Gawler Thematic History - The Bunyip and the Humbug Society

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Type of thing Government
Date made or found 2020

The Bunyip and the Humbug Society

Two significant ‘institutions’ emerged in Gawler in the 1860’s –the Humbug Society and its creation: the Humbug Society Chronicle – more commonly known as The Bunyip. The Humbug Society did not last beyond the 19th century, but its journal The Bunyip is still published today. The Humbug Society was developed as a satirical reaction to much of the pomposity of early Colonial public and social life.

The Society was mainly devoted to humorous activities, but it did also provide an avenue for local intellectual life to thrive. Its members met in the old Globe Hotel. The publication of the monthly 'Bunyip' from 5th September 1863, established a local newspaper that was initially the vehicle of the cultural elite of Gawler and more latterly an important source of information for and about the Gawler community and local development. The first journal ran the Society’s oath as its masthead. The chronicle was founded and managed by William Barnet, a Scottish born printer and run by his descendants until they sold it in 2003. Somewhat to the surprise of its founders the Bunyip gradually settled into the role of newspaper rather than as an organ of the Society – presumably because of the ongoing need for news and advertising content relevant to the local population in Gawler and district. Throughout the duration of its publication, the Bunyip has provided a comprehensive history of Gawler with stories of its colonial, agricultural and industrial years in over 6,000 issues.

In one of the Bunyip’s first publications Dr George Nott (the Editor) wrote an historical sketch of the town in which he coined the term Colonial Athens, which became widely used thereafter 106.


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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  • 106 Whitelock D. p.79

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