pleased that I was able to come to this day at the goal.

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from Tessa Pahl….

I thoroughly enjoyed our fascinating tour through the old Adelaide Gaol. It was an aspect of Adelaide`s history I had never considered. I found that the gaol itself and its history reflected important parts of South Australia`s settlement. We were toured right around the gaol and saw the many buildings added as the gaol became bigger and more modern. It was amazing to see the elaborate hanging towers which almost sent the state broke so close to a plain fibreglass meeting chamber which looked almost out of place! I loved the many tales our guide told us, which I would never had learnt on a self-guided tour.

The guides were fantastic and really knew the gaol inside out. Quirky facts such as the ease at which contraband items could pass into the gaol and the beautiful rose garden in the centre, were very interesting and really contrasted with the rules of today`s prison structures. I was also able to appreciate just how horrific the conditions would have been, particularly in summer with poor water systems and absolutely no airconditioning! Overall an intriguing tour which I was glad to have been a part of.

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Bus Trip to Historical Strathalbyn

WEDNESDAY 16 OCTOBER

Strath Group

Parking our cars at the Torrens Parade Ground we boarded the bus on a sunny but windy day and headed for Strathalbyn via the Freeway and Mount Barker. Pam Stace stood in for husband Bob who was indisposed at the last minute and she and others pointed out aspects of historical interest along the way.

We pulled up at the Strathalbyn Heritage Centre where after an initial welcome and introduction to proceedings, we enjoyed a lovely morning tea outside in a sunny courtyard besides the old police station cells. The centre had originally been the local Courthouse and Police Station which dated back to the 1850s.
Some of our members then viewed a collection of historical costumes and others joined a local volunteer to look at the outdoor displays. Later there was a demonstration of the extensive array of farming equipment. Some of us were a bit taken aback when we glanced into the prisoners’ toilet to find it “occupied”!

Lunch followed at the nearby historic Victoria Hotel. It was a very nice lunch in a pleasant dining area and the proprietor gave us an interesting talk on the early days of the Hotel and some news of some unconfirmed ghost sightings. We boarded the bus again and headed for the old High Street where some of us had a stroll while others, with the help of Ken Jacobs, checked out some of the many nearby antique shops.

A short drive took us the historic Glenbarr Homestead which had been the home of the pioneering Rankin family from the early 1840s. We broke into three groups and volunteers led us around the property pointing out its historical features. As we strolled from room to room and up and down stairs we shuddered at the very basic old bathrooms and admired the quaint old furniture. After a quick look at the extensive grounds we returned to Adelaide via Macclesfield, Echunga and Hahndorf.

It had been a very pleasant day’s outing.

Report by Dympthia Bailey

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2013 PASA Special General Meeting and Annual General Meeting

Two important meetings were held by the Pioneers Association of South Australia at the Burnside Community Centre on the evening of Monday 30 September 2013.

Special General Meeting??????????????????????
This meeting of members, which preceded the AGM, considered and then approved amendments to our Association’s constitution which will allow for the use of postal and proxy voting at future general meetings. As a result of the vote taken, members who cannot be present at future general meetings, will now be able to use postal voting to elect Council members and proxy voting to contribute to the general decision making at these meetings. Copies of the amended constitution can be obtained from the PASA Office.

Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting attended to the usual annual reports including the audited Financial Statement and the 2013 Presidents Report.

The following members had been nominated for membership of the Council and were duly elected: Sue Coppin, Jill Davy, Peter Dunn, Judith Francis, Ken Jacobs, Warren Lewis, Rose Miller, Jenny Neill, Di Skull, Pam Skurray, and Bob Stace. [Peter Brinkworth has since been co-opted as an additional member]

Guest Speaker Kay Whitehead with Treasurer  Di Skull

Guest Speaker Kay Whitehead with Treasurer Di Skull

Our guest speaker for the evening was Professor Kay Whitehead of the Flinders University who spoke on the topic of, “Mrs Hillier begs to inform the Public of Adelaide that she has opened a school”. Kay’s illustrated and well researched presentation focussed on education and schooling in the early years of colonial settlement in South Australia and highlighted the role played by Jane Hillier who opened a school for young ladies in Currie St in 1838 and was a pioneer educator. We learnt of the Hillier family history, the social history of the time and the changes which took place in private and public education which led to the Education Act of 1851 and culminated in the formal commencement of State Education in the 1870s. It was a most enjoyable and informative presentation. An abbreviated version of Kay’s talk will be published in a future edition of the Pioneer Journal.

An enjoyable supper and convivial chat ended a productive and interesting evening.

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Off to the Park for the Annual Dinner

. His Excellency, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, Governor of South Australia and Patron of PASA with Bill Corey.

. His Excellency, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, Governor of South Australia and Patron of PASA with Bill Corey.


PASA members and their guests were joined by our Patron, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce , Governor of South Australia, at the Adelaide Pavilion in the Veale Gardens for our Annual Dinner on Friday 23 August. It was a very happy and convivial evening with members enjoying the company of each other and celebrating their past year’s membership of the Association. The food, setting and service at the Adelaide Pavilion were of a high standard and much appreciated by everyone. The floral arrangements of Ian Schomburgk’s camellias added a colourful touch of early spring.

Our guest speaker, Patricia Sumerling, added to the parkland theme by speaking on the topic “Off to the Park; a social history of the Adelaide Parklands.”. Patricia gave us a brief illustrated overview of the historical evolution of the Parklands and then a more detailed look at the development of the Veale Gardens.

Council member Warren Lewis proposing the toast to "Australia"

Council member Warren Lewis proposing the toast to “Australia”


PASA Council members Warren Lewis and Jenny Neill proposed the traditional toasts to “Australia” and to the “Pioneers Association of South Australia and our pioneer forebears” and this was followed by the hearty singing of “Advance Australia Fair” and the “Song of Australia”. President Bob Stace presented a brief illustrated overview of the highlights of the past year. A floral presentation was made to members Liz Mitton and Sally Porter in recognition of their leadership and organisation of our Junior Pioneer events over the past decade.
Liz Mitton and Sally Porter: presented with flowers in recognition of their leadership of the Junior Pioneers.

Liz Mitton and Sally Porter: presented with flowers in recognition of their leadership of the Junior Pioneers.


There was much happy chatter and interaction in evidence throughout what was a very enjoyable evening and another successful Annual Dinner.

Report by Bob Stace

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AUGUST LUNCHEON: Five Creeks of the Adelaide Plain

TCreekhe five creeks to the east of Adelaide which have their source in the Mt Lofty Ranges and discharge  into the River Torrens are an integral part of the topography of this area and their location played an important part in the early settlement  of this region after 1836.

PASA member Chris Durrant presented his research into the early naming of these creeks and rivulets at the August luncheon. Most of us today are aware of the rather bland naming of these creeks from First through to Fifth Creek, but few are aware that in the first few years of settlement they were recorded on some maps as Green Hill, Hallett, Todd, Anstey and Ormsby.

Chris spent most of his very interesting presentation describing how these creeks got their early names . The naming of the Green Hill Rivulet  (now First Creek), which flows from Green Hill and out of Waterfall Gully, is self evident.

It appears the Hallett Rivulet (now Second Creek) was named after John Hallett (1804-1868) who was a wealthy London merchant who came to South Australia in the Africaine in 1836. As one of his early business enterprises in the Colony , Hallett established a dairy farm in the vicinity of this rivulet; hence its early name.

The Anstey Rivulet (now Fourth Creek) also received its name from an early settler in the area. George Anstey (1814-1873) had arrived from Van Diemen’s Land with a flock of sheep on the Tamar in March 1838 and by mid March 1838 had obtained land to the north of the Anstey Rivulet and established a sheep station there.

Chris surmised that the Ormsby Rivulet derived its name from George Ormsby (1814-1861) who was one of Light’s assistant surveyors who came on the Rapid. It is possible that it was Ormsby who first surveyed the district to the east of Adelaide where the rivulet flowed and Light may have bestowed recognition of him with the naming of the rivulet.

The naming of the Todd (now Third Creek) was much more of a mystery as there was no “Todd” in South Australia in the early days. Chris concluded that this rivulet was likely to have taken the name of James Ruddell Todd (1788-1852) who was a wealthy London merchant of Irish background with a long association with the South Australian Company. As an indication of his influence, Todd became Chairman of the Company in 1848 when G F Angas relinquished the position to emigrate to South Australia.

It appears from Chris’s research that the  naming  of the rivulets was promoted by Light on some of his early maps but that by 1840 these names  were giving way to the current rather bland nomenclature. Chris concluded that “in a State that prides itself on its heritage , it seems a pity that we have preferred to refer to our waterways in such a pedestrian fashion”.

Chris’s presentation to the August Pioneer Group Luncheon was a good example of how the research work of one PASA member into an aspect of the early pioneering years can be of considerable interest to those members who attend these meetings. A full transcript of Chris Durrant’s presentation is available from the PASA Office.

Report by Bob Stace

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The Coromandel Sails Again

Sixty members and guests enjoyed dinner at the Lyceum Club on Thursday 11 July when Brian Stace vividly re-created the story of the Coromandel, its crew, its passengers and its voyage of 1836/37. Brian, a retired lawyer who lives in Devonport Tasmania, is in the midst of researching the Coromandel as a follow up to his family research on his Great, Great Grandfather, Joseph Stace who was a passenger-emigrant on the ship. Brian used original source material and the language and voices of the day to recreate the events and people of the voyage and in so doing transport his audience back in time and place.

Presenter Brian Stace

Presenter Brian Stace

Brian’s presentation was in two parts. While we enjoyed our dinner in the dining room of the Lyceum Club, he took us back to the farewell dinner of August 1836 which was held in honour of the 156 passenger-emigrants who were about to embark on the voyage to South Australia. We learnt about the ship, its captain and crew, the passengers and the cargo, and were regaled with some of the speeches made at that original dinner. Colonel Torrens, speaking on behalf of the South Australian Commission, created excitement and anticipation for the young and married couples present when he announced that they would be going to ” a climate the most delightful and most healthful in the world” and that South Australia was to be “the land of mutual happiness”, where there will be “no solitary nights, no sour old bachelors whose hearts have never been touched by the delights and pleasures of domestic joy, and no disappointed melancholy maidens”. Mr Atwood MP was more sobering in his remarks when he reminded the passengers that they were “about to depart twelve thousand miles from your native shores, facing the storms and terrors of the sea for 3 months with only a single plank between you and death.”

Once our dinner was finished, we moved to the lounge area where Brian commenced his narration of the voyage from London to Holdfast Bay. Through the diaries and letters of the passengers and through official records and newspaper articles we learnt of life on board ship, of sea-sickness, the evening dancing on deck, regular church services, widespread cases of scurvy, the death of infants, the marriage of two young couples and extra time taken  in Cape Town to take on board fresh provisions and for the passengers to recuperate from their sickness. Even the “great fury’ of a storm in St Vincent Gulf was not enough to prevent the Coromandel reaching its destination at Holdfast Bay where several young men could contain their patience no longer, dived from the deck into the sea rather than wait for the boats to come and ferry them ashore.

Coromandel Descendants Group

Brian’s passion for his topic and his undoubted interest and knowledge of it, stirred the interest of his audience. Several commented that it was one of the most enjoyable, interesting and informative insights into these pioneer voyages that they had encountered. Anyone interested in contributing further to the story of the Coromandel can contact Brian through the PASA Office.

Report by Bob Stace

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