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    Port Adelaide - Health

    An Essay - Mudholia - A Place of Pestilence

    Anthony Trollope, the English author, during his sojourn in Adelaide in the early 1870s, in his oft-quoted narrative extolled the beauty of Adelaide and environs but it is apparent that he was led away from the prevailing misery, want and degradation of the lower classes of colonial society. Further, at this time the infant death rate in the city was more than 40 per cent higher than in the remainder of the colony and the highest of any provincial city in Australia - mute evidence of the lack of action by government and councils in the area of public health.

    If the evidence of newspaper reports of the day is to be believed Port Adelaide was no better than its city counterpart. In 1873 a colonist visited Port Adelaide after many years absence and under the heading "Drops of Ink" discussed the settlement in the Register - "Any returned absentee [must] remember [it] when it really deserved the title of ""Mudholia""." To him it seemed strange to see vehicles rolling safely over the town's thoroughfares where "once upon a time sailors or some other erratic wanderers were occasionally found literally drowned to death in mud".

    However, he hastened to add that many "old relics of barbarism in the shape of rows of venerable tumbled-down shanties" still disfigured the landscape:

    He was impressed with "its social improvement" because "if any of our Adelaide sirens who flaunt about the city at all hours by day or night attempt to exhibit their free-and-easy manners in the Port they are speedily recommended to transport themselves elsewhere."

    There was one factor of life, however, which was a source of annoyance - "the evil doing of droves of calfish youths who think it needful to moon about the bridge... till it develops itself in spiteful and often-times disgusting remarks upon passers-by... Occasionally these swains get a thrashing from some long-suffering individual and then for a while they are awed into a sort of doltish harmlessness."

    The above quoted comments were made in April 1873 but, earlier, in February of that year a correspondent to the Register, reflecting upon the hazards of the previous winter, and with "tongue in cheek", opined:

    By 1875 the accumulation of offal on the streets and in the backyards of the inhabitants was of concern:

    With the economic growth of the Colony, and a concomitant increase in population, Port Adelaide made no advancement in respect of community awareness of the hazards of an unhealthy environment; take, for example, the following opinion expressed in 1880:

    Finally, in 1880 a citizen put to rest any suggestion that Port Adelaide had improved its public carriage-ways over its formative years - "Any visitor... cannot fail to see to see how apparent the satirical title of Mudholia is... the roads are perfect quagmires".

    Register, 25 February 1873, page 5f, 3 April 1873, page 6e, 23 July 1875, page 5d, 8 May 1877, page 4, 17 February 1880, page 5f, 24 March 1880, page 5d.

    General Notes

    Also see:
    South Australia - Health
    Adelaide - Health.

    The first meeting of the Port Adelaide Hospital Committee is reported in the Observer,
    24 June 1854, page 5c.

    The Register of
    6 July 1854, page 2g has a report of a public meeting convened to push for a hospital to be established at the Port,
    while an interesting letter headed "Health of Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
    2 and 19 May 1855, pages 3b and 3b; also see
    Adelaide Times,
    24 June 1854, page 9b,
    8 July 1854, page 11c,
    31 October 1866, page 2b,
    5 November 1866, page 3b.

    Also see Register,
    24 April 1880, page 5d,
    24 April 1880, page 2c,
    27 June 1884, page 5b,
    28 October 1887, page 3g,
    12 June 1897, page 9h,
    5 October 1897, page 3g for information on the hospital.

    Information on a Casualty Hospital is in the Register,
    8 February 1917, page 9f.
    The "closure" of the Isolation Hospital is reported in the Register,
    5 July 1919, page 11e.
    A proposed hospital is discussed in the Register,
    1 April 1921, page 6g,
    4 May 1921, page 9e,
    3 May 1921, page 2f,
    4 August 1921, page 8g,
    9 September 1921, page 9h.
    Also see Adelaide - Hospitals.

    "Trained Nurses for Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
    13 July 1894, page 5c.
    Information on the district trained nurses is in the Register,
    12 August 1899, page 6d,
    15 August 1906, page 6i.
    A parade held to raise funds for the Port Adelaide District Trained Nurses' Society is reported in the Register,
    20 October 1902, page 3a,
    18 August 1904, page 9c.
    Also see under South Australia - Women - Nursing and Female Doctors.

    The Register of
    9 June 1856, page 2g carries a report on "The Sanitary State of Port Adelaide" with particular attention to the poor condition of the streets; also see
    18 July 1856, page 2h,
    1 August 1856, page 2f.

    The streets were again a cause for complaint - see
    3 November 1860, page 3d where a citizen writes of "the state of filth, apathy and torpor into which [it] has fallen..."

    Fifteen years later it was said that:

    "Sanitary Condition of Port Adelaide" is in the Express,
    1, 2, 3 and 4 March 1875, pages 2b, 3e, 3a-c and 3e,
    "Port Sanitary Affairs" is in the Observer,
    24 July 1875, page 7a.

    A letter regarding the evils of subdividing land into small allotments is in the Register,
    18 December 1876, page 5g:

    An "Experiment in Drainage" is reported in the Register, 8 May 1877, page 4; at page 5d on the same day it is said:

    A report on the drainage of the town is in the Register,
    2 and 4 February 1878, pages 4d and 1a (supp.),
    16 February 1878, page 5d,
    12 December 1881 (supp.), page 1e:
    "It surprised the Council to find foul smells in the streets traceable to sheer neglect on their own part."

    "The Sanitary Evils of Low-lying Land" is in the Register,
    2 May 1878, page 5c; also see
    14 May 1878, page 7a.
    "The Sanitation of Port Adelaide" is discussed on
    27 January 1880, page 6g; also see
    22 March 1888, pages 5a-6d.

    A report on drainage is in the Chronicle,
    16 February 1878, page 5d.

    "The Drainage at the Port" is in the Register,
    19 February 1886, page 3f,
    9 March 1886, page 4h;
    sanitary conditions are discussed in the Register,
    29 December 1883, page 7c,
    25 January 1884, page 1g (supp.),
    5 January 1885, page 3d,
    10 January 1885, page 37c,
    19 February 1886, page 6d,
    22 March 1888, page 3e,
    16 February 1878, page 5d.
    Proposed deep drainage is discussed in the Register,
    5 June 1900, page 6c.

    A cholera epidemic is discussed in the Observer,
    10 January 1880, page 61c.

    "The Back Slums of Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
    5 August 1881, page 7b; also see
    6 and 26 August 1881, pages 5d and 5c:

    "Foul Cesspits" is in the Register, 13 December 1882, pages 4g and 5a:

    "The Drainage at the Port" is in the Register,
    9 March 1886, page 4h;
    sanitary conditions are discussed in the Advertiser,
    19 February 1886, page 6d,
    22 March 1888, page 3e.

    "Dr Bollen and the Medical Board" is in the Register,
    8 August 1883, page 7c.
    An obituary of Dr Gething is in the Register,
    22 October 1883, page 4f,
    of Dr George Bollen on
    23 September 1892, page 7d.

    Activities of the Saint John's Ambulance in Port Adelaide are reported in the Register,
    26 March 1886, page 6d.
    "Port Adelaide Ambulance" is in the Register,
    6 August 1912, page 6f; also see
    5 June 1913, page 11e,
    2 June 1914, page 8g,
    22 and 24 September 1914, pages 6f and 10f.
    A motor ambulance is reported upon in the Register,
    24 October 1921, page 9c,
    3 and 20 December 1921, pages 11g and 3d,
    5 and 18 January 1922, pages 6g and 3e,
    1 and 22 February 1922, pages 11f and 9c,
    22 March 1922, page 4g,
    26 July 1922, page 4h,
    25 August 1922, page 10a,
    28 August 1923, page 8g.
    Also see under Adelaide - St John's Ambulance.

    The sanitation of the town is discussed in the Chronicle,
    24 March 1888, page 23e.

    "Port Adelaide Dairies" is in the Register,
    18 and 19 January 1901, pages 3d-6f and 8g.

    "Some Risks to Health" is in the Register,
    1 February 1901, page 4e.

    The condemning of houses is reported in the Register,
    20 March 1901, page 6h.

    "Health of Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
    28 June 1907, page 4h,
    4 February 1910, page 3f.

    An outbreak of bubonic plague is reported in the Register,
    7, 8, 9, 12, 24 and 30 April 1909, pages 5b, 4d-7c, 7c, 5b, 9e and 6f,
    20, 21, 24, 26 and 31 May 1909, pages 5c, 4e-5b, 5a, 4g and 8h;
    4, 7, 10, 11, 25 and 29 June 1909, pages 6g, 5b, 7a, 6c-e, 7b and 6c;
    22 October 1909, page 4g.

    "Jerry-Built Tinpot Houses" is in the Register,
    11 June 1909, page 4f.
    Slum housing is described in the Register,
    29 August 1911, page 3g.

    "Cleaning up Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
    30 July 1909, page 7a.

    "Port Adelaide Health Conflict" is in the Register,
    21 April 1910, page 11g.

    "Exterminating Rats" is in the Register,
    16 September 1910, page 8g,
    7 and 20 January 1911, pages 12d-f and 6d.
    "Rat Crusade at Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
    2 June 1911, page 6e,
    4, 25 and 29 August 1911, pages 4e, 8i and 3g,
    2 February 1912, page 4f,
    "Rat Catching" in The Mail,
    1 March 1913, page 9a,
    "Port Adelaide Rats" in the Register,
    28 October 1922, page 9g,
    "War Against Rats" in The News,
    9 August 1923, page 4c.

    "Deadly Street Dust" is in the Advertiser,
    31 January 1913, page 9c.