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Edithburgh is a delightful holiday destination just 233 kilometres from Adelaide with a population of around 450. Once the third busiest port in South Australia, today it is a popular tourist and fishing village, making it the perfect place for a family holiday. There are nearly 200 hundred lakes most of which are salt, in the Edithburgh area, it is no wonder that this town was once a major salt provider to South Australia.
Established in 1869, Edithburgh is Southern Yorke Peninsula's oldest town. Edithburgh is named after Governor Sir James Fergusson's wife Edith and the two main roads after his daughters Edith and Blanche. The town was laid out with terraces and parklands allowing for a beautiful environment. The Jetty was built in 1873 and salt, gypsum and lime were shipped off to Adelaide. Salt was one of the major industries of this town; prior to 1891, 7,000 tonnes of salt were provided to South Australia by scrapings. Between 1891 and 1900 they were supplying over 40,000 tonnes per year and a number of salt factories. By 1950 this business had ceased.
Edithburgh and Troubridge Island are home to a number of shipwrecks, one of the worst being the 'Clan Ranald' where close to 40 lives were lost. Their graves can now be found in the cemetery.
Nowadays the town is known as being an excellent location for the keen fishermen with mullet, yellow fin, whiting and larger fish. Fishing is available off both jetty, beaches - try Sultana Point Beach, great for those with kids - and boat with an all weather boat ramp.
Edithburgh is the perfect place to take the family for a holiday, with great swimming beaches and a tidal swimming pool with a shallow area for kids. The sandy beaches are perfect for fishing, swimming, scuba diving or snorkelling and sail boarding. Why not have a picnic or BBQ on the foreshore or enjoy one of the many walks ranging from historical to scenic and coastal.
A short drive from Edithburgh, south-east along Sheoak Beach Road, is the Wattle Point Wind Farm. A newly constructed viewing area allows visitors to stand right underneath one of these amazing 68m high structures, and learn about how they capture nature's renewable resource.
Steam and sailing ships at Edithburgh jetty in South Australia 1910 - State Library of South Australia - PRG 280/1/44/653
Wheat stacked on the jetty waiting to be loaded 1910 - State Library of South Australia - B 25228
Men and boys who were part of the rescue party for survivors of the wrecked steamer 'Clan Ranald' standing with their lifeboat at Troubridge Hill beach near Edithburgh, South Australia 1909
State Library of South Australia - PRG 280/1/43/83
Bags of gypsum are stacked waiting to be loaded onto flatbed trucks in front of the cut at the Edithburg gypsum quarry. [On back of photograph] 'Hill of gypsum, Lake Fowler west of Edithburgh / 1932 / Reproduced in the Chronicle, September 29, 1932 - State Library of South Australia - B 8296
Castle Salt Co-op. Coy., Edithburgh 1900 - State Library of South Australia - B 11656
Salt scraping, near Edithburgh depicting a worker standing in the glaring sun using a long handled rake 1932
State Library of South Australia - B 8540
From the jetty looking back at the township 1920 - State Library of South Australia - B 9324
Blanche St., Edithburgh - single storey Troubridge Hotel on right 1932 - State Library of South Australia - B 8301
View of two stone and brick buildings. The one on the right has a sign 'Post and Telegraph Office' painted on a window, and there are two people at a service window on the front verandah beside a notice board. Another, more stylish building to the left is now (2010) the Edithburgh Post Office, but was possibly the residence at the time of this photo. 1900. - State Library of South Australia - B 72832
This is the new Edithburgh State School opened on the 31st October, 1913. It is a rectangular building, symmetrical in style with a gable front each end. [On back of photograph] 'Public School, Edithburgh / 1932 Reproduced in the Chronicle, September 9,1932 - State Library of South Australia -
Edithburgh Institute in 1932 housing the local library 1932 - State Library of South Australia - B 8303
Anglican Church of St Marys, Edithburgh is located in Blanche Street and was dedicated on October 9th 1898. The stone church has a nave and tower 1932 - State Library of South Australia - B 8539
Methodist Church 1910 - State Library of South Australia - B 25226
Being my first visit to this wateringplace I observed when I stepped off the steamer that as the shipping trade increases more space will be required about the jetty for landing and discharging goods. At present the accommodation for goods and vehicles is veiy limited, but I presume the cutting will be made larger by-andbye, and better facilities will be afforded for transacting the business of the port. Edithburgh shows signs of enlargement and progress. Several new buildings are going up, including a two-story hotel for Sir. Farr and additions to Beaumont's Hotel. Along the road towards Yorketown a number of suburban allotments have been surveyed and sold. I was informed at high figures. On the beach the erection of public baths is being proceeded with, and I have no doubt that a prosperous future is in store for Edithburgh if she is not outstripped by her younger rival, Stansbury. There are some very good crops inland from Edithburgh, but the limestone appears very near the surface, and salt lagoons are numerous. A good deal of land in the vicinity is still held by squatters, but should these blocks be offered for selection they will be rapidly taken up and put under wheat. While the steamer lay at Edithburgh discharging cargo (as she did not start for Point Turton till past midnight on Saturday) I accepted a seat in the buggy of Mr." Ebenezer Ward, M.P., and was conveyed to his selection at Para Wurlie. En route we passed through Yorketown.
SOUTHERN YORKE'S PENINSULA.
Probably there are few portions of the colony so seldom visited, and, therefore, so little known as the extreme southern and south-western districts of Yorke's Peninsula.
Now and again, at long intervals, brief items of information appear in the Adelaide papers having relation to the course of events among the comparatively small and widely-scattered population of that region, from which it is easy to infer that on the whole there is not much excitement of any kind to ruffle and disturb the normal quietness and calm of their life. Recently business engagements led me to the Peninsula, and, having a few days to spare, I determined to spend them in paying a long-promised visit to a few friends in that out-of-the-way corner of the colony. Before doing so I was led to understand that I should have plenty of sport, as kangaroos were numerous, and on many points of the coast there were capital fishing grounds, and in this I was not disappointed. Leaving Adelaide about 8 o'clock in the morning I went to Largs Pier and soon found myself and what little impedimenta I took with me on board the new steamship Warooka. The day was fine and the sea smooth, and in about three and a half hours after leaving Largs Pier we were alongside the jetty at Edithburgh. This township, although very small, aspires to be a fashionable watering place, and during the summer season is said to be crowded with visitors, most of whom come from Adelaide in quest of health and to get out of the reach of the heated atmosphere and pungent odors of the city. The township consists of a couple of hotels—the Edithburgh, a two-storey well-built place, with a balcony, from which can be had a fair view of the surrounding district, and the Troubridge, a few stores of inferior construction, a couple of blacksmiths' shops, a Wesleyan Church, an institute the grounds of which are in a slovenly condition, a State school only partly finished, the National Bank premises, and a few private dwelling-houses. The civic affairs of the place are managed by a full-blown corporation. The climate of Edithburgh is most salubrious, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to name any other portion of South Australia where the air is so finely moderated by sea breezes and the temperature is so uniform all the year round. Situated on high ground, with the tea on three sides of it, hot winds are almost unknown, and sleepless nights be-cause of the heat are never heard of. The most prevailing wind in summer time is that from the south-east, which generally springs up at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and the remainder of the day is very pleasant. The coast about here is most romantic, and the fine bold cliffs on which the township is built strike the new arrival by steamer at once by their rare beauty. When the tide is out there is plenty of opportunity for the naturalist to acquaint himself with the numerous forms of marine life which abound in every direction. Of Echinoder-mata there is an almost infinite variety, and the little nooks and corners of the many caves under the cliffs close to the township, especially on the northern side of the jetty, are nothing less than perfect marvels of sea-life. Of Echinidea, the psam-mechinus esculentu and Spatsogus purpurens are quite common, while of the Asteridea, the Solaster pap poeus, Astrogonium phrygianum, and Asterias rubens specimens may be picked up anywhere, whilst the tame may be said of the various forms of Holothuridea. There is also plenty of sport for the fisherman, and almost any quantity of schnapper, whiting, mullet, garfish, and tommy rough can be hooked up in a very little time by an expert angler. Scores of baskets of these fish are sent off by the steamer to the Adelaide market three times a week, and yet " there's more to follow." The supply seems inexhaustible. It is no uncommon thing to see as many as a dozen fishing smacks doing business in these waters, and their white and brown sails darting hither and thither, or lazily gliding along with the tide, help to make up a pretty picture. Five miles southeast of the jetty is Troubridge Island, where the lighthouse is erected. Three keepers with their wives and families reside there, and according to all accounts manage without much difficulty to get through the average amount of quarrelling and social unpleasantness incidental to most small communities. A week or two ago nearly all the members of the Marine Board visited the island in the steamer Governor Musgrave, for the purpose of investigating and if possible settling some apparently trifling dispute. The island is connected by telephone with the Edithburgh telegraph-station, and this is found to be of considerable convenience, as all the shipping to and from Spencer's Gulf, Western Australia, and England pass close by ; and as Marion Reef, near the island, has been the scene of one or two shipping disasters the utility of easy and through communication is evident. With care and fore-thought on the part of the Edithburgh people and their municipal representatives their little town could be rendered very attractive, and would soon become extremely popular among pleasure-seekers. Unfortunately, there is no beach close to the township, and bathing is rendered difficult to most people and dangerous to all, because of the rough nature of the coast and the great depth of water. What is wanted is the clearing and fencing in of one of the many small bays for bathing purposes. The building which at present does duty for a bathing house is not suitable for that purpose. There is absolutely no protection against sharks, octopi, and stingrays, which are known to swarm about here. It is also too near the jetty to be pleasant, and its unsightly shape and size are not suggestive of comfort or convenience. The corporation should also pay some attention to the appearance of their streets, which were certainly not clean at the time I visited the place. The town was more like a huge farmyard than anything else, where horses, pigs, cows, and poultry were allowed to wonder at their own sweet will. This state of affairs by no means adds to the attractiveness of the place ; nor does the present high rate of fares by the steamer, which are simply prohibitive, induce Adelaide people to visit Edithburgh as a place of holiday resort. If the directors of the steam-ship company want to discourage traffic they cannot do better than keep to the present fares all though the summer. In anticipation of a good season this year, Mr. J. Gottschalck has built a large boarding-house of fifty rooms, about a quarter of a mile south of the township, near Sultana beach. The venture is a very risky thing, and Mr. Gottschalck deserves success for his spirited enterprise. I noticed most of the crops about Edithburgh were promising well for the harvest, and the farmers generally were in good hopes. Hay harvesting was in full swing, and the yield was said to be better than for several years past. Between Edithburgh and Yorketown there is a splendid macadamised road, and along the whole distance, ten miles, on each side of the road the wheat crops were looking first-rate. Most of the farmers to whom I spoke said they expected to reap an average of about ten bushels to the acre all round. Some of the paddocks they said will go over that amount, but others, where the crops are inferior, will yield less. Red rust and take-all have scarcely made their appearance in this part of the district. Some of the paddocks have, however, got very dirty, and in many cases what was sown for wheat has been cut for hay.
Honiton is about six miles farther to the eastward, and is situated in the middle of the Troubridge agricultural area. The Troubridge State school building does duty for both school and institute purposes, and the library, which was courteously shown me by the secretary, Mr. Wm. Correll, contains more than the average number of volumes of good, wholesome, sound literature. For its size it is certainly the best public library I have seen. The crops about here vary considerably. Some of the ground is poor, other portions have been badly farmed and worked out, and clean healthy crops are the exception. It is estimated that the average of the paddocks from Honiton, round by Troubridge and Wattle Points, and thence to Edithburgh, will not be above seven bushels to the acre, and some of the farmers expressed themselves doubtful of reaping even that quantity, although the rainfall this year has been considerably in excess of that for several years past. After staying a short time near Edithburgh to recuperate after my long ramble round the coast, I determined to return to Adelaide via Stansbury, and so availed myself of the opportunity of driving along the cliffs between those two places.
Edithburgh: Where They Get The Salt Little Known Facts About a Common Substance
We use salt every day of our lives. Probably there is no more common substance so necessary to civilised man. But, like all the other good things of life which are easily had, we just take it for granted, knowing little and caring less, about the really important role it plays. This article on Edithburgh incidentally reaches out a helping hand to put salt on its proper pedestal.
Talking about salt ? But, there you are. You don't talk about anything else in Edithburgh. At least, that is the impression I received. It may have been, of course, that I had specially mentioned my interest in this very necessary commodity. I knew that salt was life to Edithburgh. I knew there had been three companies operating there, I knew that the three had been merged into one. And I suspected, not unreasonably as it turned out, that as far as Edithburgh was concerned, the salt industry was not the flourishing thing it was eight or ten years ago. It is a sad thing to sit back and watch a great industry die. In times gone by salt was a great industry in this part of Yorke Peninsula. Today it is moribund. Tomorrow, unless a miracle happens, it will be dead. Edithburgh expects that miracle to occur. The depression is not responsible for the slump in salt. In the first place, it set in years before we had any idea that a depression was anything more than something unpleasant which had happened in the past, but could not possibly happen in the present. In the second, salt is such a necessary article to the human race, and so absurdly cheap, that the depression would make little or no difference to its sale. Obviously the world is not using less salt today than it did. The explanation must lie somewhere else. You are not long in Edithburgh before you hear about salt. A few years ago it wasn't even necessary to hear about it — you saw it. If you went there in the summer months you saw salt everywhere. It was on the wharves, in the ships at the jetty, In the large refinery works close to the beach, on trucks along the road between the town and the lakes, and finally there were millions of tons of it in the two hundred odd salt lakes in the vicinity of Edithburgh and Yorketown. Edithburgh was the metropolis of the salt industry. Now there is none of that activity— or practically none. They still scrape a comparatively small quantity to sup- ply the wants of certain markets which will not have other than Edithburgh salt. But the work is something in the nature of a pauper's funeral— hurry up and get it over.
Is the Edithburgh salt industry being strangled? I put that question to a number of people—official and unofffcial. The replies on both sides left me unconvinced. The unofficial section said it was. The official section said it was not. At the moment I am in no position to say who is right. All I can say is that the salt is still there, as much as ever there was, but the deposits are not being worked to any extent. You can judge the seriousness of the falling off for yourself. Here are the shipments for the past six years: — 1927 . . 24,000 tons. 1930 . . 9,329 tons. 1928 .. 20,829 tons. 1931 .. 8,860 tons. 1929 .. 13,389 tons. 1932 .. 8,400 tons. Those figures give one furiously to think. Prior to 1929 three refineries, the Castle, the Standard, and the Commonwealth, worked independently. Now they have been merged into the Australian Salt Company. I am told that the bulk of the salt today is supplied from Geelong and Port Price. At the latter place the salt is evaporated from sea water. In one year after they started evaporating, the output at Edithburgh dropped 7,000 tons. I do not want you to imagine I am finding fault. What I do want to show is that Edithburgh got a pretty hard bump in the place she least expected to get it. I was told unofficially that the salt scrapers themselves were largely responsible for the collapse of the industry locally, because of the ever increasing demands of the unions. I cannot say if that is so. I can only give you the statement as hearsay. Leaving out the question of responsibility, assuming that it exists, the fact remains that over 200 lakes, containing some of the finest salt in the world are practically idle. Since the depression began there has been a little dabbling in salt on privately owned deposits by people who ordinarily would not trouble to harvest the stuff. But it is not sufficient to affect the prosperity of the district one way or the other. How Did It Get There? The salt In the lakes especially intrigued me. Like the puzzled old woman who saw the apple in the dumpling. I wanted to know how it got there. Why should salt heap itself up in great lakes over almost the whole toe of the peninsula, and leave other parts of the country comparatively free of it? I put the question to a geologist. He overwhelmed me with the history of rocks from pre-Cambrian intrusions — if you know what they are— of 1,400,000,000 years ago to the Pleistocene period of a mere million years or so ago. I looked at him sadly, and departed. Seeing that he wasn't alive 1,400,000,000 years ago I couldn't admit that he knew much about it. At all events he never answered my question. These scientists are all alike. They can never tell you that a sausage is made of breadcrumbs and meat. They must always disguise the information under the form of "carnosity of the Ordovician period amalgamated with the product Triticum sativum." Do not imagine that I despise science. I don't. But I'd like to sub-edit certain of its apostles with a shotgun. Cut out the flummery, say I, and give us the kernel of your knowledge. We will all be the wiser for it. All this talk about Jurassic and Oligocene rocks, and Mesozoic and Palaeozoic periods can be eliminated in favor of the simple statement that the bulk of this salt is deposited on the earth in the form of salt dust from the air, largely through the instrumentality of rain. This is rather an amazing thing when you come to look into it, since in one of its saner moments science tells us quite simply that, with regard to these Yorke Peninsula deposits, an average annual rainfall over a catchment area of 160 square miles, gives 6,847 tons of salt a year. Rather staggering, those figures, to my way of thinking. When you go to Yorke Peninsula you must not despise salt. You will be seeing something in which South Australia holds premier place for quality. So far the industry has scarcely been developed. The manner in which salt is gathered is far from modern. Besides salt there is gypsum, and there is also brine. Where they had a combination of material like that in the United States, they would establish big modern factories on the site, not only to gather it up, but to manufacture it on the spot. We in South Australia are not yet awake to the advantages of things like that, but manufacturers would sooner handicap themselves by transporting raw materials over long distances than economise by establishing industries at the source of supply. But some day they will wake from their sleep in a hurry. Then things should move for Yorke Peninsula. Just now we are so steeped in centralisation that we want everything in the cities. We have not got to the stage when we realise that such a policy does not pay. Facts About Salt When you get down to rock bottom, and begin to analyse this salt business on the spot, you are liable to have your eyes opened. I knew, as everybody knows, that they produced salt on the Peninsula and other parts of South Australia as well. But I had no idea of the magnitude of the deposits, nor of the purity of the article raised, nor of the future that should lie ahead of the industry when it gets going on modern lines. There is no other part of the Commonwealth so climatically favored for the production of this material. When you set out to harvest salt from lakes the success of the venture rests largely upon solar evaporation. In the case of the Peninsula, Nature could scarcely have favored the industry more if she had asked for plans and specifications before taking on the job. The evaporation season extends from October to March, and during that period the rainfall is scarcely worth counting. What are the possibilities of this salt business?
Almost limitless — provided you have the energy and the enterprise to make use of them. Where you have extensive salt deposits you have all the paraphernalia for a whole chain of industries, and, as I said earlier, the proper place to establish them is at the source of supply. Salt is the parent material of sodium sulphate, hydrochloric acid, sodium carbonate, caustic soda, chlorine, hydrogen, and, indirectly, soap, glass, glycerine, dynamite, bleaching powder, and a host of other manufactures. I I do not think I could give a better example of the importance of salt to manufacture than to quote an extract from an article by Mr. Geoffrey Martin:— "A stoppage in our supplies of salt would cripple the house-building trade, because window glass would be unobtainable in quantity, since sodium sulphate or soda carbonate are used in glass manufacture, and these products are derived from salt. The production of explosives would suffer, because glycerine (and incidentally soap) would cease to be producible in quantity, and so mining operations would become difficult, and coal would become dear. The textile and paper trades would be crippled, because bleaching, sizing, cheap soap for scouring, and other necessary chemicals—all derived, ultimately, from salt —would cease to be obtainable in quantity. These trades would react on other trades in a way altogether difficult to see."Now, Now, who is prepared to turn up his nose at salt because it is retailed at something in the vicinity of a penny per lb.? And we have at least 15,000,000 tons of it in the three main lakes in this State! The highest export of salt in one year from Edithburgh was 80,000 tons. From that figure to 8,000 is some drop. Is it any wonder that the townspeople squirm? Edithburgh Not Bankrupt I have dealt rather lengthily with salt because in past years it was Edithburgh's staple article of export. But the town has more than one string to its bow. The collapse, of the salt industry undoubtedly dealt it a smashing blow, which made it see stars. But it was not a knock-out. There are still millions of tons of gypsum in sight at Lake Fowler, about which I will have something to say presently. And there is a large area of agricultural country which has never known failure since the introduction of superphosphate. Many wheat farmers in this district last season averaged eleven bags to the acre, and as for barleywell, you will not be in Edithburgh very long before you have been told half a dozen times that the peninsula produces the best barley in the Commonwealth. As a rule I do not use statistics. They are the driest things ever in- vented by man. But to show that Edithburgh is well out of the clutches of the Receiver in Bankruptcy, I crave permission to quote a few figures which I received from Mr. R. D. Patterson, the harbor master. They cover the year 1931-32. In that twelve months 187 vessels arrived at the port, representing in tonnage 48,819 net and 119,000 gross. The season's exports were (in tons):— Salt, 8,460; barley, 5,500; gypsum, 4,442; general, 15;050: lime, 284; wheat, 4,300; super, 1,200; sheep and lambs 2,800 head. Those are figures of which a district may be proud. I would like everybody to see them except the tax collector. He is not a friend of mine. Gypsum In association with salt, Edithburgh also has big gypsum deposits. They are not the largest in the State. That honor belongs to the Lake Macdonnell district, on the far West Coast, where there is an immense bed, estimated to contain 68,000,000 tons. Beside a figure like that Edithburgh's 1,686,600 cubic yards is an extremely modest figure. Nevertheless, the Lake Fowler gypsum industry is an important one. Gypsum is another of those commonplace commodities which we take for granted, and cannot very well do without. In the first place it is an important constituent of cement. Its use there is as a retarding agent. If it were not for the presence of gypsum, the cement would set so quickly that there would scarcely be time to mix it and place it in position. Incidentally it is also a medium for the production of sulphuric acid. During the war, when Germany found her supplies of this important chemical cut off, she was forced to have recourse to her gypsum deposits to meet her requirements. In the form of plaster of paris, gypsum is an essentially important factor in the building trade. Its use is involved in the construction of plaster walls, flooring, roofing, and wall tiles, hollow blocks, and fibrous plaster. Gypsum in its raw state is a well known fertiliser. It sets free the pot-ash, locked up in the silicates in the soil, and so renders it available as plant food. In the irrigated areas it frees the land of "black alkali" by changing the salt into sodium sulphate, and rendering it harmless to plant life. Other uses for this material are as flux in smelting, as a deodoriser, for the manufacture of crayons, in brew ing, and in the making of paints. We are apt to despise these common materials until we begin to enquire about them. Then we find they are more important than we thought. And that is true of a great many persons as well as things. Looking Round The Town Edithburgh specialises in returned soldiers as mayors. The present one, Mr. J. H. Richardson, is the third of that persuasion it has had. He served in France, India, Palestine, Egypt, and the North-West Frontier. He is a son of Mr. J. C. Richardson, formerly of the Education Department, whose articles articles in "The "Advertiser" many years ago had much to do with bringing under general notice the possibilities of the West Coast. The town clerk, Mr. P. L. Sayer, is also a returned soldier. He was badly wounded in the Big Argument. Mr Richardson is one of those sort of mayors who want you to see everything there is to see. That is the sort of man to have as mayor, for he is always full of enthusiasm for his town. Such men get things done. Edithburgh is called after a lady— Edith, wife of Sir James Fergusson, who named the town while he was Governor of the province. Lady Fergusson died in Adelaide in 1871. His Excellency's second wife, whom he married two years later, was South Australian born. She was Olive, daughter of Mr. J. H. Richman, a former Adelaide solicitor. She died in Bombay. One of the most interesting citizens to whom I was introduced was Mr. A. P. Lawson. He is an old sailor verging on ninety, home from the sea after a a chequered career. You would probably guess his age at seventy. He is full of stories. He came to Edithburgh in '74, when the town comprised Robert's store, the hotel, and one small dwelling house. White people were scarce and black numerous The town itself was mostly bush. The chief industry of that day was fishing. The fishermen would bring in half a ton of snapper at a time, and sell it to a Chinaman at £7 per ton. This bland child of the East used to salt and dry it, and sell it in Melbourne at £30 per ton. Mr Lawson told me another story connected with the early days of the Troubridge Hotel. On one occasion a number of sailors landed from a ship and went to the hotel, intent on having a night out. It proved a profitable one. When they got to the hotel they found mine host and his spouse both dead drunk, lying in the passage. A keg of beer on the counter had the tap turned on, and the liquid was running to waste. The party had a high old time at the hotelkeeper's expense, running affairs on the cafeteria principle of doing your own reaching. The owner was too dead to the world to take any interest in the proceedings. The climax came when a "hic-ish" group of marines concluded it was time to make for the ship. Roughly rousing the landlord they demanded why the so and so he hadn't given them change of the ten-pound note they had given him. Never suspecting that he was being tricked, the befuddled publican handed over the change for the money he never got. The sailors went off rejoicing. I mentioned Robert's store as the first in Edithburgh. Its founder, Mr. C. S. Robert, still lives in the town. The day I called was his 81st birthday. He gave me the outline of the beginning of the salt industry on the Peninsula. Mr. Robert was born in Guernsey. He came to South Australia in 1876. He was for many years Mayor of Edithburgh. The first man to get a salt lease, he told me, was Thomas Wood. He did not conduct scraping as a business, but merely scratched round his house when the inclination seized him. The real pioneers of the industry were the now defunct firm of Harrold Brothers. They started the industry by sending ships over for salt. The first ship to come, he thought, was the Karraweara. The superior quality of Edithburgh salt was not long in establishing itself, and the demand increased. This salt was not refined. But shortly after the advent of Harrold Brothers the first factory was erected by Henry Berry & Co. From then on the industry progressed until the maximum export of 80,000 tons was reached. When Mr. Robert went to Edithburgh kangaroos were plentiful about the town. The main road to Yorketown was merely a track through the bush. The streets were so rough that on one occasion when Mr. Robert was taking his two boys on the round with him, both youngsters were thrown out of the cart, and the father didn't know until his attention was called to the mishap by a spectator. An old stage coach used to maintain communication with Yorketown and Warooka. But perhaps the oldest resident of all is Mr. John Bramley. Arriving at Salt Creek with his parents in the cutter Endeavor when he was ten, he was in Edithburgh when it was just station property, and no one was living there at all. He was a station hand on Penton Vale, and later on Tucock Cowie. The latter property was owned by the Gilberts, one of whom (Joseph) gave his name to the suburb of Gilberton. Gilbert place in Adelaide is called after another brother (Henry), who had an office as a solicitor there. The last identity to whom Mr. Richardson introduced me was Mr. George Hart. Every horsey man knows George Hart. He owns Lone Star, and Lone Star has some reputation in the show ring as a jumper. Mr. Hart gives one the impression that he is one of those fortunate individuals who never worry. When I met him he was leaning against the corner of a shed on his farm chewing a straw, and watching a groom commencing the preparations which were to make Lone Star a fit and proper animal for the Royal Show. "Yes." he said, chewing his straw, and speaking absently, as if his mind was miles away from his subject, "my father was the first butcher in the district. He had to get his sheep from Port Pearce, because the station people wouldn't let him have any. You see, the stations didn't want settlers, and did their best to stop them." "We're going to have a wonderful season." I ventured, nodding towards the richly-grassed paddocks. For the first time he removed his eyes from Lone Star, and let them rest on the paddocks. "Don't know," he said, after weighing the matter for a moment. "We're not out of the wood yet." Mr. Hart is a typical farmer.
Relic of pioneer days. Old Edithburgh coach.
Stack of 1,200 tons of gypsum bagged for market. — Pocock, photo.
Salt-scraper at work on Lake Fowler — Pocock, photo.
Map showing the location of the 200- odd salt lakes on Southern Yorke Peninsula.
Mr. J. H. Richardson, Mayor of Edithburgh
Edithburgh Primary School Date Range: 1877 - 2000 Inventory of Series Description
To provide education for students from Reception to Year 7 - Edithburgh is a coastal township situated on Yorke Peninsula and located 240KM from Adelaide.
Contents Date Range Series Date Range Number of Units Public Access Series Id Series Title
1877 - 2000 1877 - 2000 1 Part Open GRS/9503 Admission registers - Edithburgh Primary School
AS the 3.15pm siren sounds at the end of the day, the nine children from Edithburgh Primary laugh and play as they make their way out on to the school grounds. In 12 days, it will be for the last time.
The days at this tiny school on the Yorke Peninsula are numbered and soon the classrooms will be stripped bare and it doors will close forever, bringing an end its 103-year history.
The closure is the latest in a procession of regional schools across South Australia for whom the final siren has sounded. Economic downturn, lack of employment opportunities and larger landholdings have all played a part in the gradual reduction of school numbers.
In the past four years, 36 schools across SA have closed or amalgamated and a further three will shut this year because of diminishing enrolments in decisions likely to test the resilience of local communities.
Edithburgh Primary once thrived with 200 students. When it was built in 1913, it serviced a town that was once the third-biggest port in the state, shipping salt, lime and gypsum to Adelaide.
But, over the past two decades, as employment opportunities decreased in the quaint coastal town, so did the school’s enrolments, which have slowly dwindled to fewer than 10.
Principal of 13 years Helen Jolly says, after two years of consideration, the school’s governing council this year made the decision to close the campus on December 16.
“It’s very sad for the school to close because it’s such a beautiful site in a beautiful town, but our main focus is the wellbeing of the students and to be able to provide them with the best learning opportunities they can possible have,” Ms Jolly said.
“We believe if they go to a bigger site they’ll have that. They’ve had a very focused opportunity here but, to extend them, they probably need to be in a bigger group.”
The opening of Edithburgh Primary school in 1913.
From next year, Edithburgh’s nine students, from Reception to Year 5, will have travel the 32km round-trip to Yorketown for school.
Other schools which will close this year are Port Vincent Primary, which had just five students, and Farrell Flat Primary in the Mid North – decisions all supported by the school communities.
Port Vincent Primary principal Kerry-Ann Pointon said that, although it was a sad time for the town, the school will have a wonderful send-off when they celebrate their 120th birthday on December 11.
“The overwhelming feeling is that the closure is a sad time for the school and community but the parents made the difficult, but necessary, decision in the best interest of their children’s education,” Ms Pointon said.
“They could see the benefits of being with more children and the possible difficulties of staying in a small group for education and social outcomes.”
Education Department school and preschool improvement director Anne Millard said school closures are either decided through a parental vote or ministerial review.
“A ministerial review is only conducted if the circumstances of the school meant there was possibility of poor educational outcomes for the students at the school,” she said.
Flinders University rural education and communities Professor John Halsey said small rural school closures almost inevitably signalled further decline in the community.
“In my experience, with few exceptions, the closure of a school in a small rural community is a major event and usually one that sets off a train of other decisions that result in further contraction of services and economic activity at a local level,” Prof Halsey said.
Edithburgh Primary school Grades 3 and 4 in 1955.
Prof Halsey said a rural school, hospital and police station were critical indicators of employment and signalled the “vibrancy and potential of a town”.
He said Edithburgh, with its coastal features and its fishing attraction, might be less affected by the closure than if it was a smaller town with no immediate natural lures.
“For some rural communities, natural capital is particularly important and can be the catalyst for a new venture/direction which in turn acts to build other kinds of capital and, from here, a renewed sense of ‘a future’,” he said.
The small seaside town of Port Germein, in the Spencer Gulf, lost its primary school in 2013 and now relies heavily on the holiday season as its main economic driver.
Port Germein Caravan Park manager Sandra Wauchope said tourist dollars were more important than ever before.
“When you lose a school, the major effect is that it won’t encourage families with children to move into the community, and children are the future of the town,” Ms Wauchope said.
“So a few families did move on because of the school closing. Our survival is from the tourists and our jetty.”
But Edithburgh’s close-knit community of 450 residents and several businesses understand the decision to close the school and are optimistic they will withstand the change.
Location Cafe owners Joanna and Cory Deroos have two children at Edithburgh and say their education has benefited from the school’s focused learning environment.
“They all love Edithburgh and it’s been the best thing for our kids in the past three years, so it is very sad to see it go,” Ms Cory said.
“I just hope the old school goes to good use and doesn’t go to wreck and ruin.”
Newsagent and deli owner Lesley Tilbrook sent her children to the primary school 16 years ago, but conceded the town was now more a holiday and retirement destination.
“When my eldest started kindy there was 15 in his kindy class, but the unfortunate factor is there aren’t as many young families here because there isn’t the employment around,” Mrs Tilbrook said.
“There are more holiday houses here nowadays and a lot of homes have been built but not many have people in them.”
Edithburgh Primary School principal Helen Jolly.
Yorke Peninsula Council mayor Ray Agnew said about 47 per cent of all homes on the peninsula were holiday homes that were not permanently lived in.
“Society is changing in a way; there is not the number of young families here or the number of people on farms as land holdings get larger,” Mr Agnew said.
“Edithburgh, for example, had a general shop years ago and one of its hotels has just closed, so I think it’s changing from having permanent residents to being more of a holiday area.
“It has lost something there with the school but the community will still soldier on.”
Despite the school being a meeting place for the community, the town still has various social outlets through its sports teams and the bowls club to help with social cohesion.
The town’s play centre, based at the school, will remain open one day a week providing an outlet for children aged up to five years.
In Port Vincent, the community is also hoping the school’s aquatic centre will remain open and continue to be an economic driver for district.
“Schools from all over regional SA go there for water lessons and it’s been very successful,” Mr Agnew said.
“There’s been rumours but it’s not closing in the short term, and it’s something that is very important for that community so we really hope it stays open.”
But, for now, the Edithburgh and Port Vincent cafes, tackle shops and pubs are stocking their shelves and fridges in anticipation of the tourist season – the tiny communities’ busiest time of the year.
And the closure of more schools gives South Australians another important reason to holiday in their own state and support these small rural communities.