|Town or Locality:||Gawler|
John McKinlay, a Scot by birth, was hired by the South Australian Government in 1861 to lead a search for Burke and Wills who had left Melbourne earlier that year on an expedition to cross the continent of Australia from the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Unknown to McKinlay, Burke and Wills had already perished before McKinlay left Adelaide in August 1861. He successfully located their graves and then carried on to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Despite great deprivation and unrest within his expedition party, McKinlay and his party survived and he returned to Adelaide in 1862.
Not long after his return, McKinlay married Jane Pile, the daughter of Gawler businessman, James Pile. They resided at "Oaklands" at Gawler. McKinlay met Pile in about 1850, after McKinlay had taken up land on the Murray and Darling rivers. McKinlay also tendered on, and won, land leases for Pile.
In 1865, McKinlay was again called upon to serve the South Australian Government by leading an expedition to the Northern Territory. He was tasked with reporting on the suitability of the land to the south of the Gulf of Carpentaria for European settlement.
After his return from the Northern Territory, McKinlay is said to have remained in Gawler, taking an interest in community affairs. He died on 31 December 1872.
McKinlay had obviously made an impression on the people of Gawler in the short time he lived there.
George E. Loyau "The Gawler Handbook" [G.E.L.] pp166 and 167 "After McKinlay's death it was universally felt that something should be done to perpetuate his memory, and accordingly, meetings were held in Gawler and a Committee was formed to carry out the wish of the people - vis., that a suitable monument should be erected "to commemorate his personal worth and the services rendered by him to the colonies as an explorer." The site selected was at the terminal point of Murray-street, at its junction with Cowan-street, and adjacent to the old burial ground. The Committee chosen to carry out the matter, and who brought it to a successful issue, were as follows:- Chairman, W.F. Wincey, Esq., J.P., Mayor of Gawler; Treasurers, J. Thornley, Esq., J.P., Manager Bank of South Australia, Gawler, Richard Holland, Esq., J.P., Turretfield, near Gawler; Hon. Secretary, John Rudall, Esq., Gawler; Committee, A.H.F. Bartels, Esq., Mayor of Adelaide, E.M. Bagot, Esq., J.P., Charles Bonney, Esq., J.P., E.S. Burkett, Esq., J.P., W.R. Cave, Esq., John Chambers, Esq. ,J.P., Rev. Canon Coombs, Hon. J. Crozier, M.L.C., Walter Duffield, Esq., J.P., James Dawson, Esq., Samuel Davenport, Esq., J.P., James Fergusson, Esq., Robert Fotheringham, Esq., Thomas Fotheringham, Esq., Rev. James Gordon, Joseph Gilbert, Esq., J.P., F.A.Grant, Esq., J.P., E.L. Grundy, Esq., John Hope, Esq., Thomas Hogarth, Esq., J.P., G.W. Hawkes, Esq., S.M., J.H.Howe, Esq., Joseph Keynes, Esq., J.P., Hon. A.B. Murray, M.L.C., Rev. J.C. McMchael, James Martin, Esq., J.P., John Mitchell, Esq., J.P., H.T. Morris, Esq., J.P., W.F.H. Popham, Esq., M.D., Ross T. Reid, Esq., Henry Scott, Esq., J.P., Dr. Schomburgk, H.C. Swan, Esq., S.M., R.J. Turner, Esq., S.M., and George Warren, Esq., J.P.
In 1875, the McKinlay Monument was erected with the following dedication: "Erected by many colonists as a memorial to John McKinlay, a chief amongst Australian explorers, and leader in search of Burke and Wills, 1861. Born at Sandbank, Argyleshire, Scotland, August 26, 1819; died at Oaklands, Gawler, December 31, 1872. 'Brave yet gentle, resolute unassuming, formed to command - yet stern to none who knew to obey; He was at once admired and loved. To his country he has bequeathed a name which she may proudly add to the bead-roll of her distinguished men'."
The Monument Key Stone was laid by Explorer John Forrest (later became Premier of Western Australia) on 11th March 1875.
The adjacent wall (known as the Pioneer Place Wall) was built in 1875.
To see more photos of the McKinlay Monument, please click here.
- Gawler Public Library Historical Pamphlet "John McKinlay"