'The most wonderful natural feature I have ever seen.' With these words William Gosse expressed the awe he and many others have felt at the natural phenomenon of Uluru. The first white person to reach the central Australian monolith, he gave it the name Ayers Rock. But who was Henry Ayers, the man whose name is forever associated with Australia's most recognisable natural icon? What did he do to deserve this accolade? And why should historians of Australia and the Empire still remember him today?_x000D__x000D_Although the Rock's ancient indigenous name, Uluru, has now been restored, in place of the nineteenth-century version, the name of Ayers is still recognisable well over a century after the Rock's 'discovery' in 1873. Indeed, the rock that bore his name is one of the most famous natural wonders on earth and attracts over 400,000 visitors every year. This book - the first biography of Henry Ayers - focuses attention on the man behind the name and examines all aspects of his life - as a migrant from the naval town of Portsmouth in southern England, miner, businessman and politician - both public and private. _x000D__x000D_Henry Ayers was a complex character who played an integral and leading role in the development of the then British Province of South Australia. Despite landing amidst the colony's first depression, Ayers went on to win the Secretaryship of the South Australian Mining Association in 1845 and forged a successful career based on the wealth of the 'Monster' copper mine at Burra Burra, north of Adelaide. Jason Shute describes how Ayers made his way from humble origins to South Australia's parliament and ultimately achieved the highest elected office of the South Australian polity, as its Premier, no fewer than seven times. _x000D__x000D_Shute also illuminates Ayers' personal life: his relationships with his wife and children; his tempestuous friendship and rivalry with Henry Rymill, a relative of the wealthiest shareholder in the Burra Burra mine; and his defining connection with William Gosse, the explorer and surveyor, who esteemed him so highly that he honoured him with the connection for which he is remembered internationally._x000D__x000D_This biography places the life of this prominent Australian figure in the context of Australia's colonial history and charts the development of the province of South Australia. It offers a vivid portrait of a man who was consistently in the upper echelons of influence and authority in southern Australia and whose legacy lives on in the name of one of the most famous and recognisable wonders of the world.
The Man Who Became a Rock