During the school holidays when I was a kid my mum would take us on regular day trips to Gawler. As a kid, to be honest, I found Gawler boring because there was no park with any play equipment, with the exception of the cannon located in Pioneer Park.
|It doesn’t even fire|
|My wanderings through Gawler|
1) Willaston Hotel
Basically this is what I call a Woolworth’s pub, namely because it is owned by the ALH Group, which in turn is owned by Woolworths. What that means is that it has a sports bar, a restaurant (which usually, but not always, sells cheap food) and a bucket load of pokie machines. The pub still has its original charm, as long as you look at it from the outside.
|That’s probably the best part of this pub|
2) Bushman Hotel
3) Exchange Hotel
4) Prince Albert Hotel
5) Gawler Arms Hotel
6) Golden Fleece Hotel
Well, according to the website, this pub was originally called ‘The Golden Fleece’ but then changed its name to ‘The Old Spot Hotel’ only to revert back to its original name with its recent transformation. I suspect that may have something to do with distancing itself from the ‘Old Spot Hotel’ down in Salisbury (or it could simply be to give it a makeover). Anyway, this pub seems to be the trendy pub with a decent selection of craft beers, and a really cool beer garden, which sort of adjoins the arcade that runs down the side.
7) Kingsford Hotel
This pub seems to have everything, including, unfortunately, pokie machines. However this is a pretty large pub with two beer gardens, as well a tables out the front on Murray Street. What was impressive was that one of the beer gardens was completely non-smoking, which means that people have have a decent meal (while cooking their steak on a really hot paving stone) without having to deal with smokers.
|Yep, that’s the Kingsford|
8) Southern Hotel
Well, this place really didn’t impress me all that much because, like the Gawler Arms, this was a restaurant with pokie machines out the back. One of the things that I really don’t like about these restaurants (if you can call them such) is that they try to market the restaurant as a family restaurant, yet have signs telling kids not to go into the pokie rooms (though no doubt the parents do).
9) Overway Hotel
I would have to say that this is probably the best pub in Gawler, even if it is only because there are no pokies inside. To me, though, it felt like a cross between a trendy pub and an old style country pub (though they don’t seem to have a website, nor do they have any craft beers on tap). However the beer garden was really cool, especially having a set up for live bands (though the neighbours are probably not all that impressed).
|It’s even better on the inside|
10) Critereon Hotel
Well, I wonder how I can write a paragraph that basically says ‘nothing to see here’ because, well, there isn’t all that much to see here. That is a bit of a lie because I’m sure the address can get confusing at times, and there is also a view of the railway station, but you don’t need to go into the pub to see that.
a) Dead Man’s Pass Reserve
Any place that has a park called ‘Dead Man’s Pass’ has to be a cool place to visit, even you there aren’t actually any dead men in the park (which is probably a good thing because I know I don’t want my dog, if I had one that is, digging up some corpse). There is a little plaque that tells us why they call it Dead Man’s Pass because back in the colonial days, when Colonel William Light was scouting the area, they came across the skeletal remains of a human dressed in colonial clothes. I’m not even sure if they knew who it was, and Adelaide’s Haunted Horizon’s seems to suggest that the identity may be a mystery.
However, Alan Tiller, who writes about the ghosts of Australia in his blog mentions that this wasn’t the only person to have met a fatal end in this gorge. However, what I did notice as I was wondering around was that it is interesting that the gorge got its name from the discovery of a dead colonist, though I suspect that a number of the original inhabitants, the Kuarna people, would also have met a rather grisly end here as well.
|Nope, no ghosts here|
b) Old Railway Bridge
Apparently this was where Gawler’s first cemetery was located, which now gives me second thoughts about coming here because they moved the headstones, but nowhere do they say that the bodies were removed. Oh well, I guess it is a good thing that I am not superstitious. However, now it is a lovely little picnic ground where we used to have lunch when we were children, and also play on the cannon. The thing that stands out to me though is the little structure on the footpath running along Murray Street. Oh, and if you are really hanging out for a beer, you can always enter the Exchange Hotel by the rear entrance.
|That’s how you get in|
|I’m not sure what it is called|
d) Town Hall
One of the things that I love about these old colonial towns is that many of the original buildings are still present. In fact next to the town hall is the library and one of the banks, while another bank is on the other side. I also believe that there is a museum around here, but since it was closed when I was wandering down here with my brother, we did not have an opportunity to look inside. However, while the old bank buildings have that olden day look about them, having the modern logo sticking out on a plastic sign sort of destroys some of that historical feel about the place. In a way, these plastic signs drag you out from those bygone days and thrust you back into the modern world.
|Bank SA (owned by Westpac)|
Gawler Central Railway Station
I must say that I like a lot of these old railway stations, and I was quite surprised to discover that the Gawler Central Railway station actually has a pretty cool looking building. Since I had not been up this way for quite a while I was under the impression that Gawler Central was little more than a platform with some tacky metal shelter that does an appalling job of protecting people from the elements, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that it actually looked like this:
|Maybe the building needs a bit of a paint job.|
I was a little surprised to have forgotten that it was more than just a platform, especially since I used to regularly visit a friend up here, which meant I would travel all that way up to this station where he would then pick me up. Anyway, this would have been a wasted trip if I had not taken a video of a train departing from here, so here is the video:
Gawler Railway Station
Well, if you thought the Gawler Central Railway Station was impressive, then the Gawler Station is even more so. However, unlike Gawler Central, it is a little more of a hike to the town centre (which is probably why we always got off at Gawler Central). The Gawler Railway station was originally established as the terminus of the track from Adelaide, however when the line to the Barossa was built the station at Gawler Central was constructed to allow easier access to the town. One of the reasons that the main station was so far from the township was that during the age of the steam trains local residents were worried about the town being enveloped in smoke, as well as concerns that sparks from the engine would set fire to the local properties. To solve the problem with the distance of the station from the township a horse drawn tram was established to transport people to and from the station.
|I believe the building is heritage listed|
While the days when the station was fully staffed are long gone, there is still a cafe located inside, and I believe there are still a couple of people here to assist passengers. However, from what I read, the station now doubles as an art gallery which displays local works of art. I didn’t have a chance to look inside because it is only open on weekends, and I didn’t even know about the gallery until I read about it on the wikipedia entry.
However next to the railway station is a shed in which there is an old steam train. The train used to be located elsewhere in Gawler however lobbying by a local community group (I believe it was the Lyons club), had it moved here were it is in the process of being restored.
|Imagine trying to hotwire this baby|
The final thing I wish to say about this town are the old buildings that are scattered about. This is probably not surprising since the town was established in 1836. Okay, maybe the racing track is not as old (and I believe they still race horses there), and the semi-detached housing trust homes encroach on the town centre, but there are still a lot of quaint old houses scattered across the place (many of them interspersed with more modern houses when the owners of the land decided to make a quick buck through the wonders of subdivision).
The building in which the local paper, The Gawler Bunyip, is published till has its offices on the main road in an old 19th century building (though I suspect that it is probably printed elsewhere). However, instead of rabbiting on about nothing, I’ll finish off with some of these old buildings.
|It doesn’t look all that open to me|
|I’m not sure who uses this hall – or if it is just for show|
|The call this ‘The Flower Gallery’ – probably not its original function|
|I always wanted to live in one of these old houses|
|Actually I think I have (though not this one)|
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