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Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The plaque commemorates Mary Thomas who arrived in Holdfast Bay in November 1836 and set up her camp around the Old Gum Tree. The plaque also recognises the courage of all pioneering women. 

Mary Thomas née Harris (1787 – 1875) was a diarist, poet and early settler of South Australia. She married Robert Thomas on 8 January 1818 in Southampton. They had six children, one of whom died young.

She and four of their children accompanied her husband to South Australia on the Africaine and arrived at Holdfast Bay in November 1836. The eldest son (second child), Robert George Thomas, had travelled with George Strickland Kingston and reunited with the family when they arrived. The family wanted to "obtain a competence" in South Australia, but expected they "must go to England to enjoy it." He printed Governor John Hindmarsh`s proclamation of the colony, which occurred under the Old Gum Tree on 28 December 1836.

Already a published poet at the time of her arrival in South Australia, she was a prolific letter writer and kept a diary which was first published in 1915 as The Diary and Letters of Mary Thomas. This gave a detailed account of her voyage on the Africaine as well as an insight into early colonial life. She died at her house in Adelaide on 10 February 1875.


Address:43 McFarlane Street, Old Gum Tree Reserve, Glenelg North, 5045
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.970511
Long: 138.520504
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Approx. Event Start Date:November-1836


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 18th October, 2018
Front Inscription

Mary Thomas
(1787 - 1875)

In memory of Mary Thomas who reached Holdfast Bay in November 1836 aboard the Africaine and of all women who arrived during the first months of South Australia`s settlement, to set up camp around the Old Gum Tree.

The diary and letters of Mary Thomas is the invaluable published account of her voyage and life in the primitive tent village with its harsh conditions and privations,

Flies, fleas and mosquitoes were innumerable.  One or other annoyed us incessantly ...  in the evening the mosquitoes came in such swarms as to literally cover the inside of the tent...   14 December, 1836

Her diary also describes the first Proclamation Ceremony.

In recognition of the courage and sacrifice of these pioneer women, we commemorate them all as founding mothers.

Unveiled by: 
Mrs Lan Le
16 October 2018

Donors :
Thomas family members
Pioneers Association of S. A.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au