South Australia, 1840–45
In 1840, at the age of 28, he was appointed Governor of the newly founded colony of South Australia, and here he had to learn the art of public administration by painful experience. Confronted with the task of bringing the public expenditure within the small local revenue, in the next 18 months he cut down Government disbursements from about £150,000 a year to 40,000. His rigorous economies averted a financial crisis, stopped the mania of speculative land buying, and drove the colonists to the tasks of productive farming. But his methods gave grave offence to the settlers, and one Adelaide newspaper printed at the head of each issue the Shakespearean text, “Think upon GREY and let thy soul despair”. But being unhampered by an elected parliament, Grey and his nominated councillors could go their own way, outwardly unaffected by the public clamour. By 1845 the development of wheat farming had produced self-sufficiency, and copper mining outside Adelaide was bringing prosperity to the settlers. Grey's efforts to civilise the aborigines, however, by providing schools and fostering employment under the Europeans, made little headway.