Salisbury – Remembering my Childhood

John Street Clock
Okay, while I have lived in Adelaide most of my life, and my parents have lived up here all of that time, it was interesting returning to Salisbury this time just to see how things had changed since I was a kid. Okay, being one of the northern suburbs, Salisbury does not have a really good reputation, but compared to some of the suburbs further north, it is not all that bad. It fact as a suburb it is quite a nice place, it is just that the occupants tend to be on the rougher side of the community.
John Harvey's House
This used to be a classy restaurant


Okay, the Council website (which is no doubt the source for the Wikipedia entry) indicates that the city was established by a Scot named John Harvey with the intention of establishing a township along the Para River. However, the story that we were told at primary school was that he was a postman running the Adelaide to Gawler route and decided that it would be quite handy to build a house at the halfway point, which happens to be Salisbury. No doubt Harvey then capitalised on this by then selling of blocks of land to other people so that he wasn’t living by himself (and to also make a bit of money for retirement).
Originally, the town was serving the local farms, however with the outbreak of World War II a munitions factory was built (which still exists, but it now makes furniture). After the war a weapons research establishment (which was called the Long Range Weapons Establishment) was set up in 1947 to support the facility at Woomera, and in 1955 the Edinburgh airforce base was also established. As such, for a while, much of the population were either scientists, or staff at the munitions factory (or flyboys). However, with the establishment of the Holden plant in Elizabeth the suburb slowly became more working class.
Munitions Factory
This was the old munitions factory, however it now only builds furniture
You can still see the research aspect of the suburb as both the primary school and the local scout group have a missile on their emblems. However, many of the people that work at the airbase and the technology park no longer live near by (and I even remember friends moving from the plains up into the hills).
Route Map
Okay, my drawing skills are horrendous, but there is a key below

Salisbury Oval

While I have never really been a sporting person, the oval does hold a number of memories since I used to walk around it every day to go to and from school. As I was wandering around here again I realised how when I was much younger it seemed to take much more time to walk around than it does these days, most likely because my legs are a lot longer. I have noticed that they have upgraded the stands so that you are sitting on plastic seats as opposed to cement blocks, though I can remember a time when it wasn’t even there.
Salisbury Oval Stands
One memory I have of this place is when I was in scouts (and I wasn’t all that good either) we would always start off with a run around the oval (the hall is located next door). I started off running around with the rest of the pack and would always come in last but then some of the guys would run the opposite way around and arrive back at the scout hall first. So, taking their lead I decided that I would try the same thing to see if I would also arrive first and discovered that I did, so I decided that I would do it that way, so week after week I would run around the oval in the opposite direction and arrive first and some of the guys started to become suspicious. This was because every so often a couple of the guys would hide in the bushes near the hall and when they saw the pack coming they would then run back to the hall and claim that they arrived first. While some suspected that that was what I did, the fact that I would always pass them on my lap of the oval put paid to that theory.I still don’t know how I did that because it is the same length both ways around – I guess it will always remain a mystery.

First Salisbury Scout Hall
This is the scout hall where I would spend my Wednesday nights

War Memorial

This used to be located in a park next to the railway station but when they ripped the park up to put in a bus interchange they moved the memorial to the area out the front of the scout hall. I always thought that the area in front of the scout hall was owned by the scouts, however that may not have been the case (or the council could have simply bought it off of them).

War Memorial
I’m not entirely sure how they managed to move this

It was interesting wondering around here because originally the memorial was simply the cenotaph pictured above however it seems that since then they have placed a number of plaques referring to other military actions along the path leading up to the cenotaph. If the memorial in Adelaide is anything to go by, the original cenotaph was erected shortly after the conclusion of World War I, with people believing that it would be the war to end all wars. However, as we all know, that is no longer the case.

However, the newer plaques could actually cause some controversy because they are commemorating some rather controversial conflicts, as well as engagements that are only ever found in detailed history books. For instance, we have a memorial for the ‘War on Terrorism’ in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am sure we are all well aware of the huge protests in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. However, there was another plaque that I found really interesting, it was this one:

Imperialist war plaque
I’m not even sure of the operations to which they are referring.

I am not sure which engagements that this plaque is commemorating, but I suspect that since the dates are just after World War II they may be referring to the occupation of West Germany as well as areas from which the Japanese withdrew. There were also memorials to conflicts such as the Malay Emergency, where troops were sent into Malaysia to prevent a communist uprising.

St John’s Church

This is the local Anglican church and for most of the time the church had been little more than a burnt husk. I am not sure of the story behind why that was the case, but apparently the church was broken into and a fire was started. I had heard stories that it was apparently ‘Satanists’ who were responsible, however I suspect that the story was little more than propaganda. Okay, maybe at the time there were a lot of Christians who saw Satanists lurking under every rock, but it seems that such hysteria has died down. Or should I suggest that these days the targets are not so much Satanists (because in many cases Satanists are simply people who wish to rebel against the establish religion and these days Christianity is no where near as dominant as it once was) but rather extremists from other religious groups.

Old Anglican Church
I wonder what is inside

The interesting thing about the church is that located next to it is the old Anglican cemetery (though it is no longer used) and behind the church is the original church from when Salisbury was first established. You can still see a number of those older buildings around the place indicating that Salisbury is actually quite an old suburb.

Pitman Park

As a kid I used to love this place. To my young and imaginative mind it was transformed from a local park to fantasy wonderland. However it wasn’t just a boring park with grass and trees, but the Little Para River (which is actually a creek because I can jump over it) runs along one side, and there is also an artificial creek that begins at a waterfall and runs down to a pond. I loved exploring this creek because, unlike the river, there was always water in it. The creek is still there, though the pond is covered in algae. I remember going down to this creek with friends to capture yabbies (I managed to catch two, and I think they survived for about a month).

Pitman Park Pond
I’m not sure if there are still any yabbies in here

We would also regularly come down here with the scout group to play ‘wide games’ which were games played out in the open. Normally we would split into two groups and the leaders would assign bases to us. This was a little annoying because I always wanted my based to be at the top of the waterfall since it was much more difficulty for our opponents to get to, however we always seemed to land up underneath the high voltage power line towers. I can’t remember for the life of me what games we played, but I suspect it was something like ‘capture the flag’.

I think we would even try climbing it.

There was also a little bridge over the Little Para River (which apparently means Little Little River in the local aboriginal dialect) that always sit in my mind that allowed access from the shopping centre to the park. I even had to get a photo of the bridge simply to put on this post.

Pitman Park Bridge
And here it is

Water Wheel

Just up the road from Pitman Park is the building where John Harvey lived when he first set up the township. The house was at one stage a restaurant but I suspect that it has since closed down. I do not know how the building is currently used. However across the road from Pitman Park is another park called Pioneer Park. This is relatively new because from what I remember from my childhood this was covered it wild grass and was pretty impassible. There was also another footbridge over the river however from what I can remember I could never work out how to get to the bridge (and it was also somewhat redundant as the road crossed the river nearby.

They have since placed a small building on the other side of the river near a parking bay which contains an old waterwheel. I was not able to get into the building (because it was locked) however I was able to look through the windows where the graffiti had not covered it. Apparently this was the original water wheel set up at the turn of the 20th century to provide water for the local farms. What I found interesting though was that through one of the windows there was a list of some of the original settler families. There were a number of names on this plaque that I still remember from primary school (and you can even find their names around Salisbury in the form of streets).

Water Wheel Museum
I’m not even sure if this is ever open

St Augustine’s Church

I’m not sure why I included this because I am not a Catholic and only ever came here a couple of times as a child. However this is the local Catholic Church which the local Catholic Primary School adjoins. I had a number of friends who did go to this school and whose parents were Catholic, but still, it was only one of those places that I knew about because I occasionally walked past it. However, what I did want to post is a picture of the older church that is next to it. I believe that it was at one stage a Greek Orthodox Church, but from its design it certainly does not look like it was originally Greek Orthodox (and I don’t think that there were many Greeks in Salisbury when I was growing up, but there were certainly a number of Italians).

Old Catholic Church
I don’t think anybody uses this building any more

Salisbury Primary School

It is interesting wandering around my old primary school to see what had changed. Obviously it has changed a lot since I came here, noting that one of the buildings had been knocked down and the resource centre moved. They also have a gym, which I believe was built the year after I graduated to high school. However, as I walked around the outside I took specific notice of what had gone, such as the rockery were we used to play with our matchbox cars as well as the lunch shed where one time a cat wandered into and decided to have her babies (which meant that we couldn’t use the lunch shed while she was there and the school had to work out what to do with the kittens). One thing that did catch my attention was the vegetable garden that had appeared where some of the play equipment used to be. We were never taught horticulture when I went to school. However the one thing that was also missing was the dentist. When I was going to school they had a full time dental staff there and each of us children would be rostered to go at least once a year (though I would always end up having fillings, which meant more than one visit). I also suspect the ‘Special Education’ suites had also been moved out, which is probably a good thing because we kids were quite mean to them.
Salisbury Primary School
I wonder if they still have asphalt here

Old Police Station

The original police station, which was located across the road from my kindergarten, is still there, though it is now a heritage centre. For a while there was no police station in Salisbury, but they have recently built a new one nearby, next to the Tafe Campus which replaced a similar college that was there when I was a kid. The Police Station seems to be a part of the College as behind it you can see the old cells (which would probably breach some human rights convention) as well as a place labelled as a blacksmith (though it is no longer a blacksmith but part of the heritage centre). The police station is actually quite old, having been opened in 1859 and used continuously until the 1980s. Granted, for a modern police force, this building was really small (not to mention the cells out the back).

Salisbury Police Station
The original police officer lived in here
Old Cell Block
Imagine spending a night here

Salisbury Institute

This is another really old building, originally established to provide a hall for community activities (prior to that they would all meet in the pub, but then again isn’t that what pubs are for). I don’t think I have ever been in here, nor have I used it, but I am still pretty impressed by the building, namely because it is old and I like old buildings. From what the City of Salisbury website says (and I am sure that is a legitimate source) the building is currently a part of the Youth Enterprise Centre. Oh, and the box that you can see above the door used to house a film projector.

Salisbury Institute
I like old buildings

Town Square

I’m not entirely sure what this area is called, but I have decided that I will call it the town square because it is in the centre of the commercial precinct and is an open space. It hasn’t always been that way though because when I was young this was where you could find the local Coles New World (as it was then known) supermarket. Before that this was the site of the old Methodist church, and the original cemetery can still be seen behind it. These days, as mentioned, it is an open space with seats and some play equipment for the kids. On the other side of John Street is Spaceland Mall. To me it looks like an old 1960s strip mall, which is when I suspect it was built. These days there is no indication as to why it is called Spaceland Mall, however when I was young it used to have a rocketship in the middle which you could climb up inside, however I never remember it being open. Sadly, the rocketship is long gone.

Salisbury Town Square
Yeah, that looks like a town square
Spaceland Mall
My favourite computer shop was here

Salisbury Railway Station

Okay, you may have just rolled your eyes and asked what is so important about a train station. Well, this used to have an really nice building on the Gawler Central side of the lines which was knocked down to make way for the freight line that now runs parallel to the domestic lines. This is what the original railway station used to look like:

Salisbury Railway Station - South Bound
I still remember the flour mill in the background


Salisbury Railway Station - North Bound
It’s amazing what you can find on the internet

These two buildings are now long gone, replaced with a more modern look (though it is a real shame that the south bound station was knocked down) as well as a bus interchange. However, the other reason I listed this is because of the murals on the rear of the shelter on platform one, and the station sign on platform two. This is what they look like:

Salisbury Railway Station - South BoundSalisbury Railway Station - North Bound

Happy Home Reserve

There have been some major changes to this length of parkland since I was a kid because from what I can remember it was just overgrown grassland. Since then somebody has decided to go through here with a lawn mower to give it a resemblance of a decent looking parkland. This is one of the reasons that I like Salisbury because there is a lot of parkland with a lot of trees. We only ever walked through here to get to the swimming pool, namely because we took swimming lessons every summer (which I must admit was a really good thing because being able to swim is a good skill to have).

Happy Home Reserve
It looks so much better, and safer, mowed
This is also where the swimming centre is located, which has also changed, namely because they have fenced off a much larger area. However the three pools that I remember swimming in when I was young are still present. I can even remember some of the lessons that we had, such as jumping into the pool fully clothed (which I thought was fun because we only ever got to wear our bathers, though it is not something that I am all that keen to do these days). I even remember when we graduated from the small pool to the big pool, and when I do get around to going for a swim (which being slack, or should I say preoccupied, I rarely get to do these days) I still like to see how long I can stay underwater.
Salisbury Swimming Centre
And that, is the BIG pool
The other cool thing about Happy Home Reserve is that they have installed tennis courts, play equipment, and even an exercise track with an number of exercise points around the track. I believe the length of the track is 1 kilometre, though it is suggested that you stop at some of the points to do the exercises. I have seen tracks like this elsewhere, but as a kid they never registered as being for exercise routines, but rather an obstacle course like the ones that I would clamber over in scouts.
So that is my brief tour of Salisbury. As I suggested, it actually isn’t all that bad a place to live. The city is a 20 minute train journey away, and there are lots of parks and gardens to explore, as well as having all the amenities that you would want. However, as I have also suggested, it does have a reputation, and unfortunately I don’t think that reputation is going to be changing any time soon.
Map Key
1) Munition’s Factory                                                                2) Salisbury Oval                                                   3) Salisbury War Memorial
4) Salisbury Scout Hall                                                              5) St John’s Anglican Church                        6) Pitman Park
7) Water Wheel                                                                               8) St Augustine’s Catholic Church            9) Salisbury Primary School
10) Old Police Station                                                                 11) Salisbury Kindergarten                              12) John Harvey’s House
13) Salisbury Institute                                                              14) Town Square                                                      15) Happy Home Reserve
16) Salisbury Swimming Centre
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