show / hide sidebar
John Hill c.1810-1860: South Australia's Discoverer of Rivers
Publisher: Unlock the Past
Media: BOOK - paperback, 144 pages
Author: M. Slee
Other: b&w & colour photos, maps, appendixes, bibliog, index
Publisher: Unlock the Past
South Australian history books routinely recount the founding in 1836 of what became the modern City of Adelaide, but it was the rapid European exploration and settlement of the surrounding rural districts that ensured its very survival and prosperity. This study of John Hill, a hitherto unrecognised explorer, exposes fresh insights into that process, against the backdrop of the frenetic and dramatic rush for special surveys from 1838 to 1841.
The London-born Hill was an uncharacteristc explorer in that he avoided publicity. Adding to his already taciturn nature, for the most part he had commercial objectives and therefore explored discretely.
Arriving from New South Wales in 1837, the experienced pastoralist set out to be the first livestock overlander. Toward that goal he participated in three explorations of the unknown country between Adelaide and the River Murray, revealing a great deal of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Beaten in the overlanding race, Hill then turned to exploration for potential sites for special surveys and towns secondary to Adelaide.
In April 1839 he explored the Mid-North, discovering the Clare Valley. In doing so he discovered and named the Wakefield River and Hutt River, and probably also the Light River and Gilbert River. He next explored the far western and eastern coasts of Eyre Peninsula (before Edward Eyre) and in April 1840, accompanied by Thomas Burr, was the first European to traverse Northern Yorke Peninsula. He is the namesake of Hill River in the Mid-North and Mount Hill on Eyre Peninsula.
His personal land investments included what is today almost the entire suburb of Port Adelaide. Initially a leading member of the Adelaide colonial establishment, John Hill was crippled by the financial crises of 1842-43. Following a visit to London he became a recluse in Adelaide, where he died a pauper in 1860. He had never married.
A mysterious character with a confusingly common name, comprehensive research has resulted in this first-ever account of the remarkable life of a long-ignored explorer.
1. Discovering John Hill, a history mystery
2. Origins and background
3. Summary of John Hill's activities in South Australia
4. Arrival in South Australia, September 1837
5. Expedition with Colonel Light - discovery of the Barossa Valley, December 1837
6. Exploration of the Central Mount lofty Ranges to the River Murray, with Dr George Imlay, January 1838
7. Exploration from Adelaide to the Riverland, with Oakden, Wood and Willis - Light River discovered, March 1838
8. Importing livestock from New South Wales, March-May 1838
9. Public Life in Adelaide, 1838-39
10. Special Surveys and engagement with the Secondary Towns Association, February 1839
11. Exploration and discovery of the Clare Valley, and of the Wakefield, Hutt and Gilbert Rivers, April 1839
12. Examining the Light River, Barossa Valley, and Wellington for Special Surveys - April-May 1839
13. E.J. Eyre follows Hill to explore the Mid-North - discovered and names the Hill River, May-June 1839
14. The known facts concerning the discovery and naming of the Wakefield, Hutt, Hill and Gilbert Rivers
15. Expedition to the far west of Eyre Peninsula - first Europeans to examine Streaky Bay and Ceduna, August-September 1839
16. Riverland and Lake Victoria Expedition - October-November 1839
17. Exploration of Robe and the Glenelg River in the South-East, December 1839
18. Hutt River (Clare Valley) Special Survey, December 1839
19. Other Special Surveys taken - Wellington, Light River (Hamley Bridge, Hamilton, Victoria) and Auburn, January-March 1840
20. Eyre Peninsula Expedition, exploring Spencer Gulf Coast with Governor Gawler, Franklin Harbour and Mount Hill, March-April 1840
21. Exploration of Northern Yorke Peninsula - April-May 1840
22. North West Bend (Morgan) and Yunta expedition, January-February 1841
23. Hill purchases Section 2112 comprising all of southern Port Adelaide, May 1841
24. Revisiting the Clare Valley, August 1841
25. Return to England, 1843
26. Sale of Section 2112 Port Adelaide, July 1843
27. Return to South Australia c.1845 and then obscurity
Appendix A. A confusing Range of Hills
Appendix B. Account of the expedition of George Imlay and John Hill across the Central Mount Lofty Ranges to Mannum, 23-26 January 1838, by Dr George Imlay
Appendix C. Account of the expedition by John Hill, William Wood, Charles Willis and John Oakden from Adelaide to the River Murray at Morgan, 1-12 March 1838, by John Oakden
Appendix D. Reports of Samuel Stephens and John Hill on the explorations of the West Coast of Eyre Peninsula in the Rapid, 31 July-19 September 1839
Abbreviations and Explanatory Notes