The Hand of Corporal Coles

In Adelaide in April 1842, Corporal John Coles was on North Terrace conducting a military salute for the celebration of the Duke of Cornwall’s birth when an accident occurred. When priming the canon, the gunpowder exploded, destroying all four fingers of the Corporals right hand and the top of his left forefinger. The Colonial Surgeon […]

The CALHN Health Museum visits the Architecture Museum

Recently members of the CALHN Health Museum took the opportunity to visit the Architecture Museum at the University of South Australia’s City West Campus. Upon arrival we were greeted by Dr Julie Collins, Architecture Museum curator. Dr Collins gave an introduction to the museum with its collection of over 200,000 items, including many architectural drawings […]

International Women’s Day – Nancy Atkinson

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. This is the theme for today, this year’s International Women’s Day. It’s a day devoted to honouring the achievements of women throughout history. The day is celebrated […]

Raising the Roof

Slate roof tile from the Adelaide Hospital Gatehouse The Adelaide Hospital Gatehouse was completed in early 1860’s, along with the perimeter wall and gates. Constructed from Glen Osmond stone, with a slate roof. Glen Osmond bluestone was a hard, greenish grey fine-grained sandstone. As a roof material, slate was ideal material for rooves due to […]

Anniversaries in 2023

To help bring in the new year, I have compiled a list containing some items or events from our collection that have reached significant anniversaries in 2023. This list is just a bit of fun and is no way exhaustive, if you know of other milestones related to South Australian health history that you think […]

Masterclass: Conservation for Non-Conservators

The Health Museum’s staff recently refreshed their skills in the preventative conservation of collection objects in the beautiful setting of the Mortlock Library, Adelaide. Part of the day included hands on practice making mounts to display museum photographs, books, and artwork. Japanese tissue paper was used to make corners for artwork and photographs to keep […]

Nurses Capes

Historically, nurse’s capes were both symbolic as well as practical.  They were a standard part of a nurse’s uniform and although mainly worn in winter months, they allowed the nurse to move freely and keep uniforms clean underneath.  Royal Adelaide Hospital Registered Nurse’s (known as either a Charge Nurse or Sister) at the Adelaide Hospital, […]

Adelaide Hospital Table Tennis Team

It was common for hospital staff to compete in sport teams under the (Royal) Adelaide Hospital name. In 1928 this included a table tennis team. Table Tennis came to Australia in the late 19th Century and was commonly known by the name Ping Pong. The photograph below shows the Adelaide Hospital table tennis team from […]

The “Repat”

Visit to the Reactivated Repat This week our museum workers visited the Repat Health Precinct, Daw Park. Established in 1942 as a military hospital, it has undergone several rebirths over its 80-year history and is fondly remembered as the Repatriation General Hospital, or the ‘Repat’, for returned war veterans and their families.  Most recently the […]

Plaster Away

The setting of broken bones using Plaster of Paris is a common practice at Central Adelaide Local Health Network hospitals.  Immobilizing broken limbs has occurred for thousands of years. Beginning with simple wooden splints, evolving over the centuries to plaster of Paris, fibre glass and soft casts. Plaster of Paris was first used in casts […]

Fresh Air and Sunshine

There is nothing quite like the simple joys of getting some fresh air and sunshine. I think many of us can appreciate the benefits that spending time outdoors has on how we feel. These benefits have long been recognised in the health setting too. The CALHN Health Museum holds many photographs dating from the early […]

Celebrating Allied Health Professions Day

October the 14th is International Allied Health Professions Day. To help celebrate International Allied Health Professions Day, below are five items from the CALHN Health Museum collection that relate to some of these professions. The Allied Health Professions are made up of health professionals that are not part of the medical, nursing or dental professions. […]

Skeleton in the Closet

Do you have a skeleton in the closet? We do! Meet our fine friend George. George is a little bit shy, so let us introduce him. In days gone by, nursing education was conducted in the hospital rather than a tertiary institution. The former Royal Adelaide Hospital trained nurses in theory and practice for over […]

A Colourful History

A huge shout out to Kelly Bonito from A Colourful History for bringing the “Adelaide Hospital Infectious Diseases Block” alive. In Kelly’s words “Bringing the world of the old to life by colourising old photos”. Please go and check out her wonderful Facebook page, where beautiful black and white photographs are revitalised with colour! The […]


In 2020 the CALHN Health Museum received an interesting piece of South Australian history. A Gopher! The mobility scooter was made by Grant Telfer, who is perhaps best known as the creator of the iconic Monash playground in the Riverland. Telfer was the first to use the gopher name in association with mobility scooters with […]