With baited anticipation I present the second installment of the history of the Wellington Courthouse, my current Directed Study. We’ll start with the things I have learnt. Modern day Wellington is nothing more than a little settlement on the banks of the River Murray. It was settled in approximately 1830, when Captain Charles Sturt reached the settlement in his whale boating, searching for answers to Australia’s inland sea. Some years later, a man named John Morphett opened the area to colonial land development. By 1839, Wellington was one of the most important settlements along the Murray River. The township was seen as an important stopover for travellers, farmers and eventually the Victorian gold rush. With such importance, Wellington decided it need a police station. In 1841 they got their wish—the building was stationed on the banks of the river, namely the site of the present court house. Additional buildings were sought, with the current courthouse itself being built in 1864.
Thus far, facts have been relatively easy to come by. Stories, on the other hand, have been rather difficult to locate. My brief is currently seeking more personalized stories rather than information. This has posed a question: the Wellington Courthouse was built in 1864, that’s 149 years of history—1788 months or 7,748 weeks or even 54,385 days of history, to be exact. How much of this can an archaeologist hope to recreate? I have found articles on court proceedings, advertisements for new police officers, tenders for manual labour and complaints from little old people complaining about the drafts inside the courthouse. Surely with so much history, there is more to be found. How much of the Wellington Court house history is missing, lost, destroyed, forgotten or even hidden in a box underneath someone’s bed? What’s an archaeologist to do with all this time?