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    Adelaide - Transport


    Transport in Early South Australia - The Beginnings


    Within the colony of South Australia in the 1840s the creaking bullock dray was the sole transport available and by the turn of the century many colonists in the prime of life could remember the days when railways and sleeping cars were unknown and where "the cloud of dust, which was the herald of a coach-and-four, was to be seen on every country road, through cloud or sunshine, across rivers, and over hills, that would appal many a modern driver; often with axles afire, these antiquated vehicles carried their living load from the city to the outermost fringe of settlement. They were guided by men who knew nothing of fear..."

    Reminiscing in 1898 a colonist proclaimed "that we have moved so quickly in these new lands, that the present generation, accustomed to travel in every direction by means of the ""iron horse"", are apt to forget or despise the methods which were the glory of their father's day..."

    The First Public Venture

    To James Chambers belongs the honour of pioneering the colony's first public conveyance, a "modest venture" comprising a spring cart drawn by two horses which conveyed people to and from Port Adelaide; he also owned the pioneer cab of the colony, having a stand in Hindley Street.

    As his business grew he ran coaches to Gawler and in April 1846 he advertised the introduction of a service to Burra following the opening of the "monster mine". Leaving the post office in Adelaide at two o'clock in the afternoon the coach proceeded across a bridge at Thebarton to the Grand Junction, crossed the Gawler Plains and arrived at Gawler at seven o'clock in the evening where passengers put up for the night at Calton's Old Spot Hotel.

    At daylight the next morning a three-horse cart drove via Templers, Forresters (a former hotel near modern-day Tarlee), past the "Stone Hut", Black Springs, Dan O'Leary's "Sod Hut" and then to Mr Charles Ware's Burra Hotel. This 100 mile journey was, under normal circumstances, accomplished in daylight. The return journey commenced on Friday mornings at 10 a.m. and was completed "by an early arrival in Adelaide on Saturday night;" the business was finally closed as a result of the opening of the Port Adelaide and Gawler railways.

    Some of the "staging posts" could only be described as primitive, one being described as follows: "Fancy a little pine hut divided into a kitchen and three bedrooms, the cob [clay mixed with gravel and straw used for building walls, etc] a great deal broken away from between the slabs, and the chimney persistently smoking as to decline to draw at all unless all the doors were open. No woman's face brightens the scene; no woman's hands to battle with the dirt... The venerable cook smokes as he prepares the supper and bears relics of many a former feast upon his shiny trousers. Those who are the most impudent get the beds, those who are honest get the floor..."

    Coaching Companies

    By the close of the 19th century the largest and oldest surviving establishment of its kind in Australia was Hill & Company, whose Adelaide headquarters were in Pirie Street and originally opened by William Rounsevell in 1844. "Day by day for half a century from those gates flowed a steady yet immense stream of every description of vehicle from the spring cart to the coach-and-eight... In its palmy days as many as 1,000 horses were required to carry on its enormous traffic."

    At the outset "Serpent" buses plied between Adelaide and Kensington then the firm took over Mr McDonald's "Rose and Shamrock" Scotch coaches then traversing the Glenelg Road, on which "the traffic became so great that twenty coaches per day were required to cope with it".

    The coach of the 1860s differed very materially from that of later years and, up until the early 1870s, it provided accommodation for a mail guard, who was in the employ of the Postmaster-General. He occupied a seat at the rear of the coach, similar to a driver's seat behind a hansom cab but by about 1872 "his warpaint was then considered by an impecunious government to be unnecessary and his services were dispensed with."

    One of the longest and most difficult of the many lines was that of Adelaide to Port MacDonnell, a distance of some 600 km (about 350 miles). Accordingly, it was little wonder that some people "could not muster the courage to undertake the journey more than once in a dozen years", for by the time they reached their destination "every bone in their body must have been shaken." To the north of the city the longest route went to Yudnamatana, via Kapunda, Melrose and Nuccaleena, from whence a packhorse completed the final 100 miles of a 400 miles journey.

    It was no light responsibility to be the driver of a team of six or eight horses attached to a crowded coach through the Adelaide hills and across the sprawling plains of the north.

    Also see South Australia - Transport.

    General Notes

    "The First Wagonette" is in the Register,
    7 May 1891, page 7d.

    "A Wire-Rope Tramway" is in the Register,
    9, 11 and 12 March 1872, pages 5d, 6a and 3e.

    "Bullock Drivers Demonstration" is in the Register,
    7 October 1876, page 5a, 21 September 1877, page 5d.

    A feature article entitled "Public Conveyances" is in the Register,
    6 February 1879, page 6a.

    "Precaution v Negligence" is in the Register,
    14 November 1881, page 6e,
    "Careless Driving" on
    23 February 1882, page 5a.

    "One-Horse Cars" is in the Register,
    23 August 1886, page 7d.

    A proposed tramroad from Port Adelaide is discussed in the Register,
    21 June 1888, page 3 and
    a new railway station on
    2 October 1888, page 4f.

    An obituary of John W. Bushell, carrier, is in the Register,
    5 February 1889, page 4h.

    "Cable Tram for Adelaide" is in the Register,
    20 June 1890, page 5a.

    "Tram and Railway Fatalities" is in the Register,
    13 March 1891, page 4f.

    "City and Suburban Locomotion" is in the Register,
    16 November 1891, page 6a.

    "The Rules of the Road" is in the Observer,
    7 July 1894, page 30d,
    8 December 1894, page 29e.

    Information on Cocking & Co, is in the Register,
    10 April 1900, page 7e.

    Preparations for a royal visit are reported in the Register,
    8, 11, 14, 18, 21, 22 and 27 June 1901, pages 6b, 4c-6g, 6c, 7f, 6b, 6f and 5b,
    8 and 9 July 1901, pages 8a and 5f.
    Also see SA - Royal Visits.

    "Tram v Bus" is debated in the Advertiser,
    15 March 1902, page 7f,
    "Trams versus Buses" on
    16, 18 and 29 July 1924, pages 14e, 12e-15e and 16c,
    26 August 1924, pages 8c-9d,
    27 November 1924, page 8e,
    5 December 1924, page 12f,
    28 June 1924, page 9f,
    1 July 1924, page 15h,
    19 and 20 December 1924, pages 13a and 11b,
    "Tram and Bus" in the Register,
    23 October 1928, page 8c.
    Also see Motor Buses.

    "The Penny Buses" is in the Register,
    9 August 1902, page 6g.

    "Motor Regulations - A Check on Speed" is in the Register,
    10 May 1904, page 6g.

    A photograph of a "four-in-hand" mule team is in the Observer,
    11 March 1905, page 24.

    "Rival Traction Systems" is in the Register,
    2 and 7 June 1905, pages 4d and 5c.

    A proposed introduction of motor trams is discussed in the Express,
    7 June 1905, page 2c.

    "Taxi-Cabs for Adelaide" is in the Register,
    18 March 1909, page 4f,
    9 July 1909, page 4e; also see
    14 and 31 August 1909, pages 12g and 4d.

    "An Auto-Buggy in Adelaide" is in the Register,
    20 March 1909, page 9c.

    The trial of an electric motor car upon the streets of Adelaide is reported in the Register,
    4 November 1910, page 6f.

    "Local Mono Rail" is in the Register,
    2 December 1910, page 6f.

    "Steam Trolleys" is in the Register,
    26 July 1912, page 3g.

    "The Policeman on Point Duty" is in the Register,
    24 and 25 July 1916, pages 5c and 7c,
    20 January 1917, page 11f; also see
    22 February 1919, page 6d,
    19 March 1919, page 6e.
    Also see Motor Cars and Traffic.

    "When Adelaide Sleeps - The Terrors of Motor Drivers" is in The Mail,
    14 December 1918, page 2f.

    "Motor Car Stands" is in the Register,
    30 September 1919, page 6e,
    "Parking Spaces Allotted" on
    23 January 1920, page 7g.

    "Old-Time Memories" is in the Register,
    20 May 1920, page 4g,
    "Smoking in Tram Cars" in the Advertiser,
    29 November 1920, page 9a.
    Also see SA - Social Matters.

    "The City's Traffic - Need for North-South Arteries" is in the Advertiser,
    26 May 1922, page 12d,
    "Overcrowded Trams" on
    12 January 1923, page 8g,
    "Last Cars and Sunday Fares" on
    13 February 1923, page 12c,
    28 March 1923, page 9b.

    "Passing of the Livery Stable" is in the Observer,
    26 March 1921, page 28d.

    A photograph of Saunders' Driving School is in the Register,
    8 December 1921, page 5.

    The reminiscences of Henry Graves are in the Register,
    2 September 1922, page 9g.

    "Our Tramways - History of the Work" is in the Register,
    8 March 1923, page 11c.

    "Adelaide's Traffic Problems" is in The Mail,
    22 November 1924, page 30c.

    "Big Taxis for Adelaide" is in the Register,
    12 December 1923, page 6h.

    "Trams and Buses" is in the Register,
    14 May 1924, page 8e,
    16, 17 and 18 July 1924, pages 8c, 10a and 11c.

    "Motorists and Pedestrians" is in the Observer,
    18 October 1924, page 37a.
    "Adelaide's Traffic Problems" is in The Mail,
    22 November 1924, page 30c.

    "Passenger Transport Charges" is in the Register,
    24 September 1924, page 8d.

    "The Passing of Mail Carts" is in the Register,
    22 December 1923, page 8g.
    Also see SA - Mail & Postal

    "Alteration to Tramway Routes" is in the Register,
    23 September 1924, page 9a.

    The Tramways Band is discussed in the Register,
    6 and 7 March 1925, pages 8d and 9d,
    28 April 1923, page 15a,
    6, 7, 12, 25 and 30 March 1925, pages 12f, 15f, 16e, 11g and 12e,
    2 April 1925, page 14c; also see
    The News,
    19 November 1924, page 10a,
    5 March 1925, page 1a,
    1 April 1925, page 1e.
    A photograph is in the Observer,
    5 April 1924, page 34.

    "How Adelaide Travels" is in The News,
    19 November 1924, page 1d.

    "Discourtesy on Trams and Buses" is in the Advertiser,
    6 and 9 February 1926, pages 16e and 12c.

    "Motor Parking Stations - How They Affect City Property Values" is in the Register,
    4 March 1926, page 5c;
    a proposed city parking station is discussed in the Register,
    21 May 1926, page 12g,
    10 February 1927, page 5c,
    29 August 1929, page 26d.

    "The Cross Road" is in the Register,
    9, 11, 12 and 22 March 1926, pages 9g, 11d, 14f and 11e,
    15 April 1926, page 8e.

    "Double-Decker Buses" is in the Register,
    9 March 1926, page 10e.

    "Bus Control" is in the Register,
    27 and 30 March 1926, pages 11d and 11f.

    "The Transport War" is in the Register,
    8 and 10 April 1926, pages 6c and 10c.

    "After the Last Car - How Adelaide Gets Home" is in the Register,
    16 July 1926, page 10i.

    "Motor Bus Bylaws" is in the Register,
    30 April 1927, page 22d.

    "Exit Buses - City Streets Taboo" is in the Register,
    16 September 1927, page 9a.

    "When Tram and Train Travel was a Real Adventure" is in The Mail,
    16 June 1934, page 2,
    "Trams in Cities" on
    4 April 1936, page 7c.

    "Suburban Transport That Our Fathers Used" is in The News,
    1 August 1935, page 10f.

    "Lights for Traffic" is in The Mail,
    10 April 1937, page 2a.

    Transport - Choose again