Recollections of Mrs Elva Morison

From the Vox Column, The Advertiser, 23rd June 1959

In the recent school holidays Mrs John Morison, formerly Elva Harding of Belair, took five of her grandchildren by train to the National Park at Belair. Whilst they enjoyed games and a picnic lunch her thoughts returned to her girlhood when her father, C.J.S. Harding, was transferred from Balhannah to Belair where he was then stationed for 20 years.

Those who came to Adelaide to school knew many of the regular daily train travellers. Some impressed, some were serious and austere, others friendly. Mrs Morison visualises Mr Lock, son of the station master at Bridgewater, knitting socks.  He was later killed in World War I.

Ray (Sir Raphael) Cilento and his sister Gladys (later Mrs John Close), whose father was a station master at Aldgate or Mt Lofty, were regular travellers. Another traveller was L. C. Lindon (known to us as Elsie) who was then a student - he became a well-known doctor and was knighted. From Upper Sturt came Sir Josiah Symon, often accompanied by his gentle little wife. Mr A.H. Curtis of the Education Department, a friendly person who saved a seat for his young friend from Belair.

At Belair many joined the 8:10 each morning. Mrs Morison remembered the Nootnagels - two brothers and their nearby neighbours Walter and Arthur Gooch of “TooRoo”. Mr George Laffer, an orchardist and an M.P. who was the Sunday School Superintendent. Mr Fred Downer of “The Cottage” at Hope Lodge (later Retreat House) and his son Sydney and daughter Alleyne. Mr Hardwicke and his daughter Dora who walked from the Upper Sturt side of the National Park to the train at Belair each morning – he was a floor walker at James Marshall & Co.

Mr C.T. Hargrave (father of L.M.S. Hargrave, Lord Mayor) lived near the rectory. Mr J.P. Anderson of Alta Mira, and Mr Guy Williams who lived opposite. He had excellent signalling equipment and we often watched from his garden when he ‘talked” to those with similar equipment on the plains. He was also an authority on flags.

Noted Personalities

Dr T.K. Hamilton of Willa Willa (later Birralee) who usually travelled to the city in his own carriage with Mr Bushell as coachman. His brother Dr Charles Hamilton lived next door on the east side of Willa Willa. Later Dr Ramsay Smith bought this property.  He travelled by train as did his daughters Gwen, Hilda and Irene (Babe). There was a married daughter and a son, a doctor in the RAN.

Mr Lloyd Prince of Wilkinson & Co lived at “The Carobs” a little further east – he drove each morning in a stylish buggy to Montrose at Mitcham and often gave Elva Harding a ride when she went to lessons at Unley Park.

Mr George Downer lived in the lovely home Monalta. He owned acres and acres of land in the district, Monalta became Wickham College for boys and later the Hannafords bought the property, now the district hospital.

The Misses Moffatt and their mother with the Nootnagels lived near Nunyara. Dr May Moffatt and her sister Lady Kerr Grant used to ride so charmingly along the hills roads.

The Misses Gall also lived nearby (the area later The Triangle), near Nunyara which was then a tuberculosis hospital, run I think by Dr Gault.  Dr Rennie and his sisters lived opposite in a house which the Buttons built.

The Rev Salisbury Jose lived in the rectory with Mrs Jose and their daughter Molly.They later went to Bayham Old Abbey, Lamberhurst in Kent.  Later Rev Fred Price came to Holy Innocents rectory with Walter, Fred and Mary. Fred and their neighbour Jerry (L.M.S.) Hargrave went to Saints. In the National Park lived the curator Mr Sanders with his wife, six daughters and son Charles Bush. Nearby at the Government Nursery in Old Government House lived Mr and Mrs Canny with their six daughters and one son Jack.  Mr Canny was the head nurseryman. The young plants and tree were all sent to various parts of the State from the Belair Station. It was in the summer a very busy station with picnic trains with hundreds of people coming to remember a day in the park.

It seems stranger to remember again Miss Dolly Holdernesse’s little shop and tea room at the eastern end of the platform. Mr Holdernesse was employed in the National Park, they lived in the north lodge.

At Blackwood

Young people of the district were taken (or walked) to the Blackwood Club hall where we skated, played basketball, did gymnasium and each year with adults entered the many sections in the annual show and literary competitions. And what fun we had!

Practising with Holy Innocents choir to sing “God came from Teman” is something I will never forget. I think Mrs Frank Hargrave was the soloist.

I know we did not get first prize in the contest but Mary Price the Rector’s daughter and I did for a duet. I was thrilled to beat Frank Smith (an excellent pianist) when I played Greig’s “To the Spring”

Among those who joined the train at Blackwood: the Magareys, Prouds, Campbells, Westons, George Jeffries, Hewetts, Summers, Mr Love, the Downers - Mr Charles and George, Elsie, Marjorie, Jean and their brothers and cousin Greg Blaxland all of whom lived at Craigburn. Greg Blaxland from NSW went to St Peters College.

The Milnes lived opposite the club hall; Mrs George Milne was a very good pianist. One daughter married Dr Powell and a son Mr Kenneth Milne, a well-known architect. At a fete opening I can remember one of the Milne boys presenting the Governor’s daughter with a bunch of vegetables.

Another family of train travellers; the Hope Harris’s. Nellie Jeffries married Russell Hope Harris and went to America to live. The Ashby’s of Wittunga also travelled to the city each day. We were all very sad when young Dr Ashby died.

The children of Belair, where for some years there was not a school, went to Coromandel Valley or to Mitcham. When the Belair school (later St Johns) was built Mr Henry Nadebaum came as headmaster, he was followed I think by Miss Lea and then the Fieldings.


Elva Edith Morison (1897 – 1995) was a Belair identity who, being keen to help the war effort, became Secretary to the organiser of Adelaide's Cheer-Up Society, Alexandrine Seager, during WW1.

This article and a number of oral histories were digitised by Ashley Phillips, a CVDNT volunteer, in November 2012.