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394 - Sherlock Holmes And His Adelaide Connections

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How do you find someone to talk about Sherlock Holmes and his Adelaide connections? You talk to ABC Adelaide – it’s elementary, Dear Watson, and it’s how I connected with today’s guest, Peter Dunn.

The SA Drink Of The Week this week is an award winning Galway Pipe Tawny Port.

And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we feature the new album by Professor Flint.

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Running Sheet: Sherlock Holmes

00:00:00 Intro


00:02:25 SA Drink Of The Week

The SA Drink Of The Week this week is the Galway Pipe Bourbon Barrel Tawny 10 YO, voted best wine from Australia at the Frankfurt International Trophy 2024, and the Galway Pipe Grand Tawny 12 YO, which won the Grand Gold Award.

These two significant awards at the prestigious Frankfurt International Trophy 2024, were against competition from more than 2,550 wines from nearly 30 countries.

This is fitting because Sherlock Holmes always smoked a pipe and kept his tobacco in an old slipper. Not sure if he drank Port though?

Galway Pipe is named after Sir Henry Lionel Galway, a “notable” governor of South Australia who was renowned for his discerning taste in fine fortified wines. That’s not all he was known for. Sir Henry was appointed Governor of South Australia in 1914. He resented the limitations placed upon a constitutional governor, and his governorship was defined by controversy. He managed to anger a wide spectrum of the population.

The general public disliked his support of compulsory military training; puritans were angered by his support for gambling and his opposition to prohibition; progressives were infuriated by his opposition to women’s enfranchisement; and the political establishment were aghast at his opposition to the White Australia Policy (on the grounds that the Northern Territory needed Asian workers). For this last opinion, he was forced to issue a full retraction and apology. A speech in 1915 in which Galway suggested that trade unionists should be conscripted and sent to the front was widely criticised and gave local cartoonists a field day. It was eventually Galway’s support for conscription that saved his governorship; the legislature decided that his efforts to increase voluntary recruitment for the First World War, as well as his support for conscription referendums, warranted keeping him in the role. A motion in the legislature by the Labor opposition in 1917 calling for the abolition of his office failed.

After the war, Premier Archibald Peake was considering a proposal to build a national war memorial on the site of Government House, Adelaide, with a new vice-regal residence to be purchased in the suburbs. Galway managed to dissuade Peake from this scheme, and the war memorial was built in a corner of the grounds of Government House. Galway’s appointment was not renewed when it expired in 1920; although he was liked by the Adelaide establishment, he had been a spectacularly controversial governor, and the Colonial Office did not give him another post. He returned to England later in 1920.

Back to the wine, Galway Pipe in Langhorne Creek is led by Head Winemaker Chris Dix and Senior Winemaker Chad Smith, and is available through BWS, Dan Murphy’s, Liquorland, First Choice and more.

Galway Pipe Bourbon Barrel Tawny 10 YO
Complex flavours on the palate such as caramel, vanilla, fruitcake, and an abundance of sweet spice notes. The small format barrel has a profound influence, amplifying the tawny’s character with exotic bourbon notes: delicate interplay of charred wood, rye, and toasted malt characters emerge, entwining harmoniously with the tawny’s essence to create a perfect union.

Galway Pipe Grand Tawny 12 YO
Aged in oak barrels for an average of 12 years, this exquisite, rich blend of character-filled grape varieties. A complex flavour profile of raisins, dried pears, grilled nuts and spicy oak. The palate is balanced with levels of sweetness and acidity, perfectly crafted and aged, ready to drink.

00:17:42 Sherlock Holmes Society with Peter Dunn

Earlier this year, to cleanse my pallate after reading a series of business books, I opted to listen to Stephen Fry’s reading of the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. I was smitten. Then I fell off my chair when Adelaide was mentioned in the story, The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, only to fall off again when we got another mention in The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax. My curiosity compelled me to ascertain whether or not the ships, Rock of Gibraltar and Bass Rock, actually existed and carried passengers from Adelaide to Southampton. I found evidence for the latter, and also discovered that Adelaide has a group called Unscrupulous Rascalls, but I have failed to be able to make contact with them. So, after reaching out to Keith Conlon, who put me in touch with ABC Adelaide Producer John Thompson-Mills, I was invited onto the Drive program with Jo Laverty, and through that discussion, I met Peter Dunn, who was a member of the original Sherlock Holmes Society Of Australia. He joins me now in what I hope will be a singular episode of The Adelaide Show.

Original members of the Sherlock Holmes Society Of Australia, from left, Anne Dunn, Peter Dunn, and founder, Alan Olding, at the launch of the movie, “Young Sherlock Holmes”

Before we proceed, I must say that I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s use of English, in particular, his use of the adjective, singular. I find myself using it. Are there any other words or phrases that rubbed off on you, other than, elementary (which rarely comes up)?

How did the Sherlock Holmes Society of Australia come to be, and what drove its members’ passion for Holmes?

Let’s have a listen to how The Case Of The Elusive Sherlock Holmes Society came to be solved, thanks to the Jo Laverty interview on ABC Adelaide. This is my second interview with Jo on the day.

Tell us more about the society and some of those connections to stories and to the author.

In my first chat with Jo Laverty, I brought up the only blemish in Stephen Fry’s narration, when he we trying to do the accent of Lady Brackenstall from Adelaide, whose maiden name was Mary Fraser. Here’s a snippet from the story, The Adventure Of The Abbey Grange.

What do you think of that accent?

We should go back to the beginning and “A Study in Scarlet” because this is how we meet Holmes and Watson and set the stage for all that followed. Charting the story through the lens of Holmes seems to me to have been a master stroke. What do you like about it? How does it compare to the odd story written from Holmes’ perspective?

“The Final Problem” was the story when we meet Moriarty and both he and Holmes supposedly die. What sort of discussion arose around this story in the society?

Let’s turn to “The Hound of the Baskervilles”— because this has remained the most popular Holmes story and is where we experience the clash of spiritualism with Holmesian logic. Can you imagine Doyle’s inner world as he wrote this?

This brings us to October in 1920, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited Adelaide to give a lecture on spiritualism. Samela Harris pointed out a scathing review. I will read some of it, and then let’s discuss the enigma that the famous author was:


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has come to Adelaide and gone, but he probably made few converts to the “faith.” The curious thing was that the noted spiritualist did not profess to be able to make them. All he hoped to do was to “sow the seed,” so that those people who thought well enough of it could continue their enquiries into the new revelation, which, really isn’t new at all.

This seems a sweeping confession of one’s impotence to convince the public mind of the truths of the cult when it comes from so high an apostle of the movement — “the flaming evangelist of spiritualism,” as he was billed; a man who claims to have spent 34 years of his important life reading about it, delving into it, and experimenting with it. It is a poor apostle who has such small faith in his ability to garner fresh recruits!

As a lecturer Sir Conan lacks the power to grip or arrest an audience. In a physical and mental sense there is plenty of him, but his rugged personality is too material, his emotions too inflexible, and his arguments too unconvincing to impress or influence a mass of earnest, intelligent  isteners.


But those are not his only handicaps. He exhibits a vexed and an intolerant attitude towards those who dare to differ from him. Instead of extending a charitable and winning indulgence to his critics or honest doubters he hurls cutting jibes at a “sneering and jeering world,” scoffs at the “amazing ignorance and enormous impertinence of little people,” contemptuously brashes aside “so-called leaders of science and religion,” and rails at “the great stupidity and levity of the press.’

His style is unreasonably didactic and his methods jarring. It is “the Gospel according to Sir Conan” — and woe unto the unbeliever!

While no one will question the sincerity or honesty of the celebrated visitor, there were yet elements surrounding the series of his Adelaide lectures which smacked of the “showman.” Often when unfolding an interesting phase or enunciating a certain principle the speaker would abruptly break off with the intimation that he would deal with that in a later discourse — “to be continued in our next,” as the serial says — and what was originally intended to be two addresses developed into four “spellbound” lectures, the last, as the public notice read, “at popular prices  notwithstanding the enormous success of Sir Arthur’s visit.”


So far as it was possible to glean opinions of people who attended the lectures it seemed that many were disappointed that there was no public seance given which might help to clear away suspicion or stimulate thought on the revelation. At such a time in the history of the world when  people are borne on the surging bosom of a restless sea of doubt and distrust, when there is an expectant longing for something that is new and entrancing, the way of the man with a fresh and fascinating gospel is open if his doctrine is but convincing. But there was little tangible in what
Sir Conan had to say or present. Even for the genuineness of some of his spirit pictures he would not vouch, and he shattered the popular belief that the camera would never lie. Then he admitted the unreliability of some of the mediums and warned his hearers to beware of fraud.

“We have discovered,” said Sir Conan, “that certain people have the power to throw out a substance generally known as psycho-plasm, which is at the basis of all this material phenomena. It is thrown out by certain people — more by some than others— and it is this psychoplasm which really makes the medium.”

What do you think about some of the later Holmes stories. To me, there was a decline in the quality of the last ones in His Last Bow and The Case Book Of Sherlock Holmes.

Peter what are your favourite moments and stories from the Holmes canon?

Let’s draw to a close with an obscure story How Watson Learned the Trick, which is not included in the main collections and was written for a specific occasion. This short piece was for a booklet compiled for Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. He also wrote The Field Bazaar for a university fundraiser. [I will read How Watson Learned The Trick]. This is like Holmes in fast forward. Your thoughts?

What do you think Holmes and Doyle have brought to cultural and intellectual life around the world?

How Watson Learned The Trick, from

Watson had been watching his companion intently ever since he had sat down to the breakfast table. Holmes happened to look up and catch his eye. “Well, Watson, what are you thinking about?” he asked.

“About you.”


“Yes, Holmes. I was thinking how superficial are these tricks of yours, and how wonderful it is that the public should continue to show interest in them.”

“I quite agree,” said Holmes. “In fact, I have a recollection that I have myself made a similar remark.”

“Your methods,” said Watson severely, “are really easily acquired.”

“No doubt,” Holmes answered with a smile. “Perhaps you will yourself give an example of this method of reasoning.”

“With pleasure,” said Watson. “I am able to say that you were greatly preoccupied when you got up this morning.”

“Excellent!” said Holmes. “How could you possibly know that?”

“Because you are usually a very tidy man and yet you have forgotten to shave.”

“Dear me! How very clever!” said Holmes. “I had no idea, Watson, that you were so apt a pupil. Has your eagle eye detected anything more?”

“Yes, Holmes. You have a client named Barlow, and you have not been successful with his case.”

“Dear me, how could you know that?”

“I saw the name outside his envelope. When you opened it you gave a groan and thrust it into your pocket with a frown on your face.”

“Admirable! You are indeed observant. Any other points?”

“I fear, Holmes, that you have taken to financial speculation.”

“How could you tell that, Watson?”

“You opened the paper, turned to the financial page, and gave a loud exclamation of interest.”

“Well, that is very clever of you, Watson. Any more?”

“Yes, Holmes, you have put on your black coat, instead of your dressing gown, which proves that your are expecting some important visitor at once.”

“Anything more?”

“I have no doubt that I could find other points, Holmes, but I only give you these few, in order to show you that there are other people in the world who can be as clever as you.”

“And some not so clever,” said Holmes. “I admit that they are few, but I am afraid, my dear Watson, that I must count you among them.”

“What do you mean, Holmes?”

“Well, my dear fellow, I fear your deductions have not been so happy as I should have wished.”

“You mean that I was mistaken.”

“Just a little that way, I fear. Let us take the points in their order: I did not shave because I have sent my razor to be sharpened. I put on my coat because I have, worse luck, an early meeting with my dentist. His name is Barlow, and the letter was to confirm the appointment. The cricket page is beside the financial one, and I turned to it to find if Surrey was holding its own against Kent. But go on, Watson, go on! It ‘s a very superficial trick, and no doubt you will soon acquire it.”

01:17:59 Musical Pilgrimage

In the Musical Pilgrimage, we feature song by  Professor Flint, Creatures Of The Slime.

This is the third album by the Prof, and a total of five albums from the pen of Michael Mills all from this calendar year of 2024 [in the episode, Steve suggests that is the tally of all time – nup, he’s prolific (among other things)]  All the links are here.

The new album, “Creatures of the Slime” , has just dropped and explores the remarkable fossil heritage of the Flinders Ranges. It comprises 16 newly recorded songs, including a song about Spriginna, the South Australian fossil emblem.

In our discussion with Peter, he points out that the nearby Hallett Cove Conservation Park now has a model Diprotodon, which Peter went to see, bumping into the man who found the fossilled remains of the massive marsupial from our past.

Diprotodon at Hallett Cove, photo taken by Peter Dunn

It is a great example of what happens when creatives work with researchers at places such as the South Australian Museum, to create content for the community. And while mostly for young humans, aged 12 and under, and their families, the album includes the title track, remixed by a US DJ, having played the song on a regular basis at a nightclub in Los Angeles!

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