Gawler Thematic History - Communications

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Fast Facts
Type of thing Government
Date made or found 2020


In 1843, following several unsuccessful petitions by residents for a regular mail conveyance, Henry Calton established a regular weekly mail service between Gawler and Adelaide and his hotel served as post office until a post master was formally appointed in 1849 28.

Telegraphic communication had been established between Gawler and Adelaide early in 1857 and initially telegraph operations were undertaken from premises on James Martin's workshop property (Lot 14 Murray Street) adjoining the Post Office run from George Gozzard's premises on Lot 15. The new telegraph station was completed in 1860 and in 1863 postal services were transferred to the Telegraph Station until a new Post Office was built next door. In 1866, postal and telegraphic services were formally combined in the new building. 29

Although a telephone exchange had been established in Gawler since 1889 this means of communication only became widespread in the first half of the 20th century, with the number of subscribers increasing from 28 in 1908 to 769 in 1956, with the replacing of the hand-cranked instrument with a battery powered form. By 1968 an automated exchange removed the need for an operator assisted service 30. In 1974, a new Post Office was also completed.

The year 1857 was an auspicious one for the development of Gawler Town, being the year that the Adelaide to Gawler telegraph was completed, the year that the northern railway was extended from Adelaide to Gawler, as well as the year the town’s first bank and the Gawler Institute opened. 31

In that same year a Scottish printer, William Barnet, arrived in town and opened his business; two years’ later a group of men formed the ‘Gawler Humbug Society’ and in 1863 Dr George Nott and Barnet published a newsletter named the ‘Bunyip’. Several prominent South Australian journalists contributed including E Lindley Grundy, George Isaacs, Ephraim Coombe and George Loyau. 32

The Bunyip evolved from monthly newsletter to country South Australia’s first newspaper in 1885. Passing from generation to generation of the Barnet family until it was sold in 2003, the newspaper continues to be published to this day.


This report has been prepared by the following people:

• Nancy Cromar (Flightpath Architects)

• Deborah Morgan (Flightpath Architects)

• Kate Paterson (Flightpath Architects)

• Douglas Alexander (Flightpath Architects)

The study team would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following people:

• David Petruzzella (Strategic Planner; Town of Gawler)

• Jacinta Weiss (Cultural Heritage Centre Coordinator; Town of Gawler)

• Jane Strange (Senior Development and Strategic Policy Officer; Town of Gawler)

Gawler History Team thanks: Flightpath Architects, Ryan Viney and the Town of Gawler for allowing us access to this important document of Gawler History.


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