Monday, June 29, 2015

Evidence of local Indigenous community

This is not the skull referred to in the article. Used
for illustration only
On 28TH April, 1977, a party consisting of Mrs Pearson, Munno Para Public Library; Mr W.J. Richardson former owner of the orangery on the Little Para River; Mr Tom Power and Mr P. Fitzpatrick of the South Australian Museum, Aboriginal and Historical Relics Section, (Department of Environment); visited the Goulds Creek/Little Para River area to seek more evidence of Aboriginal camping grounds and burial sites.  In 1914, Mr W. Richardson and found a skeleton buried sitting up in the creek bank below a gully running into Goulds Creek.  The skull was protruding from the top of the soil which had been washed away by heavy rains.  The area was examined and some digging carried out but no bones were found.  Although many years had passed since the finding of the skeleton, it was felt that it was worth checking the area on the chance that a burial site may be located in view of the fact that the area will shortly be flooded by the reservoir and any evidence which may exist will be destroyed permanently.  Many pieces of quartz chips were found either on the surface or just below it having been disturbed by bulldozers.  These were considered as possible evidence of tool making in the area. One large round pitted stone possibly used as a mallet was collected and taken back to the Museum.

On 22nd July 1977, Mrs Pearson re-visited the orangery site. On the opposite (eastern) side of the Little Para River the alluvial deposits had been carted away. This left the clay beneath the loam exposed, approx. 7ft 3in below ground level.  The area was examined.   Random holes were dug around this at varying distances and ashes and charcoal were also found in them. At aprox. 3 metres from the first hole, a round pitted stone which fitted comfortably in the palm of the hand was found. Several pieces of ochre were also found in this hole.  The area was a known aboriginal camp site and the stone could have been used as a mallet.  The river was known to flood at intervals, resulting in heavy deposits of silt.  The stone and ochre could have been covered in the clay layer where holes were dug and none were visible on the surface.

Mrs G Pearson, Local History Researcher, Munno Para Public Library.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The first performance in the new Shedley theatre

The Irregular Verb to Love

The first performance by the Elizabeth Repertory Company in the new Shedley theatre at Elizabeth marked the beginning of a new chapter in the theatre in SA.

For its opening play the choice of “The Irregular Verb to Love: by Hugh and Margaret Williams. The production by Bill Watt, the setting a modern sitting room of elegant proportions in Regent Park, London.

Paula Carter showed considerable charm as a cranky mother and Leonard Ashby portrayed her vague animal curator husband with understanding. Also performing was Marion Hennessey, Michael Moody, John Willis and Christine Mitchell, Jeanne Roberts, Eileen Coe as an interviewer and Ken Grave as a Greek interpreter.

Paula Carter as she appeared in the first play

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Elizabeth Civic Centres - The People's theatre

The group of civic minded people rallied to establish a theatre complex for the City of Elizabeth. The Housing Trust of South Australia offered the Salisbury Council, free of cost to the Council a site for the theatres in the centre of Elizabeth.  The unique design of the theatre complex is the work of Mr Geoff Shedley, chief architect for the South Australian Housing Trust. 

The Elizabeth Civic Theatres feature twin theatres in one building comprising the Octagon and the Shedley Theatres.
The complex, completed in 1965, was opened by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Edric Bastyan on 21st August of that year. 

The small theatre from the start was known as the Shedley, named for Mr Geoff Shedley, who was the designer and architect of the theatres, and his influence as a designer, architect and sculptor has left its mark on the cultural development of the city.

Several local theatre groups have been formed in Elizabeth and surrounding areas, such as The Nimbus Productions, The Northern Light Opera Company, Mirrabooka, Masque Productions, and The Elizabeth Repertory Company.

These groups cater for drama, light opera, musicals and comedy and give many people the opportunity to be connected with an amateur theatre group whether it be in acting, singing or the technical side of a production.  Some groups such as The Nimbus Productions have now become semi-professional and provide excellent entertainment. Dancing Schools, Callisthenics Club Displays, Concerts, and the Boy Scouts Comedy Capers and held at the Shedley Theatre which makes the theatres a “Peoples theatre” in reality.
The Octagon, which derives its name from its shape, is the larger of the two theatres.  The Octagon is the venue for all the major balls in Elizabeth.  The Elizabeth Birthday Festival ball is the highlight of the social calendar of Elizabeth, where the entrants of the Miss Elizabeth Quest are presented to the Guest of Honour before the winners are announced and Miss Elizabeth is crowned.

From 1992 there were plans to revamp the heart of Elizabeth.  Part of these initial plans was to bulldoze the Shedley and Octagon theatres and expand the Elizabeth Shopping centre out to Main North Road.  The proposal sparked outrage amongst the local community who began protesting about the proposed plan.  Placard carrying demonstrators gathered outside the Elizabeth Council Chambers to show their disapproval.  The Shedley was saved, but the Octagon was demolished.
In 2004 the Playford Civic Centre opened as part of the ‘Revitalisation of the City”.  The new centre is designed to be a hub of inspiration, drawing together a range of community and cultural services into one central and dynamic facility.  The redevelopment cost $12.6 million.


THE SHEDLEY THEATRE is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2015.

The Playford Civic Centre is calling on anyone who may have information or a connection to the Shedley Theatre.

We would also welcome any historical material relating to the theatre that you may be willing to share.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, the Playford Civic  Centre would love to hear from you.

Please contact Daina Pocius on 8256 0382 or email 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Always remembered

A death of a person is often felt deeply by family members and friends.  While researching WWI soldiers who died during the war it was moving to discover memorial notices inserted in newspapers often on the anniversary on their death. 

Often a poem of a few lines, they revealed how much they were loved and missed and held in esteem. 
Charles Melvin King from Virginia died at Pozieres 1916.  The following year his parents and sister inserted a notice in the Chronicle newspaper.

This is the day, so sad to recall,
This is the day of remembrance to all;
Dear is the grave where our dear one is laid,
Sweet is the memory that will never fail.

His brother inserted;
He sleeps till the last roll call
Along with the brave.
Too dearly loved to be forgotten

His sister, H E Roberts inserted
From memory’s page time can’t blot
Three little words, forget me not.

Chronicle Saturday 10 November 1917 p 13

Ted Blackman
Edward Blackman was born on 14th October 1898 at Smithfield.  At the age of 18 he enlisted in the AIF, on 5th February 1917.   He was killed in action in Dernancourt, France on 13th April 1918, aged 19.  
In remembrance of his brother Private Edward (Ted) Blackman, his sister Annie inserted the following.   

Far away over the ocean
Dear brother with heart so true
Though you will never return again
There’s a lot at home thinking of you
Ted’s brother inserted this message;

Over in France my sad thought roam
To a lonely grave so far from home
Although your dear grave I can’t see
I hold you dear in memory.

Monday, April 27, 2015

James John SHEEDY

100 years ago today, a young Virginian man, James John Sheedy died on the shores of Gallipoli. 

Two brothers from County Clare, Ireland, Michael and Edmund immigrated to Australia in 1850 to join the gold rush.  With some success the brothers moved to South Australia to join their eldest brother and sister.   Michael married Bridget and had children.  They were a farming family.

James was born at Virginia in 1894.  His mother was Bridget ran the local Post Office.  James went to school locally at Virginia.  He was a member of the local football and cricket clubs and for some time had been secretary of the ULU.  He was a member of the Two Wells Light Horse and when war broke out he was one of the first to enlist.   James, a farm labourer enlisted on 24 August 1914 at the age of 20 years.
James was given a farewell by the community at the Wheatsheaf Hotel.  The event was recorded in the newspaper.

On Thursday afternoon a farewell was tendered Private J. J Sheedy, who in, a day or two as leaving for the front.  The event, which was hurriedly arranged, was held at the Wheatsheaf Hotel, and a good crowd assembled to bid farewell to the young man. Mr. Sheedy is a resident of Virginia, and is very popular.  He has a large circle of friends, who will look forward to his safe return. On behalf of his many friends Mr. J. Richmond presented Private Sheedy with a purse of sovereigns and a case of pipes, and wished him Godspeed and a safe return.  Mr. Sheedy suitably responded. The afternoon closed with the singing of "God Save the King".

Daily Herald Saturday 12 September 1914 p.5
He was appointed to the 10th Battalion Infantry, as a cook.  James left Adelaide on the Asconius on 20 November 1914. 

The 10th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. The battalion was recruited in South Australia, and together with the 9th, 11th and 12th Battalions, formed the 3rd Brigade.  The battalion was raised within weeks of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked for overseas just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving in early December.

The 3rd Brigade was the covering force for the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 and so was the first ashore at around 4:30 am. The 10th Battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the Anzac position, and served there until the evacuation in December.

He was sent to the Dardanelles and he was killed in action on Gallipoli on 27 April 1915. 

The following is an extract from a letter written at Gallipoli on August 8th by Lieutenant AB Lodge to his mother at Hamilton, describing the fight in which Private J. J. Sheedy was wounded: —   'Jim Sheedy has had a bit of hard luck. He has been wounded in the head and in the leg. The wound in the head is not very serious, but his leg is bad. He has been sent to hospital, and is likely to be away for some time.

It appears the Turks were making an attack, and he, with about seven more of his section, were holding an advanced position. The Turks made a charge. He managed to bayonet one Turk, when another made a cut at Jim, and got him on the head with the bayonet.  Jim promptly turned round and knocked out the other Turk with the butt of his rifle.  Then the order was given to come back into the trench.  Jim was the last to come back, and by some means or other he was mistaken for a Turk, and his own officer shot him in the leg. Hard, was it not? My word! the chaps tell me he was as game as anything.  I hope he'll soon be better.

Advocate Saturday 11 September 1915 p 25
His mother Bridget, living at Sea View, Virginia received his effects.  They consisted of belt, balaclava, mittens, razor and strop, two fountain pens, three books, a letter, silver match box, cigarette case, spectacles, metal chain, two metal watches, diary, purse and religious medallion.

James is interned at the Lone Pine Memorial, at Gallipoli Turkey.

Lest we forget!

James’ image from the Chronicle Saturday 10 July 1915 p.42
Australian War Memorial 10th Battalion history.
Virginia the garden on the Plains