Visiting Adelaide Zoo

Last Thursday my daughter and I took the grandkids to the zoo.  I hadn’t been for about fifteen years so I was very pleasantly surprised by the changes and happy to see some familiar buildings and enclosures too.

Jess and Ilijah feeding the animals

Jess and Ilijah feeding the animals


Ilijah on the left and Josiah on the right

Ilijah on the left and Josiah on the right

The Adelaide Zoological Gardens was opened on 23 May 1883 by Sir William Robinson.  Just lately I’ve been enjoying looking up Trove for information on historical places I have visited in Adelaide, South Australia, where I live.  I love thinking about the history of the museum, the zoo, the state library, and the universities which were all places my ancestors would have been to and visiting them now and also sharing them with my grandchildren makes these experiences even more special to me.  Josiah is only three but I talk to him about how Mummy went there when she was a little girl and so did Grandma and also Grandma Bette (my Mum).

The Elephant House

The Elephant House

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I remember the Elephant House from when I was little. There is no longer an elephant at the zoo though.


A modern enclosure for Siamang apes

A modern enclosure for Siamang Gibbons

Trove Tuesday – Flaxley South Australia

We moved to Flaxley in 1973. The front room of our house was the Flaxley Post Office and Mum was the Post Mistress. I had a look on Trove to see when the earliest mention of the Post Office was. These two occurrences are quite familiar to me.

1929 is the earliest mention I could find

1929 is the earliest mention I could find

I remember the cars being packed and ready to leave our house in 1980. Mum had woolen clothing soaking in the bath tub in case we needed it.
In 1983 my sister and I were at high school in Mt Barker and couldn’t get home to Flaxley.


I remember in the late 70s when lightning struck the stobie pole (power and telephone pole) out the front of the house and the live power line hung precariously over the road. My brother, sister and I were enlisted, with torches, to flag down passing traffic so that no one hit it.

Trove Tuesday – South Australian Museum

I went to the South Australian Museum with my Mum today.  One of our favourite parts is the Egyptian Room.  Mum remembers the room and the wall paintings from when she was little and we wondered when they were done.

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Egyptian Room SA Museum (my photo)


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Egyptian Room SA Museum (my photo)

Huge colored wall drawings tell the history and mythology of ancient Egypt.  The sky goddess is shown as a woman with a blue body sprinkled with stars, being upheld by a god.  Below this a man representing the earth is shown mourning for the woman the gods have stolen from him.

This is a quote from the below article describing the sky goddess in my photo, so, going by this article, the paintings were done some time in 1940.



This building still exists but it has been built on to at the front

This building still exists and has had little alteration but for an extension on the front.

Trove Tuesday – Paddy Guerin/Gearin

There are two Paddy Guerin/Gearins in the family I am currently researching, an Uncle and his Nephew.  I haven’t yet found out which story refers to which gentleman however I wanted to share these stories on Trove Tuesday.  The Guerin family lived near Braidwood in New South Wales, Australia.


“She was a good ‘un once, like Paddy Gearin – never known to baulk”



“A ‘Good’ Excuse”



Had A Few Bears Across His Chest

“Had a few beers across his chest”  I had never heard this saying before until I came across it here.  I realise it means he was drunk however I’ve been unable to find any references to its origin online.  Has anyone else ever heard of it?

Minecraft At The Museum And The North Terrace Mounted Police Barracks

I’m helping out with a school holiday event called Minecraft At The Museum (click the link and go about half way down the page) this week and Sunday we were setting up the computer network in an old museum building called The Armoury which is behind the South Australian Museum on North Terrace, Adelaide.

Setting up the computer network

Setting up the computer network

The Armoury, above the door it says Australian Light Horse and Scottish Infantry

The Armoury, above the door at the top of the steps it says Australian Light Horse and Scottish Infantry

I hadn’t been to this part of the museum since I was in primary school so it was exciting to me to find these lovely buildings with their references to South Australia’s early military.

Being the curious person that I am I took a heap of photos and when I got home started Googling!  I found this article by R.J. Potts Chief Superintendent (Ret.), Hon. Secretary, S.A.Police Historical Society Inc. The Former North Terrace Mounted Police Barracks.

In 1854 tenders were called for what became termed the ‘armoury building’ on the southern side of the quadrangle. Designed by the Colonial Architect W. Bennett Hayes, and built by contractor W. Lines, the building was completed in 1855, and was built of uncaused limestone with brick quoins, and with a slate roof. It is believed that the limestone used in the construction of the armoury building and the east and west wings of the mounted police barracks, came from the banks of the River Torrens, at or near the site of the present (2001) Festival Theatre. Other stone from Murray Bridge was also used.1

More of the mounted police buildings

More of the mounted police buildings

Large iron swing entrance gate

Large iron swing entrance gate

Large iron swing entrance gates ‘with massive arches surmounted by three stone structures’ were built on the eastern and western sides of the quadrangle, adjacent to the northern end of each building and were completed in 1851. (One of these entrance gates remains in position on the eastern side of the parade ground in 2001).2 (my note – it’s still there in 2016)

Troop barracks

The back of the Armoury

Tenders were then called in 1850 by the Colonial Engineer for the erection of a purpose-built stone and brick single story barracks complex. The single story buildings that were designed by Captain Freeling and built by contractor J.H.Walker were completed in 1851. Built of limestone and brick with slate roofs and featuring gables with decorative fretted barge boards, they formed the eastern and western wings of a quadrangle that contained a parade ground measuring 210 feet (approx. 65 metres) by 110 feet (approx. 35 metres).3

Troop rooms, mess rooms and quartermaster's quarters

Troop rooms, mess rooms and quartermaster’s quarters

While the original building on the eastern side of the quadrangle has been demolished (1950’s), the two-story building still standing on the western side of the quadrangle still contains sections of the 1851 construction. These buildings are believed to have contained troop rooms, mess rooms and quartermaster’s quarters.4

While independent volunteer rifle units were established in S.A. as early as 1844 in metropolitan districts of Adelaide, it was in 1850 that the first South Australian regiment, ‘The Adelaide Rifles’ was raised. The regimental headquarters of this unit was located within the armoury building in the North Terrace Mounted Police barracks complex, which it shared with the S.A. mounted police. The companies that made up the regiment remained at their particular metropolitan locations.5

It is well worth reading the whole article if you’re interested in South Australian history.

Port Pirie Grain Silos

This photograph, taken from the top of the bulk-loading gantry of the wharf, shows the last-minute preparations that are being made prior to the commencement of the “big pour” on Monday.

This week I’ve been trying to find out the history of the Port Pirie, South Australia grain silos.  I found the above newspaper cutting in with my Dad’s photos and it was Mum who identified where it was and what was happening.  Dad was a builders’ labourer, a brickie and also did concreting and other building work and he was part of building these silos.  From what I have been able to gather the main part of the work took place between 1957 and 1962.  I haven’t been able to find much online about it at all.  At first I thought this was rather unusual however then I thought it may be too recent to be considered “history” or it simply hasn’t been added to any South Australian industrial heritage websites yet.

“Country silos spread outwards along the railways from Ardrossan; the first local silo in the State was built at Paskeville and opened in January 1956. Bute followed a few months later. They took two forms: horizontal silos were built at Balaklava, Snowtown, Blyth, Hoyleton and Brinkworth, and vertical concrete elevators at Nantawarra, Redhill and Gulnare; the tall white cylinders were towering landmarks that could be seen from every farm in the Hundred and beyond. This first generation of silos all fed the Ardrossan terminal. With the construction of bulk handling terminals at Wallaroo in 1956 and Port Pirie in 1957, the way was open for silos throughout the region.”6

“Port Pirie1” by Fairv8 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –

The town’s lead smelter certainly takes the spotlight as it is the world’s largest.  It also produces refined silver, zinc, copper and gold.2