On 19 October 1833, Australia’s national poet was born at Charlton Kings, near Cheltenham and the Cotswolds, in Gloucestershire, England.
Nineteen years later he left his homeland, never to return, to make a new life in Australia. Unfortunately, he would not see another 18 years.
Thank you to the Yankalilla & District Lions Club, on the lovely Fleurieu Peninsula, for the opportunity last night to talk about Australia’s national poet – Adam Lindsay Gordon – and his interesting short life, at their monthly members’ meeting at the Yankalilla Golf Club.
Adam Lindsay Gordon was a poet, horseman, mounted trooper, horse-breaker, politician, husband, and briefly a father but, he was also a troubled soul towards the end of his short life. He had suffered numerous injuries from horse falls, the most serious being when a horse fell on him, and then stood on his face while scrambling to its feet. Lindsay Gordon suffered a broken jaw, a broken nose and a large dent in his skull. After he recovered, it is believed he then sported a beard to conceal the scars.
On 23 June 1870, his third volume of poetry Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes had just been published, a copy of which he gave to his friend Henry Kendall when they met that evening in Melbourne. They scraped together some change for a drink each before departing their separate ways for home. Gordon had learned that he could not claim his inheritance of Esslemont Estate, as he previously thought, due to a change of laws relating to entails. His recent business ventures had failed, his only daughter had died at just 10 months of age, and he owed money to his landlord and others. He had purchased a box of cartridges for his service rifle, saying to Kendall that he had rifle practice the following morning at the Brighton Artillery Corps, of which he was member.
The following morning, 24 June 1870, Gordon’s lifeless body was found in the tea-tree scrub near Brighton beach by a local farmer looking for a stray cow, and taken to the stables of the nearby Marine Hotel until a post mortem could be carried out. He had taken his own life.