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Who was Dr. Bain?

- From guest writer Nikki Butler of Riverton

Dr John William Devereaux Bain sailed to Australia from England in 1865 and began an

industrious career which spanned almost 40 years working as a General Practitioner in the

South Australian country town of Clare.

(Photo: Clare Regional History Group)


Alongside his numerous duties as a working doctor, Dr Bain kept busy planning

improvements for Clare.

He bought a plot of land for £25 which he then donated to the town for the purpose of

erecting the Clare Institute. This building had a variety of uses including being a place for

holding meetings and giving educational talks. Dr Bain became the president of the Institute

Committee and they raised money for causes such as importing new books from England as

well as the building of other town facilities. He was in this position for over 30 years and

witnessed Clare’s population grow steadily over time. The Clare Institute building still exists

today as the Clare Public Library.

(The Clare Public Library, 2023)

Other improvements which Dr Bain funded were public amenities such as a water fountain

and a water trough for horses as well as the area’s first butter factory which was formed in

the building which formerly housed the public baths, also built with initiative from Dr. Bain.


Due to his ownership of original BHP shares, Dr Bain was able to donate some money to the

poorer people of Clare. In 1867 he was given the title of Medical Attendant for the Destitute

showing that he placed importance on giving every Clare resident access to a doctor. He also

made the town’s youth a priority when he established the area’s first roller skating rink

during the rise in popularity of the past time.

Dr Bain’s Residence, 1880 (Clare Collection, State Library South Australia)


Dr Bain had other hobbies outside of making improvements to the town. He became the

president of the Clare Agricultural and Horticultural Society who put on the annual Clare

Show, the first being held in 1867. These shows would display a range of the area’s best

livestock and would attract thousands of visitors. A keen gardener, Dr Bain grew various

different types of prize-winning flowers, fruit and vegetables which he would enter into the



Dr Bain’s influence on the establishment of Clare is still visible today. After his death in 1903

the town erected the Bain Rotunda located in the Lions Park on Victoria Road both as a

monument to his work and in remembrance of his love of music.

(Bain Rotunda, now with adjacent amphitheatre seating, 2023)

Although Dr Bain died in Adelaide after spending the last years of his life in Port Germain, he

was brought back to be buried in the town he spent so much of his life building into the

place it is today.

For more info on the history of Dr Bain, Read the the post ‘Daring Dr Bain’


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