There is nothing more fun than going on a fact hunt, and with the rich history of South Australia, there are lots of facts to find. We love sharing them via Instagram but Fritz has once again compiled a list of the best facts so far.
1. A Funfair in the Sky
Back in 1950, when Rundle Mall was still a street, Coles had a cafeteria and there was a funfair in the middle of the CBD. And not in Rymill Park or Hindley Street, it was atop the seven-storey Cox Foy building. The funfair was a massive drawcard for families across the state, and high above the other Adelaide buildings, you could ride a merry-go-round, miniature train, or even a ferris wheel. Sadly, Cox Foys has become one of South Australia’s ‘lost buildings’ and was sold to Harris Scarfe and subsequently closed in 1977.
2. The Corner That Had Us Stumped
Many of South Australians know and love Beehive Corner. It’s a beautiful snapshot of Victorian architecture and has been lovingly restored – in our opinion it’s the most beautiful building on King Willy. But at the turn of the century, there was also another iconic corner that faced the hive – Stump’s Corner. Alfred Augustus Stump was a photographer and businessman born in Hobart who had a considerable career in Adelaide. Before Polites, it was Stump’s name that was on everyone’s lips. Prominent signage ensured that ‘Stump’s Corner’ became a well-known Adelaide landmark and rendezvous. Stump was a skilful publicist; practically every newspaper had an advertisement for his business, and news items of some novelty or achievement almost every week. The building was gutted by fire several times, and by 1929 had moved on.
3. Pretty Fly For A Wi-fi
Dr. O’Sullivan is an electrical engineer and (it’s rather complicated – to us) his work in the application of Fourier transforms and radio astronomy led to the core technology that has become Wi-fi – as we know it. We can thank Dr. John O’Sullivan and his team at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) for a reliable way to use wireless communications. You can thank him for reading this fact right now, probably. We owe you a beer Doc – and we salute a true SA legend.
4. Hop on a Steamer to Kangaroo Island
When Glenelg first opened its jetty in 1859, it was not only used by fisherman, but also to accept cargo from ships. These included a mail service operated by P&O, and passengers were also able to travel from the Glenelg jetty to Kangaroo Island by steamer. The steamer was called the SS Karratta and operated until 1967. Can you imagine having a heavy night on the Glenelg tiles and then waking up in Kingscote? We’re sure it happened more than people care to admit.
5. Barossa Is a Lie
The Barossa Valley derives its name from the Barossa Ranges, named by Colonel William Light in 1837. Light chose the name in memory of the British victory over the French in the Battle of Barrosa, in which he fought in 1811. The name “Barossa” was registered due to a clerical error in transcribing the name “Barrosa”. The word Barrosa actually means ‘Hill Of Roses’ which doesn’t quite match ‘Valley of Vineyards’ so it’s probably a good thing. What’s in a name anyway?
6. Ello, Ello, Ello… Our First Policeman
When SA was first colonised, it was expected that, because we were a free-settlers colony, there would be little reason to have a police force. This dream was short-lived, following a burglary, a murder, and two attempted murders in Adelaide during March 1838. So Governor Hindmarsh created the South Australian Police Force (since renamed South Australia Police) on 28 April 1838, appointing 21-year-old Henry Inman as sole commander, with the rank of Inspector. In effect, if not by title, Inman was its first Police Commissioner. Inman then recruited “twenty active young men” and commenced founding the police, purchasing necessary horses and equipment. It was the first centrally controlled police force in Australia, and the first with jurisdiction over an entire colony.
7. What a Pain Relief
Although Alexander Fleming received most of the credit for the discovery of penicillin, it was Howard Florey who carried out the first ever clinical trials in 1941 of penicillin at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, England. Florey’s first patient was a postmaster from Wolvercote, near Oxford. The patient started to recover but subsequently died because Florey was unable, at that time, to make enough penicillin. Sir Howard Florey is consequently regarded by the Australian scientific and medical community as one of its greatest figures. It was Florey and Ernst Boris Chain who actually made a useful and effective drug out of penicillin after the task had been abandoned as too difficult – leading to them both sharing a Noble Prize, and rightly so.
8. Great Grapes of the Vale
Pioneers William and Elizabeth Oliver came to South Australia in 1839 from Scotland, arriving only five years after the settlement of Adelaide, meaning there was not much in the way of infrastructure. Not only did they eventually have ten children, the family immediately planted orchards and vineyards on their property ‘Taranga’, located in the Seaview sub-region of McLaren Vale. Can you imagine planted a whole vineyard, as well as tending to a livestock farm? This became the winery Oliver’s Taranga – and we sure are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Oliver for planting the first seeds of the McLaren Vale region.
9. Tanunda Down Under
Tanunda is a town situated in the Barossa Valley – about 80kms from Adelaide. The town has Germanic heritage, so we have forever thought the name had German origins. The town name actually derives from an indigenous Australian word meaning ‘water hole’ – due to the year-long waters that skirt the area. Tanunda is also home to Turkey Flat, where shiraz vines that were planted in 1847 are believed to be the world’s oldest continually producing commercial vineyard.
Got any weird South Australian facts? We love to hear about them! Let us know in the comments, below.