Juliet Clampett was Lady Mayoress of the City of Adelaide (married to the Lord Mayor) between 1973-1975.

Early Life and Career

Juliet was born on the 1st of September 1920 in Adelaide. Her parents were Gerald Michael O’Dea and Erica Edith Weidenbach.  She had two sisters, Rosemary born on the 12th of December 1913 and Janet born 24th of April 1919. Janet died in infancy, less than one year old. Her father had been a prominent tennis player who had represented South Australia between 1905-1914. He was a business man who went on to become General Manager of the Gas Company of South Australia. 

Julie, as she was known, attended the Presbyterian Girls College, Glen Osmond, with her older sister Rosemary and from an early age she displayed a love for animals, particularly horses. In 1932 sh won the prize for Best Pony and Rider at the school fete and later that year she won the prize for Best Girl Rider under 13 at the Royal Adelaide Show. Julie was a member of the Adelaide Horse Riding Club and in 1933 chose a course around the eastern suburbs of Adelaide and finished at her parents’ house on Portrush Road, Glen Osmond, on which she rode her horse “Commodore”. In 1937 she won the prize for Best Conditioned Dog at the Royal Adelaide Show with her dog ‘Samson.’

Her sister Rosemary married John James Duncan in 1938 with Julie acting as bridesmaid.

In 1939, with the support of Lady Bonython, she attended dances at the home of Sir Wallace and Lady Bruce as a debutante to raise funds in support of the Keith Sheridan Kindergarten. During the war she became a delivery driver for the Railways Department and was a member of the Red Cross Circle that made goods to be sent to England. In1942, her mother Erica died when Julie was just 22 years old

Julie became engaged to Robert Clampett, elder son of G.W. Clampett, on the 4th of August 1947 and they married at Saint Saviour’s Church, Glen Osmond on the 4th of March 1948. Her father died the following year aged 66 years. Her husband Robert had served six years in the 2/27th Battalion A.I.F. during the Second World War, serving in the Middle East and later New Guinea and Burma. 

In 1951 the couple left for London and stayed in a flat at Lennox Gardens while her husband worked for Elder Smith. It was during this trip that the couple met Bill and Mabel Hayes through a mutual friend and Robert confided his interest in running for council on their return to Australia. Robert and Julie welcomed their first child, Juliet O’Dea, in 1953 before returning to Australia aboard the Strathmore. The State’s new Governor, Sir Robert George, was also onboard. On their return, her husband founded R. W. Clampett and Company wine and spirit merchants in Peel Street. In 1954 the couple had a son and christened him Robert Ronald Clampett.


Robert was elected to council for the Gawler Ward in 1963 and served in the capacity of Councillor until 1972 before being elected Lord Mayor of Adelaide in 1973. As Lord Mayor Robert was also chairman of the Festival Centre Trust and, given the novelty of the Festival Centre, he oversaw two Lord Mayoral events there. The first was a party and performance for 200 disabled people, and the second was a special function, suggested by Julie, showcasing the State’s agricultural produce.

In October 1973 they were guests at the official opening of the Sydney Opera House. In January 1974 they travelled New Zealand, to celebrate the sister city relationship with Christchurch during the British Empire Games. Much later Robert recounted how the staff at their hotel, not understanding the correct way to address the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Adelaide, would telephone their room and, much to their amusement, ask for either Lord or Lady Clampett. 

In April 1974 the couple went to Penang, Malaysia to celebrate the sister city relationship with Adelaide. The couple spent ten days visiting Singapore and Malaysia and formed a strong relationship with the then Chief Minister of Penang, Dr. Lim Chong Eu and his wife. This relationship lasted for many years after the Clampetts left office.

It was also during this trip, at the farewell dinner, that Julie suggested that Adelaide host a ‘Penang Week’ during the last week of February 1975. 180 Penangites travelled to Adelaide for the week which included stalls, cooking displays and specially produced red and white wines. Penang Week was regarded as a great success and was later made an annual event by the State Government.

Julie’s youthful passion for horse riding came to the fore in early 1975 when the City welcomed Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips as guests of honour at the International Equestrian Expo 1975.

Robert retired from the position of Lord Mayor later in 1975 and intended to retire from council however he was asked by Alderman Spencer, who was ill, to serve the rest of Spencer’s term so that he could retire. Robert was made a Member of the Order Of Australia in 1977 for his services to local government.  

Juliet Mary Clampett died on the 20th of June 2009 aged 90 years and her husband Robert Wyndham Clampett A.M., J.P. died on the 12th of August 2010.

By Steven Page, HerStory Project

The HerStory project came about to recognise and celebrate the lives and the achievements of Women’s work in South Australia and was initiated in 2015 on the 175th anniversary of the City of Adelaide, by Genevieve Theseira-Haese, Lady Mayoress of Adelaide. The stories collected offer a unique perspective of Adelaide and South Australia that form a different history to what is often heard. This community built initiative is supported by the City of Adelaide and the History Trust of South Australia.

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