Relic of state’s past uncovered in roadside monument

Tuesday, 12 December 2023

A time capsule found inside a roadside church monument in the Mid North has given a rare insight into the state’s past, with the key piece of Wesleyan Methodist Church history uncovered during the Augusta Highway Duplication planning works.

The monument, built in 1988 to commemorate 100 years of the first Nantawarra Wesleyan Methodist Church, was successfully relocated last month after locals flagged the monument clashed with the design of the Augusta Highway Duplication.

Known as the Nantawarra Church Cairn, the monument has been moved from Augusta Highway, just south of Hummocks Road, to its new home on Bumbunga Road, Nantawarra.

During brick-by-brick deconstruction of the stone monument as part of the move, locals were stunned to discover a time capsule inside – sealed in 1988 at the 100-year commemoration of the original church opening.

The time capsule contained a variety of newspapers, coins and a letter from a former congregation member who, in 1988, resided in Adelaide and was responding to the 100-year commemoration event invitation. A then-current list of congregation members and their children was also included.

The Augusta Highway Duplication project team worked with local congregation members of the church to find a suitable new home for the monument, with a stone mason engaged to deconstruct and reconstruct the Nantawarra Church Cairn.

Community members are now working with the Nantawarra Hall committee on an application to Wakefield Regional Council to install an information sign on site explaining the history of the church and how the monument came to be relocated.

The Australian and South Australian governments have jointly committed $260 million (80:20 funding) to the Augusta Highway Duplication project which will provide dual, two-lane carriageways from Port Wakefield to Lochiel, improving safety and efficiency across the road network.

This highway is a key corridor that provides crucial connectivity to regional South Australia and interstate, with the project expected to be completed in 2024.

Quotes attributable to Geoff Brock

This is a remarkable discovery made during the relocation and preservation of an important part of our state’s history.

I’d like to thank the local community for their advocacy, which not only ensured the monument found a new home but led to a host of historical items being uncovered.

The outcome achieved highlights how a vital infrastructure upgrade for our road network can be delivered while responding to community feedback and needs.

Quotes attributable to Nantawarra resident Robin Bruce

I had completely forgotten the time capsule was in there – it was a nice surprise.

I used to attend the church and there was a pretty active congregation here, we were a real community.

Being able to move the monument means keeping a piece of history alive for the next generation to learn from.