The History of Homoeopathy in South Australia

  • Became a member of the Central Board of Health

  • Worked at the Board of Education

  • Became a supporter of the arts

  • Instigator of the foundation of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital

  • In 1878 Campbell had been elected to the Legislative Council, retaining his seat for 20 years

  • Originated the charitable organization known as the District Trained Nursing Society

  • Chairman of the Board of Governors of the public library, Art Gallery, and Museum. 22

Whilst working on the Board of Health in 1876 Campbell’s practical suggestion formed the basis of the report of the government commission on sanitation, of which he was a member. It suggested increased power for the Central Board of Health, and soon Adelaide became the first Australian capital to undertake a deep draining sewage system. 23

1876 proved to be an important year for Campbell. On the 5th of September Campbell met with a group of upper-class women to discuss the establishment of a children’s hospital in Adelaide. The participants of the meeting, Dr. Campbell, Miss Ashley and Mesdames Colton, Campbell, Fowler, Jeffries, Knight, Stuckey and Smedley, all wives of prominent colonists, were appointed to a subcommittee to:

Obtain information and to get the opinion and assistance of the medical profession and likewise to arrange a public meeting”. 24

Before the hospital was to be opened, one important question had to be discussed; whether the hospital would be a Homoeopathic one or would it employ the services of non-Homoeopathic doctors. At this stage it was a well known fact that the Campbell brothers and Dr. S.J. Magary were Homoeopaths and worked already in the Homoeopathic dispensary in King William Street.

Dr. Sylvanus James Magary was the second son of the dedicated supporter of Homoeopathy, Mr. Thomas Margarey. Born in 1850 he studied medicine and surgery at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1873. 25

During the meeting, the location, the finances and the mode of practice in the hospital were discussed:

The movement was not sectarian in character, as it has been supposed, nor was it intended for medical men of a particular mode of practice … So far from being sectarian, the movement claimed to be one of extreme broadness and catholicity, and so far from embracing one medical school alone, the fact was that it aimed at embracing all. (Applause) … The Medical Committee reported that at a meeting of medical men, held on Tuesday, October 31, at which Dr. E.W. Way was in the chair, Drs. Campbell, W.M. Campbell, Curtis, Peel and Magarey were present, the following resolution was unanimously adopted: – “That this meeting sees no special advantages in the cottage hospital system as far as the construction of a children’s hospital is concerned. The meeting therefore cannot advise its adoption, to the exclusion of any other system.” Dr. Magarey moved that the report should be adopted. Mrs. Colton seconded the motion which was carried.” 26

Within this report, they also discussed the concern Allan Campbell had of losing the supporters of the medical community and the community as a whole if the hospital were to became purely Homeopathic. As such, any money raised for the hospital came from donations and not Government support. Campbell was aware that the donors may not have been happy that it was to be a purely Homeopathic hospital. Campbell wanted the hospital to remain independent and not a Government institution, therefore relying on public opinion about the two medical systems.

The Children’s Hospital could not be compromised by objections against Homoeopathy in the medical community, and the community of Adelaide itself. However, A.A. Lendon considered “that the children’s hospital was looked in askance for some years by the bulk of the Profession for the reason that its honorary staff consisted of normally three Homoeopaths and three so called “Allopaths”.” 27

In contrast, the Homeopathic hospitals in Sydney and Hobart were mainly funded by sole donors, and not a group of donors. Therefore it was easier for the other hospitals to be purely Homeopathic.

To this day every Government website or other information source does not disclose the fact that Allan Campbell was a Homoeopath. If it was not for the book ‘The Adelaide Children’s Hospital’ by M. Barbalet and the members of the Women’s and Children’s Heritage and History Collection, this fact would not be easily obtained. Monthly exhibitions in a glass cabinet at the library of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital are a reminder of this important fact in Adelaide’s medical history, unfortunately, only for the people visiting the Hospital Library.

The fact that the most influential doctor in Adelaide, Allan Campbell, was a Homoeopath is so widely unknown, was also the fault of Campbell himself. He never made a public statement supporting the “law of similars”. Campbell achieved truly great things for Adelaide but had very powerful allopathic opponents, and at any time this fact could have jeopardized the foundation of the Children’s Hospital. It is also not very clear where Campbell stood regarding the ‘germ theory’, since the bacteriological laboratory was named after him. However, his relentless work for the people of Adelaide overshadows these facts.

Collection boxes for the Children’s Hospital, used in banks and other public places.

Before the first stone of the hospital could be laid, out-patient departments or dispensaries were opened. One in North Adelaide on the 7th of August in 1877 and another in South Adelaide, in Currie Street in December 1877. The dispensary in Currie Street was run by the brothers Dr. Allan Campbell and Dr. William M. Campbell and offered free treatment to impoverished children. A child being treated by the Campbell brothers remembered:

In 1876 I lived with my parents in Grote Street, City, when a foreign ship brought a terrible plague to the City. Five of our family, with hundreds of others were stricken with this plague. They saved my life but my eldest brother Donald died amongst scores of others. The disease left most of the children with some ailment. The Drs. Campbell rented a little shop on the corner of Rosina and Currie Street which they called in those days the Children’s outpatients’ dispensary. I received months of treatment free…” 28

The 3rd Annual Report ending 30th of September 1879 of the Children’s Hospital reported that 4785 cases had been treated at the Outpatient’s Dispensaries – a total of 6700 since the Dispensaries opened. The Currie Street lease expired in November 1883, when the Dispensary moved to the Ground floor of the hospital.

It was impossible to find any information regarding how and with what medicines these children were treated, but given that the Campbell brothers were Homoeopaths who worked at the hospital, and the affordability of Homoeopathic remedies one can assume that they used Homoeopathic remedies.

Campbell’s Death

Allan Campbell had been without any doubt an important key person here in Adelaide. Like a true Homoeopath he was a hygienist, constantly improving South Australia’s Health laws. Not only did he fight for a deep drainage sewage system, which would have improved the general health of the city’s population considerably, but he also became famous for setting up the first bacteriological laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere in 1898. This laboratory was able to diagnose typhoid, diphtheria and tuberculosis, and was named the Allan Campbell Building.

A man of Allan Campbell’s standing also had his critics, and was envied for his success.

Drs. John Davies and Wm. Gardner (a Glasgow graduate) were committed anti – Homoeopaths who said:

“… that the surgery in the Children’s was none too hygienic either by some accounts – but it seems to me a moot point whether the fact that Campbell was a Homoeopath who helped or hindered the course of ‘hygiene’ among the doctors in Adelaide. At Pt Adelaide and Semaphore, for instance, the local councils chose Homoeopathic doctors as their medical officers of health into the twentieth century. This did not thrill the regulars.”‘ 29

As a true Homeopath Campbell understood the importance of hygiene, a factor often used to attack Homeopathy. As late as 1889 Doctor Edward Sterling, a Cambridge man and honorable surgeon at the Adelaide Hospital and power behind the new Adelaide Medical School was able to tell the Australian Medical Congress:

The name of Lister is revered wherever the civilized surgeon dwells; antiseptics and asepticism loom large in .. modern surgery; and yet, while we welcome the benefits, we must admit that enveloped as it is in the clouds of uncertainty and even misconception, the theory is far removed from finality … One distinguished member of our profession has observed, or almost boasted, and his practice is largely imitated, that he is in the habit of flushing the abdomen after section “with water containing spores and germs of thirty different kinds of beasts” and that his results are as good as those of the strictest disciple of Lister. (Antiseptic) “

The fight for and against Homoeopathy also overshadowed Allan Campbell’s life.

Nevertheless his philanthropic activities consisted not only in running free dispensaries, but also extended when he sat on many parliamentary commissions, one of which recommended progressive reforms for the Adelaide and Parkside lunatic asylums.

Campbell’s compassion for his fellow men became apparent when in December 1889 he attended a public meeting to discuss the grueling conditions under which female shirt makers had to labor, and also raised awareness of the difficulties of the unemployed in the winter months of 1893, which led him to join forces with Edith Noble and Rev. Stephenson to put a home nursing scheme in Bowden, one of Adelaide’s poorer suburbs, in place. 30

After attending the opening ceremony of the new Queen Victoria Convalescent Home, Campbell suffered a heart attack and died shortly after on 30th October 1898. The Convalescent Home installed a stained glass window in Campbell’s memory.

With his departing Dr. Campbell left a large gap in the community of Adelaide. The House of Parliament attended the funeral, and as the hearse moved along King William Street from the cathedral to Victoria Square, Allan Campbell passed for the last time the Children’s Hospital, where the flag was lowered half-mast. His grave is located in the North Road Cemetery.

Homoeopathic Pharmacies in the City of Adelaide 31

B. Grummett, Deutsche Apotheke, Adelaide – This pharmacy was located in 58 Rundle St., Adelaide in the late 1800’s. Grummett did not specialize in Homoeopathic remedies only; he also sold compounds and other domestic medicines.

Brauer Natural Medicine

CH Bock & Co Deutsche Apotheke, Adelaide

This pharmacy owned by the wholesale druggist, dispensing chemist and general importer in Waymouth St. Adelaide was mentioned in 1881 in the Directory of South Australia.

E.S. Wigg & Co/Radcliffe+Tilly, Adelaide – Edgar Smith Wigg (1818-1899) came to Australia in 1854 and set up a book and stationary business. Wigg was a member of the Homoeopathic Association of Great Britain. In 1858 it was reported that he sold Homoeopathic remedies. Wigg later established a Homoeopathic pharmacy and medical book shop in King William St. and later founded another Homoeopathic pharmacy in Murray St., Perth. After his retirement he sold his establishment to Charles Radcliffe, who had a shop next to Wigg’s pharmacy.

George Cobbin, Homoeopathic Dispensary, Port Augusta – Cobbin’s connection to Homoeopathy was mentioned in the 1876 edition of the Directory of South Australia, when he started a bookstore and a Homoeopathic dispensary at Port Augusta, where he supplied stores and stations.

GN&WH Birks, Homoeopathic Chemist, Adelaide -Georg Birks opened a business in Kadina, later came another branch in Wallaroo, which was managed by his brother William. In 1876 George and William Birks began advertising their business in the Directory of South Australia at Rundle St., Adelaide.


During my research I came across much detailed information about Adelaide’s Homoeopaths, some of them educated in the most reputable colleges in the US and Canada. Michael Bollen is currently researching and will write a book on that subject.

With this thesis I could definitely support my hypothesis that Adelaide had Homoeopathic activity throughout its history. In fact I can conclude that the history of medicine of South Australia cannot be written without including Homoeopathy. So why did we not have a Homoeopathic hospital?

Many conclusions come to mind. Homoeopathy was introduced to Adelaide via free dispensaries for the poor. Despite its effectiveness, Homoeopathy became the medicine of the poor, and was associated with hand-outs, degrading the healing art to a second-class form of medicine. This might have been the reason why the people of Pt. Adelaide and Semaphore were not too happy when they were faced with the prospect of having to pay for Homoeopathic treatment. After all, to be able to afford home visits from an allopathic doctor was almost a status symbol.

Another reason was that the Children’s Hospital had many different patrons mainly from the upper class, who had sent their sons (if medically inclined) to Australian Universities where allopathy was taught. It cost 1000 pounds to be educated in Melbourne or later in Adelaide which was a lot of money in those days. These medical schools were fierce opponents of homoeopathic ideas. After the initial outlay of so many pounds, one had to be distinguished from this ‘new, mode of medicine’. Without any training facilities for homoeopaths in Australia and the relentless attack, it was only a matter of time to when homoeopathy was pushed out of main stream medicine. It was only possible to study Homoeopathy overseas, giving it an outsider position for those wishing to learn the art.

Campbell had to keep his patrons content as he depended on donations, since he refused any Government support. These patrons wanted the medical allopathic community to approve of the Children’s Hospital. Influential people here in Adelaide were clearly concerned that Homoeopathy was ‘sectarian’ in character and not mainstream medicine.

What we can learn from history and people like Allan Campbell is how vital a good education and support within the Homoeopathic community is for the survival of Homoeopathy. But most of all we should follow the examples of Tasmania and Sydney where they managed to have the dispensary first, to raise public support and awareness of this beautiful art and science and then founded Homoeopathic hospitals, without allopathic support.

Allopathy always managed to impress patients by offering new techniques and the use of the latest instruments. Despite the fact that many of these new inventions did not serve their patients too well, new methods, drugs, etc., promised more advantages just around the corner.

Many migrants came from countries where the industrial age was prevalent; therefore the concept of dividing the body into different parts and treating it with a more mechanical approach was easily accepted. As such, this approach denied the vital principle.

Times have changed, many patients now prefer to be treated holistically and a change of opinion about medical treatment has taken place. So it is not surprising that Homoeopathy is on the rise again. After all, it has stood the test of time with its unchanged principles.

Visit Heike at her Website:

Special thanks to:

My family : Timo, Louis and Leon Bishop for supporting my project and keeping me sane. The Pizza place in Ethelton for feeding us. Sandra Russo my lecturer for inspiration and extension time. Michael Bollen, who possesses enormous knowledge and understanding for a layman, for restoring my faith in my research.

Disclaimer –This essay has not been revised since 2005, when I submitted it as a student. All of the information/facts are as I found them during my one year research in 2005. Facts, especially regarding states other than South Australia, may be slightly out-dated. However, the story of Homeopathy in Australia was remarkable back then, and is still vibrant today.

Dedicated to my lecturer, the late Sandra Russo.


1. Allan J. Lichtman and Valery French

2. Martyr, Philippa, “Paradise of Quacks”, published by Macleay Press 2002, pg.79.



5. Martyr, Philippa, “Paradise of Quacks”, published by Macleay Press 2002, pg.84.



8. Martyr, Philippa, “Paradise of Quacks”, published by Macleay Press 2002, pg.94

9. Martyr, Philippa, “Paradise of Quacks”, published by Macleay Press 2002, pg.283/284.

10. “The Barossa – A vision realized”, ISBN 0646112511, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, pg. 179.





15. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg. 4.

16. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg. 8.

17. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg. 10.

18. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg. 10.

19. “The Dispensary’s Annual of 1868”, State Library of South Australia.

20. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg. 12.

21. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg. 10.

22. J.J. Pascow, History of Adelaide, State Library


24. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg.17.

25. J.J. Pascow, “Adelaide And Vicinity”, pg. 583, State Library.

26. The Advertiser, Thursday November 23rd 1876.

27. “The Medical School”, State Library of South Australia, 1885-1935.

28. Margaret Barbalet, “The Adelaide Children’s Hospital”, printed at The Griffin Press, Netley, South Australia, pg 13.

29. Michael Bollen’s private archives



About the author

Heike Bishop

Heike Bishop

Heike Bishop had been interested in Homeopathy from a very young age, partly due to her German heritage. After homeopathy cured her husband of epilepsy, she decided to take on four years of full-time study to become a classical homoeopath. She attended Adelaide Training College of Complementary Medicine with the late Sandra Russo. Heike says of Sandra"™s training, "I still have to pinch myself that I have had such a fantastic, knowledgeable and kind-hearted lecturer. I miss her very much. Everything I achieve as a Homeopath I would like to dedicate to her."
Heike is currently providing homeopathy to patients in the western suburbs of Adelaide, from her clinic at 40 Jetty Road, Largs Bay and has a special interest in the treatment of Autism. She is a member of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society.
Visit Heike at her Website:


  • This kind of documents and all the history around all people need to know, not only the people who practice homeopathics.

  • Dear readers,

    As mentioned in the disclaimer at the end of Heike’s article, further research into Australia’s homœopathic history since 2005 has indeed uncovered more information, and shed further light onto Australia’s rich homœopathic history. This corrects some significant factual errors in the article which should be noted by serious students of Australia’s homœopathic history.

    Just a few examples include:

    • Melbourne’s Homœopathic Hospital was not the first such hospital in the Southern Hemisphere. It appears that this credit should go to New Zealand, where Dr C.F. Fischer ran the Auckland Homœopathic Hospital from 1858 to 1862. In 1869 he moved to Australia and continued practice in New South Wales.
    • The date cited in Heike’s article for the establishment of the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital was the date of eventual establishment of the Homœopathic Dispensary in 1869 (following several previous attempts). The all-male committee of the Dispensary made several attempts to establish homœopathic wards in existing allopathic hospitals (during 1869 and 1873), but these submissions were rejected. The Homœopathic Hospital was established later, in 1876, as a result of the efforts of 15 of Melbourne’s most influential women. Initially the Hospital committee was separate from the Dispensary committee, but they eventually amalgamated and joined forces.
    • The Gould Pharmacy (the precursor to Martin & Pleasance) was in fact established by Samuel Kidner, as well as Gould, in 1860 (not 1864). It was not the first of its kind in Melbourne, as research has revealed that several homœopathic pharmacies and dispensaries had been established previously.
    • Johann Zwar did not, as claimed, become a “registered homœopath” and he was not registered with the Medical Board of South Australia. This board was highly antagonistic towards accepting homœopathic practitioners and homœopathy in general. In fact, Zwar’s name was included in Ludwig Bruck’s well-known “List of Unregistered Practitioners” of 1886.

    Readers should also note that the list of references cited in the article contains a number of defunct Internet links, which originally referred to my articles and information which had previously been published on the website However, this information has now been moved to the new website . This is a website dedicated to Australia’s homœopathic history and is constantly being updated with the results of latest research, as well as corrections to previous assumptions about our homœopathic heritage. Students and researchers should refer to this website for accurate and up-to-date information regarding Australia’s homœopathic history, including more details about the above people and organisations.

    Barbara Armstrong
    Homœopathic Historian
    [email protected]

  • Muchas gracias por esta valiosa información

    Admirable y gratificante para quienes como yo nos ayudamos en el diario vivir con medicamentos homeopáticos que nos permiten conservar y mejorar nuestra percepción gracias a que no sufrimos la interferencia de los componentes de supuestos medicamentos ajenos a nuestra naturaleza

  • People interested in reading the results of the most recent research into the history of homœopathy in South Australia should also read the following articles:

    History Homœopathy South Australia – Part 1: The introduction of homœopathy to Adelaide

    History Homœopathy South Australia – Part 2: The Adelaide Homœopathic Dispensary

    South Australia’s Unregistered ‘Homœopathists’ of 1886

  • A superb presentation, capturing not only the data, but the atmosphere of the times and the personalities of the players. The author’s’ insights were perceptive and telling. Clearly the author understood what is important in the telling of history.

  • Thank you Heike Bishop for that enlightening history of homeopathy in South Australia. I never realized the extent to which homeopathy had ingrained itself in Australia. I appreciate the many hours of research that must have gone into this project. I loved the anecdotes.

  • Yes Janice, homoeopathy has had a long history in Australia. In fact, the earliest Australian reference to homoeopathy I’ve found so far is July 1830, in Hobart, Tasmania (not long after its emergence in England). Homoeopathy’s supporters have included missionaries, rich pastoralists, bishops, businessmen and politicians, as well as women both in towns and in the outback who have treated their family and friends. Homoeopathy went to far-flung areas where there was no other form of medical treatment available. Homoeopathic kits and instructions were specifically advertised for people “in the bush”. For those interested see the article: “Early Knowledge of Homoeopathy in the Australian Colonies” at

    Barbara Armstrong
    Homoeopathy Historian

  • What an intersting and informative article about Homeoapthy in Australia.
    I was always under the impression that Homeopathy wasnt that popular in Australia.I was certainly surprised to learn about the Homeopahic Hospitals there
    Bev Brown NZ

  • A good presentation by Heike Bishop, it is a history of Homeopathy in
    South Australia you put more data and year. It is more important in history.

    Thanks with reg…

    Prof S S Rahman

    Abu Dhabi

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