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No 67 February 2010

Page history last edited by helen.halm@... 10 years, 11 months ago


History Room News

February 2010 by Dawn Juers

No 67


Wow! What a month it has been in Goolwa – the Tour Down Under; Australia Day

Celebrations; Goolwa 180 Sturt Dinner & Re-enactment and the Gopher Rally. What a

busy little town we are.


These events don’t happen without considerable work by the organising committees and

they are to be congratulated. Well done folks!

I was privileged to attend some of the functions which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The 180 Dinner was held in Centenary Hall and attended by His Excellency Rear

Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR, Governor of South Australia and other VIP’s.

The dinner was a four-course meal interspersed with toasts and song. Some of the

guests dressed in colonial attire which added to the occasion.

Next morning, Thursday 11th February, was the re-enactment of Sturt’s arrival in

Goolwa and held at Bristow-Smith Reserve, Barrage Road, Goolwa.

The Fort Glanville Historical Association fired their cannon on the arrival of the replica

whale boat and crew. The local school children gave an excellent performance for the

crowd under trying wind conditions.


His Excellency the Governor, Rear Admiral Scarce unveiled a commemorative plaque.


"Capt Sturt's" arrival in Goolwa-180 re-enactment.


Capt Sturt's Cannon

The Royal Geographical Society of South Australia owns a small cannon that is reputed

to have belonged to Captain Charles Sturt and was then in the possession of a famous

river captain, Captain George Johnston of Goolwa. Captain Sturt is alleged to have had

the cannon in his possession on his epic journey down the River Murray in 1829-30 and

then given it to a Mr Williams, owner of a sheep station at Gol Gol (near Wentworth).

Unfortunately, there is no record of the cannon in the official list of equipment taken on

Sturt's journey and no mention of it in Sturt's personal diaries.

The cannon was referred to in 1853 when Francis Cadell's pioneer paddle-steamer, the

Lady Augusta, called at Williams' station. She was welcomed by an attempt to fire the

cannon. A passenger on the Lady Augusta recorded the story that the cannon belonged

to Sturt in his journal.


When the Williams family moved away from the river in the 1860s, the cannon was

presented to Captain George Johnston, as he was a collector of cannons. When Johnston

died, his widow donated the cannon to the Royal Geographical Society of South

Australia (1907).


There has been some speculation that the cannon belonged not to Captain Sturt, but to

Major Thomas Mitchell, but Mrs Johnston dispelled this theory, as she knew that her

husband had also acquired Mitchell's cannon and that it had been blown up when

Johnston tried to fire it.


The cannon was displayed at the National Trust Museum, Goolwa where the carriage

was made by Mr Neighbour in 1971.

The cannon was returned to the Royal Geographical Society in March 1997, where it is



[This information and photo kindly reproduced with the permission of the Royal Geographical Society

of South Australia Inc.

and the State Library of SA.] 


A Sturt Exhibition is on display in the Alexandrina Council Chambers and Foyer. The

artefacts in the glass cabinets are very interesting and will be on display until 12th March.


* for photos see pdf version - Editor


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