George Woodroffe Goyder

goyderGeorge Woodroffe Goyder [b. 24 Jun 1826 Liverpool LAN, d 2 Nov 1898 Warrakilla nr Biggs Flat SA] emigrated to New South Wales at the age of twenty-two and shortly after relocated to South Australia in 1851 where his talent as a surveyor was quickly recognised with his appointment in 1853 to the Colonial Engineers Office and in 1861 he was appointed Surveyor-General.goyderline
His legacy for South Australia remains Goyders Line, the isohyet that delineates land suitable for pastoral purposes from that appropriate, due to an average rainfall of twelve inches or greater per year, for arable farming. It is not widely known but Goyder in fact devised a similar line in the Northern Territory. However, his impact on the colony of South Australia and its Northern Territory was much greater than this.
Goyder encouraged the development of the pastoral industry and surveyed the mines being established in the Flinders Ranges. He conducted a number of significant expeditions into the remote areas of South Australia. Goyder planned many townships in the mid-north of South Australia. He planned, sited and began the initial development of Darwin, then known as Palmerston, and other townships in the Northern Territory. Many features including Frances and Fannie Bays* were named by Goyder and his work is recalled today with his own name attached to roads, a civic square, a local government authority, an electorate, a fish, a lagoon, a range of hills, a railway siding, a creek and a river in both South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Goyder married Frances Mary Smith, the daughter of John Smith, at Christ Church North Adelaide on 10 Dec 1851. She died in England on 8 Apr 1870 from an overdose, probably as the result of postnatal depression, leaving George and nine children. On 20 Nov 1871 at St Luke Adelaide, George married Frances' sister Ellen Priscilla Smith with whom he had another son and twin daughters.

*Goyder named Fannie Bay after Fanny Carandini, a popular opera singer of the time. In 1868 the Carandinis held concerts in Adelaide just a month before Goyder, and his party set out in the Moonta to found Palmerston. Frances Bay was named for Goyder’s wife. Tour operators in Darwin would have you believe that Frances Bay was named only after Goyder’s wife, Frances Mary nee Smith became upset at the recognition of Fanny Carandini! Some will even suggest that Goyder and Fanny Carandini had some liaison in Palmerston but there is no evidence to suggest that Goyder and Fanny ever met!

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