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When King Neptune Lived at Darlington

Keith Manson posted a question recently on the ARW Facebook page regarding a well known old landmark of Adelaide; “This is about as vague as they come but, in the early ’80s, I can recall a statue of King Neptune (I think it was) somewhere on South Road, somewhere south of Clovelly Park. It wasn’t lifelike but more cartoonish in appearance. Can anyone shed any light please”?

Many Adelaideans who spent their mis-spent teenage years in the 60s and 70s will recall the shortage of petrol on the weekends. Back then service stations would close at around midday on Saturday and if you missed filling up it was a long wait until Monday morning. There were a few places where fuel was available, the airport, Cavan, Eagle on the Hill and at Darlington.

Photo of King Neptune in his original pond, comes from the personal collection of Suzanne Comelli, the daughter of Arturo who was the artisan who crafted Neptune from concrete, and 891 ABC Adelaide.

Photo of King Neptune in his original pond, comes from the personal collection of Suzanne Comelli, the daughter of Arturo who was the artisan who crafted Neptune from concrete, and 891 ABC Adelaide.

James Atkinson recalls; “In those days, trading in the ‘metropolitan area’ was restricted; Darlington was the last place you could purchase fuel with extended trading hours, from a number of oil companies including Neptune, Shell, Mobil, Amoco, Caltex, Ampol, BP, Esso. There was competition of proprietors as to who was ‘King of the Golden Mile’, so I think this led to the construction of ‘King Neptune’, on a lawn verge of Sturt Creek, adjacent to the ‘Neptune’ service station. 

Late last year we also had a post on King Neptune and one of those who posted a comment was Kathryn Hearn who wrote; “My father was the proprietor of the Neptune Service Station and he was responsible for King Neptune’s creation. When the Station was demolished to make way for Mc Donald’s, I was told that he had been moved to some where at Birkenhead. I don’t know exactly where, but that’s the last I heard of him. Its good to know that he left a lasting impression on people”.

Scott Bigharvs' photo; Well you asked .. Here he is in his current form! Check out Spit Water pressure cleaners page.

Scott Bigharvs’ photo; Well you asked .. Here he is in his current form! Check out Spit Water pressure cleaners page.

He did indeed Kathryn. Scott Bigharvs posted that King Neptune is living down at the Shell Bitumem depot Elder Rd Birkenhead, and the guys are taking really good care of him. Shell apparently took over Neptune and the king went into storage for quite a while but is now stationed at the gate entrance to the depot.

Lance Sturtzel remembers it quite clearly. “The first petrol station on the left as you got into the Darlington petrol stations was Neptune and there he stood, in the middle of a pond of water”! Christopher Dabovich added “Yep, down by Sturt River Caravan Park, actually it was east of South Road, just next to, or where McDonalds is now” and Graham Eariss remembered him “just after you crossed the Sturt river and just before the row of service stations on South Road heading south”.

I always find it fascinating, the seemingly unimportant, little things we remember from our childhood and teenage years, even unimportant at the time but yet etched indellibly in our memories and as soon as you see an old photo or are reminded in some way, a hundred memories come flooding back!  Sweet memories perhaps from more innocent times.

11 Responses to When King Neptune Lived at Darlington

  1. Helen October 27, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Goodness me I had forgotten about him 🙂

  2. mike December 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    And what happened to that WW1 cannon at beginning of Port Road too.

  3. Geoffrey L J Gibbs February 29, 2016 at 9:48 am #

    I lived on the hill in about 1961 started school at Secombe Primary 1962 ish used to walk down the hill to the service stations with my sister and brother who were older by 5 and 7 years.South rd was one lane up and down, and an Indelible memory of mine was King Neptune. We used to play in the Sturt River ( creek ) behind the Neptune service station and a few times remember entering the pipes that went under the South Rd.

  4. Chad Williams July 28, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    I remember the King Neptune statue! I went on a scout camp in 1989 along the Sturt river and we finished off at the King Neptune statue.

    What is the address for the Shell Depot on Elder Ave?
    It would be great to have a look at it!

    • Wayne Sanders September 19, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

      He can seen now sitting outside the office of the shell bitumen plant on the corner of Wills street and Elder road, which is located directly across the street of the former Mobil Oil terminal.

  5. Brian Anderson October 15, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    I certainly do remember it. Such a blast from the past! That’s amazing it still exists. Thanks for looking after it Shell.

  6. Mal October 7, 2017 at 11:59 am #

    Recon it was the gun that was parked down range at p and we port Wakefield when I was there 21cm krupp howitzer. Saw it on a website for sale years ago if it was the same. Pissed me off how can a council dispose of war trophy this way I believe there is a restored one in cairns. Hopefully it’s the same

  7. Andy January 21, 2018 at 8:37 pm #

    Good old King Neptune. And the Golden Mile.

  8. Greg October 15, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

    Remember King Neptune as we made the long trek in our Holden HD wagon from Elizabeth to go to Christies Beach. Once we passed King Neptune we knew we didn’t have much further to fo.

    • Lesley December 31, 2020 at 2:38 am #

      Yep we did too, in our Holden, from Ridgehaven to Pt. Noarlunga. It was a big day out. Once past King Neptune you were out in the country in 1969

  9. Michelle Giampaoli December 26, 2021 at 11:48 am #

    When my parents & I were living at Christis Beach,my mother and I went by public transport to the city & we would pass this statue heading north on the freely. I was interested who made this big statue near the petrol station? Some years later when we shifted to a smaller house near the beach,at Warradale, it seems that the statue went missing from its original space. I found out later that it was moved to another place, out of the way of the new bypass that the Government had built. to ease up the traffic flow coming from the south.

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