Penrith Avenue Para Para Mansion

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Walter Duffield and Para Para mansion.

EHC p271 “The Hon. W. Duffield M.L.C. born in Essex England in 1816, came to SA in 1829 and to Gawler in September 1847.” “…he also established flour mills at Snowtown, Wallaroo and Port Pirie. His interests extended to pastoral pursuits and he purchased the Koonoona run. Prosperity smiled upon him and he secured the Para Para Estate, just below the junction of the two Paras, and erected a mansion thereon….Para Para could boast of having the best garden in the district….Mr Duffield was a large employer of labor, and his relations with his workers were of the most satisfactory character. He was regarded as just and generous…..he died after a long illness on November 5, 1882.”

EHC p270 “David Walter Duffield J.P., only son of the late Hon. Walter Duffield was born in Gawler in 1851.”

GEL p98 “This estate is situated on the Para, about a mile from Gawler…..The Para Para residence was built in 1862.”

DW p54 “….Duffield became a strong force in the public, religious, social and business life of the community….(Such was this strong influence, that it is alleged in Gawler to this day that the main Gawler railway station was located where it is more to please Walter Duffield in his nearby mansion of “Para Para” and his milling business than to suit the townspeople. It is quite a walk from the station to Murray Street, so a tramway had to be provided)”.

“Another indication of his diverse interests was his purchase of a fine new English-built brig, The Lass of Gawler in 1862….served for over twenty years…carried flour to the eastern colonies, returning with Newcastle coal, traded to South Africa and made at least three voyages to China as a tea trader.”

DW p135 “…”busting with inexhaustible energy”…He carted wood, then worked as a winemaker on the Hagen estates at Echunga. He sent the first samples of South Australian wine to London for Queen Victoria to sample. ..Duffield moved on to Gawler….and was so active and successful that he soon became the jovial squire of the little country town. …Duffield spent lavishly and worked hard with his gardeners to create at Para Para what were probably the most brilliant flower gardens – especially the rose – the most fruitful vineyards and orchards and the finest stand of trees in the Colony. A generous man, he made Para Para available for the first Gawler races and convivial fetes and military displays. …Here…the genial Duffield twice [6/11/1867 etc] entertained Prince Alfred, [Duke of Edinburgh] Victoria’s second son – who seems to have enjoyed Para Para roses and wine. Duffield was a fine horseman, an active parliamentarian, a major employer, a pioneer vigneron, an open handed supporter of good causes like the Institute and a staunch supporter of the Congregational Church. “

DW p55 “Para Para….contains from 400 to 500 acres….Facing the house is a grassy flat, with high land on the southern side, and a fringe of trees on the northern and north-western sides. This flat forms undoubtedly the most beautiful natural racecourse in the colony….The vineyard, shrubberies, orchard and pleasure grounds, which are second to none in the colonies, extend over about fourteen acres.”

DW p 92 “Para Para was an extraordinary mixture of architectural design. Basically Georgian, colonial verandahs with sloping roofs had been added on either side of the front door, which was covered by an imposing portico sporting Corinthian pillars and a balustrade on the balcony above. The roof of the second storey had a similar gallery across the width of the house, but in the centre the roof was raised and flanked by two large urns with garlands of flowers. French doors led from the rooms of the ground floor onto the verandah, with matching windows on the second storey. The inside was equally imposing. The dining room was on the right of the spacious entrance hall and the drawing room on the left, but the piece de resistance was the circular ballroom. This had an imported cedar floor, a circular gallery above, and Corinthian pillars around the room, and the ceiling was in shape of a dome, with a large, ornate rose in the centre. There were twenty-two rooms in the house. A curved cedar staircase led to the second storey, the rooms of which could be seen from the ballroom. The kitchen was outside, the stables and coach house had been architecturally designed, and there was a lodge at the gate.”

DW p94 “…on a broiling [112F] day in January 1874, no less than three train-loads of Oddfellows came out from Adelaide to join the local Oddfellows at a monster picnic at Para Para. An estimated 2,000 people ….milled about the estate.”

DW p95 ”….an estimated 4,000 people trampled around Para Para in January 1881 to witness “the first military demonstration arranged by the non-commissioned officers of the voluntary military force”. Three special trains from Adelaide brought out a total of about 2,000 passengers including members of military bands such as the Prince Alfred Fife and Drum Band.”

Walter Duffield - the Victoria Mill

GEL p24 “Victoria Mill was erected in 1845, enclosed by Jacob, Cameron, Todd [Tod] and Dundas streets. In 1847 it fell into the hands of Mr. W Duffield, by whom it has since been twice greatly enlarged – once in 1848 and again in 1853….capable of turning out twenty-five tons of flour daily….the wheat store ….is now capable of containing 10,000 bushels of wheat.” “The mill…”Victoria”, having been destroyed by fire, Mr Duffield, who became its possessor in 1847, removed its appliances to a site near the Railway Station, where a new “Victoria Mill” rose and fell, and rose again – phoenix like – from its ashes; a better and more commodious building than its predecessors.” GEL p39 “The brand of the Messrs. Duffield is well known at the Cape of Good Hope, India, England, the Continent and the Colonies…..Last year the firm sent from Gawler alone flour, bran and pollard equal in weight to 24,000 tons, nine-tenths being exported. This present year the firm has passed through their hands 1,000,000 bushels of wheat and are weekly grinding 21,000 bushels…[GELp40] keeping all their mills going day and night. The number of hands employed directly is 100…”

GEL p40 “….at the Paris Exhibition, the firm having carried off the gold medal against the world; and again in Sydney the first prize was awarded….”

EHC p104 “Fodder Compressers” “Fodder is a mixture of chaffed hay, oats and bran compressed into blocks, which are capable of easy transportation.”

EHC p103 “Messrs John Darling & Son carry on the business of fodder compression at the Old Victoria Flour Mill, Gawler west, formally the property of Messrs. Duffield & Co.”” The foundation stone of the original structure was laid on September 20 1867 by Master D.W. Duffield, son of the Hon. Walter Duffield….””On December 16 1868 the new mill was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt the following year and again consumed by fire on January 27, 1876.”

Walter Duffield - the Union Mill

EHC p103 “….The Union Mill….situated on the banks of the South Para near Gawler Bridge…..was erected by Messrs. Harrison Bros in 1855 and in 1863 it was purchased by Messrs. Walter Duffield and Co.”

Walter Duffield - his other interests

EHC p71 “The first attempt to establish a Mechanics’ Institute in Gawler was in July 1848. The late Hon. Walter Duffield was one of the movers.”

GEL p11 “The public school house, built on land….at the junction of Scheibener and Fotheringham Terraces… Sometime after its erection, five Trustees were appointed….Messrs Calton, Gozzard, Duffield, Auld and Orsmond….”

EHC p79 “The Literary Institute” “The fifth anniversary was signalised by a “Grand Brass Band Contest, Picnic and Rural Fete” at Para Para, the grounds of the Hon. Walter Duffield, with a “Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert” in the evening. His Excellency the Governor, Sir Dominick Daly, the Ministry of the day, many members of Parliament, and the Mayor of Adelaide were present. Cheap trains were run and special return trains left Gawler at 10.30pm for the city. A feature of this gathering was that no intoxicating liquors were allowed to be sold on the ground.”

GEL p118 “…..within a quarter of a mile from the Railway Station….formed (from a paddock of about 90 acres, or a mile and a furlong in extent) a splendid race-course, and spared neither money nor labour to get a perfect track.””….a Jockey Club has been recently started……Committee……….....D.W. Duffield J.P.;” “A splendid day’s racing came off in April on the course, Para Para, which Hon. W. Duffield had kindly donated for the occasion.”

GEL p122 “Auxiliary Bible Society” – “President the Hon. W. Duffield, M.L.C……””The sales amount to 125 Bibles and 26 Testaments.” “The Scriptures are now printed in 230 languages.”

GEL p134 “Bank of South Australia””…it is the oldest banking institution in the town and its first manager was Mr Alex Grace. The Hon. W. Duffield was appointed local Director in 1859, which office he held till the close of 1873, when he accepted a position on the local board of the Bank in Adelaide."

EHC p134 “The Union Bank” “Mr Walter Duffield was appointed local Director in 1859 and held the office until 1873.

GEL p131 “Congregational Church” “….the original founders…..still survive….in April, 1880..….the Hon. W. Duffield, M.L.C. with Mrs Duffield, and Mr and Mrs Dawkins, of Gawler River.”

EHC p185 “Congregational Church” “The first Congregational Church was built in 1851 and on Christmas Day of that year the Rev. Thos. Quinton Stow formally opened the edifice and constituted the church, receiving into membership….Mr and Mrs Walter Duffield.” “….the Duffield family, who have been from the first, staunch supporters of the church & all its institutions…..Hon. W. Duffield passes away and a few years later was followed by Mrs Duffield. In their time their home was open-house to visitors from far and near, and none were more welcome than the faithful men and women engaged in God’s service.”

EHC p196 “Gawler Bible Society” “….it was on January 31, 1854, that a meeting was held to establish in Gawler a branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The meeting took place in St George’s schoolroom and there were present the Revs W.H. Coombs [Anglican] J.M. Lewis [Congregational], Walter Tregallas [Wesleyan] and Messrs Wm Barker and Walter Duffield.” EHC p 197 “It was estimated that upwards of 7,000 Bibles and Testaments have been distributed locally by the Society since its formation…..”

EHC p 199 “Lodge of Fidelity, Freemasons” “….Walter Duffield…..was proposed in the Lodge of Harmony for the Lodge of Fidelity and were initiated on February 27, 1849.”

EHC p218 “Gawler Agricultural Society” “….1856….first show in February 19…..Mr Walter Duffield was the prize winner for hams, grapes, apples, plums, peaches and sweet melon” “….1860….Committee….W. Duffield….”

EHC p238 “Gawler Jockey Club” “A racing club was formed in January 23, 1879. The first meeting was held on April 15 of the same year, at Para Para….” “In the following year….on account of the serious illness of the Hon. W. Duffield, they would not be able to use the Para Para Grounds. The Club then became defunct, and the balance of 48 pounds was handed to the present body when I was founded in 1891.”

EHC p241 “Cricket” “….in the early sixties….the Barossa Club was started by the Late Hon. W. Duffield.”

Walter Duffield - representing Gawler in Parliament

GEL p18 “….on 23rd March 1860….(another election under the New Constitution Act)….placed Messrs Grundy and Duffield in the second Parliament.”

GEL p99 “Mr Duffield is a very old colonist. He arrived in South Australia in 1839, and for some years resided in the neighbourhood of Echunga. In 1847 he became the proprietor of the Victoria Mills….For many years he was one of the representatives for the District of Barossa in the House of Assembly, and for a time occupied the positon as Treasurer. He was afterwards elected as member of the Legislative Council, a position in which he has won golden opinions. The Dog Act was originated by him when in the Assembly and this measure, which was passed, has proved of inestimable value to squatters and stockowners, whether on a large or small scale.” “On his resignation from the Upper House….failing health….necessitates perfect rest and quietness. In the calm which prevails on his estate at Para Para, he can point to the past with proud consciousness of having been instrumental in doing much to advance the interests of South Australia.”

EHC p137 “The late Hon. Walter Duffield was elected to the House of Assembly, for the District of Barossa on March 9, 1857. This was the first Parliament under the self-government constitution. He was re-elected in March 23, 1860, November 10, 1862, and February 20, 1865. He was out of the next Parliament, but was again chosen for Barossa in April 14, 1870. This Parliament was dissolved in November 1871. Mr Duffield was returned to the Legislative Council on April 3 1873 and held the position until compelled by ill-health to resign on May27 1880. He was, therefore, a member of the House of Assembly for eleven years and of the Legislative Council for seven years. Mr Duffield was Treasurer in the Hart Ministry from October 25, 1865 to March 28, 1866 and in the Boucaut Ministry from March 28, 1866 to May 3, 1867.”

GEL p143 “One of the articles of the Bunyip related to the defeat of a motion in the Assembly for rewarding explorers by grants of land in the country they had discovered….One of the best actions of Mr. Duffield since he has been in the House was when he brought on the motion for a grant of land to the explorers, and he was beaten by a majority of sixteen to six,…..”

Walter Duffield - the Gawler citizen

EHC p23 “Said the late Hon. Jas. Martin; “I think it was in October 1851, that some people went to the [Victorian] diggings… many went that the only men left in Gawler were Canon Coombs, Mr Duffield, his miller (Mr Churchman), Mr Purcell and Dr Mahoney.” DW p135 “If James Martin had not existed, Duffield would have been hailed as Father of Gawler. After his death, magnificent Para Para lost most of its land and fell into grievous decay in the 1920’s, but the handsome mansion – every bit as fine as, say, Martindale Hall, - and its exquisite interiors are now being carefully restored. Despite keen competition, Para Para is the jewel in Gawler’s heritage crown. Its many charms will be better appreciated in future.”

Compiled by Brian Thom

According to research undertaken by Dr. John Stephenson of 84A Talara Road, Gymea NSW 2227...........................................................[private communication] Note: All of the 500 pages of research submitted by John relating to the Willaston Cemetery interments are likely to be available in the month of February 2016 as an addition/link under "Willaston Cemetery" article.

Walter Duffield was born c1816 in Gt Baddow, Essex, England, [father William Duffield] and died aged 66 years on 5th November 1882 at Para Para, Gawler.

Walter Duffield arrived in SA in 1839 aboard the William Barbas and was a wood carter, miller, pastoralist, and MP who lived in Wallaroo, Port Pirie, Echunga and Gawler. Married 7th March 1842 to Phoebe Johnstone, their children were: [1] Sarah Duffield, born 1842; [2] Mary Ann Hawkes Duffield, born 9 September 1844, and died [unmarried] on 21 Aug 1902 in Gawler; [3] Louisa Caroline Duffield, born on 21 September 1846 at Mount Barker SA and was married on 13th July 1870, in Gawler, to Frank Makin, and died 28 September 1941 in North Adelaide; [4] Eleanor Duffield, born 20th August 1848 in Gawler Town, was married 10th June 1878 in Gawler to John Davies Thomas, and died 13th May 1934 in North Adelaide; [5] Emily Martha Duffield born on 15th November 1849 in Gawler Town, was married on 2nd July 1873 in Gawler to Thomas Hopkins Bowen, died 23rd July 1890 at Glenelg, and is buried in the Brighton Cemetery; [6] David Walter Duffield was born on 29th May 1851 in Gawler Town, was married on 15th August 1878 in Glenelg to Florence Evangeline Kirkpatrick and died on 24th January 1922 in Adelaide.

Phoebe Duffield, the wife of Walter Duffield, died in her 76th year on 15th May 1890 at Para Para and is buried in the Willaston Cemetery, Gawler - Plot/grave/Niche 12 C 4 - South Australian Register, Tuesday 27 May 1890 p3 (3) on 17TH May 1890; with Rev W Jones officiating.

Phoebe “ was born in London, arrived in South Australia c1840 and married Walter Duffield on 7th March 1842 by Rev. T.Q. Stow in Freeman Street Congregational Church [now Gawler Place]; that being the second marriage that had taken place there. She possessed social qualities of the highest order, and was never happier than when entertaining her friends or dispensing charity to some needy recipient. The poor and distressed invariably found in her a friend with a sympathetic ear and generous heart. She was identified with the Gawler Congregational Church from its formation, being one of the first eight who were received into fellowship by the Rev. TQ Stow on its establishment on Christmas Day, 1851. From that day until her death she took the warmest interest in is prosperity, and both by Christian activity and generous gifts proved herself a supporter that can ill be spared. The deceased lady leaves one son [Mr DW Duffield of Adelaide] and five daughters, three of whom are married respectively to the following gentlemen: Lieutenant- Colonel Makin, Dr J Davies Thomas, and Mr TH Bowen.”

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External Links


  • E.H. Coombe M.P. “History of Gawler 1837 -1908”
  • George E. Loyau “The Gawler Handbook”
  • Derek Whitelock “Gawler”
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