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12 October 1838 Governor Gawler

12 October 1838        Governor Gawler

When Lieutenant George Gawler arrived in South Australia on 12 October 1838 to take over as Governor of the colony from John Hindmarsh he had to face many problems. The surveying of land in country areas was going ahead very slowly which meant that many new settlers were forced to remain in Adelaide while waiting for land to become available for farming. This put additional strain on the existing facilities as well as housing and food. To overcome some of these difficulties Gawler set in motion a series of public works such as improving the roads, the building of the Customs House, the Adelaide Gaol and a new Government House. He also had to form a police force and barracks which added to the colony’s spending. To pay for all these works he issued drafts on the British Treasury, but when these were dishonoured in 1840 the colony was bankrupt and Gawler was dismissed. His replacement, George Grey, in May 1841 began a policy if retrenchment and cut wages and public spending. There was an improvement in land cultivation and a great boost to the revenue of the colony came with the discovery of copper at Kapunda and Burra. By the time Grey left in 1845 South Australia was on a much firmer financial footing and could look forward to better times.

George Loyau, The Representative Men of South Australia, Howell, Adelaide, 1883, pp.13-15.

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