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Scanning the Street 2 - Jacob Street

Jacob Street, Gawler, South Australia. 5118



My first home - street


The palm tree is now growing where the dying Norfolk Island pine grew in the previous photograph.


A Street in Time

Colonel William Light gave me the plan for Gawler and I pegged it out

William Jacob - circa 1839

The street was named after William Jacob assistant surveyor to Light and a personal and loyal friend.

The History of Gawler

Neighbours who have lived here all their lives lovingly recreate the past; reflect often with regret or nostalgia the changes; record the years with a special sense of dignity: an expression that in all ways

possible, they have been lucky to have been here. It is this sense of 'place' that most people who know Gawler respond to.

Resident of Jacob Street (Jeff Guess)

Some streets run down to a sea, that are nowhere near an ocean. Just the way wind whips at tips of yellow bay laurel hedges, and an iron gate, free slapping in a loose catch after midnight.

This street did once - deep under cyclone wire front fences, shells and sediment from those slow endless ancient waves are still and secret: curled below, in the dark profile of seven metres of river silt.

Generations of Aboriginal tribes were neighbours first with kangaroo grass, mallee scrub and tall red eucalypts. At the Dundas Street corner blue smoke rose from the burning branches and leaves of their 'fire stick' hunting.

Up the steep hill where the Zion Lutheran Church now stands, 8000 years ago the giant bullock sized Diprotodant made its slow path, foraging for food. Its bones dug from the nearby river bank a few decades ago.

Now like a tunnel the dawn road flutes with wind: paper bags and newsprint become kites, scraping up from white pitted limestone walls like strange seabirds looking for, and a long way from where, their senses recall an ocean.

At the town end - Louis Ey's Old Bond Store is gone. After a fire, and salt damp loosened the blue stone walls it was bulldozed for a shaded modern market. Where a blacksmith's hammer would clang into the morning heat and flies, a woman in her new salon is perming hair while a man in an adjacent music shop is climbing scales on an electric organ.

Outside, across the road, a termite beaten strainer post leans in from the last century, loose in its old clay socket, marking the boundary of farmhouse and paddock, festooned in a single tangle of wire.

Further on a trumpet creeper - a few metres that measure the maze and muddle of a hundred years of unchecked growth. All that's left of the street- end of an old settlement garden: still droops with pendulous flame-orange flowers - bee loud and drunk on nectar, swarming in the hot shadows of an ancient song and dance. Beneath its leafless winter habit, slow years are laid down like the mound of an ancient barrow. Stoneware and glass; part of a willow-pattern plate; a copper spoon; lately a Coke can and a pizza box. All hung on the spider's slow industry. A slight net of patience that preserves this untidy tiny jungle of what still matters - and us on tenuous threads to the past.

In the Green-Corner Kitchen a Lebanese woman tosses a fatoush salad, prepares tabouli for stainless-silver counter trays. Air is a mist of salt, oil and vinegar - a reverie of her mountain village home.

Afternoon light is a gardener on his aluminum ladder, summer pruning untidy green tips of crepe-myrtle that will strike in autumn from his lush and couch-green garden in mad-red leaves of fire. The same sun is softened by blue-stone quoin or carefully tended lawns.

An ancient Norfolk Island pine planted on the corner of Reid Street still wears decorations of a string of Christmas' past. Draped with dark wires and broken globes strangely out of time and place. Beneath its spread on a white council seat a woman is waiting with plastic supermarket bags for a lift. The dark

about her feet, is carpeted with green sharp combs of needles from a hundred seasons falling.

An old man who has lived here all his life smokes his pipe by the gate. After 3 o'clock comes out after the postman to clear the advertising - letters don't grow on trees anymore. But he stays, staring into the street watching with green and restless eyes flecked with brown like the sea, waiting with a thirsty tired house-sparrow perched in the dusty untrimmed privet.

The air is full of smoke from couch-grass fires and back yard burning - curling in long coils of sharp and hooking wire catching at the eyes for tears.

A child trailing a yellow school bag is lost along the footpath in her song; rubs tiny hands along a rosemary hedge and leaves in her wake a long winding trail of early evening light.

And somewhere at the end - where sea might have been once: a train whistle beyond the limits of houses rolls on rhythmic waves of sound; at the bottom of the street beyond the school where an old park and football oval are landlocked with a few fenced thistles and trees.

Jeff Guess

Also housing an old blacksmith's shop. Now demolished

Lebanese takeaway where the previous building once stood. Now demolished


Jacob Street where the previous building once stood. Now blocked from intersecting with the main street and truncated by the Woolworths-BigW complex.

Western end of Jacob Street circa 1900s.

©Jeff Guess 2017

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