Historic Bugle - Goolwa Local Government History 1853-1997 (Part 3)

Attending the Alexandrina Council meeting on April 15 was a rewarding experience for visiting members of the gallery who were watching the proceedings of the session. Shortly after the meeting was opened, two members of the public made presentations to Council on an economic issue and another dealing with offensive airborne odours, both of which were well prepared and clearly presented. In the general meeting proceedings, the level of debate was good and response by staff to questions from the elected members were well received by them.

The item of elected member’s reports was interesting in which either written or verbal accounts of their previous month’s activities and their attendance at committees or other functions were given. These were dealt with effectively with the minimum of unnecessary verbiage. However, a part of one of those reports given was about an old bugle that had been recovered and had found its way temporarily, into the hands of a Councillor that startled me as Chairman of the Goolwa branch of the National Trust of SA.

This historic bugle belonged to the Goolwa-Pt Elliot tramway and was an exhibit on long-term loan from the Geographical Society of SA to the Goolwa Museum as an important part of our wider Port of Goolwa history display. In 2002, a thief broke into the museum and the bugle was part of several items that were stolen from our collection. Subsequently the Geographical Society made an insurance claim on the loss and it was paid out. As a result of that break-in, the Goolwa N.T. Museum invested in an expensive electronic burglar alarm system throughout the building which so far has foiled two further attempted break-ins. In sitting in the gallery at the Council meeting, it was the first time our branch had heard about the bugle’s recovery, thanks to that Councillor’s report.

A short history of our local government 1853-1997 (Part 3)

From the establishment of the Corporation of Goolwa as the town council in 1872, the municipality grew both rapidly and influentially as the Murray River trade grew to its peak during the early 1890’s. When Goolwa seceded from the District Council of Port Elliot (DCPE) some friction was generated between the two Councils relating to the costs of operating the Goolwa Hindmarsh Island ferry.

As Hindmarsh Island remained a part of DCPE, the Goolwa Corporation refused responsibility for contributing to the service. The Corporation considered that as the ferry service was connecting the two parts of the DCPE lying either side of the Town of Goolwa, it was enough therefore that the Corporation provided the connecting roadway between them through the town. This feud between the councils was further fuelled when residents on the island petitioned in June 1872 to secede from DCPE. The islander’s petition failed in achieving their goal. The disagreements over the operational and maintenance costs of the ferry service continued until 1899 when the SA Government ruled that both councils were required to jointly manage the service and must equally share all costs pertaining to its operation.

Another unresolved situation between the two councils was that Goolwa township’s seaward boundary fell short of giving it access to the Goolwa Beach. There was a surveyed road leading from Goolwa to the beachfront, but only a portion of it was lying inside the Corporation’s boundary. The remainder of this road leading to the sea crossed DCPE land.

In 1878 Goolwa Beach was as remote to visitors as the far side of the moon when the Corporation considered annexing the last short section of the rough scrubby track leading to the beach, but the move failed. However, an agreement was finally reached between the two councils in 1892 to build the unmade section of road, with each council contributing to the cost of construction. On November 17, 1892 the road was declared open and the whole of the south coast could have access to Goolwa Beach and its now famous cockles.

By 1892 the Port of Goolwa had reached its peak and from that point the river trade began its decline from competition of Morgan’s wharf with its direct connection to Port Adelaide.

Frank Tuckwell May 2019