150 Great South Australians – Part 2 J-Z

A little while ago I introduced you to the to 150 Great South Australians list that was originally published in The Advertiser. As it was WAAAAY too long to reproduce all in one post, I split it into two. If you missed the earlier post, you can find the A-I list here, with the J-Z list below.

This second list of “great South Aussies” which by the way you’ll be pleased to know includes women as well as men, contains inventors, businessmen, ministers, politicians, charity workers, doctors, manufacturers, educators, explorers and many, many more.

You’ll find that many are ‘pioneers’ in their field, because basically they were coming to a colony that was just developing, and was in need of expertise. So you’ll find that many of these people helped shape not just South Australia with their skills, but in some respects, Australia as well.


Roland Ellis Jacobs (1891-1981) Businessman and philanthropist
For nearly 20 years Roland was the managing director and chairman of the SA Brewing Company and worked widely for charities and the arts.

Jimmy James (1913-1991) Aboriginal police tracker
Born as a waterhole near Ernabella, James was a vigorous worker for Aboriginal rights and became a talented tracker for the South Australian police, assisting in the infamous Sundown and Pine Valley murder cases.

August Ludwig Christian Kavel (1798-1860) Lutheran migrant leader
One of the first Lutherans persecuted in Germany to resettle in South Australia, where he led the establishment of strong Lutheran communities in the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley.

Sidney Kidman (1857-1935) Pastoralist and philanthropist
Kidman established transport and cattle interests in the north of South Australia and eventually became Australia’s biggest landholder with holdings stretching through Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia.

L-R: Charles Kingston, Andrew Kirkpatrick, Mary Lee and William Light

L-R: Charles Kingston, Andrew Kirkpatrick, Mary Lee and William Light

Charles Cameron Kingston (1850-1908) Lawyer, parliamentarian and federalist
Premier from 1893 to 1899, a member of the first Commonwealth ministry in 1901, Kingston was one of the most significant figures in the Establishment of the Australian Federation.

Andrew Alexander Kirkpatrick (1848-1928) Union leader and parliamentarian
Kirkpatrick worked as a printer with ‘The Advertiser’, was a founding member of the United Trades and Labour Council and was briefly parliamentary leader of the Labor Party.

Mary Lee (1821-1909) Suffragist
A tireless worker for women’s issues, was mainly responsible for women winning the right to vote in South Australia in 1894.

Essington Lewis (1881-1961) Industrialist and wartime director of munitions
A driving force behind industrial expansion, he served in many roles, including managing director with BHP.

William Light (1786-1839) Surveyor and founder of Adelaide
As South Australia’s surveyor-general Light selected the sight for the city of Adelaide and designed the city layout.

Ruby Litchfield (1912-2001) Community and charity worker
A tireless worker for a wide range of charity, sporting groups in South Australia, she was made a dame by the Queen in 1981.

L-R: Mary MacKillop, Douglas Mawson, William Mitchell and William Mortlock

L-R: Mary MacKillop, Douglas Mawson, William Mitchell and William Mortlock

Mary Helen MacKillop (1842-1909) Educator and school owner
Founding member of the Sisters of St Joseph, she carried out groundbreaking work in Catholic education. The first Australian the be declared “blessed” by Pope John II.

James Martin (1821-1899) Manufacturer and founder of Gawler
At its height, his factory at Gawler employed 700 people and built dozens of locomotives. Martin was several times mayor of Gawler and a leading member and patron of most of the town’s organizations.

Douglas Mawson (1882-1958) Geologist and Antarctic explorer
A colossus in Antarctic exploration and scientific research. Helped establish Australia’s territorial claim in the Antarctic.

George Elton Mayo (1880-1949) Pioneer in human relations and management studies
Adelaide-born, Mayo revolutionised work practices with his psychological approach to the workplace, including better working conditions, shorter hours and rest breaks.

Helen Mary Mayo (1878-1967) Medical practioner
As a doctor, she worked extensively in the area of children’s health and helped establish the original Mothers and Babies Health Association.

Murdoch Stanley McLeod (1893-1981) Businessman and philanthropist
Founder of the M.S. McLeod tyre and bicycle store chain. A major donor to charity groups.

John Abel McPherson (1850-1897) Printer and politician
Founding secretary of the Trades and Labour Council in 1891, he became the first Labor member of the House of Assembly and ultimately Labor leader.

John Melrose (1860-1938) Pastoralist and philanthropist
Established extensive sheep properties north of Adelaide and although he became blind at 41 he continued to run his interests.

May Mills (1890-1984) Education and sports administrator
Worked as a teacher for more than 30 years at Unley High School and was involved in improving the conditions of women teacher.

Roma Mitchell (1913-2000) Lawyer and governor of South Australia
Admitted to the Bar in 1934, Roma Mitchell became Australia’s first female QC in 1863 and the first female Supremem Court judge in 1965. In 1991, she was appointed governoe, retiring in 1996.

William Mitchell (1861-1962) Scholar, educationist and administrator
An intellectual, philosopher and teacher, Mitchell was on the Adelaide University Council for 52 years, vice-chancellor form 1916 to 1942 and chancellor from 1942 to 1948.

William Ranson Mortlock (1821-1884) Pastoralist and parliamentarian
Managed extensive pastoral  properties in South Australian as well as flour mill interests and was a member of Parliament from1868 to 1884.

Charles Pearcy Mountford (1890-1976) Anthropologist
An expert on Aboriginal rock carvings and Aboriginal art, he took past in many expeditions to previously unexplored Aboriginal regions.

William Muirden (1872-1940) Founder of Muirden College
A pioneer in the introduction of shorthand and later, typing in South Australia. He founded Muirden College which specialised in both techniques.

L-R: Rupert Murdoch, Mellis Napier, Henry Newland and Mark Oliphant

L-R: Rupert Murdoch, Mellis Napier, Henry Newland and Mark Oliphant

Keith (Rupert) Murdoch (1931- ) Newspaper publisher, media executive
Chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation, parent company of News Limited, publisher of “The Advertiser”. Rupert Murdoch began his career as proprietor of “The News” in Adelaide in 1953. News Corporation is now one of the world’s largest media companies, embracing newspapers, magazines, television, film making and the internet.

Thomas John (Mellis) Napier (1882-1976) Judge
Admitted to the Bar in 1903, he became QC in 1921, and was appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court in 1924 and became chief justice in 1942, a position he held until 1967. Lieutenant-Governor from 1942 to 1973.

Marjorie Jackson-Nelson (1913- ) Athlete, Charity Worker, and Governor
Between 1949and 1954 she dominated women’s sprinting, winning two Olympic and seven Commonwealth Games gold medals, and setting 10 world records before retiring at age 22. Then raised millions for the leukemia research and was South Australian Governor from 2001 to 2007.

Henry Simpson Newland (1873-1969) Pioneer Plastic Surgeon
Graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1896 and after working in Britain became one of South Australia’s pre-eminent surgeons and teachers. Pioneered plastic surgery and thoratic and neurosurgery.

Lowitja O’Donoghue (1932- ) Aboriginal Leader
Born at Indulkana, she became the first Aboriginal nurse in South Australian and has been widely recognised for her work in the Aboriginal welfare. She was Australian of the Year in 1984.

Marcus Laurence Elwin “Mark” Oliphant (1901-2000) Scientist and governor
Born in Adelaide, in 1943 Oliphant was recruited to the Manhattan project which developed the atomic bomb. He helped establish the Australian National University and was governor of South Australia between 1971 and 1976.

Thomas Playford (1896-1981) Politician
State premier for a record 27 years from 1938 to 1965, he transformed South Australia from a state dependent on agriculture to a manufacturing centre.Achievements included water pipelines from the River Murray, shipbuilding at Whyalla, the Leigh Creek coalfields, Port Stanvac oil refinery and the car industry.

Margaret Rose Preston (1875-1963) Artist
Born at Port Adelaide, Margaret Preston was one of the most influential artists, potters and printmakers of her age.

Archibald Grenfell Price (1892-1977) Geographer, Historian and Educator
A teacher, he helped establish St Mark’s College, wrote several book on South Australian history and geography and in the early 1930s headed a committee to tackle the impact of the Great Depression in South Australia.

Thomas Price (1852-1909) Politician
A stonemason who worked on Adelaide’s Parliament House. He entered the Parliament as a United Labor Party member in 1893 and in 1905 became premier of a Labor Liberal coalition administration.

Alexander Maurice Ramsay (1914-1978) General manager of the SA Housing Trust
A schoolteacher and community worker, he joined the SA Housing Trust in 1943 and became general manager in 1949. The trust provided huge numbers of rental and purchase properties keeping housing costs down in South Australia.

L-R: William Randell, Victor Richardson, John Ridley and Keith Smith

L-R: William Randell, Victor Richardson, John Ridley and Keith Smith

William Richard Randell (1824-1911) Pioneer of River Murray paddlesteamers and politician
In 1853 he built the River Murray’s first paddlesteamer, the Mary Ann. Later built other steamers and for several years held a seat in the House of Assembly.

Victor York Richardson (1894-1969) Sportsman
South Australia’s greatest all-round sportsman. He captained Australia in cricket, South Australia in football, represented the state in baseball and played top-grade lacrosse, tennis, basketball and gymnastics.

John Ridley (1806-1887) Miller, inventor and preacher
Built South Australia’s first flour mill and developed machinery for the agricultural and mining industries, including the world’s first grain-harvesting machine.

Luther Robert Scammell (1858-1940) Manufacturing chemist
A driving force behind the expansion of chemist F.H. Faulding and was involved with the first x-ray conducted in Australia.

Richard Moritz Schomburgk (1811-1891) Botanist and horticulturalist
Born in Germany, he became the second director of the South Australian Botanic Gardens in 1865, and oversaw its rapid expansion.

Max Schubert (1915-1994) Winemaker
Developed Penfolds Grange Hermitage, regarded as Australia’s best wine. Max Schubert symbolises Australia’s great pioneer winemakers including Johann Gramp, Richard Hamilton, Thomas Hardy, Christopher Rawson Penfold, Mary Penfold, John Reynell, Joseph Ernst Seppelt and Samuel Smith.

Adolf John Schulz (1883-1956) Educator
A significant 20th century educator who was principal of hte University Training College (later the Adelaide Teachers’ College) for 40 years.

David Shearer (1850-1936) Manufacturer of agricultural machinery
David Shearer dedicated his life to the manufacture of farm equipment at a factory at Mannum. He is also remembered for the steam-powered card he developed in the late 1800s.

Alfred Muller Simpson (1843-1917) Manufacturer
His firm A.M. Simpson was Australia’s largest metal manufacturer in the late 1800s, producing a wide range of products including defence equipment. Alfred Simpson also held a seat in State Parliament.

Edwin Thomas Smith (1830-1919) Brewer, philanthropist and parliamentarian
Built a brewery business at Kent Town, and help as seat in State Parliament. And he wa smayor of Adelaide when the River Torrens weir was built.

Keith Macpherson Smith (1890-1955) and Ross Macpherson Smith (1892-1922) Aviators
In 1919, the Adelaide-born heroes achieved world recognition when they completed the first flight from England to Australia.

Richard Smith (1836-1919) Inventor
Revolutionised farming in Australia when, in his blacksmith shop at Kalkabury on Yorke Peninsula he developed the stump-jump plough.

Emanuel Solomon (1800-1873) Businessman, politician
Founder an builder of Adelaide’s first theatre, the Queen’s Theatre, built off Currie Street in 1839. He began the South Australian Packet Office, shipping goods and passengers between Sydney and Adelaide.

Catherine Helen Spence (1825-1910) Writer and reformer
A pioneer campaigner for sexual equality, she wrote seven books and actively campaigned to win women the right to vote which occurred in 1894.

Robert Stigwood (1934- ) Entertainment entrepreneur
In the 1960s and 1970s, he was one of the most successful figures in the entertainment world, through management of music groups such as Cream and the Bee Gees, theatrical productions ”Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” and film productions includng the huge box-office his “Saturday Night Fever”.

Edward Charles ”Ted” Stirling (1848-1919) Scientist, surgeon, parliamentarian
Trained in medicine, and the arts, he was also involved in zoology, anthropology, palaeontology, exploration, health, education, women’s rights and social justice. Pioneering scientific expeditions included Iceland in 1870 and the crossing of Australia from Darwin to Adelaide in 1890-1891.

James Cyril Stobie (1895-1953) Inventor and engineer
As chief draftsman of the Adelaide Electric Supply Co. Ltd., in 1924 he invented to Stobie pole to carry electric cables and telegraph wires.

L-R: Emanuel Solomon, John McDouall Stuart and Alexander Tolmer

L-R: Emanuel Solomon, John McDouall Stuart and Alexander Tolmer

John McDouall Stuart (1815-1866) Explorer and surveyor
Commander of the South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition, he made the first crossing of Australia from south to north in 1862. Through his expeditions, South Australia gained control of the Northern Territory and vast areas of the inland were opened up for grazing and mining operations.

Charles Napier Sturt (1795-1869) Soldier and explorer
Discovered the Murrumbidgee Murray Darling river system, travelling down the Murray to Lake Alexandrina and back. Also discovered the inland Cooper’s Creek. South Australian surveyor general, colonial treasurer and colonial secretary.

Doris Irene Taylor (1901-1968) Founder of Meals on Wheels
Paralysed in a fall at age 12, her remarkable career provided service to people whose needs she felt were not being met by governments or other authorities. Meals on Wheels now provides five hot meals a week to 4500 people throughout South Australia.

Colin Milton Thiele (1920-2006) Author and educator
Born at Eudunda, he was one of Australia’s most prolific and popular writers for children, winning local and international awards. Wrote more than 100 books, often describing rural life in Australia and particularly the Coorong.

Andrew Sydney Withiel “Andy” Thomas (1951- ) Astronaut
First Australian astronaut has made a total of four space flights, beginning with space shuttle Endeavour in May 1996.

Bruce Thompson (?- ) Designer of the dual flush toilet
In 1980, with $130,000 government assistance, Thompson  of Norwood-based Caroma Industries, developed a cistern with two buttons and flush volumes (11 and 5.5 litres). Now used in 30 countries, saving the average household 67% of normal water usage.

Norman Barnett Tindale (1900-1993) Anthoropologist
Worked with indigenous people from all major cultural and ecological zones of Aboriginal Australia and produced the first regional survey of Australian tribes in 1940.

Charles Heavitree Todd (1826-1910) Astronomer, meteorologist, telegraph and telephone engineer
Government astronomer and superintendent of telegraphs in the colony of South Australia. Todd joined Adelaide and Melbourne (1858), Adelaide and Sydney (1867) and in August 1872 competed the monumental Overland Telegraph Line from Darwin to Adelaide.

Alexander Tolmer (1815-1890) Police officer
Began as sub-inspector with the mounted police in 1840. Spent much of his time in the bush, noted for his vigorous pursuit of bushrangers, murderers, smugglers and cattle duffers.

Robert Richard Chute Torrens (1814-1884) Public servant, politician and land titles law reformer
Colonial treasurer and registrar general of deed in 1852. Spent next six years agitating to reform a slow, expensive and highly ineffective land transfer by deed. In 1857 his radical proposals swept him into Parliament and he was premier for one tumultuous week.

L-R: Alfred Trager, David Unaipon and Hubert Wilkins

L-R: Alfred Traeger, David Unaipon and Hubert Wilkins

Alfred Hermann Traeger (1895-1980) Inventor of the pedal wireless
Revolutionised communications in outback Australia. Working with John Flynn, of the Australian Inland Mission, he provided remote areas with a simple, cheap and reliable way of communicating, including requests for medical help.

David Unaipon (1872-1967) Preacher, author and inventor
Precocious, urbane and self-possessed, Unaipon subverted popular notions of an inarticulate and primitive Aboriginality. Drawing inspiration from boomerang flight he designed a prototype “perpetual motion machine”, lectured on Aboriginal astronomy, botany and bushcraft. With two legends in print by 1930, he became the first published Aboriginal author.

William Charles Douglas Veale (1895-1971) Soldier, engineer and town clerk
As a city engineer in 1929, Veale oversaw the new Adelaide Bridge and landscaping of the River Torrens. He was Adelaide’s Town clerk from 1947 until retirement in 1965.

Peter Waite (1834-1922) Pastoralist and philanthropist
From 1869, Waite, Thomas Elder and N.E. Phillipson built an empire of sheep and cattle runs that stretched from Beltana, South Australia to the Queensland border. In 1913, Waite established a gift of his Urrbrae family estate to the University of Adelaide,to be used for agricultural research and a public park.

Mary Jane Warnes (1877-1959) Founder of the Country Women’s Association (CWA)
She had the vision and courage to pioneer a rural women’s movement in this state, forming at Burra the first branch of what became known the Country Women’s Association of South Australia.

Samuel James Way (1836-1916) Chief Justice and lieutenant-governor
Elected to House of Assembly in 1875 as member for Sturt, then became attorney general. Exercised the Attorney General’s prerogative of appointing himself chief justice. He came to dominate almost every important cultural, educational, artistic, scientific, and charitable body in the Colony and sat several times as royal commissioner.

Joachim Matthias Wendt (1830-1917) Silversmith
Ambitious and skilful, Wendt moved into 70 Rundle Street, where his firm stayed for more than a century. He was part of the syndicate that developed Adelaide Arcade, city, and the Theatre Royal in Hindley Street.

Ted Whenan (1922-1998) Discovered Olympic Dam mine
In 1975, driller Ted Whenan was sent to Western Mining Corporation to search for copper on Roxby Downs pastoral station. With a lone drilling rig near a livestock watering dam, Whenan found copper ore then, farther down uranium and rare metals. Olympic Dam min operations began in 1988.

George (Hubert) Wilkins (1888-2958) War correspondent and photographer, polar explorer, naturalist, geographer, climatologist and aviator
Adventurer perhaps best known for his polar expeditions, including the Nautilus expedition to the North Pole in 1931, when he proved that submarines were capable of operating beneath the polar icecap. In 1928 he made a trans-Arctic crossing, flying from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Norwegian island Spitsbergen. During World War 1 fought in the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, and was awarded a Military Cross.

Kenneth Agnew Wills (1896-1977) Businessman, soldier, Controller of Allied Intelligence Bureau WWII
Present at the Battle of Beersheeba where Australian Light Horse made its famous charge, awarded a Military Cross. As a reserve officer in Adelaide at the outbreak of WWII he set about rounding up Nazi activists in South Australia. He was chairman and managing director of the Wills group of companies, and chairman of the Advertiser Newspapers Ltd. from 1950 to 1971.

Edmund William Wright (1824-1888) Architect, engineer and businessman
Designed many of Adelaide’best known buildings, including Adelaide Town Hall (1863-66), General Post Office (1867-72), Jewish Synagogue (1871), Bank of Adelaide (1878-80) and the west wind of Parliament House (1883-89). Perhaps the finest example of his work is the elegant Edmund Wright House, designed with Edward Tayler and built in 1878 for the Bank of South Australia.

Shane Yeend (1967- ) Computer game developer, entrepreneur
Chief executive officer and founder of Imagination Entertainment. Born in Adelaide, he heads an Adelaide-based international company, turning over millions of dollars yearly, creating interactive entertainment games which are sold worldwide. Annual company revenue is expected to be about $100 million within 2 years.


So there you have it. 150 Great South Australians. I know I learned a lot reading through this list. The people as well as their contributions to South Australia’s history. No doubt some of you who who read this will have others who you believe would be make this list, and no doubt they are worthy too, as so many people have contributed to making this state what it is today. And for that we should be thankful.   😉

5 Responses to “150 Great South Australians – Part 2 J-Z”

  1. David Cunningham says:

    I do not see any entry for W.H.Wylie! Is there a reason for this?

  2. Richard McCarthy says:

    Col Light did not design the City of Adelaide, he merely chose the site and had some limited involvement in the laying out of the design. The plan had been accepted for more than a year before Light came back from Egypt.

    SIr George Strickland Kingston is a significant omission from the list.

  3. Grant Lewis says:

    I was wondering if you are adding more Adelaide Founder Pioneers as I feel my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather should be considered.
    Samuel William Lewis (aged 26) and Caroline (aged 25) sailed from Plymouth on 26 August 1839 on the barque ‘Moffatt’, arriving in Adelaide with George and Edwin (aged 3) on 19 December 1839. Samuel’s occupation is listed as ‘stone mason’. The first
    two public memorials in the colony were contracted
    to and erected by Samuel. The first was a memorial to Colonel William Light erected in 1843 over the site of his grave in Light Square. The second was the monument to Matthew Flinders at Stamford Hill near Port Lincoln in 1844.
    Samuel changed career paths and leased or bought the following Adelaide Hotels.
    1846-1854 Flagstaff Inn The Sturt [Darlington]
    1858-1864 Flagstaff Inn The Sturt [Darlington]
    1864-1871 Yankalilla Hotel Yankalilla
    1871-1875 Theatre Royal Hotel Hindley St Adelaide
    1875-1882 Eagle on the Hill Hotel Leawood Gardens (Bought)
    1882-1884 Eagle on the Hill Hotel Leawood Gardens with Joseph Lewis
    1884-1886 Eagle on the Hill Hotel Leawood Gardens with George Lewis
    1886-1886 Eagle on the Hill Hotel Leawood Gardens
    Samuel built the Clayton Chapel in Kensington. It was opened in 1856 and he married his second wife there.
    The Adelaide suburb of Darlington was named by Flagstaff Inn licensed victualler (Publican) Samuel after the town in Durham, England.

    Is that enough or do you require more? I have plenty more. Please feel free to call me on 0403090855, to discuss.

  4. Warrick Matthews says:

    I agree, Bill Wylie should be on this list, not only did he establish a shock absorber plant but used to make jacks, sintered products, die castings for electric motors, water pumps, tail shafts for for Holden, Ford and Chrysler.
    Bill also had large pastoralist holdings around the state.

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