Plaque Unveiled for 1839 Expedition of Governor Gawler

Plaque & cairn marks location of one of our regions earliest recorded events – an accident!

On December 23rd 2006 there was a larger than expected gathering of interested people to witness the unveiling of a plaque to honour the heroism of John Craig in saving the life of Isaac Hearnshaw on that date in 1839.

MC for the day, Marcus Reseigh, invited all the guests into the Neales Flat Hall and after a delightful lunch they were entertained by Carolyn Daniels and Dean Brown, former Premier of SA, who related their part of the history of that date. (Carolyn Daniels is the descendant of Isaac Hearnshaw, and Dean Craig Brown is the great, great grandson of John Craig.)

After the speeches the main party removed to Woithe Road for the official unveiling of the plaque. Thanks were then given to Graeme McVitty for his invaluable research that had led to this occasion, to Paul Tillet of Tillet’s Natural Stone Quarries who donated the stone and affixed the plaque and also to the Goyder Tourism Committee whose recommendation to council led to the funding of the plaque. Thanks too to Peter Herriman for collecting the stone from Black Hill and to the willing group that built the cairn with just a couple of days to spare. (The cairn builders deserved a mention too – they were Marcus for supplying the ‘rocks’, Sue and Steve Thornhill for their equipment, overseer Jae Dalgleish and the Hoffmann and the Herriman children that took part; they now have a place in history too).

Everyone was then invited back to the Hall for refreshments and asked to sign the guest book and convenor of the day, Jae Dalgleish, distributed souvenir booklets that were published for the occasion by The Mallee Trading Post Inc. Extra thanks go to Fay Grosser for opening the Hall and helping with the chores and to the Neales Flat Community for the use of their lovely Hall as the venue for the occasion. (a last minute arrangement that was far more inviting than a tent in a paddock!)

A special vote of thanks should go to all those tireless representatives of the two councils (Mid Murray and Goyder) and the various tourism and heritage committees that found time to attend on a date so close to Christmas. A special mention must be made of the input of Jim Reese, who, unfortunately, was unable to attend on the day.

Historian, Graeme McVitty has since heard from Dean Brown, expressing how overwhelmed he was with how the Neales Flat and Bower folk undertook the day. He really appreciated everything and saw the day as a great success.

NOTE: This location has now been included in the Truro to Eudunda section of the Lavender Federation Trail, and we are delighted that more people will discover this amazing story of the district’s very early history.