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27 November 1906 Colonel William Light

27 November 1906    Colonel William Light

The statue of Colonel Light was unveiled by the Governor, Sir Ruthven Le Hunte, on 27 November 1906 in Victoria Square. It was moved to its more appropriate position on Montefiore Hill in 1938 from where Light points towards his city. Colonel William Light, described as ‘excitable, sensitive, artistic and by no means robust’ was sent to South Australia in mid-1836 with instructions:

To select a site for a capital city with a commodious harbour near a tract of fertile land and with an abundant supply of fresh water and good sheep walks.

After rejecting Encounter Bay because of exposure to southern gales he sailed up St Vincent Gulf to Rapid Bay which held promise, but was more impressed with Holdfast Bay further north. He decided the city should be placed on an elevated plateau some six miles inland. His decision received a mixed response from early settlers and an even more hostile reception from Governor Hindmarsh when he arrived in December. After continuing disagreements with Hindmarsh, Light resigned his position in 1838, but his health was ruined and he died in October 1839. His monument is the beautifully planned city of Adelaide itself with its belt of parklands and the inscription on the base of his statue is his epitaph. It reads, in part:

I leave it to posterity ... to decide whether I am entitled to praise or blame.

Max Colwell, ‘Colonel William Light’ 100 Famous Australian Lives, Paul Hamlyn,
ydney, 1969, pp.52-7.

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