POET'S TRAIL                                 

The Register Adelaide, SA Tuesday 16 July 1901 Page 9
Mr. John Riddoch had for the last 35 years taken a warm interest in the Mount Gambier Institute, which he had always regarded as one of the most valuable educational institutions in the district. 
It was at his instance that the Parliament voted £1,000 for the erection of the institute, and arranged for a further subsidy of pound for pound on private subscriptions up to £300 for the same purpose. 
The foundation stone was laid in January, 1868, by Mr. Riddoch.
At the turning of the first sod of the Mount Gambier and Narracoorte Railway in November, 1885, Mr.Riddoch intimated that he had decided 
to give a sum of £1.000 for the enlargment of the institute, and that the Government had promised to supplement it to the amount of £1,000. Parliament voted the money, and the £2,000 was expanded in building a second story to the institute, giving commodious rooms for a picture gallery, museum, committee rooms &c., on the upper floor, and the enlargement of the library and hall on the lower floor. Mr. Riddoch's liberality made the institute one of the best buildings in the town.



​Pioneer Pastoralist


The new Mt Gambier Hospital is situated in 20 acres of parkland at 276-300 Wehl Street North
Mount Gambier, SA 5290 and has 80 public beds, 20 private beds, 15 day surgery chairs, 4 operating theatres, a collocated radiology unit, an Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, consulting rooms for visiting specialists, a regional community health service, a staff development unit, a mental health liaison unit, a continuum of care coordinator, and a same day and overnight stay pre-admission clinic.

Cape Northumberland, which is close by, inspired Gordon to write poems about the sea. 
Gordon's poem
"The Swimmer", written at the above location, has recently been by recorded by the Australians,
Tenor- Daniel Todd; Piano-Daniel Carter; Composer-Xavier Brouwer.
This is part of Xavier's album "Sighs of Sorrow", Poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon, available for purchase and download on the internet.
Xavier Brouwer's Web Site

                                     VANSITTART PARK 
Corner Commercial Street West and Wehl Street North, Mount Gambier


This petition was from over 240 inhabitants of Mount Gambier and the South-Eastern District, praying for the erection of an hospital at Mount Gambier.
The petition was received and read. £10,000 was allocated for the erection of a hospital near the Blue Lake which is an elevated position and considered beneficial for recovery from health problems.


The Cottage

1915 Oct 17 Shrub “Laurustinus” planted in Vansittart Park, Mount Gambier by John Livingston MHR. Taken from Gordon’s grave 
“The Australasian Saturday 23 October 1915, page 37" 
This shrub died and was replaced by a tree- July 1916) “The Register Adelaide Wednesday 13 December 1916, page 9” 
1916 July Dead shrub “Laurustinus” in Vansittart Park Mount Gambier replaced with a Golden Wattle. George Riddoch promised to have a marble tablet ready to erect beside it. See 9th Dec 1916.
(The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Wednesday 13 December 1916, page 9) 
1916 Dec 9 Marble tablet unveiled by the donor Mr George Riddoch in Vansittart Park alongside Mr Driscoll’s wattle tree from the Brighton Grave (Chronicle (Adelaide, SA Saturday 23 December 1916, page 11)


The Government demolished the original hospital in 1971 for future development and in June 1997 the whole site was vacated for a new hospital which was opened on the northern outskirts of the city. The Blue Lake site is now in the hands of private developers.


On Tuesday October 3rd 1865 in the House of Assembly of the South Australian Parliament, the Speaker took the chair at 1.45pm. Three petitions were presented, the third being from the Hon. Member for Victoria Adam Lindsay Gordon. The constituency of Victoria covered the South East of South Australia up to the Murray River.

On 24 July 1980, Dingley Dell Cottage and Heritage Museum became the first building to be listed on the South Australia Heritage Register.

In June 1997, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources leased the cottage and residence to Allan and Jenny Childs as on-site caretakers to operate Dingley Dell Cottage as a museum and tourist attraction.

Courtesy of Day, L., "Gordon of Dingley Dell. The Life of Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870) Poet and Horseman" (2003)

1864 Mar. 8 Dingley Dell transferred by George Randall (Transfer No. 7076 Title Deeds) to Adam Lindsay Gordon, Gentleman. 101 Acres Approx)
(J.K. Moir Border Watch (Mount Gambier,Thursday 2 December 1937, page 1)
1867 Mar 16 “Wormwood and Nightshade” published in “Border Watch”
1867 Apr Letter dated April 1867 Ballarat to Maggie at Yallum
1867 Apr 12 Second on “Cadger” Ballarat Autumn Steeple. “Australasian” 13/4/67 Page 458. This was the holding of the first Grand National Steeple.(Sec Edward Moore Border Watch Mount Gambier Wednesday 19 April 1911 Page 4)
1867 Apr 20 “Cadger” won at race meeting in Robe.
1867 Apr 20 “Banker’s Dream” appeared “Bell’s Life” 20/4/67
1867 Apr 20 “Exodus Parthendiae” appeared ( “The Lay of the Last Squatter.”) “Australasian” 20/4/67 Page 487.
1867 May 1 “Ars Longa” appeared in “Border Watch” Appeared later in “Sea Spray and Smoke Drift” “Border Watch” 1/5/67
1867 May 3 Maggie gave birth to a daughter Annie Lindsay Gordon after Gordon brought her back to Robe from Yallum Park. “Church Records.” Guest of the Governor of the Robe Gaol (Could that be Ex Trooper Bradshaw Young who was with Gordon at Wreck of Admella in 1859?)
1867 May 7 Leased land to Henry Chant at Port MacDonnell.
164 Acres at Port MacDonnell
leased for 3 years to Henry Chant for the
yearly rental of 52 pounds.payable quarterly.
1867 Australian Monthly Magazine purchased by Clarson, Massina & Company and name changed to The Colonial Monthly.
1867 June 7 Annie Lindsay Gordon Christened in the Robe Anglican Church. (The Advertiser Adelaide, SA Saturday 1 August 1936 Page 11)
1867 Poem Whisperings in Wattle- Boughs published.
1867 June 10 Poem Ashtaroth published. Copyright Reg. No 25
Publishers Clarson Massina and Co Melbourne
Gibbs Shallard and Co Sydney 
1867 June 19 Book Sea spray and Smoke Drift published. Copyright No. 26
Publishers George Robertson Elizabeth Street Melbourne
1867 July 15 “The Last Leap” appeared. “Australasian” 15/7/67
1867 Aug 3 “Ex Fumo dare Lucem” appeared. “Bell’s Life” 3/8/67.
1867 Aug 10 Won Amateur Steeple at Ballarat on Cadger. Bell’s Life 17/8/67.
1867 Aug. 24 “Wither Bound” appeared –now known as “Quare Fatigasti. “Australasian” 24/8/67 Page 231.
1867 Oct 5 “Sea Spray and Smoke Drift” reviewed in “Bell’s Life.” 5/10/67
1867 Oct 12 “Sea Spray and Smoke Drift” reviewed in “Border Watch” 12/10/67
1867 Oct 12 Second Great Metropolitan Steeple (Vic) On ‘Cadger’- Banker’s Dream based on this race.1867 Oct 12 Came third at Melbourne Hunt Club Cup (Vic) on ‘Merrimac” “Australasian” 19.10.67 P 490 Turf Register P.!.
1867 Oct 18 Second criticism “Sea Spray and Smoke Drift” “Bell’s Life” 19/10/67

1870 Sept 11 Section of Gordon’s Estate east of Mount Gambier sold to Messrs. Donald and James McArthur for £1002. Three other sections nearer the seaboard and part of the same estate did not get buyers. (The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Tuesday 21 September 1920, page 7)

On the way to Dingley Dell you will pass the Blue Lake where Adam Lindsay Gordon did his famous jump over a fence on to the very edge with just inches between him and certain death from falling.

One day while out riding, Adam Lindsay Gordon saw a piece of land beside the beach, and on it, about a mile (1.6 km) from the coast, he found a stone cottage with a shingle roof, set among blackwoods, golden wattles and eucalypts, with pastures for farming or grazing horses. The 101 acre (40.8 ha) property, just 2 km from Port MacDonnell had been granted to a land agent, Peter Prankherd, on 10 July 1861.

When the property came up for sale, Gordon bought the cottage on 8 March 1864, for £150. He named the cottage 'Dingley Dell' (after the nostalgic manor farm of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers).

The cottage was plainly but comfortably furnished. Bridle paths linked Dingley Dell to the coast through the sand dunes. This was Gordon's only true home and resting place in Australia, where he found peace to write, grass for his horses and an unbroken view over the Southern Ocean.

From 1913-14, the property changed ownership a number of times and by 1920, Dingley Dell was described as a haven for snakes, bees and rabbits. The Dingley Dell Restoration Committee, after much public interest, approached the South Australian Government to purchase the cottage for preservation as part of our national heritage. This took place on 17 February 1922, making the cottage the oldest government-owned historical residence in South Australia.

John Riddoch was the owner of Yallum Park near Penola.
John Riddoch provided help and financial support for Adam Lindsay Gordon throughout Gordon's troubled years in Australia


Tenders were called in 1866 and the foundation stone was laid on February 12th 1867. The building was completed in 1868 and the first patient admitted in January 1869. Additions were made in 1876 and 1909.
Dr. Robert Peel was appointed by the Government in 1866 followed Dr James Jackson from Melbourne in 1868.
In 1946 a midwifery section was added and five buildings for staff quarters. In 1958 a five storied nurses quarters was opened.
The old hospital was closed on June 26, 1961 and a new 216 bed hospital opened on the site on July 14th 1961. The original hospital can be seen between the two new buildings (below).

The Mount Gambier Institute