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Goolwa. Australia's first public railway carriage. On display in Goolwa. The Goolwa to Port Elliot horse railway opened in 1853. Work began on the railway in 1851. Carriage marked as SAR.

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posted by alias denisbin on Monday 1st of October 2018 11:08:48 PM

Goolwa. The Currency Creek Special Survey was taken out in 1839 by the Currency Creek Association based in England. Locally it was their agent Robert Wright who paid for it on behalf of about 30 men. The Currency Creek Association laid out a major town which they hoped would become the New Orleans of the South. It was after all on a good river, near a great lake and near the mouth of the mighty Murray River. Its location was similar to that of New Orleans which was at the mouth of the Mississippi in the USA. They named it after the local river- Currency Creek. They also laid out a much smaller port for the town which they called Goolwa. Currency Creek town covered 8 acres, Goolwa 2 acres. History would show they made the wrong decision as Goolwa prospered and Currency Creek withered! One of the early explorers of this region Young Hutchinson (who explored with Thomas Strangways) liked the area so much that he became a major landowner in Goolwa in 1856. Another explorer William Younghusband gave his name to the peninsula near the Murray Mouth. Although the town of Goolwa was laid out in 1840 sales were minimal until the Governor committed the state to developing Goolwa as a river port and Port Elliot as a coastal port for future riverboat trade up the Murray with a horse railway to connect the two. Work began on this £20,000 project in 1851. (An alternate plan to build a canal between the two at an estimated cost of £28,000 was not pursued by the government.) Apart from the Currency Creek Special Survey of 1839 the government also surveyed land along the proposed rail route to Port Elliot in 1849 making land available to buyers. The first land purchases in this region were made in 1849 at Middleton. But Governor Young’s dream of river trade up the Murray and a railway to Port Elliot were not generally popular. A newspaperman wrote in the SA Gazette and Mining Journal in 1851 “There is great difficulty in characterising Sir Henry Young's job "in terms polite". The Goolwa Railway, in the nostrils of the colonists, is odorous of assafoetida, and there are in their mouths, in common use, epithets reflecting upon his Excellency far more offensive than have ever yet appeared in print... Where are the produce, the population, the traffic of the Murray crowding the banks, and suffering for want of an outlet to a market? Why, a single bullock dray once a month will suffice to bring to Adelaide all its exportable produce for the next five years...” At Goolwa work proceeded and the government invested in the new port town with the construction of the Railway Superintendent’s house in 1852(first occupied in 1854) and the Goolwa wharf in 1852. But the town laid out by the Currency Creek Special Survey in 1840 was still almost non-existent. Its English names like Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street are now located in North Goolwa. The government surveyed a government town in 1853 next to the Currency Creek Survey town. The first commercial building in the new government town was the Goolwa Hotel (oldest single storey part) built in 1853 and the two storey section was added in 1865. In 1853 the Governor announced a prize of several thousand pounds for the first river boat to prove the Murray was navigable from Goolwa to Wentworth on the Darling River. The Governor and his wife and party journeyed with Captain Cadell. Meantime Captain Randell of Mannum also set off about the same time and the two boats raced to Wentworth. The friend of the Governor - Cadell picked up the prize money and Randell received nothing. But this river boat expedition was so important as it indicated a prosperous future and thus Goolwa began to emerge as a small town with the main street named Cadell after the famous riverboat captain. Next to the government town “Little Scotland” was subdivided into town blocks in 1854. Sales of more town blocks continued in 1855 followed by more in 1856 and some of the first buildings included the bow fronted general store in the Main Street near the old horse tram museum (around 1860), the first Post office 1857(now the Visitor Information Centre), the Police station and Courthouse 1859, the Customs House 1859, the former Australasian Hotel 1857(closed 1934) and the Corio Hotel also 1857 were erected in the fledgling town. Land speculators could see a future for Goolwa and they also began to purchase blocks of land. The first residential stone cottages were erected around 1857 although Highlands House, just a small cottage, was erected in Goolwa in 1853. Goolwa prospered in the 1860s and 1870s when significant development occurred. One of the finest private buildings of this period from 1860 to 1880 was what is now known as Rose Eden House. This grand two storey Italianate house was built in 1876 with some wrought iron lacework and an upper veranda. It was built for the town school headmaster Mr Phillip Hill who must have run a private school in the town as well as the government school, of which he was headmaster. The government school did not open until 1879. But Mr Hill was a headmaster from 1873 of the town school. He became headmaster of the state school after the passing of the 1875 Education Act. It is claimed that he accommodated school boarders in this large house so that they could attend the Goolwa government school from 1879. Hill left the town of Goolwa in 1884 and the property which was known as Hygiene House was sold by him in 1886. It changed hands several times before it was purchased by the SA government in 1913 as a residence for the headmaster of Goolwa Primary School. It served that purpose until sold by the Education Department in 1973. In 2005 it was restored and re-opened as luxury bed and breakfast accommodation with the new name of Rose Eden House. Other fine structures of this 1860 to 1890 era are: •Thomas Goode’s General Store next to the Goolwa Hotel was built in 1860 and then rebuilt in classical style in 1884. Thomas Goode was the first Post Master of Goolwa in 1857. •the former Bank of South Australia (1872). •the Holy Evangelist Anglican church was built in 1867, with the tower added in 1905. But the church was surrounded in controversy as the Governor gave a free land grant in 1855 for the church to be erected. •the town morgue behind the Courthouse 1883. •the first part of the Institute opened in 1878. That was the rear part of the current building in a very different style. The Town Hall (now the Alexandrina Council Chamber/Library) was added to the Institute in 1907 facing onto Cadell Street. It was later doubled in size when a matching room was added to the 1907 one. •the superb Gothic state school built in 1879. The first town school began in Goolwa in 1855. • the figurehead from the wreck of the Mozambique on the roof line of the Goolwa Hotel. The 403 ton barque Mozambique was built in 1832. It was wrecked off the Coorong in 1854 on a voyage from London to Melbourne. The 22 crew and 24 passengers were all saved but one died from the experience. •the magnificent ceiling paintings in the Corio Hotel dining room (The Great Yankee Doodle Tobacco mural). •the original railway station(1872) now an opportunity shop is beside public toilet block near the town rotunda. The railway station was moved to the Goolwa wharf after 1884 when steam trains started operating through to Adelaide. The old yards were converted to a park, now known as the Soldiers’ Memorial Park. •Highlands House in Goyder Street built in 1853. It is probably the oldest residence in Goolwa still in use. The early churches of Goolwa apart from the Anglican Church include the Congregational Church built in 1859 which is now a dental practice office but it was also used as a Catholic Church from 1896 to 1961. The Wesleyan Methodist Church was built in 1861 with transepts added in 1881 and the Goolwa Church of Christ was built in 1905. The Anglican Church was surrounded in some controversy as without any real authority Governor MacDonnell donated a town block to the Anglican Church in 1855. This was against state policy as it was favouring the Anglican Church as an established church. But the Premier of the day Boyle Finniss put some political spin on it and said the Governor had the right to grant one of the government reserves in Goolwa to the Anglican Church. The local Congregational Minister Reverend Newland of Encounter Bay disputed this and rightly objected but to no avail. The newspapers were flooded with letters of objection. The fine stone Goolwa flourmill was totally demolished in the 1920s. Edward Dutton had a brewery at Goolwa for some years from 1864 to 1879. Shipbuilding as in river boats and repairs was a major industry in Goolwa but few of these structures remain as they were usually iron and timber and relatively temporary. One of the main companies repairing and building boats was the Goolwa Foundry and Iron Works and Abraham Graham’s Patent Slip and Iron Works established in 1864. Abraham Graham owned Graham’s Castle etc. Ten river barges or steamers were made at Goolwa between 1853 and 1859. Many more followed. Among the many paddle steamers built in Goolwa were the PS Industry (number two) in 1911, the government owned vessel named Prince Alfred (1867), the Canberra - a diesel paddle steamer built late in 1912 and well known paddle steamers such as the Eureka, the Goolwa, the Avoca, the Darling, the Wentworth, the Queen, the Miriam, the Express, the Princess Royal, the Cadell, the Victor, the Kookaburra, the Renmark, etc. Around 60 paddle steamers and barges were constructed in Goolwa with the last completed in 1912. Once the river boat traffic declined Goolwa was left with little industry or employment but this changed in the 1930s when the construction of the Murray River Mouth barrages began. Physical work started in 1935 but preliminary work had started earlier. The five barrages were completed in 1940. They were designed to maintain the river levels between Goolwa and Lock One at Blanchetown and to keep the salt water from the Southern Ocean and the Coorong out of the Murray River channels to Lake Alexandrina. Basically the barrages keep lakes Alexandrina and Albert free of salt so that the water is usable by cattle &stock. The five barrages total 7.6 kms. Graham’s Castle/Nelcoongal. Abraham Graham arrived at Port Adelaide in 1853 and then spent a couple of years at the Victorian goldfields looking for a fortune. He returned to South Australia and decided to make money from the gold diggers of Victoria who wanted to buy goods carried by steamer up the Murray River. So he looked at opportunities in Goolwa from where river steamers plied the waters of the Murray River up to Echuca. From there goods were transported overland to the goldfields of Mt Alexander and Bendigo. In 1858 Abraham Graham was appointed as Manager of the River Murray Navigation Company offices in Goolwa. After his arrival in Goolwa he purchased 31 acres of land and in 1863 he built a classical style house called Nelcoongal which the locals referred to as Graham’s Castle. It was on Goolwa Hill and built into the hill and from the flat roof Abraham Graham could watch the shipping along the coast or in the port of Goolwa. The walls of the house were two feet thick and composed of Goolwa limestone. He stayed in Nelcoongal for only a few years before he built Mill Cottage in the centre of Goolwa. Later in 1885 Abraham Graham built a grander house on the Port Elliot Road which he called Burrang and Graham’s Castle was sold. Apart from managing the offices of the Murry River Navigation Company Graham established the Graham’s Iron Works and (boat) Slip in 1864. This company built paddle steamers, barges engines and boilers for the river craft. Graham closed that business in 1886 after he had built Burrang and after the new railway line between Mt Barker Junction and Goolwa had opened thus impacting upon the Murray River traffic and business. In its heyday the Goolwa Works had employed 30 to 40 men. Only the old Chart Room remains of what was once an extensive barge and steamer building foundry and slip. The last of the major machinery and engines were sold to the Chaffey Brothers irrigation scheme at Renmark in 1888. Abraham Graham died at Burrang in 1903 and was buried in the Currency Creek/Goolwa cemetery. Grahams Castle had numerous owners after the 1890s and gradually fell into disrepair. In 1962 it was purchased by the WEA of Adelaide as a residential centre for adult education courses. But first hundreds of volunteer hours by WEA students and tutors and a small government grant saw Graham’s Castle restored and refurnished. The WEA President of the day Dorothy Pash attended local clearing sales and furnished Graham’s Castle with antiques which at that time were almost worthless and generally unwanted. The refurbished Graham’s Castle was officially opened for the WEA by the Attorney General Don Dunstan in 1967. Although students loved the courses at Graham’s Castle they seldom covered costs and in 1973 the WEA was forced to sell the property which the National Fitness Council purchased. They in turn sold the property a few years later to the government for use by the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport. Today Graham’s Castle has lost all of its surrounding lands and it is just another Goolwa residential property.



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