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The project to repair and restore the Church of St George

and upgrade Orleana Square, to befit the heart of Gawler


Can I get involved?

Yes! Please sign up for the newsletter to get updates on the project, email, call, or message to offer encouragment or volunteer, and of course to donate.

How long will this all take?

The Parish of Gawler has established the Steering Group for three years, to the end of 2026 to raise the funds and implement the works.

What changes to Orleana Square are being proposed?

We believe the cost and effort to repair and restore the Church of St George make the most sense when the building is put in the best possible setting as a Gawler icon and destination for visitors. We propose that the labrytinth, reflective space, and landscaping of Orleana Square would be complemented by changes to the traffic flow, parking, and pedestrian access to the square. These are the responsibility of the Town of Gawler in consultation with local residents, and we will work with them to faciliate that process.

What is a labyrinth and reflective space?

A labyrinth is a large flat circular space with a one-way path to follow. Walking a labyrinth is an ancient contemplative practice with links to mindfulness and reflection. They are usually complemented by a garden with quiet areas and seating to allow reflection. We believe such a community asset at the heart of Gawler is valuable and would contribute to health and wellbeing. We believe returning this green space to the public in this way is the best use for the land.

Will the labrytinth and landscaping require trees to be removed?

There are around 13 trees of various species, age, and condition on the eastern end of Orleana Square. All are affected by the compaction of the soil underneath them over many decades. Under State governement regulation, some of these trees are protected, some regulated, and the pepper trees listed as a pest.

It will not be possible to create the labrytinth, reflective space, and landscaping without the removal of at least some trees. The decision about which ones will be removed and what they will be replaced with done in collaboration with the Town of Gawler and Heritage SA, subject to the 1998 Church Hill Management Plan. Factors to consider include: improving visibility of the building; climate change adaptation; ensuring shade for people and plants; increasing the number of local native species; and improving the condition of the soil.

Can it by funded by grants?

At present the State Government provides annual grants of up to $20,000 from a total pool of $250,000 to eligible projects. The Town of Gawler provides grants of up to $6000 for the repair of heritage walls, which may be accessed to support the landscaping. 

Similar projects in the state receive the majority of their funding from donations.

Are there cheaper roofing alternatives to slate?

Over the last 50 years several buildings on Church Hill had slate replaced with corrugated tin or similar. Since the Church Hill State Heritage Area was established in 1985 such replacements are not permitted or desirable, so as to preserve the amenity and heritage value of the area.

There are other reasons to replace the Welsh slate with the same or similar slate. Metal roofs (tin, galvanised steel, or Colourbond) have a life of up to 40 years. Local Willunga slate has an estimated life of 30 years, Spanish slate of up to 50 years, and Welsh or similar around 100 years. Given the cost and complexity of the project and the importance of maintaining the heritage value of the building and area, using a roofing material with the longest life makes the most sense. 

How much will it cost?

The total project will cost $1-2 million depending on how long it takes to complete. This will approximately comprise 70% for the roof, %20 for stonework, and 10% for the labryinth and landscaping. We will continue to update this information as quotes are finalised.

What about the money from the sale of the 'Tennis Court' land?

Land on the north-east corner of Cameron & Cowan Streets, on Orleana Square, was sold by the Diocese on behalf of the parish in 2022. The proceeds of the sale were invested by the Diocese in an endowment, and the use of the capital is restricted, but we are allowed to borrow using the capital as security. This means a line-of-credit could be used to start works on the project while we continue to raise funds for it. 

Can the church pay for it?

The Parish of Gawler has an annual budget of around $190,000 across all three congregations and cannot fund this project by itself. There is an annual maintenance budget of around $12,000 for the Church of St George which does not provide for major repairs.

The Diocese holds investment funds as an endowment for the Parish (also see the next question) with a value of around $900,000 but the purposes it can be used for are restricted. The income from the endowment fund provides around one-third of the Parish income.

What happens if the work is not done?

The risk is that the roof deteriorates to the point the building is unsafe to use, and that the cost to restore it becomes prohibitive. The first sign of this was the fence put up in 2017 to protect people from falling slate. Then in September 2023 pigeons broke through fragile slate, opening a hole to the inside of the church and causing slate to fall through. We had to close the church for a month and a half to install temporary ridge capping.

The Parish is aware of the urgency of this need, and has set a deadline of three years to fund the project and make the building safe. If we can't do that then we would need to pass custodianship of the building on to someone who can. That is a big and uncertain step, one we only want to take if the Parish and community of Gawler are unable to restore the building. 

Who owns the building?

The land and building are legally owned by the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide as a trustee for the Anglican Parish of Gawler. The Parish is responsible for funding itself and maintaining the buildings.

The congregation of the Church of St George is aware however that it is a custodian of an asset which is tied to the history and identity of the Town of Gawler, a building paid for by public donations and holding items such as the Governor Gawler window and the Great War Memorial Bells. Our role as custodians is to bring the risk of the condition of the building, and the vision for a restored St Georges in a beautiful Orleana Square to the attention of everyone.

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