Tag Archives: sturt river

The trouble with names…

Directed Study Blog Post 2

As part of my directed study I have been talking to David Jarman, a local historian who has been gathering oral histories and stories about Oaklands House for a number of years. One of these stories struck me as particularly interesting so I thought I would take an opportunity to share it here:

From their home in England the Kearne family purchased the site for Oaklands Estate sight unseen.  They had been shown its general location on a map and were aware that the Sturt River flowed through the property.

Upon setting out from England they ordered all the materials necessary to build the homestead, outbuildings, and other aspects of the property; they purchased a ship or boat to take their materials to the site of the estate, and they hired a crew to sail the ship and later to assist as labourers and workers on the property.

They arrived in Australian prepared to sail their new ship up the Sturt River to the site of their new estate, unfortunately the agent who sold them the land had neglected to tell them that the Sturt River is little more than a seasonal creek and certainly not capable of accommodating a barge filled with building materials.

Other means of transporting the materials overland were arranged eventually and the estate was constructed by 1844. Interestingly enough, though, many members of the ship’s crew did go on to work on the property; even parts of the ship itself contributed to the homestead’s construction. Until its demolition in 1967 the ship’s bell hung over the back door of the estate.

Overlap between official and unofficial heritage

When people identify places that are important to them, do they overlap with those that have been deemed important officially? The recent City of Marion Cultural Heritage Survey explored the unofficial heritage of the community. It also helped to illustrate crossover points where professional and public opinions regarding heritage overlap.

There was certainly an overlap in the Marion Historic Village, where several buildings are listed officially as having heritage value, either on the SA Heritage Register or as Local Heritage Places. These buildings were noted by many survey respondents, who also identified the remnant almond orchard along Oliphant Avenue as important. Almonds were once one of the main tourist attractions in Marion, with thousands of visitors coming on tour buses every July up until the 1950s to view the almond blossom. Although the almond orchards are no longer part of the Marion landscape, they live on in people’s memories, and the remnants are important tangible reminders of the past.

The Sturt River featured in many survey responses because of the importance of the remaining river red gums, scarred trees, the bike track, its history of flooding before the drainage scheme, its bridges, the wetlands and dense vegetation, connection with the Kaurna people, and the sound of the river flowing. Although the survey comments applied to the Sturt River in its entirety as it crosses the Marion Council area, there is no official heritage acknowledgement of the river, except that it flows through the state heritage-listed Warriparinga area. There is an interpretive tile near the river, however, as part of the historic walk in the Marion Historic Village.

Sturt River interpretive tile

Interpretive tile near the Sturt River in the Marion Historic Village

Another natural element recorded in the survey was the Moreton Bay fig tree in the Fisk Avenue Reserve at Glengowrie. Again, there is some overlap between official and unofficial heritage. This tree was previously recorded in a 1990 heritage survey of Marion, and noted as the dominant feature of the reserve. In fact, the Council bought some of the land at the time to ensure that a proposed new development wouldn’t damage the tree.

Moreton Bay fig tree

Moreton Bay fig tree at Fisk Avenue Reserve, Glengowrie

It’s fair to say that the survey responses revealed a broad view of what’s important to local people. Some of the places recorded as important are already recognised officially on the list of Local Heritage Places or in the SA Heritage Register. However, more are considered important primarily by the local community, for example, trees and the river, but also the Westfield Marion Shopping Centre, local reserves and children’s playgrounds. They lend themselves to recording and recognition through oral histories, community maps, plantings and interpretive signage.

Susan Arthure