Time flies for Gawler airmail service

Martin Walker, Tony Piccolo and Edith Martin (grand-daughter of the 1917 pilot R.G. Carey) unveil the sign to mark the monument.

Martin Walker, Tony Piccolo and Edith Martin (grand-daughter of the 1917 pilot R.G. Carey) unveil the sign to mark the monument.

The centenary re-enactment of the first airmail delivery in South Australia had a safe landing in Gawler on Thursday despite clouds threatening to rain on the Airmail Society’s parade.

A crowd, comprising of members from the Gawler History Team, Gawler Red Cross, Australian Airmail Society and the Adelaide Soaring Club, amongst many others, gathered at the north eastern corner of the Gawler racetrack in the afternoon to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first airmail delivery to Gawler, and in honour of Robert Graham Carey’s first aeroplane flight over Gawler.

Local resident and member of the Airmail Society Mr Martin Walker approached Light MP Tony Piccolo to have a memorial marker sign placed at the location to make people of the historic monument at the racetrack.

Mr Piccolo said that he understood that when the Jockey Club was first approached about holding the small celebration at the memorial, they responded with, “what memorial?”

“The historic occasion was first celebrated on its 80th anniversary with a memorial plaque placed at the edge of the horse racing track,” Mr Piccolo said.

“I was able to quickly obtain the support of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure about having a memorial maker sign placed on Adelaide Road.

“It was installed the day before the centenary event.”

In 1917, Mr Carey’s flight over Gawler was scheduled to occur three weeks earlier.

However, he crashed shortly after take-off, which disappointed the crowd of onlookers waiting in Gawler.

The first flight carried with it a letter from the then Speaker of the South Australian Parliament, Mr FW Coneybeer, to the then Mayor of Gawler, Mr William H Cox.

The current Speaker of the South Australian Parliament, the Hon Mick Atkinson and Gawler’s Mayor Karen Redman commemorated the event by having letters delivered to each other via the aeroplane, which recreated the important event.

Mr Piccolo said that it was great to be involved in the recreation of another of Gawler’s historic pioneering events.

“By unveiling the memorial marker sign I hope that this event will be remembered more widely than it currently is,” he said.