Gawler Thematic History - The Arts and Sciences

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Type of thing Government
Date made or found 2020

The Arts and Sciences

In most newly settled townships, physicians and clergy became the community leaders and this was also the case in Gawler town 124 with Dr George Nott and Rev William Coombe promoting and supporting artistic and scientific pursuits along with a the number of Old Lutheran religious refugees (german settlers) as well as the ‘forty-niners’, a group of ‘highminded and scholarly Germans’ who settled at Buchsfelde on the Gawler river just out of town. Most famous of this group were the Roediger Brothers (one was Lutheran pastor), Frederik bis Winckel (botanist, vigneron and Chair of Mudla Wirra South DC) and Dr Richard Schomburgk, curator of the Institute museum for several years and later Director of Adelaide Botanic Garden. His legacy was Moreton Bay Fig Trees still seen in modern Gawler. 125

The Gawler Institute was formed in 1857 and the impressive building erected in 1870 was to provide a focus for cultural activities and a home for many arts and science endeavours for the next century. The Gawler Institute building was constructed by Messrs. Deland & Tardif for £5000 and within a decade was housing many local organisations and associations including a debating class and an amateur dramatic society which were started at the Institute in 1878 in a bijou theatre 126.

At this time, George Nott, writing in the Bunyip coined the term “Colonial Athens’ for the township and this fell into colloquial use locally in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to describe not only the architecture of the time but also the intellectual and cultural pursuits, the high point of which was the holding of a competition to compose an anthem for Australia in 1859, remarkably, four decades prior to Federation. The result was the ‘Song of Australia’ written by Caroline Carleton to music composed by Carl Linger.

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  • 124 Whitelock D. p. 65-66
  • 125 Whitelock D. p. 65.
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