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EARLY HISTORY OF PASKEVILLE CHURCHES.
From an interesting old relic—a minute book of Church matters in and around Paskeville—I gleaned the information recorded here. I put "in and around Paskeville," because the district was then known as "Green's Plains East and West," and what is left of the earliest church building stands about two miles from the present town of Paskeville, not far from the present Green's Plains West School. Congregationalism was early on the scene. This book is "The Congregational Union Chapel Minute Book, January 8, 1869." The front part of it contains the record of a number of years' activity of the Congregational folks, assisted by the cause in Kadina. , The latter pages are devoted to Methodist history.
There is a blank for a number of years, from 1879 to 1883, and during those years a change came about which evidently resulted in the building of the present Paskeville Methodist Church.
Under "the page title: "Green's Plains, September 21, 1868. Building and Material," the names of George and A. F. Skipworth, Reid Brothers, John Scoble and James Drewitt are set down as having carted material and given time to the erection of the first church, a pine structure. This work continued during the early part of October, and we read further, that on ."Sunday, October 11, 1868, the opening service was preached in the afternoon at half-past two by Rev. W. Wilson. On the 14th a public tea and meeting was held in aid of the building fund." In May, 1869, record is made of services conducted by Rev. W. Wilson, of Kadina, and by Mr. Mayfield, of Kulpara, some members of whose family still reside in that district. At the public meeting, held on Monday, May 24, 1869, Revs. W. Wilson and Mackie gave addresses, the chair being taken by Mr. Hall.
On June 30, of the same year, the following trustees for the property were appointed:—Messrs, George and A. F. Skipworth, John Reid, Charles Henderson, George Wood, James Train, J. H. Hosking, John Farmer and David Brown. Other names, not trustees, but members of a committee of management are:—John Hamilton, John Scoble and George.Baynes. , At the first anniversary services, which were conducted by Rev. W. Wilson and Mr. Mayfield, the proceeds amounted to £5s. 0d., this going towards" liquidation of the church, debt
The entry of February 13, 1870, states that this is the Minute Book of "The Green's Plains Branch of the Kadina First Congregational Church."
An interesting record "of names on August 22, 1870, show, that "the following gentlemen were appointed trustees for" the cemetery property:— Thomas Nugent, Charles McCabe, Roman Catholic; John Reid, John Hamilton, Augustus Fredk. Skipworth, Congregational; George Wood, George Daniel, Bible Christian; Christopher Charlton, Charles Broadstock-, Church of England; Benjamin Betts, William Jenkin, Primitive Methodist; George Baynes, Wesleyan Methodist; George Mayfield, Baptist.
At a church meeting, held on October 7, 1873, the church was designated "The Green's Plains Congregational Church," and Rev. Richard Griffith Bayly was received as the first minister of the church.
The cause was progressing, and soon afterwards it was decided to hold morning (10.30) service at Mr. Stretton's residence at the Cocoanut, a place still known by that name, about five miles south-east of Paskeville.
Just here there occurs a break in the records. It appears as though the original church fell into disuse, for the next meeting was held in the Green's Plains East schoolroom (quite close to where the present Paskeville public school stands), in January, 1875, and Rev. A. Buchanan was called to the pastorate. Services were continued in the. schoolroom, and permission was sought to sell the pine church.
A manse was at this time in the possession of the trustees, the house known today as "Train's," on the Paskeville - Maitland road. Services were again held in the old pine church during 1877, and other preaching places were Green's Plains West-East, Cocoanut and Thomas Plains, preachers beside the minister being Messrs. Graves, Palmer and John Reid.
We have a hint at this time of depression, word of a famine in India was brought before the congregation, but it was regretted that nothing could be done to assist. We note that a loan was being raised to meet local current expenses.
Further difficulty in finance is expressed by members who find a difficulty, through bad seasons, in paying their subscriptions.
Mr. A. Palmer resigned his membership in January, 1878, as he had decided to go on to study with a view to entering the ministry.
In 1879 the record of Congregationalism ends abruptly, and the next entry is dated July 3, 1883, when a meeting was held to consider the erection in Green's Plains East of a place of worship, with Rev. J. H. Williams (Methodist) in the chair. Those present were:—James Train (appointed secretary); Messrs. J. H. Hosking, Geo. Baynes, J. Snell, E, Harrop, E. Lamming, Geo. Harrop, J. Farmer, J. Hamilton, P. Barbary, J. Wright, Geo. Ball, A. J. Franklin, E. Palmer,' J. Renfrey, Geo. Wood, J. Reid and others.
Land was promised by J. Renfrey, but I understand that this offer was not-accepted. Other allotments were purchased, and the church built on the present site, and is in use today. The following trustees were appointed;—Messrs. J. H. Hosking, J. H. Train R. Barbary, E. Lamming, Geo. Harrop, R. Renfrey, J. Snell, A. J. Franklin, S. Holman, Geo. Baynes and John Farmer.
On February 12, 1884, the tender of Mr. Harris for building at £99 15s. 0d., and that of Mr. Opie for carpentering at £170, was accepted. Volunteers offered stone, water, lime and sand necessary for the work, and Mr. E. Lamming, who is still Resident in Paskeville, had the honour of delivering the first load of stone.
To finance the scheme it was decided to borrow £200 at 8 per cent., if it could be had at that rate, the minister, Rev. J. H. Williams, reporting later that money was available at 9 per cent, up to £300.
The church was ready for opening on June 8, and services were conducted at 11 a.m. and 6.30 p.m., by Rev. A. W. Wellington, then minister of the Kadina Circuit, and at 2.30 by Rev. J. Lloyd, of Welsh Church, Wallaroo.
Signs of the zeal moving through the spirits of preacher and people is seen in the fact of three conversions at the first evening service, surely a sign of Divine blessing upon the work of God in that place.
In May, of 1885, a minute was passed resolving that the name be changed on the plan from Green's Plains East to Paskeville.
The church has since passed through varying periods of success and depression. There were times when the communion tables were thronged by earnest Christian disciples. Converts were won for Christ, and truth and religion was of vital interest to the community.
During the past few years, sadly enough, the blight of indifference seems to have fallen on the spirits of the community, and the forlorn, decaying condition of the property is a reflection of it. The Sunday school holds its classes in a building some distance away from the church, and this has led to a certain amount of aloofness between them that is not conducive to spiritual health in either.
Some folk say that the building is too far out of the town, thus accounting for the general lack of interest. The Divine fire and spiritual glow lacking in the Paskeville communion will return when the spirit and mind of Christ is the sole guiding principle of her people in business and in pleasure, as well as in worship.
The sacred fire still burns in faithful souls, who today are praying that the Spirit of God will again stir cold hearts to worship and to praise. When that prayer is answered, and we believe it will be, the Church of God in Paskeville will take its rightful supreme place in the hearts of the people.
Green Plains near Kadina B 40617
THE VERACIOUS HISTORY OF GREEN'S PLAINS.
Green's Plains. October 5.
The jubilee of the discovery-of these fertile plains was appropriately celebrated on Wednesday last by one of the largest and best agricultural shows ever held on the Peninsula. His Excellency the Governor recognising the importance of the occasion, with his usual courtesy, came through by special train to grace the gathering with his presence. To prevent the overcrowding of the plains, and maybe damage to the wheat crops, the show was held in Kadina, an adjacent suburban town, an off-shoot of the plains, and thither, in honor of the event, people flocked from all the region round about while special trains brought interested visitors from Wakefield, Gladstone, and other parts of the interior. It was, indeed, a gala day, and a gathering worthy of the occasion. Although he made no comment, his Excellency was evidently deeply impressed, as he crossed these now historical-plains the great, hub of the Peninsula, around which revolve all the social and commercial interests of the district. Surrounded by earth, sky, and scrub, and bounded on all sides by distance and more scrub, these plains have a picturesque appearance of rural sweetness and simplicity that at once attracts the eye and attention of the beholder, and makes him long to tarry awhile and rest. It is not recorded in history, and consequently may not be generally known that it was the original intention of Captain Cook to discover these verdant plains, and to settle down here us a successful farmer, had not his career elsewhere been nipped, in the bud by hostile natives. It was that unfortunate accident that gave, the hitherto unknown, but now illustrious Green the opportunity to immortalise himself, and hand his name down to posterity as a benefactor of his race. When, footsore and weary, he emerged from the surrounding scrub, and saw kangaroos, wallabies, turkeys, and emus bounding, feeding, flying, and running over the wide, rolling plains, be was enraptured by the sight, and named it on the spot the land of promise, promising it as an inheritance to himself and his descendants for all time, with the right of renewal for a similar term, especially if he could get the Beetaloo water laid on. But before be could peg out his claim a band of unpainted natives, no brands visible, and clothed chiefly in waddies, came swiftly on the scene, and ran him violently down a steep place into the scrub, where he lost himself and the plains, and his after fate remains a mystery even unto this day, for although he left footprints on the sands of the time being, they were about 15 ft. apart, and leading in quite a different direction from that whence he came. But, later on, other men fallowing Green's tracks, came, saw what he bad seen, took possession of the plains, subdued the noble savage and his beings, and in due time had him working at the undignified occupation of cutting down scrub on his original hunting grounds. And, it was here, while supposed to be so engaged, that the dusky monarch, Shooting Tommy, the last and best of his race, put up a world's record, as far as he knew, by running down an old man kangaroo in a three days' go-as-you-please on foot. It was here, also, that he won his shooting distinctions, for, in addition to his gun, he always carried a sheaf of waddies, and although he often missed with his gun, he seldom failed to bring his game down with his second barrel, the waddy. But Tommy and his race, kangaroos, and all, have long since passed away to other, and maybe, happier, hunting grounds, and the plains that knew them once so well will know them now no more for ever, for the scenes of their former activity are now dotted over with prosperous farms and comfortable homesteads, and on the higher elevation from which the late lamented Green, first viewed the landscape o'er, now stands the thriving and important town of Paskeville, connected by rail with Melbourne. Sydney, Brisbane, Oodnadatta, and Moonta, and by wire with London, New York, and the world. The principal buildings are chiefly those not yet erected, including the jubilee hall, observatory, and art gallery. But the public pound, recreation park, and Beetaloo dam are very fine structures in their way, and add largely to the outside attractions of the town, which also possesses the necessary equipment of pubs, stores, blacksmith's shops, churches, and one of the principal stock markets in the State. Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on hand as to the precise year in which these plains were discovered. Green, in his hurry and excitement, evidently forgot to book the date or to leave any leaves of his diary for the use of posterity. "Still, that is merely a matter " of detail, and, after all, a year or two more or less, is neither here nor there in a jubilee, and this one, having been such a pronounced success, will in all probability be repeated annually for some time to come, so that we are bound, sooner or later, to strike the exact year.
While many flourishing towns and prosperous districts are being so ably and interestingly described through the column of The Register we cannot overlook the claims for a front place for the hub of the peninsula, the great magnetic centre around which revolves all the social and commercial interests of the district. Situated about midway between Spencer's and St. Vincent's Gulfs it occupies a commanding position for strategic or agricultural purposes. Bounded on all sides by earth, sky, and scrub, with distance and more sky in the background, it presents an appearance of rural sweetness and simplicity that at once attracts the attention and admiration of the passer-by, and makes him wish to tarry here a while and rest. It may not be generally known that it was the original intention of Capt. Cook to have discovered these now historical plains, and to have settled himself down here as a successful farmer, had not the natives elsewhere nipped his intentions and his career in the bud, and his last expiring words, spoken in the native language, are said to have been, "This never would have happened had I landed at Green's Plains." And so it came to pass that the first white man to sight the place was an individual by the some what uncommon name of Smith, who, when he saw kangaroo, emu, turkeys, and wallaby bounding running, flying or feeding over these great rolling downs, called it the Land of Promise, and promised it to himself and descendants as an inheritance for all time, with the right of renewal, especially if he, could get the Beetaloo water laid on. But before he could peg out his claim a band of unpainted heathens, clad chiefly in waddies, came hurriedly on the scene, and ran him violently down a steep place into the scrub, and his after-fate remains a mystery to this day, for, although he left footprints on the sands of time, they were mostly about 15 ft. apart, and heading for the interior. Thus it fell to the fortunate lot of the hitherto unknown but now illustrious John Greet to make the final discovery. When shall his glory fade? He, with other hardy pioneers, came, saw, and soon possessed the land, subdued the noble savage and his dusky king, and in due time had him working at the somewhat undignified occupation of cutting down the timber on his original happy hunting grounds; It was in the vicinity of these great plains that a most remarkable test of endurance took place between the wild man of the woods and his wilder compeer, the kangaroo. King Tommy, the last monarch of his dusky race, was a mighty hunter among his tribe, and had won belt after belt, and several braces for his skill with the waddy and the boomerang. But when the white man came and killed game with smoke and fire, Tommy's interest in his wooden weapon ceased. He wanted to shoot like his white brother. He wanted a gun, and wasn't happy till he got it, nor yet for some time afterwards, for, although his gun was continually going off, so also was the the game, and many a supperless night was result, until he bethought himself to carry a sheaf of waddies, when, if he missed with the gun, he took the a second shot with the waddy and seldom missed with that. He wasted most of his ammunition over an old man kangaroo, that for months at a time kept just out of range, and seemed to laugh at his failures, his gun, and his waddles, One fine spring morning Tommy met his enemy on the edge of the plain, and emptied his last charge of slugs in his direction, but the kangaroo merely kicked up his heels, hopped a few paces away, and went on with his feeding as though nothing unusual had happened. This cool contempt so exasperated Tommy that he threw down his gun, drew a waddy, and charged in the same direction that his last shot had gone. The 'roo simply bounded away, and was quickly out of sight in the scrub. But Tommy, with his fighting blood well up, got on the tracks, and settled down into a long swinging stride, which he kept up all day, with occasional glimpses of the enemy far ahead, and when darkness closed in simply camped on the tracks; was up again at dawn, and after refreshing himself with a grub, and taking in a hole in his belt, resumed the chase, and soon had the kangaroo going again, and kept him well within sight all day, laying down again at night on the tracks within 100 yards of the cause of all the trouble. With the first streak of light both were going again, Tommy, in the meantime, having, taken in another grub and another hole in his belt. As the day wore on the distance between pursuer and pursued gradually decreased, and the kangaroo began to wobble in his stride, ever and anon looking over his shoulder at the terrible black shadow slowly but surely drawing nearer, and at last, with failing strength, and the shades of night, closing in, faced around to await the final struggle. Twice was Tommy thrown to the ground and the on and knocked out of him, for the kangaroo observed no rules about not hitting below belt; in fact at the third go he took he belt clean off Tommy and a large strip hide with it. In the fourth round both went down together, but with Tommy and the waddy on top, and Tommy rose alone, lived for many years after to recount this exploit with graphic language and gestures, and it is asserted on reliable authority that this remarkable test of endurance between man and beast, a three days' go-as-you-please, was actually run in a circle less than three miles in circumference.
But what a transformation! These great plains to-day are dotted over with prosperous farms and smiling, up to-date homesteads, while on the higher levels, from which Smith viewed the landscape o'er, now stands the prosperous and populous town of Paskeville, connected by rail with Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Oodnadatta, and Moonta, and by wire with London, New York, St. Petersburg, and Berlin. The bulk of the town, lies south of the motor esplanade and parallel with the railway, and in addition, to numerous handsome private dwellings sports the Railway Hotel, a really up-to-date cool drink shop, replete with every convenience for man and beast. There are three busy Warehouses, not perhaps quite as large as Foy & Gibson's in the city, but of longer standing, two big manufacturing establishments, where the hum of machinery, clang of hammers, and hourly whistles bear eloquent testimony to trade and means of doing it; two commodious halls, as many churches, a bank, police station (all but the cells and officer's residence), weighbridge, public pound, saleyards, and Beetaloo Reservoir, with holding capacity of 11,000,000 gallons, which being slightly more than enough for local requirements, the surplus water is sent on to Moonta, Kadina, and other, suburban towns. While a mile eastward is the 9,000,000 gal, two storied reservoir from which the Hundreds of Tipara and Clinton draw their supplies, thus making this the great water distributing centre of the peninsula, and the only district in the State with such a complete abundant water system. Thrington, the capital of the western plain, is a town largely yet to come, and at present consists chiefly of the general post office and goods shed, with several modern villas not yet erected, half a dozen grain merchants offices, and nearly quarter a mile of wheat stacks in the station yard, a sight well worth going many miles to see.
These great Plains were the first to introduce ploughs and ploughing matches to the peninsula, and the first and only peninsula plains to have a railway, horseracing, and agricultural shows. Here was invented and perfected the famous capstan grubbing machine, the greatest stump extractor of the age, a mighty help in days of agricultural darkness, when every stump, root, or bush bad to be removed before cultivation. From here also, or hereabouts, came that priceless boon to all mankind, the stumpjumping plough, an invention that astounded the world, revolutionised farming everywhere, and brought under cultivation millions of acres of land that must otherwise have waited for generations yet to come, to clear with labour and sorrow. And it was here that 40-bushel crops were predicted when twinebinders, seeddrills, and oil engines were first introduced. These verdant plains were also to the fore with grazing, fallowing, agricultural bureaus, and improved methods of cultivation, including monthly sales and dry farming, now so successfully carried on in other parts of the State, for which we ask no other reward than the satisfaction of having helped others to help themselves. By systematic cultivation, assisted by crossdrilling, harvest yields have been forced upwards even to 40 bushels an acre. These crops, of course, are by no means general; but thirties are fairly common, and the man reaping less than 20 does not like to mention the fact, as it is generally regarded as a reflection on his farming, which, should not be for taken, by the large well-worked farm, substantial improvements, up-to-date homesteads, advanced methods, and machinery and general prosperity, the district of Greens Plains has few equals and no superiors in the State.
SCHOOL ANNIVERSARY AT GREEN'S PLAINS.
The anniversary services in connection with the Green's Plains Methodist Sunday School were held on Sunday and Monday, 25th and 26th ult., when fine weather prevailed. Two services were held on Sunday, conducted by the Rev Vivian Roberts. Large congregations were present on each occasion, the building being packed. The children rendered some very creditable singing. On Monday afternoon a tea was provided for the children, followed by a public tea and meeting. The report, of the secretary (Mr H. H. Queale, jun.) shows the Sunday school to be in a very healthy condition. The six children who attended every Sunday of the year were :—Alice, Cliff and Morley Rodda, and Amy, Ina, and Rosalie Queale. The school was under a debt of obligation to Mr and Mrs H. Lipson Hancock for their much valued help in establishing the kindergarten and modern methods this year, also for the handsome donation, towards the school funds. The thanks of the school are also due Messrs E. J. Trenerry and W. J. Garter, of Moonta Mines, for approbated assistance. The new methods had been adopted by the children with zeal. A word of praise was due to Miss Thomson for her successful work with the babies. A vote of thanks to the officers for co-operation in the school work concluded the meeting. A supper, terminated a successful function.
YARNS FROM GREENS PLAINS. A Prehistoric Sketch.
Our Greens Plains correspondent writes:— Having, seen and read with interest issues of The Register sundry well-written articles about the days and doings of Mount Gambier, Yankalilla, and other small places of minor importance, your correspondent feels constrained (despite the innate modesty of the residents, who hanker not after the limelight) to divulge some valuable historical information about a place that has done so much to advertise and advance the best interests of the State and Commonwealth: There may, of course, have been a few early happenings which it might be inadvisable to mention, even at this date. As every one should know, Green's Plains is one of the oldest spots on the continent; in fact, local geologists, computing by the skyline and the utter absence of any granite formation, are of opinion that it is even older than that. Anyhow, its history dates far back into the dim vistas of antiquity; or, at any rate, for several years before the advent of the late Mr. John Green, who was certainly better late than never, which he mostly always was; and who, it has been suggested, assumed his name from local traditions, colouring, or surroundings, backed up by tribal records and ancient documents, unearthed in a black grass temple shortly after his arrival— which seemed to prove that prior to the year 002 the plains were occupied and held against all comers at the point of the waddy by a powerful tribe of darkies with green backs, red hair, and white toenails. They were of a most aggressive disposition and constantly at war with their neighbours, so much so, that soon they didn't have any neighbours nearer than the Tipandrum tribe at Crystal Brook; and soon they didn't even have them, for the runners very foolishly wandered down to spy out the land, one fine September morning in the merry month of May, and still more foolishly involved themselves in a breach of the game laws. And when the outpost Greenback gamekeeper mildly remonstrated with them, they placed their thumbs on noses which appeared to have been specially flattened out for that purpose, spread their fingers, winked one eye each and put out a variety of more or less coloured tongues. Whereupon the Greenbacks rose as one black with a variety of weapons, and fell upon them, and smote them hip and thigh, and on several other places, and then chased the fragments that remained in going order over the Hummocky Mountains and the Condowie plains, and still onward, upward, and always northward, across the Broughton, past Beltana, west of Lake Eyre, east of Oodnadatta, beyond Alice Springs, and finally lost them in the fastnesses of McDonnell Ranges. Of the after fate of the Tipandrunners no more was heard in the place whence they came.
Black and Green.
When, in overdue time, after many moons, and much tribulation, the Greenbacks, tenderfooted and leg-weary, returned to the plains, they found another and more powerful tribe in possession. These blacks were of the very blackest black, even blacker than before, and defied all attempts to dislodge them, and so determined were they about the business that the Greenbacks eventually shook the dust off their hind feet in 15-ft. strides, and at something less than 30 miles an hour, and the plains, the wide rolling plains that they had loved and lost so well, knew them henceforth and for ever no more. And it was the remnant of this later tribe, led, or misled, by King Thomaseus, better known as Snooting Tommy, that was on view when Mr. Green appeared on the scene. It was a memorable meeting, for when Green first viewed his surroundings from the crest of the plain he was profoundly moved, seeing the richness of the soil, clay-pans filled with, water and wild ducks, mile after mile of grassy plain abounding with wallaby, quail, and turkey, and where the emu and kangaroo did much more abound. He threw up his cabbage-tree hat, and landed with both feet on it when it came down again, and sprinkled a bottle of coloured water over, or into, himself, and called the place the Land of Goshen, and said by gosh'n he'd like to have it for his very own. Accompanied by the tribal king in quest of bacca, he pitched camp and hoisted his flag in the little belt of scrub midway between the plains. But he could not long keep it to himself. The news of his find soon got ahead, and it was rumoured that a new province had been discovered. Wise, and otherwise, men came from the east, some on foot, some on horseback, and still some more with sheep, and two adventurers with a swiftly moving team of bullocks and dray in search of a cattle ranch, crossed the ranges and reached the eastern side of the east plain in camping time. Having unyoked and hobbled the bullocks, one man fixed up the camp, while the other with his gun went out in search of game, and in the gathering dusk came face to face with a full-grown wombat (no small animal in those days). Never having seen one before he at once recognised it as a grizzley bear, and, fearing that it might attack and kill perhaps four or five bullocks in the night, he bravely faced the monster and fired a muzzle loading charge of buck shot fair into its noble and somewhat expansive countenance. But although it seemed to shift some spare fur, it apparently had no other effect. The brute merely sat up and took notice as if slightly surprised at the unusual noise, then coughed a time or two to clear its throat, and quietly chewed up more grass.
Early Settlers Discouraged.
The man fortunately had had considerable experience with cattle, and always carried a spare rope with him, so lassoed the animal and dragged it back to the camp. He thought it was a bear when he started with it, but was not quite sure as to whether it was bear or bullock when he reached camp; but, of course, the light was not too good. As neither he nor his partner had ever seen anything like it before, they decided to take it back to civilization with them, and make fortunes by exhibiting it as a monstrosity from the unknown past. They accordingly attached a chain to a strap, and the strap to the wombat, and the wombat and the strap and the chain to the wheel of the dray, over the pole of which the travellers had hung their tent to make themselves comfortable during the night. They forgot that their captive might also have a preference for cover, but the wombat didn't forget, and as there was no cover handy, proceeded to make one by digging a shaft down under the offside wheel of the dray. Then he put in a crosscut and came out under and clear of the nearside wheel. But before the wombat would add anything further in the way of improvement, the whole earth seemed to come in under the wheels; prop-sticks snapped, and the craft settled down flat on its axle-bed, and the heroes of the outfit awoke to find themselves lying one on either side of the pole and almost smothered by the fallen canvas. The wombat, the innocent cause of all the trouble, had quietly withdrawn his head from the strap and cantered off into the surrounding night, and when the teamsters got their dray out, two days later on they got themselves out, dray and all, as quickly as they came, and without seeing the best of the land, believing the place to the haunted and protected by fearsome wild animals. The discovery of the Moonta and Wallaroo copper mines, in 1860, or thereabouts, brought population from all parts of the globe, and the majority of them had to cross these plains, so that it was no longer possible to keep them for sheep alone; with the result that in 1864 the land was surveyed and offered by auction, and was snapped up as quickly as offered Among the first settlers were Messrs. John Reid, John Seobie, Thomas Price George, Daniel and Isaac Skipworth, Charles Smith, Thomas Hosking, Richard Renfrey, William Wyatt, Charles Henderson, Cris. Charleston, George Baines, Walter Ayles, and Thomas Tait, most, of whom are still represented by descendants in the district.
YARNS FROM GREENS PLAINS. Early Settlers Settling Down. No. II.
Our Greens Plains correspondent writes: —The majority of the early settlers came from the old settled districts of the south, and were mostly hard doers, innured to toil, and having no knowledge of anything less than 16 working hours in a short day. The wives, daughters, and sisters were as brave, capable, and energetic as the men. Does any one ever stop to think how much we owe to these splendid pioneer women all over the State? When a man gets tired or discounted he can relieve his feelings by taking a spell off, or kicking things around, or gassing to his neighbours about what he could do if he were able and knew how to do it. But a woman just keeps on keeping on. Many a man and many a time in the outback would have thrown up the sponge and anything else he could lay hands on, but for the hopefulness and encouragement of the woman. God bless her! Of course, the firstcomers did not long have the plains to themselves. The vacant blocks were quickly taken up by the Conners, the Trains the Lammings, the Roddas, the Hammiltons, the Thomases; more Smiths, and the Bill Browns; and the overflow land seekers simply flowed over and across to the newly opened lands on Boors Plains. It might incidentally be mentioned that the Boors Pains, is not, and never was, on Greens Plains, as some people might think; but it is a little suburban plain distinct unto itself, and some six miles distant. Among its first settlers were such men as the Messrs. James Allen and Christopher Mathews from the Auburn district, and William Trenhertts, William Cross, Andrew Daddow, and Thomas Scott (Scotty), from somewhere else.
As soon as the settlers began to settle down properly, so also did the blacks. They ceased their aimless wanderings to and fro, eased off most of their hunting expeditions, and looked to their white brother to provide for their daily and increasing needs. They toiled not, neither would they spin, unless something unusual was after them. Old Shooting Tommy, whose royal ancestry dated far back into the dark ages, was a most loveable old reprobate. He was a clever mimic, a champion loafer, and an inveterate cadger; and yet, with all his other faults, and they were past finding out, he was a general favourite in the settlement, and he knew it but, of course, didn't presume on that knowledge. Nothing was too good for him to ask for, and nothing too bad to pass off on him, and he was always so politely thankful, and always willing to come again for more. Prior to the coming of the whites Tommy had been a mighty hunter, roaming the plains and forests from shore to shore, in search of big game and had won several belts and some braces by his skill with the waddy, spear and boomerangs, to say nothing of his leg work, for he was 'also' a tireless runner. But now Tommy must have a shoot gun like his white phellar brother. Nothing less would do him and he asked for nothing more, or at least, not just then. But he never failed to mention the gun when rounding up supplies, and at length a kind-hearted settler who had often expressed regret at the thought of the remnants of an ancient race slowly but surely passing away, without some special effort being made to delay that passing, and improve their condition, sold Tommy an old single-abarrel muzzle loader for 30/, on the instalment principle, to be paid for by some slabs of sweat off Tommy's brow. Meanwhile, he undertook to instruct Tommy, and through him his tribe in the mysteries of woodcraft, which should provide the exercise necessary for health purposes, teach them self reliance, make them self-supporting, and might eventually lead to affluence or perhaps a motor car. He then provided Tommy with half a dozen brand new axes, and let him a contract to cut down and burn some scrub at 10/ an acre with plenty big one tucker. This, he thought, would give Tommy a chance to work out his own salvation and the thirty bob gun. Needless to say, the tribe were simply delighted with their new toys, and pottered around all the morning cutting out small shrubs and bushes, and running in at shore intervals for tucker. When remonstrated with for wasting time and tucker, Tommy rounded up his axemen and sooled them on to a big mallee, and stood back and watched them while they hacked away at it two at a time, the others standing around to await their turn or wildly dodging chips or flying axes when a handle broke or a blade struck sideways on the trunk. When, towards evening, the tree began to wabble, they all crowded around and under it, prancing, shouting, and clapping their hands. And the tree fell and great was the fall thereof. Five lubras had climbed up earlier in the day to be out of the way of the workers and to get a better view of the operations, and they and the tree came down together, and laid out nine others, including Tommy and the heroic axemen. And that same night Tommy returned the axes, cancelled his contract, and demanded a week's tucker in advance. He still kept the gun on time payment.
A Famous Test of Endurance.
Tommy's first experience with the gun was not an unqualified success and caused him to pass many weary days and several hungry nights, for, although his gun was continuously going off, so also was the game. But, to minimize this risk, he later on adopted the plan of carrying a belt full of waddies, and if he missed with the gun, which he mostly always did, he took a second lightning-like shot with a waddy and seldom missed with that. His pet aversion was an old man kangaroo that had long treated him and his gun with absolute contempt, and so it came to pass that at the breaking of day one fine morning, Tommy came suddenly on his enemy on the outskirts of the plain, and unthinkingly emptied his last charge of slugs on the brute just out of range. The 'roo, however, merely glanced over his shoulder to see what was happening, and then kicked up his heels at Tommy and ate more grass, which so exasperated Tommy that he threw away his gun, unsheathed a waddy, and charged headfirst in the same direction that the slugs had gone. The 'roo kept well out of reach all day, but Tommy tired not nor stopped to rest until darkness compelled him to do so, and then camped on the tracks. After taking in a grub and a hole in his belt, he resumed the chase at dawn, and lay down that night within a hundred yards of the cause of all the trouble. He was up next morning, however, with the first streak of light, and after absorbing a couple of fat grubs from a nearby stump and taking in another hole in his belt, was going as strong as ever. The distance between pursuer and pursued gradually became less and less, the kangaroo beginning to wabble on his tracks, and every once in a while glancing backward at the grimly dark shadow slowly, but surely, drawing nearer. The shades of night were not far behind when in desperation he turned and grappled with Tommy; and they fell, and rose and fell several times, during which exciting process the kangaroo relieved Tommy of his belt and the few scraps of clothing that he had brought with him, besides several strips of valuable skin. But after the fifth round Tommy rose alone, and returned to camp bringing most of his capture with him. And this remarkable test of endurance between the wild man of the woods and his wilder compeer the kangaroo was staged and run off within a circle of three miles, in proof of which the running track was kept open for inspection for several months, with no special charge or amusement tax for admission. Tommy was a great old dandy, and dearly loved to set the fashion for his tribe. Shortly after his adventure with the kangaroo, and being sadly in need of some clothes, he was looking around for the latest styles when a kindly disposed resident rigged him out in a tight-fitting pair of underpants, overlapped by a red Crimean shirt about three sizes too big, and topped off with a widespreading belltopper adorned by a white puggaree. Loaded up with tea, sugar, flour, tobacco, billycans, and waddies, with which Tommy proudly made via way across the paddock to where his tribal remnants were excitedly awaiting his arrival. He stepped high, occasionally prancing sideways to get a glimpse of the shirt-tail of his shadow; but it so happened that there were cattle in that paddock, and those early-settler cattle were not fond of too much colour. When they saw black and red prancing defiantly about before their eyes, they started out to investigate, led by a big red he cow which announced its coming with a roar that took all the prance out of Tommy and let I him off to break records, with the tail of his red shirt streaming far out on the breeze. But the he cow was a goer too, and gained so fast that Tommy began to shed his belongings. The belltopper was the first to go, and while doing a ten-foot stride, he lost his sugar, tea, and flour. At twelve feet his billycan went, and he parted with tobacco, matches, and waddies in the middle of a fifteen-foot-two step; and was easily doing eighteen feet when he reached the fence. He would have cleared it in the middle of his stride had not the tail of his shirt caught on a projecting knot on the top rail bringing him up standing as it were on the other side of the fence, and within a few inches of the horns of the infuriated animal that was prodding through the rails at a tender spot under the overhanging shirt. But Tommy's only, remark as he ducked out of the shirt and hastily climbed the nearest tree, was: 'By cripes, that cow have plenty big one growl!' In the fulness of time, or perhaps a little more, after outliving his tribe, poor old Tommy was one morning found calmly resting in his rolled-up blankets in his little wurlie in a little belt of the scrub be had loved so well. He had passed quietly to the happy hunting grounds in his sleep —a fitting passing for one of the last of his race.
YARNS FROM GREEN'S PLAINS. Some minor misadventures. No. 3
Our Green's Plains correspondent writes: — Most of the early comers brought with them special samples of live stock from former home districts, including an alarm, clock, a brace of wheelbarrows, and some, pet rabbits, which later on contributed towards food supplies, and still later on assisted largely in reducing supplies. There were several coopfuls of crossbred hens for laying purposes, and a couple of lame turkeys that could be loaned out to do the hatching, it being computed that turkeys would cover more eggs and ground than hens would, and because of their infirmities, would be less likely to go cackling around when home duties and family interests demanded their presence in the sitting room of the henroost. A tame and highly cultured magpie made his first appearance in the open with most startling effect, on the uneducated maggies of the plains. They crowded around, in scores, and simply sat upon their tails in open-mouthed admiration of his extensive vocabulary and brilliant flow of language which for weeks afterward they vainly tried to emulate to the neglect of morning songs, nestbuilding operations, and other household affairs. Common or garden poultry had a fairly lively time to start with on the wide rolling plains, and plenty of healthy, long-distance exercise chasing crows and eaglehawks off the grass, which did not always result in tho survival of the fittest, but mostly of the fleetest. For, no sooner would a hard working hen get an egg well and truly laid, than a crow that probably had never before seen such an egg, but seemed to know that that was just what it had been waiting for, would drop in from somewhere, and away would go the egg with the hen full tilt after it. At which moment a wedge-tailed eagle would swoop down from the blue, and the blue hen would go up in the middle of her stride leaving only a few spare feathers to mark the spot where, once she had been. Or if a lame, but industrious turkey, by sitting overtime, should succeed in hatching a litter of chickens, that turkey would have no more time for sitting down or idling about until those chickens were all weaned and grown to hen's estate. The same thing applied to the earlier instalments of dry water ducks, for even if they escaped the perils of ducklinghood and learned to waddle around in the dust, they could never duck and run property in time of danger, and the few that escaped the perils of the air were drowned in the first big flood that came, as they had not learned to swim. In those happy bygone days, cartloads of fresh hens and tons of hard-sprinting spring chickens, were carried off before the eyes of their helpless parents by crows and hawks that infested the district in thousands with apparently no honest means of livelihood. Bushels of powder and shot and bad language have been expended on them, and, if there are any two birds hated more than several others, these two certainly are the crow and the hawk. And yet the farmer is now told that these are among his very best friends, and that he should protect them, and if necessary, even sit up with them on cold winter nights— that the crow is something to crow over, and the wedge-tailed eagle is worth at least 40 lambs a year to the man on the lands. What a pity they did not know that, here in the earlier days as men might have made fortunes breeding wedgetails, instead, of fooling about trying to grow wheat. But then one mostly always doesn't know just what he didn't ought to do or otherwise as the case might be.
But the settlers, while diligent in business, and neglecting no opportunity for advancing their temporal interests, were not unmindful of their spiritual requirements, and one of their very first jointstock undertakings was the erection of a little pine log church at the parting of the ways, and about midway between the plains, where they might worship as they had done in days gone by. 'The services were wonderfully well attended, the exception being to find any one missing. Local brethren usually officiated, with an occasional visit from a minister from one of the mining towns. There being no organ, nor even a piano, to lead the singing, it was customary for some able bodied man in the congregation to start, a tune, or as near as possible to something that might fit the hymn about to be operated on. The starter might, of course, hit it first try, or might be a few inches too high, or too much to one side, and before he could get back to starting point some one else might have a shot at it. Brother Billy Tammas, a well-rounded and somewhat aggressive-looking individual, with a fine boisterous-looking voice, by his own consent assumed the role of chief precentor and master of musical arts, and claimed the right of first try, in fact, of three tries; and if he failed to strike the right gauge, or to hit a tune that they could go on with, then, it would be time enough for some one else to have a go at it, but not before. With the view of adding a little more style, and maybe getting a better all-round start, Brother Tammas brought down a tuning fork, which he rapped smartly on a desk, and then applied swiftly to his ear, but it unfortunately happened to be the wrong ear, and of course he went off on the wrong tune; and next time went off before the fork did, and was wrong again, and at the third attempt jabbed the thing nearly, up to the handle in his offside ear, and pit his tunes so badly mixed up that in disgust he threw the fork on the floor, where it bounced about for a time; and tried to start several tunes on its own account. Some evenings later Brother Renfrey came along with a self-starting flute and a tune book, which he fixed up on a box, with a candle on one side and a glass of water on the other, and proposed with these appliances to give a lead to the singing. But through some mishap to its inner workings the flute missed fire twice, and then the performer put his top lip too far over the side of the blowhole, and missed again, and before he could reload Brother Tammas had got the tune going, and was looking sideways and disdainfully at the unfortunate man with the flute. Even at its best, the new innovation could scarcely be called a pronounced success. Sometimes it would work all right for a spell, but more times it would not, and one evening, after a series of brilliant discords, the exasperated flautist placed his mouth all over the mouthpiece, closed his eyes, and bulging his cheeks to their utmost holding capacity, blew a terrific blast into the windpipe of the instrument with such telling effect that a tight wad of paper shot out of its southern end with a startling report, which snuffed out the candle and badly scared a couple of two year-old children that were not expecting anything like that. Later on Green's Plains had a new church and a new organ, and a splendid choir, among the members of which were the Scobels, the Butlers, the Renfreys, the Roddas, the Jenkinses, the Skipworths, and others too numerous to remember. Mr. James Butler, the leading bass, was at that time one of the finest singers of his class on the Peninsula. About which time, two of his small sons, while rabbiting in the dusk of evening, were mistaken by towny sportsmen for wombats, and sent home with most of a charge of shot each concealed about their respective persons, which may have had something to do with the development of their voices, as they afterwards became singers of more than ordinary talent.
Running to Length.
Those were the days of long prayers and long sermons, as each man who engaged in invocation seemed to think that he must summarise, particularise, and individualise, each and all for whom he asked a blessing; and no preacher would think of doing justice to himself or to his subject in less than an hour, and quite a number could easily exceed that limit. This was most feelingly exemplified one evening when a well-known lay preacher from Kadina was holding forth. He was known for his lengthy sermons. His usual custom, after giving out his text and making a few preliminary remarks, was to close his eyes and so proceed to the end of his long, drawn-out discourse. On this particular occasion Brother Tammas was on the watch — the more so as he bad quite recently treated himself to a brand new, low gear, double action, spring back Waterbury watch as a birthday present, which, with a bright silver chain across his outstanding chest, gave him rather an imposing appearance. As soon as the preacher had closed his eyes for the first part of his subject, Brother Tammas opened the front side of his timepiece and held it well up so that he and those in his vicinity could see it and the time, and then closed the shutter with a snap that attracted all round attention. The preacher opened his eyes and fixed them in the direction of the watch, and after a fairly lengthy pause said, 'Brother Tammas, when I have spoken for an hour and twenty minutes I will stop, but not before.' Whereupon Brother Tammas constituted himself referee, and sat watch in hand until the allotted time was up, and then brought the lid of the Waterbury down with a bang like unto the report of a pistol, at the same time calling out, 'Time's up, Brother D.' And although Brother D. was then only in the first part of his discourse, true to his promise he opened his eyes and closed his book. On another occasion, however, he was not quite so fortunate, for in the middle of his exhortation he repeated the first verse of an appropriate hymn, and Brother Tammas as once jumped to his feet and fixed a tune to it, and the congregation, joining in, sang the hymn right through and thus closed the service. Yes, those were the good old church-going days, when people felt it a privilege as well as a duty for the whole family to go; and the question was not 'Why don't men go to church,' but 'What could-prevent them from doing so?
YARNS FROM GREEN'S PLAINS. No. IV. From our own Correspondent.
Like new beginners everywhere, these firstlings bad no easy task to start with. Crops would not grow quickly enough, nor nearly large enough to meet requirements. Rain did not always come when and where it was most needed; nor could hot weather be prevented from setting earlier than, might be desirable for late growing crops. Cows without the slightest provocation would mostly persist in going dry when butter was scarce, and hens would lay their hardest, only when eggs were cheapest; It was hard to find money for suitable stock and implements, and harder to get these things without money. Consequently they had to content themselves with plodding along in a small way, and it was not unusual to see a full grown man pushing a single plough and pair of horses ahead of himself through black grass tussocks and other obstructions, For later on to see him sowing wheat by one hand power with half a dozen children scattered over the landscape to prevent his friends the crows from carrying off the seed before it could be harrowed in. Between times there was always wood to be carted in to the mines to procure feed for the horses and maybe a little for the family, and also to help keep the farm, until such time as it might help to keep them. But still they rarely complained. They wanted but little, and generally got it, and usually consoled themselves with the cheering truism that it is better to want something and not get it, than to get it and not want it. When times were bad they did not fret, nor grouch, and loaf about. The good things that they could not get, they simply went without. When crops were growing, or not growing, they went elsewhere to earn an honest shilling; just what the work was they did not care; they would tackle any job. If a man wanted a horse, as he mostly always did, he didn't rush into the market and buy the highest priced animal going, but would be content to get the cheapest; and preferably a beast with age and experience. Moreover, should such a purchase happen unexpectedly to die during the seedtime or in the middle of harvest, it could always be replaced with one equally as good. The same reasoning applied to old implements, which could always be had at much less than cost price; and even if there were frequent breakages, it meant more rest for the poor horses, and more work for the poor blacksmith, who of course had to live even if he didn't always get paid. So these hardy sons of toil laboured on, always hoping for something better to turn up, nor hesitated to do their fair share of water carting, which was always regarded as a poor man's job, for if he wasn't poor when he started he certainly would be when he finished, if he kept on long enough; for it is one of the most provoking and profitless occupations that man or beast can indulge in.
A Moonstruck Farmer.
in the case of one old-timer, a fearsome tragedy was narrowly averted. This man wasted most of his substance in riotous water-carting, and made no special effort to prevent the annual recurrence of this state of affairs; his only excuse, when remonstrated with, being that he couldn't sink a dam when it was raining, and when it wasn't raining he could not spare the time, as it was all required then for water-carting. He calculated and regulated his outgoings and incomings on moon theories. He boldly asserted, and challenged contradiction, that all changes of the weather took place before or after a change of the moon. Often of a fine evening, when not engaged in water-carting, he would sit for hours on a log admiring a frisky young moon at a distance, and making far reaching weather forecasts therefrom, in which he was most consistently wrong. His only objection to the present system was that new moons did not come fortnightly, so as to ensure more frequent changes of the weather. But when he returned home one evening, accompanied by a new moon, and some cool drinks, and found his horses and cattle pushing and kicking and falling over each other in their anxiety to absorb the last drop of water from the tank on the wagon, he became so exasperated that he threw a stone at the moon, and made uncomplimentary remarks about its lights, usefulness, and influence on anything, not to mention weather. He also cast damaging and uncalled for reflections on the ancestry of his family, among the members of which he predicted some early and painful deaths. Then, seizing an axe he proceeded to demolish some household requisites, and when his wife respectfully requested him not to attempt to improve on nature by trying to make a fool of himself, he took a flying shot at her with the axe, as that agile and well trained female dodged around the corner of the house. After his elder son had placed him on his back and clearly but forcefully remonstrated with him on the error of his ways, and warned him of the wrath to come, the man of many moons rose on his hands and knees, and cantered off across the lawn that wasn't there, and dived head and shoulders into a big washtub full of water, under which he kept his head while his breath lasted, and then coming up to breathe, he glanced cautiously around to see if any one was coming to his assistance. But when he saw the whole family standing cheerfully back, he was filled with unrighteous indignation, and rearing up, shook the water from his uncrested but much bewhiskered head, and in a burst of lurid eloquence denounced them as a lot of inhuman wretches who could calmly stand by and see their poor father drowned before their eyes without making the slightest attempt to save him.
Of course, the mining boom spread considerably around in those days, but no one seriously thought or finding gold on the plains, although it was admitted that by diligent search a coppers might be unearthed. The majority of the settlers however, wisely directed their digging propensities to dam and tank sinking, so as to make provision for a rainy day; but they could not prevent others from prospecting in the region round about, with the result that a valuable discovery was reported on the Cumberland plains, about three miles south of the west plain. This started right on the surface, and was followed down and cleaned out at a depth of about 18 ft., where the lode was lost. The discoverers continued their shaft downwards, to about 180 ft., and then started to dig up again, hoping to meet the lode coming down, which they didn't, and for weeks afterwards their drilling and blaspheming in that he was something shocking to bear.
GREEN'S PLAINS' YARNS. No. V.— From Our Correspondent.
it must not be thought that these old-timers had no diversions or relaxation. At least once a week there appeared a white-tilted fleet of hawkers vans, coming with the rising sun from the east, like shins of the desert in lone-drawn battleline, led by such hardy pilots as Perry Woods, of Upper Wakefield, and Daman Spackman, of Auburn, all laden with butter, eggs, and bacon for the mines, and Mr. J. Seabury, with tons of homegrown fruit and vegetables, from his Higher Skilly plantations. Occasionally one of the craft might branch out, and heave anchor, to leave some cargo with Mr. Thomas Price, the first and only storekeeper, butcher, and baker on the plains, which thriving business, but on a much more extensive scale, is still being carried on in the same place by his son, Mr. J. C. Price. As a rule, however, the whole fleet went straight through to Moonta, which was even in those early days the weary wanderers goal. Still, if they got nothing else, the settlers could always get the smell of the bacon and butter as it passed by, or the more tantalizing aroma of the fruit, so reminiscent of bygone days and dark nights in some neighbour's garden, far, far-away, when the owner was not about. Two days later the returning vessels filled the balmy air with the appetising and wide-spreading odour of Cousin Jack pasties and dead fish. Or one might lean cross-legged over the fence if there happened to be such a thing handy, or, failing that, sit back between the handles of the plough and watch Cobb & Co.'s royal mail coach and five as it crossed the plain, in the early morning on the first stage of its long journey to the city, and could usually get a look at the returning coach as it passed inward in the evening. For these were the good old coaching days, when drivers such as the Opies, the Rookes, and the Whatsinaraes tooled the reins and the whips— men who were always cool, courteous, and obliging, never worried, never flurried, never in a hurry, and never late. These were the knights of the road, who made coach travelling in all weathers endurable, if not always enjoyable. Starting from each end of the line, Adelaide and Kadina, at 7.30. am, the coaches passed each other when they met and, rain or shine they got to their respective destinations , punctually at 730 p.m., or as soon as possible thereafter. Moonta, of course, could not be neglected in this regard, and some there are who will remember the genial Ned Milkins, who for years drove the two-horse carriage with mails and postal matter from Green's Plains West to the little town of music, mines, and pasties. Coming up the Hummocks in the winter, or across the claypan track's of the plains, was something for the driver to remember till it was over ; but the Port Wakefield swamp in a liquid condition was the anathema of coach drivers then, as it is of motorists now. Probably more powerful and expressive language to the square chain has been used along that track than on any other road of similar length in the State; and yet it has not always dried up. Now, it seems strange but true, that's although it was well known that the royal-mail occasionally carried postage stamps, with Valentine cards and such like, valuables at their proper season of the year besides what spare cash the passengers might happen to have left after paying fares, only one attempt was over made, to hold up the coach, which speak volumes for the honesty of the non-intending robbers, or else for the reputation of the stage drivers.
A Discomfited Highwayman.
Of course, it was riot generally known at the time, and may not have been known at any time since, that a young fellow of about 40 summers' standing, a great admirer of the works and ways of George Washington and the late lamented Mr. Robin Hood, being in need of some petty cash, decided on the spur of the moment and on horseback to stick up the coach and help himself; and accordingly took up a suitable position in the saltbush adjacent to the before mentioned swamp road, and had scarcely finished loading his pistol and adjusting his mask, when the coach and five splashed along. Waving his firearm wildly aloft, he dashed out from cover, and was in the very act of adjusting his mouth to call out 'Bail up,' when the driver swung his long whip with a report like a gun to assist his team through a particularly bad piece of road. This was quite unexpected, and altogether too much for the oncoming robber's horse, which propped and swerved so suddenly that the rider, pistol in hand, was shot head first into a mudhole, in which undignified position he received the contents of the drivers well-swung whip a couple of times on the sitting part of his anatomy before he could extract himself, and was then ordered to wade in and push the coach through the devil's gluepot, which he did, and through several other spots, until he saw his chance and sprinted across the open and disappeared in the saltbush jungle, where he is supposed to have lived happily ever after.
Excitements of Wheatgrowing.
Only those who have lived in the wilds of Africa or on India's coral strand can have any conception of the thrilling risks and perpetual excitement of wheat growing on the outskirts of the district in those early and never-to-be-forgotten days. When the denizens of the forest watched with gleaming eyes while the settler cleared the scrub, or cultivated his little patch of grain, and later on while he slumbered and slept these night prowlers would come out and do their best, or worst, to chew up or destroy his slender prospects of a crop. Or, if it had got beyond the chewing stage, great overgrown kangaroos, big enough to have known better, would play hide and seek in it through the stilly watches of the night, and in sheer playfulness would down the heaviest patches with an utter disregard to the feelings of the owner or the oversea price of wheat. It was customary in those nights to erect scarecrows and to light fires along the side of the crop nearest the scrub, which meant constant vigilance, any neglect of which might seriously interfere with the prospects of the season as far as that particular crop was concerned. One of the farthest out, and consequently most severely tried in this way, was a man whose name was NotJones. This man neglected no precautions to preserve his growing crop, and early and late was on the lookout for trouble, and generally found it. For special emergencies he always carried an old two-horse pistol, but dreaded to use it, as the kick from the butt end was usually more disastrous than the charge from the other end. One evening he had been across to see a neighbour about a cow, and was a wee bit later than usual in starting his chain of fires. But no sooner had he got the first one going than his faithful housedog recognised the signal from the little grey house, gave a couple of joyful barks, and started on top gear across the paddock to assist his master, who just then, hearing the most tremendous thumping and scampering of his lifetime, rose up hurriedly, and in the very nick of time to catch an old man kangaroo on his chest in the middle of a 30-ft. stride, and they went down together, the kangaroo on top, with his offside hind toe hitched in the waistband of the other fellow's pants. Fortunately, the pants, although his best, didn't hold, or NotJones might have been seriously punctured in several places. But as it was he had the liveliest five minutes of his life, and every time he tried to get up or to bring his pistol into action, some more animals would land on him, and roll him over again until he was bruised, bewildered, and sore, and had been deprived of most of the clothing between his boots and shirt collar. When by an almost superhuman effort he managed to get on his hands and knees, in a rising position, the biggest kangaroo of all, with the faithful dog in close attendance, landed fair on him, and rolled him into the fire, at which well-timed moment the pistol went off underneath, and kicked him out again. Not having his ready reckoner, he calculated by shorthand thought that at least 15 kangaroos, four emus, eight wombats, five possums, 12 pinkies, and 57 wallabies must have hopped on or over him within about the space of three minutes, and that on the very lowest computation quite five times that number of each assortment must have come off his crop in other directions.
After that experience he assembled his friends and neighbours, and put up a bush fence along the scrub side of his crop. Wirenetting being unknown in those days, morning after morning he piled on bushes and trained the wallabies to jump until they had reached their limit. The kangaroo, however, were not so easily beaten, but NotJones was of an inventive disposition, and contemplated a surprise for them, which he prepared by bowling the top of a tall and thin young mallee down until it rested on a particularly low part of the fence, where he fiked it with a shiphook, to which was attached a rope with a wide-spreading noose, so cunningly arranged that any animal getting over the fence must get into the noose and release the shiphook when the treetop would spring aloft, taking its catch with it. He was out at dawn next morning to inspect, but found the trap undisturbed, although there were numerous kangaroo tracks on both sides of the fence. The following morning things were just the same, and the tracks even more so, and he proceeded to investigate, and while climbing cautiously over the fence caught his foot in the noose, and jerked it, and next moment was shot up on high, where for half an hour or more he hung by the leg, a spectacle for man and beast, and a howling testimony to the brilliancy of his own inventive genius. His S.O.S. signals eventually brought assistance, but they had to cut the tree down to bring him down, which they did with a crush that made him see more stars in 10 seconds than he had ever seen before in the whole corse of his more or less useful life. But NotJones was not yet at the end of his resources, for as soon as he was able to get about again, he went out to the self-same place and dug a hole 6 ft. deep and 4 by 6 in width and length, close inside the fence, carefully covering it over with mallee boughs, meeting in the middle, and kept in place by the excavated earth spread over the outer ends, and placed some wheat and grass a little further in as a bait for which any animal might be expected to jump. When he tailed around in the dewy morn, with a couple of clubs, he could have screamed with joy when, he saw the disturbed position of the bushes and knew that a catch was awaiting his club. In the excitement of the moment he threw down his hat and jumped on it, regardless of cost, then unsheathed a club pulled back the bushes, and looked down into the deathtrap, stepped back, and rubbed his eyes, and looked again, then jumped on his hat some more times, tried to hit himself in the back of the head with a club, and then used language, most of which he had never tried before. In the pit, with a broken neck, was his best and only milking cow, a cow of famous milking strain, for which he had given 30/ only the day before. 'Yes, these pioneers had to face hardships, and such like happenings of which their descendants have little or no conception.'
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. No. VI.—From Our Local Correspondent.
These early settlers were of a very independent and self-reliant disposition, asking no favours, and seeking no outside assistance or advice. When they wanted roads grubbed or made, streets outlined for townships yet to come, rain gauges for local use, and public pounds for neighbours cattle, they scorned the idea of asking the Government to do these things for them, but decided right away to form a district council, wherein under they could tax themselves, raise their own money, and spend it in their own way. For which purpose a meeting was held in Brown's Hotel, Greens Plains, on September 20, 1869. Mr. John Beid presided over an audience as large as the whole male population of the settlement could make it. Several ablebodied speeches were made in favour of the proposal which, it was pointed out, would not only give them the advantage of self-imposed taxation with full rights and privileges to all pains and penalties attaching thereto, for non-payment of rates or other trilling breaches of promise, but by their elevation to the dignity of ratepayers, would greatly enhance their social status as citizens of the plains. The motion was carried unanimously; that is to say, only five hands were held up against it but they were ruled out of order so as to make it unanimous; and the conveners were instructed to take the necessary action for the formation, of a district council, after which the meeting was adjourned sine die, which the mover explained, meant three months more or less, at the end of which time another sine die meeting could be held, so as not to display too much haste in finalizing the business. The preliminaries, however, were not unduly prolonged, and the first district council on Yorke's Peninsula—the District Council of Greens Plains—was proclaimed on July 20, 1871. The first councillors appointed were, John Reid, John Scoble, Richard Renfrey, James Hoskings, and Daniel Skipsworth; and the first meeting was held in Brown's Assembly Room on August 7, 1871, when Mr. John Reid was elected Chairman, and Mr. Charles Smith appointed clerk. The first business resolutions passed by the new council, was to the effect that tenders he called for defining council boundaries. A ranger also was appointed with power to add to his number and instructions to hunt up custom for the new pound. A cheque, drawn for £1 30/ (petty cash), signed by the Chairman, and countersigned by the clerk, absorbed all available funds, and closed the business for the day, after which it was resolved to accept Mr. Doswell's offer of two highly illuminated maps of the district, which might be more or less helpful to councillors in finding their homesteads in the dark, and especially after strenuous and protracted sittings. For night travelling was attended with considerable risk in those days if one happened to miss his providential way, as was painfully exemplified by the experience of one Muggins, a newcomer from outback, who had ridden in one evening to see if his name was on the new toll of ratepayers, and leaving again before the pub was closed, forgot his horse, and started to walk home, but, not being too sure of the road, took off along a survey cut which he new must bring him out somewhere.
A Nocturnal Adventure.
He had not proceeded more than several miles, when a strong suspicion overtook him that he was being followed, and on facing backwards, heard stealthy footsteps all around, while the whole scrub seemed to be full of twinkling stars or little points of light, which he knew must be either fireflies or death adders, either, or both, of which, he had been told, were exceedingly dangerous at short range. To get a better view of the position, he proceeded hastily to climb an adjacent tree, his up going being considerably accelerated by an angry snarl, and a vicious snap, as some forest monster hurled itself in the air, and took a mouthful out of the tail of his beaufort coat, at which precise moment (five minutes past two a.m.), his housekeeper, a man of about his own age, woke up quite unintentionally to set the alarm clock for morning use, and finding that Muggins had not returned, feared the worst, and at once set out on foot along the road to find the remains, but met with no success, until be reached the pub of the settlement, where he found the horse tied up in the shade of a verandah post. To untie the animal, mount, and dash oil in several direction, was the work of some minutes, as there were sundry likely spots to be searched first, and then it was full gallop made along the before-started survey line, and there in the grey light of early dawn and within half a mile of home and safety he found Muggins astraddle on one of the upper branches of a tree, around which sat nine dingoes on their tails, with their front paws held up before them as if in the act of saving grace before meat. Near by two rusty-looking old wombats were sharpening their teeth on a couple of empty ginger beer bottles:
A Power in the Land.
As we were about to say, when interrupted, such was the small beginning of the great council, which afterwards became such a power in the land. It is rather a singular coincidence that the Franco-Prussian was came to an end just about this same time, and the council grew in usefulness, and waxed strong in self-importance. The rainfall improved, likewise the crops, and peace and prosperity smiled sideways on the district and ratepayers looked forward to annual elections, at which they might, via with each other for public favour. Councillors came, and councillors went just as suddenly, but the council went on for ever, or at least, until 1857, when it was absorbed, amalgamated, and wiped out by the newly-formed District Council of Kadina.
But there are historical incidents and traditions sacred to the memory of that old council, that councils of more recent growth and lesser worth can never hope to emulate. What other council would ever have though, of ???ring out of the rates was a gigantic undertaking as the cutting of a canal from Wallaroo Bay to Brown's old pub, with circular basins, turntables, and dry sacks for ??? shipping, where the leading firm of the world might compete with each other in forcing up the price of wheat, eggs, mallee stumps, and other farming products, besides enormously enhancing land values on the plains, and a plentiful supply of fresh fish? This alluring project, however, was unfortunately nipped in the bud by the Government of the day threatening to force a railway through the district, and ever on to Kadina. Who that remembers can ever forget the strenuous opposition put up against the line crossing the plains unless it had to, which, of course, it had to and did? Or who can cease to forget the far-seeing councillors who fought to the last gap or two for an elevated tunnel over the crossing in the west plain, to add to the picturequerness of the scenery, and protection of the line during the summer's blithering heat, or the winter's chilling blasts, besides preventing the train from frightening live stock, and spring carts, and other animals that might want to cross over to the other side?
A Pioneering Councillor.
And what time or space could obliterate the memory of these pioneering councillors or of the later day genial and meteoric Billy Thomas, who put in five years of active service in the council, the-greater part of which was spent in overheated wranglings with indignant ratepayers through the columns of The Wallaroo Times, and who vacated his position as councillor only in accordance with the whiles of his constituents as expressed through the ballot box at the annual election; but recognising at once that this was a mistake on the part of the ratepayers, he tried to save them from the wrath to come, and promptly took front steps to lipstep the election so as to give them another chance, but unfortunately, stepped too high, and upset himself, and before he knew quite where he was, was again involved in a whirling shoal of newspaper correspondence, in the middle of which he called an indignation meeting of latepayers, and launched a no-conhdence motion against the council, who had done everything that they were expected not to do, and were no more worthy to be called even hired servants? This was seconded by Brotner Renfrey, who did not want to do it, but did. And after the Chairman of the council had spoken the motion was defeated by the handsome majority of 49 to 2; whereupon ex-Cr. Thomas rose with dignity and some difficulty, and out-shaked Shakespeare by saying, with a withering glance at the audience, "He who steals my purse steals trash; but he who robs me of my good name robs me of something I never possessed," and left the hall, accompanied by convulsive and far-reaching applause. After which he was compelled to defend himself through the press, and was in the throes of a three-cornered controversy about which time Mr. David Brown and son were driving home in a spring dray with an empty iron tank for a seat, when Mr. Brown absent-mindedly rose up and shot a wild turkey that was grazing by the roadside, a thing he bad never done before (Mr. Brown, of course, not the turkey)—and the horse, not having been duly notified beforehand of coming events, plunged forward with such sudden forthwithness that Mr. Brown, also unprepared, described a more or less graceful aerial curve and landed on his back on the road, with the tank on top of him. It was afterwards found that the turkey, weighed 27 lb., and the tank considerably more than that, which necessitated several more letters on the danger of wild turkey shooting. But Mr. Brown, like the good old sport he was, said he was quite prepared to take the blame, and would do so again if he had the chance, for it was the turkey's own fault, for if the bird had not been there, the accident would not have happened, and even had it been close season, the turkey was closer still, and could not very well have been missed. And Billy said, "Let'm go, he don't know no better''!! Poor old Bill, he was really a good sort, but sadly misunderstood, and especially by himself.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. No. VII.—Ploughing Matches and Rain.
The first ploughing match on the peninsula was held on Mr. John Smart's farm at Kulpara on September 15, 1869. It really should have taken place at Green's Plains, but for the fact that little Kulpara wanted to be first in something or other, and consequently was allowed to make a start with the ploughs, and was very pleased with itself and the function, which attracted fully 100 interested individuals from somewhere. The ground was hard and sunburnt and weather conditions were most promising for a dry season; but the work done was of a very high order in places. The championship was carried off, with several other things, by M. Brady, but J. Smart was a good second, there being only two competitors in that class. For general ploughing Laurence Cousins was first, with J. Cox and John Biggins (no relations) second and third. No other ploughmen having competed, there could be no more prises, which was considered to be very satisfactory in the circumstances, and the proceedings closed with a full-sized dinner at Host Brown's historical old hotel. The Traveller's Rest, where the best of liquid and other refreshments were always available for man and beast—even water at a shilling a bucketful at the proper season of the year. Here some powerful speeches were made on the beneficial effects of ploughing matches on the weather. One speaker boldly challenged contradiction to the assertion that if rain followed the plough, as it really ought to do, then the more ploughs there were engaged at one and the same time the more chances there were of rain and the more rain might be expected. Even as he had spoken so it came to pass, for within a few days thereafter a great rain fell upon that place and the region round about; so much so that in the absence of a rain-gauge one man caught 100 hogsheads (and tails) in an underground tank, which was us nothing compared with what he didn't catch, and the surrounding crops were greatly benefited thereby. The match was allowed to lapse the following year, probably owing to the scarcity of suitable ploughs, but during September of the year following that, it was established at Green's Plains, where with slight variations it remained a fixture for many years, and the convincing ground on which some of the finest ploughmen to be found in the southern hemisphere competed for honours, which either of them might have won single-handed and alone against all comers on any other field in the State. Such artists of the soil as James Allen, who won so many championships, that he had eventually to be ruled out of order with a plough, as there were no higher fields for him to conquer or to plough; W. Ward, champion of the middle north; W. H. Shannan and W. Brady, champions of Kulpara; T. Roberts, W. McCormack, P. Leonard, and Laurence Cousins, champions yet to be.
On one occasion, while champions were being used up, a trophy was offered for youths who had never won a prise, and were never likely to do so. Among the most promising of these were P. Allen, M. Champion, A. Cazner, W. Charlton, and H. Frieberger, each of whom was let off with a caution and a promise not to do it again, which they didn't.
In due time an agricultural show was attached to the ploughing match, making it the great national event of the Plains, and attracting immense crowds from all the available space between the two gulfs. So much so, that as much as £20 was taken at the gate in one day from those who couldn't get over the fence or through it without being caught. That show brought together some of the best and most aristocratic stock of that or any other day to be found in the State, such as G. P. Daniels's pair of magnificent bays Duke of Argyle and Jack O'Hazledean; Paul Daniel's great roan Marquis of Lorne, John Reid's beautiful dapple bay England's Glory, Pat Leonard's dark chestnut Lord Redsdale, and P. J. Kains's blue-blooded roan Beaufort. To see these splendid monsters prancing around the ring, roaring definance to each other and their judges, was enough to make any small boy leave the tail of the orange cart when the owner was looking and wish that he or his father owned half a dozen such horses as those. Some of that fine strain of stock are yet to be found in the district, and notably on the farm of Mr. W. H. Daniels, who through succeeding years has well maintained the reputation of his late father, Mr. G. P. Daniels, as a keen and successful stock-master. The Green's Plains Show might have continued until this day but for an impression that got about to the effect that it would undoubtedly ruin Kadina's little show, and might seriously interfere with the Royal Agricultural Society's Show in Adelaide. ln fact, a letter to that effect was for several weeks expected daily from the R.A. Society's secretary, and so with a magnanimity quite unusual with agricultural show societies, it was decided to go into recess far an indefinite period or longer if necessary. But it was worth the money while it lasted, and particularly and more especially the Great Central Plains Exhibition of the early seventies, when, with those who attended and others who never intended to attend, including His Excellency the Governor and his staff, fully 20 odd people must have been accounted for somewhere that day.
An Untoward Incident.
At the close the Chairman of the district council was reluctantly compelled to rail upon the local constable to arrest a man who during the afternoon had developed decidedly aggressive and bushranger-like proclivities. Whereupon the constable, without a moment's hesitation, unsheathed his baton, and, blowing his new whistle like a train, charged headfirst into an excited crowd, in the centre of which the disturbing element was holding a levee; and again the whistle blew a shrill Excelsior as the man who blew (not in blue) soared out over the heads of the delighted onlookers. But once more his whistle split the air, and, calling for assistance in the name of her most gracious Majesty the Queen, who unfortunately was not present to witness the result, he dashed back again into the group from which he had just so hurriedly come, and things began to happen, during which the grandstand was capsized, the pavilion overturned, and the publican's booth teetotally wrecked, from the ruins of which emerged the emblem of law and order, still blowing his whistle and-trailing his partly unclad prisoner after him on the end of a rope and some handcuffs, while his half-dozen assistants, with torn clothes and more or less discoloured eyes brought up the smiling rear. No local accommodation having been provided for forcibly detained visitors, the limb of the law started right away with his captive on a 12-miIes tramp to the nearest police station, Kadina, calling by the way at his own place to pick up some provisions, a spare coat or two, and a gun; and readied the darkest patch of the scrub at the darkest hour of the night, when, finding his captive weary, worn, and sad, he seated him on a stump and allowed him to hold the gun and things while he (the constable) lighted a fire and prepared some much needed refreshment, to which he presently drew the other's attention at the same time removing the bracelets so that he might more freely enjoy himself, and of course, feel more at home with his surroundings. When they had filled up as far as the provisions would go, they loaded their respective pipes, and while the constable stooped for a firestick with which to apply a light, the dejected looking prisoner slowly and sadly smote him behind the ear, and laid him out for a while to rest, during which while he carefully packed their belongings, gun and all, and as soon as the other was ready for the road again, led him carefully back to his own home, thanked him for the loan of the coat, which he intended to keep in remembrance of the day, and gave him five shillings for his kindness and courtesy during the period of their enforced acquaintanceship.
The first viceregal visit to the peninsula was in July, 1870, when Sir James Fergusson, Governor in and over the Province of South Australia and Green's Plains, with the dependencies thereof, came around by boat to Wallaroo without notifying the Plains people of his coming, which was at first resented, and then forgiven on the probability that he didn't know any better at the time; but when, as was afterwards learned, he went kangaroo hunting down Kalkalbury way, that was regarded as a personal slight to the Plains, where there were bigger kangaroos, and better hunting grounds; and no to regret was expressed at his failure to run down more than three small and tired kangaroos. Consequently, when it was known that Governor grave was coming across by launch to Port Clinton on September 10, 1872, on his way to the mining towns, to reach which he would have to pass along the old Clinton road about eight mile south of the Plains, great preparations were made for his reception, and one man, at great personal risk, went out on the evening after the night before, and lassoed a very much overgrown kangaroo of the male persuasion, which, with many ups and downs; he succeeded in bringing home with him, spending most of the next day in teaching the animal to lead, so that if caught on the end of the rope in the middle of a stride, it would turn a complete back somersault, and land right side up again, and ready for the next move. During the day two of the leading residents, in a new spring cart, specially painted for the occasion, drove into Kadina to meet the Governor and bring him back with them to spend a day or two on the Plains. At the appointed hour at which their distinguished guest was expected to arrive at the dividing line between the plains, the man with the trained kangaroo, wearing a large-sized cowbell, came hopping down to meet them, both doing record time, and lengthening their strides with each step, to the accompaniment of the bell. The horse, quite unprepared for such a reception, reared and plunged and swerved and tried to bolt all at the same time; but the driving wheel of the cart failed to miss an adjacent stump, and the cart, with its new paint and indignant occupants, was turned upside down on a wide spreading prickly bush, from which they extricated themselves with much difficulty and many pointed remarks. The all righted kangaroo had meanwhile turned and rent the garments of his man, and disappeared, bell and all, in the adjoining scrub. It was a sad-looking trio that led a crippled horse and cart across the plains in the gathering dusk. They had not even caught sight of His Excellency, who was the second Governor to miss seeing the Plains, within two years, and yet not one reproach or disloyal sentiment was expressed by these always loyal citizens of the Plain.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. Recreations. No. VIII.
— From our Local Correspondent. It must not be thought that these hard working plainsmen had no lighter recreation than work; but when they did so indulge they worked all the harder for days beforehand to get the time off, and still harder afterwards to make up for any time that might have been lost daring the interval — and enjoyed the spell all the more on that account. Footracing and digging matches were very popular and necessary exercises for the relaxation of tired muscles after a hard day's work, and some tough records were established. As for instance, when in 1872, A. E. Bird, the champion long distance runner, passed through here on the mail coach to do some ten mile sprints at Moonta. One of these moonlight trained athletes started on a lope after the conveyance, passed it easily, and reached the half mile post about four chains ahead of the turnout, which gave rise to the rumour that he had beaten Bird by about a hundred yards in a half mile sprint. But special care was taken not lo let the other Bird hear of it, and the winner was looked up to and respected until the real facts of the case became known. Occasionally a slight difference of opinion might occur between the owners of sundry horses as to the speed limits of their respective animals, which difference could be satisfactorily settled only by an open air test, in which other animals with any similar protections might participate if so inclined, and as these differences of opinion were usually decided by the best two out of three heats, with a final three heat race for everything that had been beaten up to then. A couple or three races to start with would generally work out a fairly long and interesting programme, and some of the better class horses might indulge in ten or twelve rounds during the afternoon, which was considered to be only a fair outing for the poor things that, like their owners, had very little spare time for amusements during the week.
Growth of Hone Racing.
These events were at first of somewhat rare occurrence, as it was only once in a while that a dispute would arise of sufficient importance to suspend work and bring out all the horses. But, when it was found to be in the best interests of the animals, and a very necessary recreation for health purposes after weeks of hard work, it became more or less of a fixture, and the first unregistered meeting is now a matter of history. The day opened with sunrise and a gentle breeze, and there was a tremendous gathering in patches around the course, while two horsemen put in their spare time rounding up visitors on the flat, who had forgotten to call at the gate for admission tickets. The proceedings opened with the All-comers Hoozle, the principal condition of which was that the second horse past the post should be declared the winner, if no other horse came in ahead of him. For this event thirteen likely as not looking cattle faced the starter, with one end or other, the most not likely being Smiler Okwards Rocket, a high boned gray on which the betting was as high as a shilling to ninepence. When the starter threw up his hat and fired his double barrelled gun, the horses went off in several directions, some going the wrong way round, and passing each other at full speed, and in opposite directions on the far side of the course. And the leaders of the opposing factions, W. V. Brown's Dinah, and McCabe's Countess, coming from opposite directions, crossed the line together right in front of the judge, who promptly declared it a dead heat, and ordered the event to be run over again, at the same time requesting the starter to use a flag instead of the gun. No flag being available, a red shirt was borrowed from the clerk of the course, and when the animals were lined up again Smiler, with a long waggon whip, assisted the starter in getting them on in the same direction. With a terrifflc slash, just as the red shirt fell, he lifted Rocket clear over the line and almost from under his rider, which vigorous start unseated three other riders and scared two horses off the track, which of course left more room for the others. And, strange to say, Pinch and Countess deadheated again. The whole mob were sent out for the third round, and Smiler with a couple of smart cuts administered at the right moment, secured a flying start from Rocket, which quickly took up a rear position, and was never displaced the whole way round. The decision of the judge disqualified the second horse because Dinah came in first.
Ten torses were rounded up for the Stinkwort Plate, and got off to a splendid start at the fall of the shirt, but, although Smiler and his whip was not allowed within a hundred yards of the start, he was on hand as they came in, and hurled a rock at his horse to assist him past the post but aimed a little wide and caught the judge in the rear, and picked him clean off his box just when he was leaning forward on his toes in the very act of picking a winner, which slight mishap caused him to lost his count, and that heat had to be run over again with three others as three separate and different horses, and one that the judge did not want, won the separate heats. The first two heats decided the Plains Cup and Saucer Tom Nugent's grand old horse Cornet winning both in a manner that left no room for dispute. But Smiler sent Rocket, out to do the third round alone so that he should not be accused of shirking his duty. And the gray put up a great performance leading all the war, and came up the straight with a brilliant spurt that shot him past the winning post a length and a half ahead of himself, and the judge was constrained to say that if he could keep as far ahead of the other horses as they could keep ahead of him nothing south of the line would have any show against him. For the Hurdles there were nine starters, including Rocket with Smiler on top, who, with whip and spurs, and a wink from the starter, got a 50 yards start before the shirt fell, shied around the first obstacle, galloped straight through the second, and fell at the third. Smiler scrambled got on hands and knees in time to scare four of the oncoming horses off into the scrub, while Rocket at tempted to rise at the exact moment to catch the other four on his back, and bring them all down in a delightful mix-up. Then they had been all sorted out again Rocket limped off the track with a nasty kink in his tail, and took no further part in the proceedings, which closed with the usual Consolation Stakes, in which Brown's Waranda won the first heat and Couzner's Snowy the second, and a great race for third place ensued between the two, the white-and-black coming up side by side in the gathering dusk, and the dark passed the post a bare half-length ahead of the other. The judge, who had put in a hard day's work and some light refreshment, exclaimed with a burst of excited admiration, 'The piebald by gosh! and I hadn't noticed him before; but what a long brute he seems to be.' This was, of course, before those splendid sportsmen Tom Tait and Thomas Price introduced real thorough breds into the district, which their sporting sons rode time after time to such decisive victories that no second or third events were required. Later on came such good sports as A. D. Mc Donald and George Chatfield, with their Tongas and Arrows, and it became a one horse, one win, one race affair, and has so continued even unto this day.
For lighter recreation there were cricket and horseshoe quoits, the latter being the handiest and more social game, as it could be staged on any vacant block whenever two or three men chanced to meet, while cricket required a black grass oval with claypan pitch, and a skyline boundary to show it off to the best advantage. Each plain had one such oval with picked elevens to defend it against all comers. And the annual interplains contest was the event of several times a year, one of the most memorable being that in which Tom Allan (now the Rev. Tom Allan of Perth), captain of the Eastern Warriors, with his brother Alec and nine other warriors of the willow, swooped down on the Star of the West, and sought to cover them with dust and ashes, and other humiliations But Capt. Skipworth and his Stars were not to he caught napping on the first hop, and a wildly exciting engagement ensued. The Eastern Warriors had first hit, and gathered in 83 runs, the skipper accounting for nearly a third off his own bat. And then the Stars went in to do likewise, or even more so if possible. But the warlike captain led the offensive with an explosive ball that scared the batsmen, shivered their timbers, and almost paralysed the onlookers, and, within about three overs he had dismissed and more or less disabled five three-star performers, spiflicated the wicket-keeper, sideslipped the coverpoint, and no-balled the backstop; and when asked by the remnant of his opponents If they might be allowed to send in a visiting namesake of his in place of a star artist who had collapsed with fright, he smilingly said: — 'Send in anything you can catch, and catch it as soon as you can.' He began to take notice when the man of his name applied the wood, and laid out two umpires and a caretaker with square-leg shots, and drove the ball twice in succession towards the skyline, where a playfully disposed dog frisked around with it and delayed the return until a tenner and a niner had been run out. When at 47 this same man, with a mighty swipe, lifted the ball high over a crowd and landed it about 200 yards away in a spring cart coming with crockery and provisions for afternoon tea. And then things began to happen. The rattle in the cart was considerable, and the driver, in the excitement of the moment, fell overboard, and the horse-bolted, or was trying to do so, when it ran over a couple of men who persisted in getting in the way. One victim got entangled in the dragging reins, and brought the turnout around with such a short turn that a cartload of jam tarts, hot scones, broken crockery, and other fruits, was capsized into an adjacent claypan and the ball was hastily dug out from the midst thereof. It was returned to the bowler just as the bats men completed their twenty-first run. And, judging from the breezy manner in which his reverence-to-be moved around, while challenging all and sundry opponents to mortal combat, or to any other bat, one might have been pardoned for not thinking that he was qualifying for that higher-calling in which he has since played such a splendid not-out innings. But he has always been a true sport, and one not easily stumped or run out. In 1874 a combined team of Stars and Warriors had almost decided to challenge W. G. Grace's English Eleven for international honours, when it was found that the Englishmen wanted big money for their play, and consequently the match fell through, it being altogether against the principles of the local men to play for money. And they were not sorry afterwards when they saw the result of the Moonta, Kadina, and Wallaroo match, when the home team of only 22 took 48 runs and 11 hard-boiled eggs at their first try and 16 ducks eggs for 13 runs in the second outing. The Star of the West shortly after this played a combined team, including some of these same players mixed up with Boors Plainsites, when Hugh Scoble, for the Stars, took 9 wickets in their first innings, and 5 in the collapse — not a bad performance, surely. And in this, for the time being, invincible eleven there were such men as G. and R. Skipworth, H. J. and R. Scoble, J. and N. Clarke, Barbary, Kennett, Anderson, and Kelly, all of whose names are intimately associated with the early history and doings of the Plains.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. Felling and Grabbing Timber. No. IX.
— From Our Local Correspondent. When the settlers had used up all the clear land, they, of course, had to clear some more land, which was not quite us easily done as it looked after it had been done. For in those days, clearing scrub meant grubbing it out root and branch, and that meant hard graft and much handiwork. But to add more power to the hands some simple methods were adopted, such, for instance, as a 15-ft. pole or lever with a shoe on one end which was jammed in under a stump, and a fulcrum placed behind the lever so as to keep it in an almost perpendicular position. And this being satisfactorily arranged, a man would climb up through the air to the uppermost end of the pole, where, hanging by his hands, he would swing, his lefts wildly around his head, and also jerk and twist his body in various directions at the same time, passing within a few seconds through all the most fearsome looking contortions of a violent convulsion; about which time the stump might come suddenly away, or what was much more likely the lever would slip, and then there would be a sickening thud on the ground, after which root or two would be cut and the same performance repeated with similar results. But so expert did these men become in dodging falling levers, that the name man was seldom stunned by the same lever more than twice in the same day.
A simpler method was to dig the obstruction out with a grubbing axe and shovel, which might necessitate the removal of several yards of valuable earth, which, however, could be used afterwards in lining up the hole where the stump had been, or if not too large, the obstruction might be broken off near the surface and covered up, to be found later on by the first castiron share that came along with plough and a man attached, which would usually produce an eloquent and extemporaneous expression of opinion on things in general and grubbing in particular. But in the meanwhile, the mother of invention was burning, and several labour-saving appliances were introduced. The first of there was a 15 or 20-ft. ground lever, with a horse on one end, and some chains and hooks on the other, with which to fix it to a couple of stumps at the same time; after which the lever was worked forward and backward until the horse got tired, or a stump came out, or what was much more likely, a chain broke, which latter event would necessitate a visit to the nearest blacksmith, and incidentally a holiday for some one. But the cheapest and most effective grubber known to man in those days, was designed and constructed by Mr. John Scoble, of the West Plain. It worked on the capstan principle, with 4-in. spindle and winding chain, and was manipulated by a horse on the outer end of a long arm, both going around and around together. After the machine had been firmly anchored to a stump more firmly grounded than those about to be operated on, then with chains, rods and grappling hook, every rooted shrub within a radius of two chains could he hauled out before the plant was removed to the next anchorage. So gradual and so easily regulated was the pressure that breakages were few and far between, for even if the hook slipped or a stump came out too suddenly, while the horse leaning well forward on his toes with his full weight in the balance, the well trained animal merely stood on his head for a moment or two, and skilfully caught the arm on his other end to prevent it going too far forward until things had been again properly adjusted. This machine came first into use in 1875 or '76.
Mullenizing Stump Jumping.
It was about this time that a scrub cockey of the name of Mullens became so exasperated at the fact that he was not a resident of the Plains that he sailed forth with an axe and chopped down acres and acres of his very best scrub, chopped it level with the ground, and in due time — which, of course, was after harvest — set fire to the whole patch, and did not seem to care whether he burnt himself or not. Later on he sowed out this same place, and in disgust dragged bushes over it all ways to stir up the atmosphere and cover the seed with dust and ashes, and in the fulness of time reaped from his recklessness a much better crop than his neighbours did from well cleared land. This set many other axes going in the same way, and each man axed his neighbour, 'Are you going to Mullenize?' From this simple beginning originated the term and system known all over the civilized world as mullenizing. It was in this same year of grace that R. B. Smith and his brother Clarence began experimenting with an implement designed to revolutionize scrub farming throughout the Commonwealth, and in lands beyond the sea — the model of Smith's now world famous stump-jumping plough. R. B. Smith got the credit and the bonus for the invention, but Clarence certainly had most to do with the making, and he it was who worked the plough up to its present state of perfection, and with it built up at Ardrossan one of the largest and most up-to-date implement factories in the State, a fitting monument to the memory of the man who, by his skill and genius assisted the poor scrub farmer over the stumps that beset his path, and brought under cultivation millions of acres of land that could not have been mercifully dealt with in any other way. He also was the first man to make and attach to the front deck of a stump-jumping plough a seed and super distributor, which was a great boon to rough land cockies before drills and cleared land came into general use; and, although he could not quite see his way clear to establish himself here, he always had, and his successor still has, many warm friends on the plains. Of course, with all great inventions, there is always some one else who was going to think of it first, and in this case a Mr. Robert Shapland, of Maitland, disputed Smith's claim, on the grounds that he had thought out a similar invention in the preceding year. But, anyhow, the new idea took on amazingly from the first jump, and, despite patent rights, every blacksmith who could collect about half a ton of inch iron started out to make a stump jumping plough, and some of these first implements were fearfully and wonderfully made. A heavy, strong frame mounted on three wheels with two ploughs hung on the front and pivoted at end of a 6-ft. beam, to the other end of which was attached a movable 56-lb. cheese-shaped iron weight, which was supposed to regulate the pressure necessary to keep the share under ground, and when the contrivance was in motion and an obstruction was met with, each plough (or both together) would rise to the occasion and stick it tail beam in high, to come down a moment later with a crash that made the whole structure tremble, and could be heard for miles away through the stilly morning air. Quite frequently one or both ploughs with an extra special jump would overbalance and come down wrong side up on the front part of the frame, with a rattle that would scare the horses and startle the driver. Occasionally a big flat stump would suddenly and unexpectedly rise on edge amidships, and capsize the whole concern, which meant trouble for man and beast, as the whole team would probably have to be hitched on crosswise to pull it back into position, and it fairly lively might roll it over two or three times before it could be got right side up again. The driver sometimes carried a gun, but always an axe for chopping out purposed when a plough became securely anchored under a root, and not infrequently he would have to reverse ends with his team to pull the craft out backwards. But, notwithstanding and whatsoever, it was a great invention, and men were known to walk as far as 10 miles to see and hear one of these early marvels at work.
A Public Competition.
Each plough, if it happened to hitch under a stump, as it often happened to do, was supposed to be strong and heavy enough to hold the full weight of the team, or to bring them up standing even when at full gallop, unless something broke, which it mostly always did. And the first meeting of three of these monsters in public competition to settle some slight difference of opinion was an event to be remembered in whispers even unto this day, for when these great ironclads got into action three abreast at half a gallop the deafening rattle and crash of ascending and descending weights, the cracking of whips, and shouting of drives, as they jumped and ran, and fell, and ran again in frantic endeavour to keep abreast of their frightened teams, the sounds thereof was like unto that of an early spring thunderstorm multiplied by nine, and the very air seemed to vibrate and quiver. When the tumult and the shouting died, and the ploughmen and their horses limped painfully away, the kindly shades of approaching night closed down on a field strewed with broken swings and twisted iron. The first real stumpjumping match in the district took place on Mr. Johnstone's farm at the Cocoanut on September, 1881, when five slightly improved ploughs competed, after which improvement followed improvement In rapid succession, with Smith still leading the way.
Spring steel replaced iron, more furrows were added, and an extra wheel. Cleverly designed bridles on the front of ploughs displayed heavy weights and tail beams of former days, and to led up to the completed implement of today — the most perfect and most useful plough in the world. Stump jumping harrows, scarifiers, and drills followed in due time, and annual competitions were events to be looked forward to, when the leading makers of the peninsula — C. H. Smith (Ardrossan), Phelps (Dowlingville), Jones (Arthurton), W. H. May (Wallaroo), J. H. Rosewarne (Kadina), Spry (Kulpara), with J. Edwards and Albert Palm, of Paskeville — would assemble in the vicinity of the plains to uphold the honour of the district against allcomers, while testing the merits of their respective implements. Still they come, for the Northern Yorke's Peninsula field Trial and Show Society, with its own grounds on the plains, is still going strong, and its annual show and ploughing match, for winter use or summer trial of harvesting machinery, are the events of the kind in the State to-day. No sooner had stumpjumping implements become firmly established than a man came along with a long string of bullocks and a 12 ft. stumpjumping iron roller, with which he crushed the standing scrub down in crunching swathes at the rate of 15 or 20 acres a day, thus recklessly ruining the future prospects of hundreds of home-bred kangaroos, and thousands of innocent little wallabies, which, all their scrubby covering became smaller and beautifully less would in frightened desperation swarm out over their flattened homesteads, a flying target for guns, dogs, bullock whips, and other offensive weapons, the survivors to seek fresh fields and pastures new in some not too distant belt of scrub until they were rolled out again. And so the clearing process went on — the wallabies after more scrub, the roller after the wallabies, and a fire after the roller, until all were wiped out, and wallabies, scrub and rollers are now things of the past. For 'tis as it always used to was, and will be as before — the plain that knew them once, alas won't know them now some more.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. No. X. — By our Local Correspondent.
In then younger days of the plains saddle horsepower was the chief mode of locomotion for long distance travelling, and it was nothing unusual for a man to start off on a 70 or 80 miles ride at any hour of the day or night. Nor was it even passing strange at any time to see horsebacks of mixed sexes wildly careering across the plains in search of business, pleasure, or straying stock. The earlier woman was as fearless on the back of a horse as on the handle of a broom; and it was a pleasant sight indeed to see a dozen or 20 assorted couples riding side by side, or on any other side, to the nearest picnic gathering or the most distant church anniversary. For it was quite the correct thing for a young man to lead a halfbroken horse out and attempt to mount just as the people were coming out of church, especially if there were young ladies about; and even if he did occasionally fall off sideways or pass rapidly over the head or tail of the horse it was done in a good cause, and he could always count on plenty of sympathy and some applause, as either end of the horse seemed to justify the means. That being so, every man tried to secure the best saddle horse obtainable cheap. When the Star of the West cricketers felt constrained to journey to Maitland, a distance of 30 miles, to compete in the all day great winter match for the championship of the west, they rode down on the finest lot of weight carriers that could have been rounded up on the peninsula— one man, one horse, including three emergency men, and two spare wicket keepers. Umpires didn't count, as any disabled cricketer would do for an umpire, whose sole duty was to keep his own side in and to give the others out whenever he got the chance. Being accustomed to early rising, the team, four abreast, started out at 2 a.m., so as to be nice and fresh on arrival, and to get some practice on the black grass oval before breakfast. After a strenuous day and glorious victory, a few horse races, and a gorgeous banquet, with a couple or three sociable fights, the cavalcade resumed their homeward journey at about 11.57 p.m., and had some more racing, an odd collision or two with outstanding trees, with an occasional fall to break the monotony of things, and despite some wrong turnings, and paths that led them far astray when they weren't looking, they arrived at their respective places of abode in time to go to bed with the rising of the sun, and feeling that it had indeed been good to have been there and back again. It was quite an easy matter to get lost in those days and nights, even if one had not gone before; snd strange to say, it was usually done in a roundabout sort of way, and did not modesty forbid, some thrilling tales of midnight heroism could even now be retold.
A Backblocker's Adventure.
But as a rule the man who does something extra special does not care to talk over much about it, or so it was in the case of a two years backblocker, who had one day walked into the settlement for supplies, included among which were a frying pan and a washing board. Not caring to be seen carrying these along the road, he took a short cut through the scrub for home, and was counting the wallabies and admiring the beautiful loose soil among the trees, when he overtook his own tracks, going in the same direction in which he was heading. He was slightly surprised at this, as he did not remember having been out that way before, but as they appeared to be going in the right direction, he decided to follow them home, which he did till he found two sets of his own tracks ahead of himself. This was rather puzzling. He knew that these were his tracks, but could not understand how he could have been walking abreast of himself like that. He wondered if he had ever walked in his sleep, and as the tracks were quite fresh, decided to follow them and try to find out what he had been up to in his fresh capacity. He accordingly noted the position and set out to track himself down; but after a brisk half hour's walk, found the starting point again with three sets of tracks ahead of himself. Then he suddenly realized what had happened. He was lost, and had been walking in a circle. But he was a bushman and not easily flurried; so crossed his legs and leaned against a tree to get bis bearings, and to think things out. The sky was thickly overcast, and about the same size and colour, every which way. But the tree he was supporting was, he knew, either south, or west, or maybe north of another tree; so, after due deliberation, he started in the opposite direction to which he thought he ought to go, and was doing a swinging walk when he crossed his tracks again within sight of the before-mentioned tree. The next round he did at a ran with the frying pan in one hand, and the washing board in the other; and after that he was traveling too fast for daylight to keep up with him, and it was soon too dark to see anything until he ran into a fence and saw stars. The fence, however, was running in opposite directions, both of which he knew were wrong, and so he decided to camp there and wait for day light, and was frying a box of sardines over a big fire when his wife called out to know what he was doing, and there he was, within a hundred yards at his own house. But, although be never cared to talk much about that outing, he was always ready to admit that it was a splendid bit ft bushcraft to strike such a direct line for home and mother in the darkness of the night.
Venturesome Mr. Allen.
Then there was the weird experience of a young fellow of the name of Allen, who had ridden down from Auburn to visit a brother, some distance back in the scrub, and lost himself only twice in the last eight miles. Being of a venturesome and enquiring disposition, he was anxious to personally inspect a place called Moonta, of which he had heard somewhat considerably; and next day rode thitherward, having been fully and carefully instructed as to the way, and strongly advised to return before dark, which, of course, he didn't do. But leaving about 9 of the clock he headed homeward, looking to the priming of his pistol as he came through East Moonta. He used the weapon as seldom as possible, on account of its excessive kicking propensities. After riding some miles along a road that didn't seem quite what he wanted, he struck off on another, which was more to his liking, and was cantering gaily across a small white grass plain when his horse absentmindedly tripped over a flock of wombats just coming home, and turned a complete somersault, during which the rider was deposited in an adjacent hole, out of which he was propelled by another wombat, just in time to catch the horse as it rose on end to see what had happened. Mounting in haste he set off at a hard gallop along what he took to be the same road, crossed and recrossed several tracks that he did not approve of, and after riding, as he thought, far enough to reach his destination, he came to the same little plain again, and saw the same wombats waiting for him. Thinking that he had made some mistake, he rattled off some more miles and again crossed the little grassy plain, and none of the wombats seemed to be missing. In wild and wrathful desperation he headed southward until he found a well-beaten track which he determined to follow to the bitter end; but before getting very far he found a woodcarters camp, and dismounting, hunted around for occupants, but found nothing more substantial than a big lump of cake and a barrel of water, which he gladly shared with his horse. Or at least the horse had the water, and feeling much refreshed, responded cheerfully to his rider's expressed desire for speed; and in the middle of a sweeping gallop, once more crossed the little wombat bespotted plain. This was getting beyond a joke, and the youth determined not to deviate one single yard from the straight and narrow path of the next road he struck, which next road led him into denser scrub and darker shades than anything he had yet encountered. He knew that some beast of prey, probably a tiger, had followed him for miles and miles through the jungle, and once, in a small opening, he saw two large animals lions most likely, crossing the road ahead of him. He was wondering who would find the remains, and thinking regretfully of the extra threepenny bits he might have distributed had he known how things were likely to pan out, and while musing thusly he had turned off the track to avoid the lions, and a few moments later his horse propped and snorted violently, as the figure of a gigantic man, with uplifted arm ; appeared to bar the way. Young Allen was desperate; lions to right of him, and tigers for what was left of him. He drew his pistol, spurred his horse, and charged, firing as he came. The pistol kicked him clean out of the saddle, but he managed to stick to the reins, and he knew that he had got his man, as he could hear his bones crunching under the feet of the frightened horse. But when he had found his pistol and his hat, and had quietened the trembling horse, he found that it was only a straw dummy that he had brought down. Whom it represented; or why it was there, he did not stop to enquire, but throwing himself sideways on his fiery steed, dashed across country, he cared not where, and at racing speed once more crossed the little white grass plain with its colony of frisky wombats, and in coming dawn found the road he had been looking for and arrived with sunrise and a good appetite, having, it was computed, ridden about 80 miles during that never to be forgotten night.
Yes, horses were the chief and most desirable mode of locomotion in those days, and there were those whose great ambition in life was to go to the city for a holiday and watch the horse trams coming down the North Adelaide hill. But that was a luxury that could rarely be indulged in in those faraway days, the nearest substitute for such enjoyment was three-cornered wooden frame, usually made out of a forked tree and mounted on three wheels, on which contrivance a 200-gallon iron tank was securely fixed on witch the driver could sit as he gaily trotted his one or two horse team down to the nearest waterhole for the usual j supply of liquid for domestic requirements. This conveyance could occasionally be used for stalking wild turkeys, the gunner being inserted feet first through the manhole in the top. His head and shoulders only being kept out fur shooting purposes as he drove around the game. If the tank was empty so much the more comfortable for the man inside; but, if not, well, it probably meant all the same if the turkey happened to be anywhere near the house. It has been suggested that from this simple unpatented contrivance originated the idea of the tanks as successfully used for stalking larger game in the late war. It might be remarked that when the telegraph line first crossed the Plains it was feared that it would speedily exterminate all the feather tribe, as two wild ducks were found stone dead under the wire the very next morning, and some days afterwards a plover and a quail, and a wild turkey was supposed to have accidentally intercepted a telegram, and as the excitement of the moment fell and broke a hind leg and some wings. In fact, so great at first were the falls of feather stock, that some resident seriously thought of opening a fresh poultry shop under the line near the Lake View Lagoon. He, however, did not do so, and despite the telegraph single wire line the birds still continued to come and go, mostly go, when a man was after him.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. No. XI. — By Our Local Correspondent
The first proposal, in 1876, for the construction of a railway from Barunga Gap was for a line to connect with Green's Plains, which, even in those days was recognised as the future hub of the peninsula, but undue influence exercised in sundry ways and divers manners eventually diverted the line to Kadina, and Barunga has never yet fully realized just what it missed, or otherwise, as the case might be. In the middle of the meanwhile, however, construction work on the line from Port Wakefield to Kadina was being pushed on as speedily as possible, considering the difficulties in the way, one of the greatest, being the scarcity of drinking water for man and beast during the summer months; and had it not been for the kindness of the late Mr. William Fowler, of Yaroo, who shared his supplies with the contractors, the work must have been seriously delayed; for horses must have water even if the men were not quite as particular about their drinks. But despite, such drawbacks camps were pitched and unpitched as the permanent way forged ahead, and climbed the eastern slope, crossed the plains, and took a straight line to Kadina. Later on came the rails, and then things began to move along the line. The very first railway trucks to cross the eastern plain were drawn by horse power, guided and directed by W. H. Sharman, then a lad at Kulpara, but now a prosperous farmer at Bute, and Chairman of the Ninnes District Council. It was a memorable incident, and Shaman's little three-horse, three truck train was received with cheers as it came puffing and snorting up the incline, kicking up dust instead of smoke, and whistling at the crossings like a real train. The first goods train, with several bags of sugar, a couple of cases of kerosine, a packet or two of candles, some stale butter, and a few other small packages, crossed the plains on October 1, 1878. But the event of the year hit up the plains on October 9, 1878, when a full size special, with screaming whistles and trailing smoke came roaring into the station yard, where it stopped just long enough to pick up the few excited settlers who desired to accompany the Governor (Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois) on his way to Kadina to officially open the line . With His Excellency were the Hon. G. C. Hawker, M.A., M.P. (Commissioner of Public Works), the Hon. R. D. Ross, M.P., Mr. L. L. Furner, M.P., the Engineer In-chief (Mr. H. C. Mais), the Chief Assistant Engineer (Mr. R. C. Paterson), the Engineer of Harbours and Jetties (Mr. H. Dickson), and several other Government officials. About 30 horsemen went about a mile out to meet, and act as a guard of honour to the incoming tram, but only nine riders returned, and they were a long way behind, and well out on both sides of the line while riderless horses and horseless riders could be seen streaking in all directions across the plains for the nearest scrub, and some were not again seen until after many days. But another mounted contingent were lined up waiting to test their speed against the iron horse on its next move. When it came snorting out there certainly were some moving moments, and horses of lesser nerve snorted and squealed and baulked or bolted, or stood first on one end and then on the other, as they twirled wildly around in the air, and the riders — one moment there they were, and next moment where were they.
An Equine Feast.
One acrobatic youth tossed on high by his plunging and upheaving steed landed astride the saddle of a riderless horse as it dashed wildly by, which brilliant feat of horsemanship was generously applauded from the passing train, and within a few fleeting moments there were more men on foot than on horseback along that particular section of the line. The survivors, however, gallantly followed on to Kadina through mud and slush and rain, and cheerfully lined up where the crowd was thickest, and just as His Excellency declared the line open they swarmed up on the platform, and led off with a cheer that split the atmosphere, shivered the timbers, and brought the platform with its living freight down in a perfect deluge of rain. Fortunately no one was hurt, and His Worship the Mayor (Mr. R. Hazlegrove), quickly led the way to the nearest shelter, at the same time keeping his other eye on the plainsmen, whom he seemed to blame for the accident to his old platform.
Later on these same men, at a respectful distance behind (on account of the presence of the Mayor), escorted His Excellency, around the showground, pointing out to each other and themselves sundry exhibits, which could easily have been beaten on the plains. They were not in the least afraid of the Governor, although they would not venture too near His Worship after the platform incident. They were, however, unable to obtain admission to the banquet in the evening, which was the more disappointing as they understood that cool drinks and other innocent liquid refreshments were, being distributed free of cost. Still that did not deter them from outward expressions of loyalty, and they had a really enjoyable night without in any way unduly interfering with the police and were mostly on hand to see the tram off in the morning; and although the train soon became a daily institution it was sometime before the novelty wore off, and for several days thereafter it was not unusual for men to come long distances to lean on the fence and watch the train go by.
Watching the train.
It was quite an inspiring sight to see 10 or so dozen horsemen, like section fours, in single file, hurdling over the crossing in front of the oncoming train, until one day the cowcatcher caught the low-down tail of a fiery mustang as it passed over the line about 4 ft. from the ground and only about 2 ft. in front of the engine, causing the animal to pause and swerve in mid-air, while most of its tailings went on with the train. The driver shook his fist at the startled rider, which was taken to mean that it was a dangerous practice, and might have easily pulled the engine sideways off the line. Although this story was never properly authenticated, it is probably true, as that exhilarating pastime was never afterwards indulged in. There certainly was something fascinating about this new mode of locomoftion.. So much so, that old Starkey, from the back of the outback, whose family had never seen a train, decided to give them a treat, and one fine moming started out with the whole of his treasures in his well-provisioned, and fast-trotting German wagon, and tarried not, nor stopped to rest till they reached a crossing where a big white notice hoard, with big black letters, told them individually and collectively to 'Look out for the train.' This Starkey at once recognised as the place specially set apart for that purpose, and accordingly brought his team to a full stop within half a chain of the line, so as to get the best possible front seat view. And here for two hours they sat and looked out for the train, at the same time speculating as to what it would be like. Starkey was doing his best to explain, and was in the very act of sorting out refreshments, when he noticed smoke rising over the distant scrub, and increasing in blackness and density as it rapidly approached in their direction. He could not account for it, as it certainly was not the time of the year for bushfires. And yet as he wisely remarked where there is fire there might be smoke, nastily climbing down, he, with two half-grown lads, crept through the fence and hurried up the line to investigate, leaving the remainder of the family in the wagon to look out for the train. The boys climbed on the fence to get a better view, and Starkey was breaking down bushes with which to fight the fire that seemed to be almost on them, when, with sudden unexpectedness, some terrible looking smoke-wreathed monster dashed through a hole in the scrub and made straight for them with the most awfully blood curdling shriek that they had ever heard in their lives, and went thundering down the line with a rattle and a roar that made the solid earth tremble as it passed. The elder boy fell on the outside of the fence, and was gone like a flash, but the other was not quite so fortunate, as the back part of his pants caught on a top wire barb, where he hung face downwards, and twisted and wriggled in a perfect ecstacy of fright, and yelled with anguish and disgust, 'My father, must I stay,' while down the track, like a streak of dust, his startled dad made way. He cleared the line with 11 ft. stride, the fence with 12 ft. 3 in., found wreckage scattered far and wide, but mother, oh, where was she? The wagon was turned round and upside down about a chain away from the line, and the horses were trying to climb the pole in clump of teatrees, some 200 yards further on. The two girls crouched under a bush, and the three smaller boys, were coming down backwards from a nearby mallee, while the elder son was, by that time, a mere speck in the distance, and still going strong. With a rail Starkey hoisted, the side, of the wagon and mum crept out with the leg of a chicken in one hand and a bottle of pickles in the other; and her blouse and backgear, bespattered with jam and tomato sauce; but with her able assistance, the wrongs were soon made right, the pole was refixed and spliced to the wagon, the scattered belongings collected, and young Starkey unhitched from the top of the fence. By this time the runaway son and heir had returned, and the reunited family returned to the place from whence they came, quite satisfied with their first train experience.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. Bullock Teams and Their Drivers. No. XII.
—From our Local Correspondent Big horse teams, field tractors, and road hogs have long since completely displaced the slow but sure old bullock teams from all ourdoor occupations and amusements; and no longer are they to be found as carriers on the roads or toilers in the fields, nor even as competitors for honours in the showring. It is doubtful if even six yoke of oxen could be found to-day on the whole length and breadth of the peninsula. Yet we cannot forget the prominent part that these hardy old-timers have played in the pioneering work of the colony; their long treks into the far outback, where nights were dark and days were long, water stages far apart, and roads unknown. With these remembrances in mind, one would feel constrained to take off his hat to a bullock team if he chanced to meet it now, and his hat and coat to one of the old-time drivers, masters of language and of the whip. These artists were usually ai type distinct unto themselves. Long limbed, wiry, and very much bewhiskered individuals, each of whom, with a far-reaching whip, could command control and manipulate his long string of bullocks with the skill of a certificated navigator over, under, or around all opposing obstacles silently, it silence would do, but if language was required, be could always be depended on fo rise to the occasion with a fluency of eloquence and an accuracy of expression that left nothing to be desired, save only not to distract his attention. The, ordinary swearer usually expresses himself in puch vulgar low-down language as to shock and disgust his more sensitive hearers; but it was a positive pleasure to hear one of these cultured bullock drivers swear. He would work up or down the scale backwards or forward, sideways or otherways, cross and recross, cut corners set to partners, two-step down the centre, put in grace notes and variations, without missing a note or for an instant losing the thread of the subject being operated on. This extempore elocutionary effort was usually given to a loud and continuous bullock whip a companiment in a blue haze and a sulphurous atmosphere. At least one such performance was well worth attention.
A Womanly Reproof.
An elderly woman who had quite unintentionally witnessed one of these open-air performances was so astounded that she presented the performer with a tract, at the same time saying, "My dear man, I wouldn't swear like that if I were you." The blushing driver gracefully raised his hat in acknowledgment of the compliment, and said, "Thanks marm, but bless yer bloomin' eyes, you couldn't never do that if you tried. It takes years and years at practice to swear like that, and there are probably few others who could do it now, as that particular brand of classics appears to be a lost art to-day."
Easy to Please.
Bullck teams were among the first comers to climb the Hummock Ranges and crawl over the tablelands of Kulpara, to creep slowly down the straight and narrow track through Burslum's scrub to the outskirts of the plain, which was for long a favourite camping ground, where the weary leg-worn driver by his evening fire could smoke the pipe of peace to the tinkling bells of his grazing stock while he sat under his pine and big tree no man daring to make him awfully afraid. Bullocks were more popular than horses in those days, and were easier to get and to keep. A horse had to be well and expensively fed, and might not always be worth it, while a bullock could mostly find his own feed and anything else that was lying about if given half a chance, and on washing days or Sundays was not above dining off or on his master's shirt, with socks thrown in for dessert, and maybe the whip for chewing gum, for he was mostly of a sociable disposition, and not hard to please. Bullock power was about the first driving done to be used in! breaking up tbe black grass plains, in which light and frivolous diversion they disported themselves all day with a single plough and a couple of men, and probably spent the night in carting water from somewhere for themselves and their men folk and other dependants.
Bullocks and Blacks.
Old Monty Carlo had one of the best bullock team of the day, known far and wide as "Monty's Eight," with a fine stump-jumping dray to match, and he was particularly proud of his turnout, and was always prepared and willing to do special trips on special occasion such; for instance, as his fortnightly drive to the nearest town with commissions for himself and neighbours. Starting out one morning after a belated overnight thunderstorm, he found the roads going from bad to worse than that as he proceeded, so much so that his team at last positively refused to face one particularly badlooking place. Monty coasted them gently at first, and then not quite so gently; and thereafter with all the vigour, and eloquence be could infuse into his voice and whip. But it was no go, and he was just beginning to think he didn't know what to do, when a couple of darkies hove in sight in search of tobacco and necessaries of life and Monty at once struck an inspiration. He knew that these early-day cattle, like their owners, could not stand the sight or smell of their highly coloured brethren at short range, so beckoned the natives up, and promised to give them a stick ot tobacco each if they would walk one on each side of the dray till he got through the bog. The offer was instantly accepted, and with a wild whoop the dusky assistants dashed into the mire, but had scarcely got there when the dray shot ahead, and they just managed to grab the hind corners and hang on as the turnout gathered speed and nearly smothered them with mud and water from the swiftly revolving wheels. As the terrified bullocks tore along at racing speed through that bog and another twice as bad, and were far exceeding the speed limit as they crossed a short piece of firm ground, a small creek and some more bogs before Old Monty could reach the darkies with his whip and induce them to let go. Not having the promised tobacco in stock, Monty told them to meet him at about the same place on his return, but on no account should they come within 50 yards of the team. Having disposed of his load he proceeded to collect his commission, and with his team standing in the main street was standing on top of the load stowing away the last of his purchases, when his two darky friends strolled up to remind him of the tobacco, and also that they had got tied of waiting on the road. Before he could signal them to keep off the dray was jerked from under him, and he landed on his other ear on the edge of the pavement, but was on his feet again in time to see the team take down half a dozen verandah posts on that side of the street, and then cross rapidly over and capsize a butcher's cart and some more verandahs and lamp posts on the other side of the way, which gave them room to swing out into the middle of the road, where the going was good, and they were soon heading for home at a great pace, with a son of darkness well up on each of the team. Old Monty did the first 100 yards in 11.25 seconds by the town clock, and several other hundreds in lesser time than that, and was just getting fop gear when the whole turnout disappeared over the brow of the hill in a cloud of dust, and shortly afterwards Monty began to overtake his purchases. The first he met was Mrs. Smith's box of soap sitting on old Scotty's parrot cage, and jones's bag of sugar mixing itself with sand nearby; a little farther on a bag of potatoes had flattened out two concertinas and knocked the handle of a music box; and still a little farther and he overtook and passed his own case of apples going down hill without his case. Rounding a turn in the road he came on the apparently lifeless body of the nearside darky, and on a distant stump sat the remains of the other holding his hand to his side, while near at hand was a friendly bullocky bringing back the runaway team. Monty proceeded at once to collect his scattered beiongings, and had scarcely done so when his two darkies again came up smiling for their reward. Neither of them had been hurt, as the wheel of the dray had merely passed over the head of the first one, and the whole team, dray and all, over the other. And when Old Monty, at a distance of 130 yards in front of the train, presented them three sticks of tobacco each, and respectfully requested them to be gone, they went off with widespreading grins, saying that they had "plenty one big phellow fun."
A Unique Character.
Bob Herbert, or Fiddler Bob, as he was more familiarly and affectionately called by his friends, was another bullock driver worthy of special mention. This was a man distinct unto himself, and quite unique in the profession, inasmuch as he neither drank, smoked, nor swore, nor spoke in anger to his team, Although living with a married woman (his wife, of course) he never refused her a new sunbonnet, nor provoked her by foolishly trying to have the last word in conversation. A man with a big roiling voice into which some gentle trills could be infused when required, he was on the very best possible terms with his team, speaking to them individually or collectively in the most friendly and persuasive manner. They knew his voice and respected his sentiments, for although he alwaye carried the usual long whip, and they not in frequently heard the playful swish of the leash or report of the cracker, they knew not the sting thereof. When negotiating a piece of doubtful road Bob would encourage his team with his voice, and maybe with a few friendly thumb digs in the ribs, such as "Wake up, Rodney! Come along, Strawberry! Shake yourself up, Spot! Bluey, you ought to be ashamed to look at Star and Brindle! Now, then, all together, lads, and away she goes!"
And she mostly always did go, too. Bob had an old cattle dog (Rover) that was quite a character in his doggy way. He could do practically everything but talk, but seemed to understand all about that, as he would nod his head and look wise whenever Bob addressed him, which was pretty frequent, for they were almost inseparable. Rover would round up the bullocks at yoking time, and sort thorn out in pairs, and keep them in place till Bob came along and yoked them. When the going was good Rover would walk along with Bob or trot ahead a bit, and then wait for him. But when the going was not so good Rover was never far away, and while Bob would be coaxing the nearsiders along with cheerful words and playful pokes in the ribs, Rover would slip around and encourage the offsiders with a playful nip on the heels when Bob wasn't looking. But if Bob happened to look that way he would dash at the tyre of the back wheel and bark and bite as if that was really what he had gone around to attend to. On rare occasions, when the team seemed to be hopelessly bogged in some quagmire that would have brought out all the best or worst of the ordinary driver and his whip. Bob and Rover as a last resource would kneel down and pray. That is, Bob would pray while Rover knelt beside him with his paws over his eyes and his nose firmly pressed to the ground. And that man could pray; and his deep rolling voice could be heard on the still morning air fully half a mile away. At the close of his devotions he would walk around his team and address them singly and in pairs before raising his whip and asking for their supreme effort. This was the signal for Rover (who evidently believed in combining works with faith) to dash round and touch up the heels of the offsiders, finishing up with much barking and a wild attack on the back wheels for Bob's benefit if he happened to be looking that way. This combined effort seldom if ever failed to get them through. Dear old Fiddler Bob—great-hearted, gentle, loving, and lovable, a man among men. He has long since gone to his reward, but he and Rover were a splendid combination of faith and works that will not be easily forgotten.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. Royal and Other Celebrities. No. Xlll.
—Our Local Correspondent. As has already been mentioned, several unsuccessful attempts were made to induce a Governor or two to come and tarry awhile on the plains, which non-sucess occasioned keen disappointment for the time being, but was forgotten later on when there seemed to be a chance of entertaining Royalty itself. This possibility happened on June 14th, 1881, when their Royal Highnesses Prince Albert Victor, and Prince George (now His Most Gracious Majesty George V.) came through to see the then world-famed copper mines of the peninsula, and to put the finishing touch of their travels by visiting Moonta. Through xome miscarriage of information; they were expected to be somewhere on the 13th, which was always regarded as a lucky day here as nothing unusual happened. That being so, elaborate preparations were made for their reception. Flags, table cloths, and window blinds were hoisted for the occasion. Two yearling calves were killed on the spot, and numerous springing chickens and poultry, including four sucking pigs and a pet lamb, were cut off in the full bloom of youth, while a band of picked riders took the trail for Kadina to meet the boat or any other conveyance with Princes aboard; with two spare horses for the illustrious visitors, and a spring dray for their luggage, and crowns and things. But without consulting the plains reception committee, a special train with their Royalties on board came through at about 9.45 a.m. on the 14th, and the blamed thing wasn't seen till it was through, and then, it was too late to stop it. The Princes were accompanied by their private tutor, the Rev. J. H. Dalton, whom it seems they had to keep a pretty close eye on. Lieut. J. Jervois, private secretary to His Excellency the Governor (who was unable to get away on account of official duties requiring his presence in the city), Col. Fitxroy, Sir William Milne, Mr. J. L. Stirling, M.P. (now Sir Lancelot, the respected President of the Legislative Council), Mr. James Harvey, and a Mr. Thring, from Ceylon, Mr. A. G. Pendleton, General Traffic Manager, and Mr. Roberts, Assistant Locomotive Superintendent. All this, of course, was noticed as the train passed through the yard, and made it the mare annoying because it didn't stop. The local men, however, were on the lookout in Kadina, where they stayed overnight. But no sooner had the train pulled up than it was surrounded by Kadina's corporation and several others without corporations, led by the big burly bronze-whiskered Mayor (Mr. J. J. Christmas), who seemed to think, that for the time being at least, he really was Christmas, and looked sideways on the plainsmen, with a new year's like suspicion; and although they could plainly see the distinguished visitors they could not get within speaking distance, owing to the aggressive vigilance of the aforesaid Christmas man. One venturesome cowboy with a rope, tried to catch a young prince; but the fiery eye of Father Christmas was on him, and he felt small enough to crawl out through a six-wire fence, from which safe position he saw the party start off on their way to Moonta, while he, with his companions in disappointment and distress, returned to the plains without having captured even a stray princeling. To soothe their ruffled feelings they made a gorgeous, night of it, with the belated banquet that the princes had missed.
These repeated disappointments made the residents somewhat shy of Governors, and tearful of putting their trust in the elusiveness of princes. By-the-way, while on this subject one is led to wonder for the hundredth and oneth time if it was out of compliment to the before-mentioned man Thring, from Ceylon, that the town site and railway aiding were misnamed Thrington thus wiping out in one cruel and unjustifiable act the time honoured and historical name of Green's Plains West—a name honoured and fevered from time immemorial, and famous throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth for the brilliant pioneering achievements of its indomitable and resourceful hand of early settlers. This was a piece of high-handed officialdom that can never be forgotten, and will never be forgiven. A strong protest was made against it at the time, but without avail, as it was said that an alteration of the name was necessary for the broadening of the gauge, or to secure better shipping facilities, or something or other that has not come along yet. But it is none the less painful even now to think that this almost sacred soil, the City of the Plains, and the hub of the west, no longer bears the name it won and loved so well, but must henceforth and or evermore be designated as Thrington. Why Thrington of all names, neither euphonic, romantic, nor descriptive. There is not a thring about it to thrill, inspire or perpetuate the reverberating reminiscences of these great pre-hisloric plains, whose conquest and subjugation was fraught with incident and adventure, as thrilling and romantic as the non-settlement of the Northern Territory or the Maori invasion of New Zealand. Shades of dusky warriors, shooting Tommies, running Jimmies, fighting Billies—imagination cannot place these night-coloured sons, after some great tribal war, shedding streaks of dust and sweat speed across the plains for a place called Thrington. They would not hare known a thring about it, and would almost for a certainty have missed the providential way, and any other place they might have been streaking for, and in all probability they would have been for ever lost to history and themselves, to say nothing of their lubras. Moreover, and perhaps worst of all, is the deliberate slight to the memory of the late and more or less sadly lamented John Green, explorer, pioneer, and martyr, who, after having been fatally killed and wounded at various times, and in sundry places, persisted in doing so until he eventually discovered these fertile plains, which he had fully intended doing several years before, had he known where to look for them. Had not his name been so firmly grounded on the plains it might have been for ever blotted out of the book of remembrance for all that the authorities of the day seemed to care. Thrington! Should the old hardy old pioneer happen to hear of the change of name in his present whereabouts, wherever that might be and in the excitement of the moment throw a double back somersault, extreme provocation would surely justify the action, and entitle him to exemption under the Width of Tyres Act.
A Noted Character.
If a change of names was really necessary why not have named it Bobsville, after old Bob Selway, the first Postmaster-General of the Plain, the first and only resident of the town, and one of the most remarkable characters of the day? To his everlasting credit be it known that the first letter that reached his office addressed "Thrington" was sent back by the next post with an Indignant intimation that the address was unknown. Bob was a kindly disposed individual, with a most aggressive and pugnacious disposition; always ready to take both sides at the same time, and be quite wrong both ways, he could rarely be induced to speak of his past, and still more rarely let anything else get past without speaking. When in reminiscent mood he would sometimes feelingly refer to the decadence and glorious uncertainty of the bushranging profession, or the thrilling excitement of a piratical life on the rolling ocean wave. But just who he really was, or whence he came, no man could truthfully say. It was, however, generally understood that he had left his parents to drift for themselves at a very early age, and had not worried much over their after fate, and that he had been a seaman, a landsman, and horseman, and rover, and a mailcoach driver, besides several other occupations, which he would not own up to. He did not seem to think it worth while denying that he had been run over by a steam roller and a lawn mower, and had had his head and several legs and arms broken at various times and places in sundry untoward happenings. He had a great command of language, and was seldom at a loss for a right or wrong word when occasion required. When approaching the office door about tea time he would be preparing his evening meal, it was nothing unusual for a client Is meet a couple of startled cats coming out abreast on the toe of Bob's boot, with a chunk or two of firewood after them, accompanied by a string of wellplaced adjectives that would seem for the time being to illuminate the surrounding atmosphere. Or if, when attaching the office tamp to some important document, the while keeping his thumb on the spot to be operated on, and at the same time keeping up both ends of the conversation with his visitor, to show his unconcerned familiarity with such business, he happened absent-mindedly to jab the stamp down in his butter saucer in mistake for the inkpad saucer, and then, with a violent thud on to his widespread thumb, the offending instrument would instantly he buried far out through the door into outer darkness, whereafter, for the space of several overheated moments, while doing a two-step around the room Bob would express himself with a fluency and fervour that one could not but admire, but dared not hope to emulate. Being somewhat hard of hearing, it was risky to offer consolation, as he was liable to hear wrongly and go off again on even worse angle. The safest thing to do was to wait until he had rundown, and then, with a lantern, assist in finding the stamp for him. Bob was very diligent and obliging in his duties and before handing out letters would carefully note the handwriting and read the postmark and explain to his client to save him the trouble of guessing who the correspondence was from.
One Sunday morning a friend came along and found Bob, postbag in hand, standing at the railway platform, and asked what he was doing there. "Waiting for the train," snapped Bob, "and the blooming thing is two hours late." So being informed that there was no Sunday train on that line he threw down his hat and the maiibag and jumped on them both, as well as he was able, until he was tired; and then eclipsed himself in forceful eloquence and returned to his office with a blue sort of halo-around his head. On one occasion poor old Bob was taken ill, although be would not admit it, and was taken to the Wallaroo hospital for overhaul and repairs. Firstly he was plunged into a bath, an intrusion which he forcefully resisted, declaring that to years had passed since he had been treated with such indignity and humiliation. Yes, old Bob Selway was quite an institution in his day, and tbe residents sadly missed him when he had gone. His little railway town and siding might very fittingly have been named after him. But so it mostly always isn't. For where are now the pioneers, the men who first took hold, the Browne's, Jones's, Smiths's, all the mighty men of old? The men who never owned defeat, but always tried to score, faced all the odds that came along; and, smiling, looked for more. Gone now are ail their works and ways, and gone their little fame; gone is the place they loved so well. And gone its very name.
GREENE PLAINS YARNS. NO. XIV
— By our Local Corropondent. The farming systetn, or want of system, of the early days, was more simple, less expensive, and much less remunerative than methods of the present day. In the former case it was customary to plough the land immediately after harvest; that is, of course, if there had been a harvest, but, if not, then an even earlier start might be made, with more time for ploughing. The seed would be sown broadcast by hand power in March and April, and then harrowed lightly over so as not to raise too much dust while covering it from the prying eyes of pigs, mice, and birds. There were giants in those days, who, with both hands and legs, could sow from 40 to 60 acres a day, and not an eight-hours day, either, with stipulations, regulations, and restrictions, but just an ordinary work for the night is coming day. These men were always ready to repeat the performance for the simple pleasure of doing, it, with, maybe, on occasional encore before by way of encouragement. For strange as it may appear now, there was in those not unhappy bygone days, a friendly rivalry, between men to see who could do the most work in a given time. There were good seasons and bad, but mostly bad, in those good old days, for seldom, if ever, did the farmer's crop turn out equal to his expectations or requirements. Lack of rain might delay its start; frosts of continued strength and severity retard its earlier growth; lizards, grasshoppers, and grubs destroy its tender stalks or keep it in check until such time as takeall, hot winds, and red rust could put in the finishing touches. Under such disabilities it was not surprising that crops occasionally adopted a low-down, growth so as not to attract too much observation. So much so that a man one morning, looking across his best paddock, under the rays of the rising sun, saw what he took to be half a dozen of his neighbour's cattle in his wheat. He instantly collected a horse, some dogs, and a whip, and galloped furiously up to surround, and impound the trespassing stock, and on arrival was disgusted and enraged to find that the intruders were merely some jew lizards eating up his best crop. If lucky at harvest time he might (with a 5-ft stripper and a 6-ft ran) gather in a 6 bushel crop, or, with still more hum, and the comb just clearing the ground, drive around his field for half a day, and on opening the machine find nothing more than the hum, and, maybe, a few small stones, clods, and black grass tussocks picked up while doing his rounds. While driving aimlessly around like this one day, the while thinking of the crop that might have been, a man saw an exceptionally fine bunch of wheat standing clear and high above the surrounding scenery, swinging his team to the right; he quickly ran up the comb, and sat tight for the crash in the beaters that didn't come, for the off side horse, when within speaking distance quietly reached out and grabbed the whole bunch In one great crunching mouthful, these light crops, however, had their compensations, as greater acreage records could be put up while reaping with a good chance of finishing before Christmas, so as not to interfere with the holidays. And there was less winnowing to do— always a slow and tedious process; also there was less money for a man's creditors to squabble over, and more time for wood and water carting before the next seeding time, with still more time for the auction sales.
Clearing Sales and Taxes.
One of the notable institutions of those days was the great annnal February and March clearing sales campaign; in which almost every resident took part, some as chief performers and others as sympathisers. Fortunately, or otherwise, for the sake of the tenth commandment, no matter how much a man might covet his neighbour's goods, he seldom had the wherewithal to buy them, and consequently the ox or some other ass went to strange and unneighbourly persons, at times even from distant lands. Some of these people sold out because they thought they might do better elsewhere; and others because their creditors thought that they couldn't do, worse anywhere else. There certainly were some moving times when the auctionecrs made their annual rounds. It was during this time of stress and unsettlement that the Commissioner of Taxes knocked them sideways with printed requests for land and income taxes, which was at first regarded, as a cruel practical Joke; for as their chief spokesman said, what was the unimproved value of land when his land, with all he could put on it, and all the work he could put into it, would not pay working expenses? He had for years lived on faith, in his country, some more years on hopes of better times to come, and still hoped that he wouldn't have to top up on charity: and the income tax was far beyond a joke. He did not think he could honestly say just what an income was, and yet he was sent a sheet of paper nearly a yard square on which to give particulars, of an income he did not have, the details of which he could fill up in large figures on the back of a postage stamp. He was not proud of his poverty, but it was about all he had left after years of hard work, and to have that held up to, ridicule and his misfortune treated as a joke on a yard square of the paper was almost more than he could bear without saying something. One poor old chap became so seared with taxation notions that he absolutely refused to go to the post office and would shy at the rustle of a piece of blue paper. One evening a neighbour, coming from the post, brought him a packet containing The Register and a bulky blue coloured envelope. He would not touch the latter, which he took to be one more demand for taxes, but glancing hastily at the death notices in the paper, heaved one large convulsive sob, cast a despairing glance at his wife, and went slowly into the night and climbed the side of his water waggon, removed the cover, from the tank, and was just to the act of casting, himself head first, into its watery depths, when he suddenly remembered that if he put himself beyond the reach of the tax gatherers there would-be no one left to cart water for his wife and the other fowls and things. So with a great effort of self-denial he recovered the tank, and climbed down again, and was met by his wife with tears in her eyes and a smile on her dear old face. She hastened to assure him that the dreaded blue packet, was nothing more than a bundle of soothing syrup pamphlets. For about the space of 30 seconds this hardy son of toll stood speechless, then lifted up his voice and wept for joy, and hastening indoors once more glanced through the newspapers to see if any deaths had occurred in the Taxation Office, or if any new appointments had been made. What prodigious faith that old-timer had. A grain of mustard or even a tin of mustard wasn't to be compared with him. When up to the neck In trouble, scarce knowing how to make one end meet, let alone two, he would lead off in harvest thanksgiving services, cheerfully acknowledging that there were many things worth being thankful for, which he hadn't got, but which, with any luck, he still hopped to get. His reward was always in the future, and always seemed to stick there.
Goannas, Snakes, and Other Visitors.
In addition to other troubles; there were always in the springy time of the year, snakes and spiders and goannas to be looked out for and dodged, the latter especially when loaded with stolen eggs and streaking for home at about 30 miles in hour with a dog after it. The goanna was a goer alight, and would run up or over anything that happened to be in the way. A back blocker coming homeward one day with his shirt full of pheasant eggs, espied some cockatoo parrots making excited commotion about a hollow branch of a solitary tree about 15 ft. from the ground, and guessing that there would be a nest of young blrds there, climbed cautiously up to investigate, and was leaning over to peep into the hollow, when a five feet three goanna shot out and ran down his back, and he forgot for the moment to hold on and didn't, and the inside of his clothes was in an awful mess when he managed to sit up on the ground. His dog had meanwhile got after the goanna, which ran out on the plain, and seeing nothing smaller than a horse to climb, ran up on the back of that, and was coming around at a terrific pace with the dog not far behind, when the man stepped out from behind a shrub, with which he had beer, scraping himself, and the three animals, without pausing, swerving, or missing a step, went clean over him, slightly stunning and badly frightening; him for the time being; in fact, so much so, that he was not able to wash his clothes for a couple of days or so, and always afterwards give goannas a wide go by. But snakes, of course, were much more plentiful, and far worse to deal with; and there were some sensational happenings in those days. A man, after killing a monstrous snake, went, home to get a chain to measure it with, and when he returned found the reptile very much alive and about twice as big as when he killed it; so he killed it again, and then found that it was another snake swallowing the one he had killed first. He was hurrying away from there, fearing that another member of the same family might come along and want to swallow something, when he saw a hawk flying by with a 5 ft. 3.5 in. snake in its hands, and while gazing at that, and thinking to encourage the breeding of hawks, a snake, he thought about 14 ft. long, walked up to him and cracked its tail (the snake's tail), and then prepared to spring; but the man sprang first, and is confident that he did the first 200 yards across country in several seconds below record time. : A farmers wife while hanging the washing on the line, saw a big snake sitting on a clothes peg, and a goanna standing near by. She did not for a moment lose her presence of mind, but slipping quietly into the house got the old man's shot gun, closed the door, then mounted the water barrel and fired; . After she had picked herself up, and rubbed her shoulder on the pump handle, she saw the goanna up the clothes prop, and looking wickedly down at her, but not a shred of the snake was to be seen, although the lady was positive that she must have blown it to atoms; as not more than two seconds could have elapsed between the time she closed her eyes and pulled the trigger; and she was perfectly certain that she would have bagged the two, if the gun had not kicked her off tht barrel. Dogs were specially trained, or trained themselves, to kill snakes, and protect themselves and the family to which they belonged. A lad with a retriever dog of the Collie persuasion was taking some afternoon tea out to his father in the hayfield, and the father, seeing him coming, hung his pitchfork upon the ground, and was letting himself down backwards on a stook of hay, when the dog, with a 15 ft. spring, reached over, and in one mouthful took most of the fitting part and a handful of skin out of the old man's pants, causing him to hop around with considerable activity and much language, during which he capsized the tea can, and with a misdirected kick at the dog overturned the haystook, revealing three full grown and active looking snakes that had been roosting there. Being in a particularly killing mood just then, the old man made short work of two of them, but the third escaped in a nearby mouse hole. The dog, seeing this, and also that the old man was not looking, ran to where the tea had been spilt, and rubbed his tail therein until it, was thickly coated with mud, when he hurried around and sat on a flat stone and deliberately let his tail down in the mouse hole and waited for the snake, to take hold, which fortunately happened at the psychological moment when the boy's father happened to look that way. As the faithful dog sprang high to dodge a chunk of flying rock hurled by the old man, he brought up a 6.ft. snake on the tip of his mud-bespattered snake-proof tall, and the last end of that snake was worse than the first two, for with its mouth full of mud and hair, it was no match for the wrathful parent of that boy, and then, and not till then, did he fully realize how much he owed— less the seat of his pants— to that sagacious dog. Yes, there were some snakes, and some dogs, in those days.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS; CARTING WATER. No. XV.
One of the never-to-be-forgotten functions of those earlier days was the great annual water-carting carnival, beginning as soon as convenient after harvest, and occupying from two to four months, or even longer if the season proved favourable for its continuance.
Each settler was expected, sooner or later in the season, to take part in the demonstration, and for that purpose to provide himself with one or more 400-gallon iron tanks. The Government of several days before, in anticipation of the probable popularity of drinking water for stock and domestic purposes, had thoughtfully inserted dams and reservoirs in suitable localities, or, to be more correct, the Government put down the reservoirs and put in the dams. When full at the beginning of the carnival, these reservoirs with high embankments sloping beaches and rippling little waterlets, became year by year the chief watering places of the distance round which numerous high bred teams would daily disport themselves with their nosebags, while their owners, two by two, worked a small man-power Douglas pumps, or sat in groups and 'swopped' yarns on the beach or clay-crusted embankment, while others repaired the pump, knowing the while that there would be water enough for each and enough for all, if there were not too many of them. Later on, when day by day the supply became smaller and beautifully less, it was an inspiring sight to see these great teams strung out 10 or a dozen in length, with a Iong trail of dust streaming far out behind under the rays of a cloudless sun, or, better still, to see them, three or four abreast, racing for the nearest dam and the Douglas pump. If the season proved favourable and the traffic continued good, when local supplies became low and discoloured, the Government would encourage competition by bringing water by train from Gawler, or Balaklava, or some other southern port. This was likely appreciated, and as highly paid for by the residents, and as might have been expected, resulted in overcrowding the station yard with teams from all the region round about. It was nothing unusual to see half a dozen or 30 teams circling wildly around the enclosure to the accompanying muffled thunder of bumping wagons and rolling tanks as the train came in. But not always did the full complement of water come in. Sometimes a tank or two would spring a leak, and at other times a whole truck-load of water wouldn't be there when the train arrived. But that did not by any means lessen the interest in the water question, nor diminish the attendance in the yard; for the man who failed to get supplies did not go home to face his waterless stock, nor to assist the family in keeping the home fires burning, but would spend a waterless night near by, and make a special effort to be first alongside the next day's train. There would be more rejoicing over that one load of water as he drove away than over the two loads that he missed the day before. Of course, an unexpected thunderstorm, or well-placed April shower, might upset all calculations: paralyse the whole of this great dry weather industry, and throw scores of men and hundreds of horses out of employment on the shortest possible notice. All the rumbling tanks of yesterday would be silent and out of action within a few hours time.
But it was not always wise when an interruption of this kind occurred at a distance from home for a man to return without his full load, or at least it was otherwise with Mr. Dan O'Whatsisname. who not mixed up with a thunderstorm shortly after leaving the siding with loaded tanks. Although the lightning flashed around him, and thunder rolled over him, hailstones nearly knocked him out in the first round and rain simply fell in sheets and slabs and layers, he would not leave his load. He had paid for the water and was determined to bring it home with him for dry weather use. But he was so delighted with the downpour that he played and skipped and rolled in knee-deep running streams, occasionally standing on his head in the deeper pools, so as to thoroughly enjoy a good wetting. He trudged and pranced and reared alongside his team for seven long miles through mud and slush and rain until within a mile and a half of home, where he found his nearest neighbour's hired servant shovelling water away from an over-filled under-ground tank, and the boss sitting up to his waist in water in the drain leading to the dam in order to regulate the inflow, so that it might not burst the embankmmt and might wash the hole away altogether. After hauling his neighbour out of the drain and knocking the mud off him with his boot. he decided that it looked silly to be hauling water through floods of water, and especially up the slippery little hill that only separated him now from the sight of his own holding. Accordingly, he turned the taps of the tanks and went whistling up the bill, only to find on reaching the top that the storm had shut off there as short and suddenly as if ruled out with a straight line; and he could sea his own little homestead half a mile away basking in the sunny rays of a cloudless sky, while billows of dust rose from the back yard; where cattle milled around in search of water. The whistle froze in his whiskers as he stood and gazed, but who can paint that gaze; it chilled even a horse that saw its horror and amaze. He thought of all his glorious hopes and of his empty tanks, than threw the wet hat from his head and cut up various pranks. 'No more,' he said, there is no more to go on home for now. The storm has made a fool of me. That thunder was a cow.' In anger and disgust he wheeled his team around and rattled back along the road, his overheated remarks drying up several small pools of water as he passed them by. With the kind permission of his neighbour and a bucket, he proceeded to refill his tanks from that kindly neighbour's overflowing supply, and had worked for some considerable time without appreciable results before he noticed that he had not shut off the taps off again, which trifling omission did not improve his language. When he eventually reached home and had apportioned the water out among the stock according to their several abilities he put a horse in the rake and went forth to gather together the few straws that were left in his fields, and that could not otherwise be burnt. He did this not only to allow himself time to cool off, but to show the public at large and any other fellows that might be about, that he was in no way disappointed at being overlooked by the storm. He placed a cornsack on the seat of the rake before seating himself thereon, and as the rake filled he simply dropped a lighted match in the straw, tipped the rake, and continued on ins round, and was just beginning to feel good again and to forget his morning worries, when he thought the seat of the rake was slightly warmer than the occasion seemed to warrant, but still continued on shreading straw and fire with every succeeding rakeful, till suddenly he was seen to rise on end and slap both hands on the part he had been sitting on, and then with a smoky tail like a comet dive over the wheel and wriggle and squirm in a sitting position in a pool of dust. The cornsack, the cause of all the trouble burnt and flamed itself out on the seat of the rake. Shortly afterwards Dan let the horse go and walking very gingerly, with his hat behind him, made his way to the shed where he secured a branbag, and cutting a big hole in the bottom of it with a smaller one in each corner, put it on over his head like a night (or all day) shirt, and came out again into the open just as his selfacting snake-proof dog discovered a stray snake, and proceeded to deal with it. With a clever twist of the head the dog hurled the reptile away through the intervening space, and straight for Dan's head, who, in dodging the fiery, flying serpent, got his legs tangled in his new hobble branbag skirts, and came a nasty cropper over an outstanding wheelbarrow, and to snake landed and hung over the back of a big red steer, that not being a milking cow in the strict meaning ot the Act, was taking advantage of the position, and drinking more than his fair share of the water. The snake, however, brought him out with a bound, and the dog after him. For the sagacious dog had seen where the snake landed, and meaning to have it, was steering the steer around at a terrific pace, when they struck Daniel in a rising position, and rolled him over again, badly damaging his branbag skirts. He glared after them as he once more tried to regain his feet, but found that while it was no doubt the correct thing to dare to be a Daniel, it was quite another matter to dare to stand alone, especially when next time the steer and the snake, and the dog, with all the rest of the cattle, and around together, and swept over him like an avalanche. The steer, in the excitement of the moment, passed a horn through the offside pocket of Dan's skirt, and a front foot through some lower down frills, and both animals rolled over and over together with the dog jumping and yelping around then in a hurry to grab and recover his snaky property. When the steer finally got away with the branbag on his horns, Dan had to streak for the cellar, and back into the seclusion thereof where he remained until darkness permitted him to regain his room and some spare clothing. Although for several days thereafter he had to take his meals standing, be was soon in good going order again.
A Baker's Dilemma.
These thunderstorms were tricky things at times, as was proved to his sorrow by a bakerman from Wallaroo; on that self-same day. He was driving around the district for orders, in buns and things, with his little pony and cart, and was feeling particularly pleased with himself, as he had booked a dozen or so to be delivered on the time-payment system, when, without the slightest warning, a singing flash of lightning mixed up with a deafening crash of thunder, and about half a ton of rough-cut nail, was thrown into his cart, and his quiet, dependable, little pony, Bobby, plunged and swerved, and dashed straight at a newly erected bark topped iron fence. But what followed is perhaps better described in the graphic language of the bakerman himself: —
All hail the power that struck my craft, and tossed it in the air.
That knocked off every blooming shaft, and all the horse's hair.
It was no sooner said than done, and didn't then seem right.
I never knew such carrying on, or ever had such fright.
When at the fence we set full sail, my hair began to rise,
I made a grab at Bobby's tall, and winked with born my eyes,
No cry for help, no prayers were said; although I thought of one—
''Give us this day our daily bread, or give us but a bun.''
High in the air my dogcart rose, o'er posts and nails, and logs,
I thought, say I, ''now I suppose I'm going to the dogs.''
Then came an awful sickening crash as if i'd struck a town,
Or all creation'd gone to smash and let the planets down.
The horse was tied up in a knot, the cart a total wreck.
And for a time I really thought I'd broke my blessed neck.
Leading the horse I hurried home, and never once looked back
For fear the owner of that shed should be upon my track.
Yes, thunderstorms were tricky things in those days.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. EXPERIENCES WITH LIVE STOCK. .No. XVI.
In those, days of toil and uncertainty it did really, seem as if the unfortunate farmer had been specially born for trouble as the larks flew upward and he did not have to go half way to meet it, either: as it would mostly come all the way to find him. True, he had no reliable appliances wherewith to regulate the weather, and no official reports or duly authenticated forecasts t0 guide and direct his operations. He might not be ready for the rain when it came, and more often it didn't come when he was ready for it. Crops, were usually of a light and frivolous disposition, and there was seldom an over-abundance of food for man or beast; and man scarcely dared to ask his fellow-men, even as a joke, 'how is your crop looking' He positively feared to meet his creditors in the dark, and only in broad daylight when necessity compelled him to ask for further supplies and more credit. To their credit be it said that the creditors usually helped him and themselves, when they could, for they were often nearly as hard up as he was, and both looked forward with a certain amount of hope and dread to thee coming after harvest settlement. All this while life of the poor farmer was being embittered with news paper articles and gratuitous pamphlets instructing him how to manage his affairs and conduct farm, so as to be prosperous even though poor, and strongly advising him not to put all his eggs in more one basket, quiet an unnecessary insult, as if a of those days could afford more than one basket at a time. AlI the while these people had been doing their best to mix their farming and make some profits out of the side lines. What could be more mixed than wild oats, cockspur, sheepweed, takeall, barley grass, drake. scratchthistles, native turnip, wire-weed, stinkwoit, blackrust, and poppy drops, to say nothing of snakes, scorpions. Jew Iizards, and wild cats? Cows were, of course, a first consideration, and an absolute necessity on a farm, and usually fitted into the mixed system of things— a nondescript breed of doubtful origin, selected, more for price than for milking strain, although the strain was all there when milk was being extracted from them. They were usually good fencers; that is, they could mostly be depended to get through any ordinary fence in search off feed; and to assist them in doing this were usually furnished with strong mallee yokes for neck protectors and aggressive purposes. And with these advantages they were expected to find their own livings and some for the family. Two of these cows on a farm, with butter at 3d. or even 4d. a pound, should have made a handsome profit; but with the strange, perversity of such creatures, just as they should have been doing this, they would either go dry altogether or would take an absorbing interest in Dry Bible, a form of advanced literature of a contentious nature, that did not agree with them: and any over indulgence was followed by fatal results, and the more surely, after the Hartley cow-doctor had forced a dose of his curative mixture on them. It was a most peculiar affliction, and the successful efforts of the doctor in stamping it out were not fully realized until the last afflicted cow had gone; but the doctor had gone some time before that, and the dry bible epidemic still remains an unsolved problem in the cowology of the plains: Dairying , was not an unqualified success in those days, nor was the poultry industry the game it is now cracked up to be. For even with eggs at 2.5d, a dozen after the buyer had broken about a third of them to see if they were fresh, and another third in packing them carefully for export purposes, with a liberal deduction for the thinness of the shells, the balance did not leave much of a margin for working expenses. If, to reduce the cost of production, the family ate of the poultry to save the cost of feeding them, eggs would go up with a bound, and occasionally to the phenomenal price ct 6d. a dozen.
A Famous Poultry Ranch.
This was most unsatisfactory and annoying, and with the view of assisting the growth of eggs, steading the market, and keeping a fairly even balance between supply and demand, an enterprising farmer Jones by name, off the plains, established at his own expense one of the most commodious and up-to-date poulty ranches ever seen in the district. It was substantially constructed and admirably adapted for the growth of poultry or other tropical products. The toil was heavy impregnated with limestone and weighed down with solid rock formation, capable of resisting the pulverising efforts of rooster stock or other wild animals. The entrance to the main building was protected by heavy mallee gates that could be swung into place on the least sign of fowl play. On either side of the main hall were sitting rooms, where only lame gobblers and tender-footed roosters were to be used for hatching purposes, it being contended that the hens could employ their time to better advantage in the eggrys, and laying sheds, into which they were to be led or driven each, time at laying time. This was an elevated mallee bough structure, with tubes leading from the egg receivers to a shed at the back where barrels, boxes, and packing cases waited to receive the eggs as they slid down the tubes, regulated and directed according to size and weight, by which ingenious contrivance the hens were virtually doing their own sorting and packing, thus ensuring to the consumer a supply of even size fresh eggs without a second handling. There were also drafting and plucking yards, slaughter yards with plucking and preserving chambers, .weaneries, and feeding troughs for chickens, and a crowing shed for early rising roosters, with a revolving stadium for the settlement of disputes. Fortunately or otherwise Jones was not able to stock up fully at the start, and didn't try to do so afterwards. In fact, he had not quite completed his undertaking, and was gazing speculatively at the few head of stock he had on hand. A couple of male turkeys of doubtful age and intentions, active yet unconquered, were prancing up and down inside a wire-netting enclosure; while near by another bird of the same, persuasion, with his offside hind leg In a sling, was leaning against a tree, pondering over what might have been. A large broody hen was sitting on a stump, gazing sadly at a litter of small chickens that she was not allowed to rear; and within a few yards distance was an old strawberry coloured rooster (evidently the father of the flock) with a wild glitter in his eye, and a most defiant look all over his face. His feathers were turned up, and the perspiration ran down his legs, as he vigorously and violently used his feet in a vain attempt to pulverise a solid rock. He would occasionally pause a moment to glare at his family, would crow and prance, and then throw himself into his work again with a vigour that actually made the sparks fly as he rattled them off the rock with his toe nails. While he was yet scratching as if he had taken the job by contract, the biggest whirlwind of the season, crowned with rolling dust and whirling kerosine tins, struck the hennery amidships, and lifted it dear off its moorings, and carried it on high, shacking out hencoops, beam's, and rafters, and scattering pieces over several neighbours holdings. So ended one of the most promising attempts ever made to assist the poultry industry In this State.
Raising pigs for profit was not always a profitable undertaking. Certainly every farmer kept a pig or two for home requirements, for as the poet says 'what is home without a pig?' But if he tried to sell, it was worth only about 1d. a pound on the hoof, and catch him, or maybe S2d, when killed and cured of its bad habits. The killing of those early day pigs was by no means a simple under taking, nor a one-man Job. As a domestic animal, the pig has no equal, in promoting and maintain a warm and lively feeling among neighbours, especially if allowed to run at large, and consequently there was little difficulty in getting the necessary help if one was to be killed. About three men were the correct thing, with perhaps a boy or two stationed around to learn, or to run errands if required. All things being ready, two of the men would pounce on the pig in such a way as to make it squeal its darndest, while the third man fastened a small rope around the front end of its top jaw, but net so as to interfere, with the squeal, which was an important consideration, there being a certain amount of squeal in a pig which must be allowed to evaporate before the swine is killed; Otherwise It is liable to come out at any time later on and spoil the bacon sometimes even in the frying pan. The victim would then be led which meant dragging it head first, to the place of execution, were it would be tied with its head well up, so as to give greater freedom to its vocal cords, while the operator sharpened his knife, and here after performing the happy dispatch. But, there was not so much profit in pig raising , even for home comforts, until Mr. W. H. Harvey came along and saw its possibilities and potentialities and several other pigs, and straightaway recrossed the border into his own country, and established, in the scrub near Arthurton; a pig emporium. A high-smelling establishment which dealers had no difficulty in locating from afar off, and where pigs of all shapes, sorts and sizes could be bought, sold, or exchanged while specialities in greasy tailed pigs could be hired out for sports; or picnic purposes. At the one end of the premises a pig could be cast into the receiver with hoofs, and hair and squeal and all, to come out at the other end neatly done up as, rolled bacon, side slabs, pork sausage, savalonies, black pudding, or ham and eggs according to the wishes or order of the customers. Mr. Harvey's name and fame spread far and wide, and his bacon found, ready sale in all the regions round about. So much so that he had difficulty in supplying orders and the price of pig went up accordingly until it reached the giddy altitude of 5d. a pound and everybody started breeding pigs and running them in. They came in scores, in hundreds, and in thousands until Mr. Harvey could not get near his place for pigs in the day-time, and was afraid to go out at night lest he might lose his providential way among them and still they came, until he brought the price of pork down to about 1.5d. a pound, and every one, with all the others, stopped breeding pigs, and for years after wouldn't look a pig in the face. Poor Harvey couldn't get the chance to do so, and consequently had to close down all his works and ways; and the pig industry reverted back to the old-time scale of one man one pig at home, with three men to kill it. It was just about this time, of slump and sorrow that Mr. Peter Roach, of Roachfield, one of the largest and most successful farmers of the day called his fellow farmers together, and clearly and convincingly proved the facts and figures that what could be profitably, grown at three bushels to the acre; Unfortunately, however, he could not tell them how to regulate the growth, to that figure, and some of them rather overdid it that year, and grew four bushels to the acre which rather upset their own calculation, and caused their creditors to regard them with, suspicion for some considerable time afterwards, fearing that they might be trying to get out of debt, or perhaps attempting to start accounts of their own.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. No. XVII.
— By our Local Correspondent. It came to pass in those days that a great mousey plague arose suddenly in the land, and there was dire tribulation among the inhabitants thereof, and much want with those who didn't want so much. There had, of course, been always a few mice in the district, but these were usually regarded aa household pets for the cats to play with, and were occasionally caught in traps to tame them some more for the children to handle. But now they came in swarms, came in armies came in millions, came like thieves in the night, full grown and ready for action: and no man new from whence they came unless it were from outer darkness, and the regions back beyond the north, for they were always heading south, and nothing stayed their onward march, excepting maybe the time necessary to wipe out a homestead, haystack, or wheatshed. Never a young one was seen in their ranks. They were all of standard size, shape, and colour, with the same persevering disposition and cuiting capacity. They seemed to have all come in one night, or at least the first division of their advancing legions and morning after morning the ground was covered with small marks close as drops of rain, and night after night the whole surface ot the earth seemed to be alive, and moving on with a stealthy rustling sound. No one who had a moonlight view of this motion picture, this seething, countless mass of moving grey could ever forget the creepy, spinal sensation, that seemed in accompany the nightly spectacle. It was indeed a fearsome invasion, and 18 what's the date is spoken of even unto this day as the year of the great plague.
During the first few days the birds of the air and the cats of the field hovered over, or followed along the widespread flanks of the enemy, but soon became tired or afraid of being gobbled up, and only interfered when in need of food supplies. The invaders simply filled up the fields and outbuildings, and overflowed into the houses, where nothing was sacred or safe from their prying and cutting teeth. All sorts of poisons, traps, and exterminators were used without making the slightest appreciable difference in their numbers. One favourite evening pastime was to place two or three tubs of half-fulll of water on the kitchen floor, with a narrow board slanting up over the rim of each and on the top end of the board was inserted a piece of wire through a nice smooth little insectibane tin with a tempting little cheese bait on the outer end. It was a positive pleasure to sit around with feet on the table, and watch the wee mouseys run up the board one at a time, or two or three abreast, swirl around with the revolving tin, and then take a header into the watery depths of the tub below. Another diversion might be going on at the same time. A couple or three cornsacks, with a sprinkling of flour inside, would be strewn about the floor, and the game was to srutch the bags up by the top at 10-minute intervals, and bash it two or three times on the floor, empty out and set again, and within a couple of hours one man might bag as many mice as he could conveniently carry away. But all the devices had but little effect, tor still they came, until the houses simply lived and moved and smelt of mice, during which time all eatables had to be kept in shotproof bins. Table legs and bedstead props reposed in saucers of water, and little children had to be carefully watched by day, and stowed away in perforated tins, at night, while their weary parents tossed running mice off their downy pillows, or playfully tried to make one-handed catches as they jumped across their sleepless faces.
A Farmer's Trials.
One defiant cocky, who scorned tinware and other precautions, brought home one evening a 240- lb. bag of flour, and to convince, his wife of it's security, and the mice of its proximity, put a rope around its waist and hoisted it 15 ft aloft on his gallows tree; and after putting some Holloway's ointment on his offside ear with which he had been scratching a barb wire, he retired to his little cot and slept the sleep of the just, until he woke with a start to find half a dozen mice cleaning the ointment off his ear, and enlarging the cut, presumably to give it more room for healing. With the first streak of daylight and roosters he was out with his ear in a sling, and a wide-spreading smile on his counting house which shrivelled away considerably when he saw an empty floursack flopping in the breeze over a chainwide circle of beautifully snow white ground, punctuated with countless little tracks of things that had passed in the night. The fluency of his language as he capered around that floury patch exceeded far in brilliancy of expression all his previous efforts. Right from the first, birds of prey, even the detestable old crow, were welcomed, and encouraged to make themselves quite at home on any farm, which they certainly did, especially the crow, that following out its own lown-down instincts, usually stole the hard laid eggs while the poor bereaved old hens chased the mice away from the nests. And snakes, great, slimy six-feet snakes, full of mice, and other wickedness, were allowed to wriggle unharmed about the stamping heels, of their hereditary enemy, man; while cats of every sort size, and disposition were bought, bred, swapped, stolen or imported into the district; and still the mice came on.
One farmer whose holding seemed to have been made the working centre for all these opposing factions, computed on the very moderate estimate, of 108 mice to the square yard, that he had on his ranch at one and the same time 576,604,001 mice, 987 working cats, 739 egg-fed crows, and 649 snakes, to say nothing of deaf adders, lizards, and iguanas, and 563 assorted hawks, including wedg-tailed eagles and jaywalkers. To assist in reducing stock this man, whose stacks and sheds were chockful of mice and machinery, hit on the ingenius device of sprinkling wheat at night in the drums of his reaping machines for mice that could not get at it elsewhere; and at intervals of about 15 minutes, he would rush out into the shed, seething six Inches deep with mice, and with -frantic speed wind up the flywheels of the machines till the hums of the beaters was mingled with the cheerful crunching sound of mice being battered against the back door of the machine, and in the morning would gather up the fragments that remained in the machines and bury them in the garden for tree-planting purposes later on. In this and other ways, he reckoned that he accounted for about 2.5 tons weight of mice, which at that time would scarcely have been missed off any farm; and the mice themselves were so busy at the time that they did not appear to notice it.
A Hungry Pest.
They ate their way in millions through the haystacks, and in many Instances brought the stacks toppling over. They ate wheat bags off the wheat, and then were sorry that they had done so, as they could not burrow far into the loose wheat, but, by taking a grain or two each, and keeping at it all the time, they soon absorbed a fair-sized stack. They ate up household furniture and effects, showing a great, partiality for pictures and literature of any sort. They ate through matchboard ceilings, and board holes through solid flooring boards, and the patter ot their little feet on the ceilings and housetops all night and evenight was like the sound of falling rain, which unfortunately would not come. A kindly man, ending a little orphan pig deserted by its parents, took it into the kitchen that night, and gave it some milk and a bucket to sleep in, and in the morning the bucket was still there, but about half the little pig had gone. One chilly evening a litter of small chickens were placed in a box near the fire to roost and warm, themselves, and that was the last that was seen of them, although the box and some feathers were found in the morning. A fancy vest' was' stowed away for safe keeping in a wellington boot, and the other boot pulled down over the first for additional safety; but when, later on, the owner made search for his vest be could find nothing but one buttonhole and some small boot nails. Cats soon became afraid to be left alone with the mice, and slept by day and kept well out in the open at night, for the position was reversed, and the mice were the hunters, and showed no mercy to their former enemies.
A big self-acting cat of high pedigree and long-distance killing records, was one night shut In the buggy shed to protect a set of new harness just purchased to replace the set already eaten by the mice; and when the owner looked in next morning the shed was strewn with dead mice. Nothing remained of the harness but the buckles, and the cat, with a tuft of fur only on the top ot its head, was a raving lunatic, spitting and swearing on a beam in the roof of the shed. The owner was so indignant that he at once rounded up his six great chestnut machine-gun cats. A recent importation from the south, these cats were guaranteed to go off at half-cock, and to kill at night, and they evidently had lived up to their reputation. Although no man will ever know what really took place in that shed, when the door was opened in the morning, five clear-skinned cats, with gleaming eyes and glistening teeth shot downwards from the roof, and disappeared in the nearest patch of scrub, and the mangled remains of 1,361 mice were on view as evidence that something had happened to them, but no trace or fur of the other cat could be found and its fate remains a mystery, even unto this day. A gentleman from Kadina who had heard of these doings, and believed them not, drove out one evening to this same farm, bringing with him his world-renowned tiger-cat, that even dogs held in awe and no mouse ever wanted a second sight of him. The farmer begged him to return as he came— cat and all. But the man simply laughed at the idea, and, cat on shoulder, accompanied the farmer to the barn, which he was prepared to wager his cat would clear off every intruder before morning. But, when the door was opened, and under the dim rays of a lantern he saw the whole floor moving, the walls alive with a rarging wave of brown, extending on each side to the roof, and felt things running over his feet and up the wrong side of his trouser legs, he gave just one horrified yell and bolted for his trap, minus the cat that had gone before. He scarcely waited to untie the horse, or say goodnight, but made a record run back to the town, picking mice out of different parts of his clothes as he tore along, regardless of the Lights on Vehicles Act; nor ever gave one thought to his cat fill he saw that sagacious animal sitting on the doorstep awaiting his return. As food supplies began to diminish so also did snakes, chickens, and sleeping horses tails. The horses, of course, didn't do it a second time, and the chickens didn't get a second chance. The snakes had probably retired to their winter quartets, but a few neatly cleaned skeletons indiscriminately distributed about the plains were taken as evidence that they didn't all get there in time. When the cold weather set in the poor little mice began to huddle together for warmth; and it was nothing unsual to see heaps of grey as large as a sleeping dog (that should be allowed tolie) piled up under a bush or othe rplace of shelter; but they were not allowed to lie undisturbed, if there was anything handy to lay on to them. That, however, was the beginning of the end, for they simply ended their reign of terror by turning cannibal and eating each other, and the last end of those mice was worse than the first, and their nightly orgies were gruesome things to see or hear. It is a remarkable fact that unto this last act of the drama their voices were seldom heard is the land, but now their nightly squeaks were continuous, and on their former headquarters farm were always accompanied by the plaintive song of a little white mouse, the only break seen in the colour line: and the only singing mouse ever known on the Plains. So passed that never-to-be-forgotten invasion, the worst, by far ever known on the Peninsula, and within a few days, almost as quickly as they came, every mouse had disappeared unsorrowed and unsung, except for that ghostly little white mouse, and that left the surplus cats to be dealt with.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. No. XVIII.— LOCUSTS.
Prior to the mouse plague, hinted at in our last, a visitation of locusts early that same year, overwhelmed the district. Fortunately or otherwise, pressing business engagements in the north delayed their coming until about the middle of December. But they came then in clouds, and skyfuls, and finding the crops too far advanced to suit their tastes, lost no time in dealing with the gardens, which, in one short day, were stripped of every vestige of green. Tomato plants and pie melon trees were wiped out, root and branch. And Swedish turnips, pickled cabbage, lettuce and letus alone, were soon as though they had never been. Fruit trees and grape vines were denuded of every leaf, and sour grapes messed about to such an extent that even a fox would not have envied their possession. Having finished with the gardens, they turned to the fields, and cleaned out everything with a tinge of green, excepting only corkspur and stinkwort, for which they appeared to have a great respect, but no appetite. They went in swarms for a green painted reaping machine, and it was even stated that they attacked men on the machines for the green lining of their hats. They nipped off a few withered flags from me standing corn and then, in exasperation, went for the dry stalks. It was here that their fiendish ingenuity and satirical locustivity came into play. They found the dry straw too hard for their teeth, so brought their sawing machinery into use, and helped the farmer off with his crop in a manner surprising, if not satisfactory to him. It may not be generally known that each little locust has a little handsaw attached to its offside hind leg, and a similar one on the other leg also, and with these appliances in good going order, each locust would climb a straw until within about 6 in. of the head, and if in front of an oncoming stripper so much the better; and then cunningly guessing on which side the head would fall, would get on the other side and saw it off, and fall with it clear of the comb, and then get out and repeat the performance for pure enjoyment as it couldn't eat the hard grain. An expert sawyer locust, by using both hind legs in unison, could cut down two straws at the same time, and on piecework could often make as much as two bushels a day. Of them it could he truthfully said, as was remarked by one of the old: — 'They came; they saw; and they sawed it.' The poor farmer saw it too, but did not like it quite as much. It was amusing at first to see lame turkeys, tender-footed roosters, and other fowls chasing the locusts and gobbling them up as if each one was the very last, until a motherly old hen that really should have known better, grabbed a great bronze-winged locust nearly big enough for a lark, and probably thinking it would make good egg powder threw back her crested head and attempted to swallow it in one big gulp. But the locust must have got its saws to work cross-ways in her interior, as the died as soon afterwards as she could, with great convulsions and much regret, leaving a large family of small chickens to catch locusts for themselves. In response to an urgent call from the north, assisted by a powerful southerly breeze, the locusts left as hurriedly us they came. But a few weeks later on laid a short returm visit to the district, presumably for harvest settlement purposes, and quite naturally made their first settlement on the fields of their former activities. But the mice were there before them, and wanted all the ground space and the locusts had once more to climb the standing straw ; but this time not for fun, just as a protection from the roving mice below. Each little straw had its own little locust too, until what had been a great patch if white stubble, looked like a rich field of dark-headed wheat. So thought the enterprising farmer, who saw it in the gathering dusk, and came out with a firestick, and surrounded and set fire to it, and great was the fire thereof. Inhabitants older than the oldest, had never seen a homebred fire like it before. Despite his troubles and tribulations, that wicked old cocky nearly laughed himself into a fox trot, as he watched that long, steady line of rolling flame as it swept the field from fence to fence, and heard the cheerful sizzling of something more than the burning straw. Not a locust was to be seen in the morning, excepting only the millions of plump, red and nicely roasted little carcases that strewed the place where the stubble had been the night before. The mice also were supposed to have lost heavily in that engagement, but it was not noticeable among the hordes that were left behind.
After the locust came the mice, and after the mice came the cats, which was quite the right and proper order of things. But such cats, and in such quantities as had never before been seen on the Plains. For be it known, that from the very first appearance of stranger mice, cats had been encouraged to come, and to bring their families, and family connections with them, and to make themselves quite at home, where no restrictions were placed on their goings or comings, nights out, or musical entertainments, during which no man was allowed to disturh them with shotgun, boots, or chunks of flying rock. They bred sumptuously every day and sang uninterruptedly every night, and had just about the best time known to catalogy, until such time as the mice got the upper side of them, and dared them to lift their voices in song, lest peradventure it should reveal their hiding places, and maybe result in the loss of valuable fur, or even some of their nine lives. For weeks and weeks these poor cats lived in abject terror, not knowing what a day or an hour might bring forth in the shape of mice. But as the mice became fewer and beautifully less, the cats grew more numerous and more valiant, and day by day returned in increasing numbers to their respective or prospective places of abode, bringing all their friends and relations with them. Big cats and little cats, and cattings, tame cats, tomcats, and other cats, imported cats, assorted cats and pussy cats, old cats, wild cats, and catalegous with other brands too numerous to mention. Numbers of these bigger cats would be nearly as hefty as a tiger, and almost as dangerous when hungery, which they mostly always were after the mice had gone. Chickens disappeared almost as soon is they left the shell, and elderly poultry were forced to practice sprinting by day, and high roosting by night. Sucking pigs of great promise were nipped in the bud, while swine of larger growth were always liable to catsafterme when rooting up the front lawn, or pulverising the back garden. Even dogs, that from early puppyhood had treated cats with contempt and much unwarranted speed, had now to be most respectful in their actions and remarks when meeting these great, overgrown cats that usually hunted in picks. It was nothing unusual to see them 15 or 20 abreast, stalking a motherless calf through the cockspur, or giving an aspiring foal the chance of testing his speed in the open, while his delighted parents looked on from a safe distance. Man only was immune, and even he had to walk circumspectly, and mostly carried a shotgun.
Houses were overcrowded with domestic cats that, while making home life almost unbearable, had to be kept in hand to prevent irresponsible outside cats from crowding in and disturbing the family circle. But the nightly catterwauling concerts of these opposing cats, was something worth going a long way to miss. Cat called unto cat from the housetops or other points of vantage, and spat fire and defiance in every tone and language known to the feline race, seeming to refer to the great things they could have done to the mice had they thought of it in time, and the still more dreadful things they might do to each other if they were not careful. Men sat around with flrearms, while the women finished their never nearly finished work, and little children shuddered In their little catproof cots, and the faithful house dogs whimpered in whispers as they sneaked around the back fence with their tails between their legs, ready to start at a moment's notice or even less.
A Destructive Crusade.
A prominent resident, highly respected by himself and family, was at a late hour one evening returning from a trustee meeting, and had nearly arrived when he had reason to suspect that he was being followed by nine great tiger cats, and to make quite sure, climbed a tree to be the better able to see if there were any more such animals about, and saw 16 others coming in from the east, with several smaller ones in the background that he couldn't see just then. But before he could find a pencil, which he didn't have, with which to make a note on his shirt cuff unintentionally torn off in his hasty climb, a rabbit came hurriedly along, ahead of some other cats, and all the cats went all together to see where the rabbit was going, and the man lost his count and not being further interested in the matter, unclimbed the tree, and went into his own house without undue loss of time. The result of this bold and deliberate interference with the liberty of the subject, was a private meeting, which resolved itself into a vigilance committee of one with power to add and he at once proceeded to add up a list of assorted dogs that might be hired on right of purchase or perpetual lease for cat hunting purposes. Newfoundlanders, mastiffs, and Bernards, Sky terriers, pups and puppets, bulldogs, cow dogs, and cattle dogs, greyhounds, bluehounds, bloodhounds, and dingoes, Pomeranians, Spaniards, and receivers, wilh pugs, curs, and cutaways at lesser rates. But the list was promptly ruled out of order, as the cure might be worse than the cats. And it was unanimously resolved, and carried by a majority of one, that direct action be at once taken, each man to deal with his own cats according to his several abilities and their deserts, the motto being: — 'Smite and spare not.' So began the greatest cataclysm ever known to cats, the aftermath of the great mouse plague of the ninties. Cats were shot right and left, and sometimes with both barrels together. A youth with a single barrel gun, shot 19 cats in the backyard and other fatal spots, before breakfast, and bagged 36 more after some light refreshments. The slaughter during the first few days was simply appalling, 50 cats per man per day being considered only a fair bag. But after that the cats required hunting, and got it, too, until the remnants were few and far between; and some of those that escaped were so wild at the treatment received, that they have continued wild even unto this day.
Mrs. Smith-Jones had a rather exciting experience with her favourite tortoiseshell cat— an heirloom from the period of her grandfather's clock. This cat had already been shot four times, and had only five lives left when she gathered him in, and placing him in a parrot's cage, sent him to a friend in Moonta for safe keeping till the clouds and the cats rolled by. But that same nignt he was home and shot again. Next morning she inserted him in a dress basket, consigned to the station master at Gawler, to be left till called for. But on the second evening following, he returned and was shot some more. He was then handed over to a neighbour and tied up in a cellar, but chewed off his trapping during the night, and brought some more shot home with him. Next morning he was tenderly wrapped in tissue paper and carefully packed in a case, labelled: — This side up with care. This was addressed to the Mayor of Quorn, to be forwarded on to Oodnadatta by first available train, but on the seventh evening thereafter; this same cat strolled into its own backyard with a Quorn advertisment on a pice of ribbon aroud his nerk, and unmistakable evidence of having absorbed some more shot on his way home. Hostilities being then over, he was allowed to take his old place in the family, where he lived happily ever after.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. No. XIX.— SCHOOLBOY STRIKE
Recent happenings between school committees and Ministers of Education are painfully reminiscent of the great schoolboy strike at Paskeville, in the early nineties, details of which at the time appeared in the local pros — a Strike that took the plains from centre to circumference, paralysed trade and commerce in the district, and was even supposed to have had some effect on the weather. But to the credit of the boys, be it said, that although mighty issues were involved, the decision of which was in their own hands, they, took no mean advantage of the position, but conducted their negotiations and operations with dignity and decorum worthy of the occasion, the preservation of property and their patents being their first consideration. Although police troopers from Kadina and Port Wakefield visited the strike centre, they found nothing but law and order, and returned to the places from whence they came without arresting even a drunk. The trouble, as is usual in most cases of this kind, arose through a slight misunderstanding between the parties concerned. The boys' said that they wanted a new school, as the old one was shaky and unsafe for traffic ; and the school authorities, of the day said that they would have to want some more, as they had no spare schools in stock just then. The boys, in reply, mentioned that all the walls were cracking, the foundations were sinking, and the ceiling coming down, and the flooring going up; and they were sore afraid that an earthquake night bring the whole structure down some day and hurt the teacher when be wasn't looking; in which circumstances they positively declined to further patronise the building with their attendance. The authorities politely asked them to reconsider their decision, at the same time pointing out that at the building had never fallen down before, it would be against the regulations for it to do so now. So one word led to several more; the authorities were obstlnate, and the boys determined. They wonld not concede a single point, not brook any interference from parents or townspeople, but taking the matter in their own business-like way, promptly held a main meeting of the unschooled on the military reserve, opposite the central corner of the oval, and at a safe distance forn the school.
Mr. Smallboy, a veteran of nine summers and several winters, was voted to the kerosine tin chair, and in a telling speech reviewed the petition of affairs, the serioslty of which, he said, the general community did not fully recognise. Their action was unparalleled in the annals of history. The eyes of the world wire fixed on them; and their names would go down to ancestry as men who had dared to do the right, and even if they did not live to see it, their grandparents would have reason to be proud of their sons. The great annul strikes at Broken Hill dwindled into insignificance when compared with theirs, for they were fighting for honour, life, and learning, and his fighting motto was 'no surrender' with death before or after dishonour, and never put off till to-morrow what you need not do at all. He had several other mottos, but not quite so suitable for the occasion. He strongly urged them to hold out past the bitter end, and if the worst was worse than that, they would, like Samson, that grand old English general, entrench themselves in the old schoolhouse and perish in the ruins thereof ; but yield, never. He then read sereral letters and telegrams that he expected, but had not received from the principals of the various colleges and universities in the city, expressing sympathy with their heroic actions.
Mr. Johnny LittleBeggar said he did not lielieve in striking when the other boy was the biggest, but in this case, he would move that in the opinion of this meeting of free and enlightened citizens, it is belter to strike out than to be struct in. The feeling of the whole colony was with them, and he was prepared to go as far as mortal combat and if they pegged out on the old playground it would be in a whole cause, and not their fault either.
Mr. Joe Nutherboy expressed the opinion that chivalry alone, to say nothing of his finer instincts of their manhood, compelled them to adopt the action they had taken. For no gentleman of their mature age should enter a place where he would be afraid, or ashamed to take his sister, and that certainly applied to their schoolbuilding. Still, before doing anything rash, he thought they should consider their parents and other helpless ones dependent on them. He asked them to remember that most of them might, event now have been orphans, had it not been for their parents, and advised, moderation, or even arbitration if necessary. (Terrible uproar and cries off 'skunk,' 'blackleg,' and so on, which later expression he strongly resented, at the same time, indignantly pulling down his knickerbocker socks, to show that his legs bad been washed that morning.) When order had been restored, Joe said he was prepared to go the whole hog with them, or even a couple of pigs If need be; but yet he could not help thinking of the family of large parents who looked to him for sympathy and support in this their time of need.
The report of the defence committee was to the effect that the pickets had been witdrawn from the park lands where their attention has constantly being diverted by marbles and other things not connected with the business in hand, and furthermore the schoolhouse was on the verge of collapse, and needed no outside protection, and it woold be quite impossible to work the outhouses even in the contract system on account of creeps, which made it advisable to ceep as far away as possible. It was thenfore decided to continue a system of passive resisance, without strike pay, and to apply to the patents for rations, with the understanding that if supplies ran short the same parents should be put on hat! allowance. The strike went on, and it was not until after three- weeks ot strenuous idleness, intensified by low of lcs-ons, .homework, and parental authority, that these self-sacrificing lads reaped the reward of their doings. The authorities capitulated and admitted in effect that they had sinned and come far short of what they could do in that time, but the boys should have their new schoolhonse even if ther had to pay for it themselves, which, of course, they never intended to do.
In due time the new building arose on the ruins of the old, end stands to-day monument to the memory of the heroic lads who in time of need placed the needs of their parents and children before their own. Great was the rejoicing in commercial circles when the news came through that the strike was off. Flags even hoisted, and hawker's carts run out and prices run up to meet the demand; and to fittingly celebrate the occasion, an arbor day demonstration was held on the schoolground where trees were planted by parents and teachers and children led by the Chairman -of the Board of Vice, who congratulated the youngsters on the success of their efforts and also on the fact that they now had a new set of holes for treeplanting, and it they took care of them, these same holes might be used for that purpore for years to come. He mentioned George Washington— afterwards called the father of something — as the originator of arbor days and said that George took great stock in treeplanting. and had a famous cherry tree that had all kinds of fruit except cherries; and one morning George came out before breakfast to get some peaches off this tree, and found his father sitting astride the tree and chopping it up with his little new axe. George was very much grieved, and said, 'Who cut down this tree'' And his father answered him saying, 'My son, I cannot tell a lie; I cut the blamed thing down.' Wherefore George freely forgave his father because he was bigger than him, and they should all profit by his example and go and do likewise, or even more so whenever the opportunity offered itself, which he ventured to think was just about then, and in proof of which he asked them to give three hearty cheers for the Minister of Education and his department, who had been at the bottom of all this trouble. The cheers were given with heart and voice, and hats, after which the assembled multitude, led by a concertina, joined in that grand old anthem, 'For they are jolly good fellows; and repeated the chorus three times before the handle of tin concertina came off, and switched them off into "We won't go home till morning." After the address, Mr. Albert Palm, of Palm's Factory, Paskeville (now of Edilile, west coast) presented the school with a new flagpole to match the new building; and while this was being erected a man anxious to assist, clinched the old pole to get the top tacking down for the new pole, but on reaching the summit, managed to get his his hind feet tangled in the top gear, and in his struggles to free himself brought the pole, accompanied by himself, down on the head of the Chairman, who was quite conscious for several minutes afterwards and exprened his surprise at the pole breaking off as it did, a thing he had never known it to do before, and he had known it for 20 years or more. But taken all round, that first arbor day was a great success, and during many others that have fallowed since the same holes when cleaned when out, have been found to be quite as good as new, and new trees only are required to fill them up each year, while over and above all stlll stands that new flagpole proudly, the grand old Union Jack.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. ALLURING PICTURES. No. XX
— By our Local Correspondent.
About this time a few of the more easily dissatisfied residents expressed their disapproval of things in general and everything else in particular. The seasons were not what they used to be, nor the crops what they ought to be, and the weather was each year, becoming more trying and unreliable. Water carting was an unprofitable investment, and firewood, their former stand-by in time of need, was a rapidly diminishing quantity, with mallee stumps to follow. The land seemed to have lost its productivity, and through constant working had become thin and worn out and would require about a generation's rest to restore it to its former fertility, after which the same thing would probably occur all over again. And this they were not just then prepared to wait for, and accordingly decided on the spur of several moments, to seek fresh woods and pasture far, far away, where neither smut nor rust should interrupt, nor take, or break through and steal the little that the other two had left. They knew that distance lent enchantment to the view, and set out to find the enchanting distance.
One enterprising youth, after a prodigal-son sort of interview with his father, started right away with the half of nothing, that fell to his share, on an overland trip to the Northern Territory. Two years later his parents got word from him to say that he had reached Katherine (he didn't mention her other name), and speaking from time and memory, should say at a low estimate, that the Territory was about twice as big as all the rest of Australia put together with Green's Plains thrown in. The land was exceedingly rich in places, with grass about 10 ft. high, and full of blackfellows, buffaloes, and crocodiles. The blacks, as a rule, were peacefully inclined, and seldom, if ever, killed the same man more than once at a time in the same place. The buffaloes were fairly quiet when not in motion, but were risky things to intercept when on tap gear, on account of the number of horns on the front end of the beast. The crocodiles, however, were by far the worst things to deal with, as they usually slept under false pretences, pretending to be logs until some one stepped on them, when they would wake up and chase him around all the rest of the day, and if he climbed a tree, would either climb after him, or sit upon their tails and wait for him to come down. He had not seen anything like a farm, and only one bunch of wheat, but the stalks were so large that he mistook it for a cluster of bamboo saplings and tried to climb one to get a better view of the surrounding country, but this shook the stalk to such an extent that a wayfaring man, with a billycan full out of the top and hastily ex- plained that he didn't mean any harm, and had merely climbed up to got a few grains of wheat to have for breakfast. But taken by the large view, he thought the Territory had a great future behind it, together with several tribes of blacks and other wild animals as yet unknown to man. That was, of course, before the Hon. Thomas McCallum and his Dorts discovered the country and civilized it. Anyhow, this youth would not advise his people to come up altogether, until they heard from him again, which they are still waiting to do.
Marvels of the Wimmera.
In the middle of the meanwhile, nearly every able-bodied man in the district had been across the border to inspect the Victorian scrub lands of the Wimmera, and returned with glowing accounts of a veritable land of promise. The daylight was all that could be desired, with more rain and less heat according to the season of the year, and beautifully warm moonlight nights for winter use. In that distant land the soil was deeper, richer, and more durable than anywhere else on record, requiring less rain and usually getting more than that. Noxious weeds, grabs, and grasshoppers, were terms not understood across the borafer luie. Rust, smut, and takeall were quite unknown, and wild oats and cockspor would not thrive in a clime so fair : while wheat flourished amazingly, attaining a perfection unequalled in any other part of the globe. There the vine and the fig tree grew under, and all over each other. Peaches, quinces, and apple jelly hung temptingly on the same tree, while all kinds of native fruits in rich profusion grew. In that land beyond the border hens laid twice a day. if required, and roosters crowed not until they had reason to believe tbat daylight I was at hand, and the soft-eyed, bone-chewing cow, came in of her own accord at milking time, and sat on a cowstool to be milked. Crossbred sheep there were nearly as large as oxen, and were shown every quarter for wool and mutton chops. And even the swine of low degree and bad habits grow into a selfrespecting and socially disposed animal that could be utilized either for bacon and eggs, or for garden pulverizing purposes, when the family were not about. All other tilings teemed to have improved with distance. So alluring were these reports, and all backed up by duly authenticated statements from highly reputable land agents, who would never dream at doubting their own words and would he deeply hurt to think that any outsider might be rash enough to do so. In proof of which they would occasionally send along a photo of the Warracknabeal office, with horse and trap and agent, waiting for a tenderfoot to come along. As might have been expected, these glowing accounts quite upset the settlement for the time being, and it would have risen and moved off, as one man and several women and children, but for the lack of funds, and the steady inlluence of creditors whom they could not take with them, and found it hard to leave behind. But it was a great risk nevertheless, and weeded out many of the free and independents—men too good to lose and too determined lo be left behind. Clearing sales were great in number but not in results. The outgoing man had to take what he could get for his stock, and the other fellow mostly had nothing to buy with, otherwise he would not be staying behind. Horses, were sold, swopped, or left behind, and farms even were given away so as to get a free and unencumbered start.
On the Move.
There was great hustling to and fro, hurried preparations, and painful family partings, every one and his neighbour striving to get a flying start so as to be first across the border line. So anxious, indeed, were some of these goers that they occasionally started in the middle of the night so as not to hurt the feelings of their creditors, or subject them to painful and maybe protracted leave-takings in broad light, when they probably could not very well spare the time. In such a hurry was one of those late starters that in the darkest hour he would find before the dawn he capsized his waggon going down the Hummocks, but was travelling at such a rate that, although the waggon rolled over three or four times, it landed on its wheels again and proceeded on its ways without to much as the loss of a saucepan or a bag of chaff. He was not so fortunate, however, when he reached the Wellington, the ferry being on the wrong side ot the river, and he, in a hurry, he tried to swim his teem across, and reckoned he would have succeeded all right but for a couple ot overgrown codfish that came sailing down in a wire-netting craft of some kind, and struck his team amidship, turning Ihe leaders downstream, where be lost everything but his pipe and whip. But was he discouraged? No. He was not built that way and in less than 12 months after he was back with another team, and made no mistake that time in crossing. This exodus across the boarder is still spoken of as the great Victorian invasion of the 'nineties, and their is not the slightest doubt that if the South Australian farmers had been so minded they might have annexed for this State all the western portion. They simply came, they saw, and they conquered the mallee lands with a speed end dexterity that made the little Victorians sit up and take notice. They knew nothing of scrubrollers, firesticks, and stumpjmnpmg ploughs until they found themselves dodging these and oilier fearsome inventions being pushed along by this hardy little land of South Australians, the very first to introduce wholesale scrub clearing and stumpjumping implements Into the eastern States. Although they were not asked to do it, and in the light of after events some of them might have left it undone had they known as much as they nave never known since. Still, their names are worthy of being recorded as the men who pioneered the new methods into Victoria, and incidentally advertised from border to border a South Australian system that has completely revolutionised scrubfarming in Australia, and brought under cultivation within a few years millions of acres that would not otherwise have been dealt with for generations to come. Among the first across the line were Messrs. J. H. Hosking, A. J, Franklin, Joseph Mitchell. James Lowling, Edward Curnow, Edward Milkins, Rebert Staples, Thomas Harrop, Frederick Rodda, Frank Millie, John Woodward, Samuel Davies, William Roberts, George Skipworth, and Alfred Rodda, men who have all made good, but would have probably done equally as well here. A few years later on we sent another contingeut to open up Western Australia, where they are still leading the sandgroper from success unto success.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS; THE AGRICULTURAL BUREAU. NO. XXI.
It has been generally recognised and admitted throughout the Commonwealth that, South Australia, prompted and inspired by Green's Plains, has always led the States in agricultural discoveries and developments, the analysis and treatment of soils, creation and promulgation of new interests, production and destruction of obnoxious weeds, snails, grubs, and caterpillars, to say nothing of the weather and atmospheric conditions. But greatest of all our agricultural achievements was the establishment of that splendid freewill institution known far and wider even than that, as the 'Agricultural Bureau'—a purely local invention, designed and set in motion by men of no particular experience and less inclination for work. This statement may of course be open to contradiction, but we hope no one will be rash enough to contradict it. Anyhow, these gentlemen, by taking thought for to-morrow or the next day, could always tell the oilier fellow just how to work his land at a profit, and at his own expense, and it he made some small profit, which he mostly always didn't do, they could say unto him, "Now, did not we tell you so." In fact, they told him so many things, and in so many ways, that if he had been able to absorb and utilise all the information and advice showered on him the man on the land should have been as wise as a sea serpent and just about as hard to catch. These bureaus showed him by pamphlet and theoretical deductions, at a safe distance, how to get the most work into his land, and out of himself, in the shortest given time; also, how to work his holding upside down when it was too dry to work on top, or, better still, how to treble his production by intense culture, which meant simply setting his paddock up on end and working both sides at the same time, while growing a hay crop down the middle. These valuable hints were greatly appreciated by the man on the land, and mostly stimulated him to greater personal exertion and much mental worry, during which times he might either attempt suicide himself or to seek further enlightenment from the bureau, either of which events would greatly encourage that body, which began to assemble itself in divers ways and sundry places, and feeling itself to be a growing power in the land, eventually decided to come out in the open and the first business meeting of the "Wild Cat Branch of the Agricultural Bureau" is remembered with pride even unto this day, and was, with subsequent doings, duly chronicled in the local press, the circulation of which was greatly increased thereby. It might just here be mentioned that Professor Lowrie took a keen interest in the doings of this pioneering branch, whose illuminating deliberations greatly assisted him in firmly establishing the Roseworthy Agricultural College and incidentally, and later on, carried his fame and the professor to New Zealand, much to the regret and the loss o! this State. But the heroic little band who had paved the way for his success and fame, still continued to light up the agricultural darkness for the hardy tillers of the soil, and their, names should certainly grace the sliding scales of posterity, and other historical records.
Present at the first meeting were Alphonso Smith, Sandy McTrollop, Michael Kilbrogan, Johnny Verygreen, and Bill Myer. Alphonso Smith was unanimously elected Chairman on his own casting vote, and Sandy McTrollop vice-chairman, as he appeared to have considerable talent that way. Bill Myer appointed himself secretary, and Michael Kilbrogan, at his own request, was appointed lord high executioner and general chucker out. Johnny Verygreen offered his services as treasurer, but was informed that owing to his want-of-confidence appearance, and the general scarcity of funds, the Chairman would take charge of any money that happened to come within their reach. The Chairman, on taking his seat—which was a box—congratulated himself warmly on the position, to which he felt sure he would do the greatest credit. He briefly explained the objects of their branch, which was simply for the broadcast dissemination of knowledge throughout the agricultural length and breadth of the land. He then distributed several rain gauges, and asked members to place them in the most likely spots for rain, and to report results at each meeting. These were very necessary things on a farm, and no farmer could hope to be really successful without a gauge. Just to show them how to work the machine he gave the registration of his gauge from the time of its previous reading:—rain 6 in., frost 9 in., 4 in. of cloud, 2 in. dust, and 37 yards of wind. He tabled a magnificent cockspur plant of only four months growth, brought up without irrigation, and watered only during the first month. He had several other plants equally as good, on which he proposed to graft tomatoes, and if the experiment proved the success he expected It to be, it would place the hitherto despised cockspur plant right up in the front rank of fruitbearing trees, in support of which contention he handed round several packets of stinkwort seed, quite a new introduction into the district, and urged members to give it a thorough trial to see if it was really a noxious weed. He expressed his willingness and ability to answer questions. Sandy McTrollop wanted to know the proper time to plant split peas, and was told, "Just before or after rain, or maybe later on In the year." Johnny Verygreen asked if turnips grew from cuttings or from seed, and if they were indigenous to the soil, and, if so, where some of each kind could be procured. The Chairman said that the question was somewhat complicated, and involved several technical points, which be was afraid Johnny would not understand, even if explained to him.
Alphonso then gave a very interesting paper on wheat, which he said was first discovered by a man named Joseph, in Egypt, since when it had been considerably distributed around, and was now grown in several other parts of the world. There were several varieties, but the most common, as far as their district was concerned, was that known as wild oats, so called because it made men so wild to see it growing in spite of all their efforts to the contrary. It was undoubtedly the hardiest annual known to man, would stand any kind of treatment or weather, and would grow anywhere or anyhow, but always best where not wanted. There was another variety of wheat called barley, on which the ancients depended largely for bread, and some of the moderns for drinks. He wished that he had some just then to show them how it was made. There were several varieties, including drake, rye, speargrasa, and sheepweed, but the best variety to grow was real wheat, which was the hardest of all to grow. The Chairman asked for criticism on his valuable paper, and Sandy moved a vote of thanks, saying that he could not have handled the subject much better himself. Johnny Verygreen said he rose with pleasure and some pain—he had been sitting on the wrong end of a nail—to move an amendment. The price of wheat was not high enough by at least three bob, and he would be hanged if he was going to grow it for less than he could get and hay was not much better, as he had just sold 2 tons to one of his creditors, and could not even get a receipt for it; and his best horse had got out during the night, and if any of them saw it he hoped that they would have the manliness to bring it home, and not allow it to go loafing around the roads at the risk of getting impounded. Also his old red dairy cow had been missing for nearly a fortnight, and ought to be milked soon. After a warm discussion, Johnny invited them all to meet at his residence, Bullseye Park, for their next meeting, and to inspect his famous Poland China bull, a recent importation to the district.
GREEN'S PLAINS YARNS. CONCLUSION. No. XXII.
Before the old-time farmer, by bard experience and sporting chance experiments, discovered the secret of early fallowing, and the finer arts of cultivation, he was annually at the mercy of all hinds of crop reducing evils, among the worst of which was that still unexplained curse known as takeall, for although it did not take quite all. it usually took quite enough make all the difference between no profit and absolute loss. A crop might miss all the ills and perils of early planthood, and give a promissory not for an average of even as much as five bushels an acre, and the farmer man would smile on it day by day with cheerful anticipations of debts wiped out, and cash in hand. But while he slumbered and slept, takeall, like a thief in the flight, would worm its insidious way into the field, and within the twinkling of a fence post, plants would wilt away, or disappear as completely as though they had never been. Bare patches a few yards wide, and not too many yards apart, would show where the wheat had been, until within a few days the farmers' harvest prospects would be short and patchy as his wheat crop. All sorts of theories were advanced, tested, and rejected, and still the plague continued to take its full share of whatever little crop there was, and crops grew from bad to worse, and even worse than that. It was somewhere along in the nineties that agricultural Interests and results had got down to about the lowest ebb, when crops would scarcely pay for putting in and taking off, even when there was not much to take off, and land had practically no selling value, as few had the wherewithal to buy, and in any case would not buy land. In fact, in many cases, it could not even be given away on account of the liabilities attaching thereto.
A New Discovery.
About which time some genius (probably a bureau man) discovered great possibilities for dairying and stock raising by turning the chief product of the district—weeds—into high-toned and succulent ensilage, the making of which was simplicity itself; merely cutting all the rank vegetation about the farmyard. Noxious weeds for preference, the more noxious the better, then scrape together as green as possible, with empty tins, old boots, rags, clothes pegs, and any other rubbish handy to collect, and dump into heaps, stacks, pits, or underground tanks; then roll on it, jump on it, and tramp it solid and soak it thoroughly with water; then throw logs, and stones and earth on top to weight it down; after which it might be advisable for the more delicate members of the family to leave the dear old home for a few weeks till the thickest of the smell had rolled away, and even then it was not always wise to return too suddenly. Later on, when the mixture had become black, solid, and unrecognisable, the stock might be rounded up and fed on the smell of a chopped-out chunk or two; which taste of a smell was generally quite enough for the first time or two, and would usually keep even the worst bone-chewing old cow in the far corner of the paddock for the remainder of the week. It was certainly more economical for feeding than hay or cocky chaff; and although cattle did not seem to thrive too well on it, that was probably their own fault for keeping so far away from the stacks, and requiring so much driving force to run them up to their food. Horses took oven less kindly to the idea, seeming to prefer wild oat, hay, or even dry straw to the new and smellful mixture. Jones was a great enthusiast on the subject, and when Arnold McSmith one day called on him with his spring cart on his way to Kadina, and would insist on placing a nosebag of ensilage in the cart, for, as he said, "just a taste,", with the opinion of the horse and driyer later on," MeSmith protested 'strongly against this proffered kindness, as also did the horse, that taxed the strength of two men to hold him while the bag was being put in the cart, and when released shot off the mark like a Maud S. on the trotting track, and that sedate old horse, whose average pane was about five miles an hour, did the first six miles in 17 minutes, and the last four miles in 10 minutes, and on reaching the township bad to run himself into a atone wall to stop, and break the shafts off the cart. What McSmith told Jones on his way home is not generally known, but was something to the effect that ensilage was not what it had been cracked up to be.
The Coming of Super.
It was somewhere about this time of agricultural darkness that Mr. Edward Correll and Mr. John Cudmore, both of Minlaton, began experimenting with artificial land dressing known as superphosphates, which they predicted would revolutionise farming and treble production. But farmers generally smiled at the idea that 50 or 60 lb. to the acre of anything short of dynamite could have any visible effect on their crops. But these pioneers of superphosphates in one season abundantly proved their words, and the next year not only advised but assisted others to go and do likewise. Small quantities of super were procured, and in some cases were mixed with the seed and sown broadcast by band, and the sower usually took most of it home with him in his eyes, ears, and hair, and some more on his clothes. But results always justified the extra expenditure and washing, and it was not long before men were growing more bags to the acre than they had formerly grown bushels. This innovation meant seed drills, clearer land, and better cultivation, and inventors at once got busy on appliances for gathering up the over abundance of surface limestone that on many fields in those days was the chief obstruction to the finer working of the land. The Government was asked to encourage this laudable object, and did so by offering a bonus of £100 for a machine that would do the stipulated work, which resulted in several tests of stone gatherers, the most important of which was under the auspices of the Northern Yorke's Peninsula Field Trial and Show Society and was staged on Mr. J. C. Price's paddock, about 24 miles south of Paskeville, and attracted the attention of hundreds of farmers and visitors from near and far among the latter being the Director of Agriculture (Professor Angus), Professor Yedder, Agricultural College, Utah, U.S.A, Mr. D. H. Lafler, Chairman of Advisory Board, and Mr. Summers, secretary to Minister of Agriculture.
The machines were of various sorts and designs. One merely pushed the stones along in rows on either side for the gathering by-and-by, two others with flanged wheels picked up the pebbles and dropped them in carriers at the back, and still one other with steel comb coaxed the unsuspecting limestone on to a revolving belt that carried it up and deposited it in a detachable bin at the rear with a rattle that might be heard miles away, when the machine was on top speed. At a given signal the fleet of gatherers sailed into a piece of fallow land and a crop of stones calculated at about 20 tons to the acre, and In less than seven minutes the atmosphere for chains around was filled with thunder, dust, and stones. The sun was obscured from sight and chocolate coloured darkness overhung the field. Horses tried to break from their moorings at the fence, and men collided with each other while dodging bolting horses or chunks of flying rock. Unfortunately or otherwise one machine broke down In the middle of its stride and distress signals brought the others to a stop, giving the air a chance to clear and the spectators an opportunity of seeing what had been done. After several similar starts and exploits it was unanimously decided by the spectators that nothing ever witnessed in the district could raise more noise and dust to the square yard than those stone extractors. Even the gentleman from America was astounded at the magnitude thereof. The decision of the Judges was to the effect that while the machines had each done good work, foremost among them being that of C. H. Smith, of Ardrossan, von Bertouoh, of Kapunda, and Kernoch, of Eudunda, neither had quite come up to expectations, and out of the bonus they were awarded £20 each to cover expenses of trial, and to encourage them to still further efforts in that direction.
And so ended the trial that was the last heard of stone gatherers on the plains. With the introduction of phosphate and seed drills a complete change took place In the methods and results of farming, the land was worried to finer tilth, and bags to the acre of wheat was grown where bushels only grew before.
Ploughs spread-from two or three furrows, to light builds of 8 and 10 furrows, with corresponding expansion in cultivators and drills. The little mower and horserake gave place to twinebinders, and the old-time stripper and winnower were relegated to oblivion by the complete harvester, that reaps, cleans, and bags the crop in one operation. That faithful friend of the farmer, rite old spring cart, was superseded by the buggy, which in turn was run off the road by the motor car, and was not the only thing run off by the motors in their initial stages, for those early-day cars were not as silent and smooth, running as the cars of the present day, and it was no unusual thing to see half a dozen heavy wagon teams doing a sprint along the Ring's highway, while a little rudder-driven Oldsmobile, or Re Dion, chugged along the side of the trade at about 12 or I5 miles an hour, while the drivers on both sides expressed their opinion of each other in the most powerful language at their command; The farmers, of course, did not readily take up the new invention, and the experience of the first one was watched with interest. Before bringing his car home he had prepared for it a nice little galvanized iron shed, wherein it might rest in safety and escape the prying eyes of his neighbours. On arrival with the car, and in full view of the whole family, he made straight for the centre of the shed, and went clean through, taking most of the back part of the structure along on the bonnet of the concern but, without stopping, took a spin round the horse paddock to get the thing under better control, and saw, and ran over a couple of snakes, and a rabbit burrow, and some more snakes. When he finally pulled up within a chain of the sited with the intention of pushing the car in, he found a couple of snakes, uncoiling from the back axle, and the heads of three others looking out from the sides of the undergear. After which for a time he seriously thought of keeping the little thing for a snakecatcher. But those stirring times are now merely memories of the past, and these plains, that have all along led the way in pioneering hardships, and experiences, are now right up-to-date in agricultural achievements, an object lesson to all and sundry, and a most important part of one of the richest and most advanced agricultural districts in the State, where every man has a well-tilled farm (that is, of course, if he is a farmer), and every farmer a motor car; as was abundantly shown in February last, when over 1,000 well-cared for cars with their occupants assembled to witness the Northern Yorke's Peninsula Field Trial and Show Society's great annual trial of harvesting machinery.
The "Good Old Days."
Comparing the past with the row, one is led to exclaim with the Kipling of old—"Could but those early pioneers collect their late remains, and come up through the missing years and see once more these plains, where they with splendid youth and strength, were first to break the soil and spend their days to the full length in hard and weary toil. For work was then with all one's might, no eight hours even for sleep. Twas daylight saving then all right till stars began to peep. They cleared the land by sheer hard graft, and pushed a single plough, sowed seed broadcast by elbow craft and reaped it anyhow. While crops were growing they went elsewhere to earn an honest bob; just what the work they did not care, they'd tackle any job. When times were bad they did not fret, nor strike, or loaf about. The good things that they couldn't get they simply went without. They had no swiftly moving force to help them on their way. At best may be a working horse, spring cart, or bullock dray. And yet for calls of any sort they always were found game. And be the distance long or short they got there all the same. Now their descendants rush along in petrol-driven things, like Johnny Walker, going strong, and hoping next for wings. The scythe, the sickle, and the rake, with other methods slow, chapped hands, bung eyes, and work backache, are things of long ago. They sit down now to plough the land, sit down to reap the grain, and should a man forgetting stand, he soon sits down again. They till the fields with widespread gear, and bag the ripened corn, in one act with a harvester by horse or tractor drawn. What would a shady pioneer think of such carryings on. That is if shades could see and hear, and note what's being done. They sure would see a mighty change since they were round here last, but would they think it passing strange, or think it passing fast. Might they not to each other say—There's too much noise and fuss; it was not like this in our day; this is not (dace for us. Those chaps know how to move tilings through, they're quite upset the plain. We'd better get a move on too, and get back home again. And if a shade could wipe an eye or feel emotion keen, they would, or maybe, even heave a sigh for things that might have been. And dodging cars on the down grade, these pioneering braves, with less of sorrow than of shade would creep back to their graves.
DEATH OF MRS SKIPWORTH-RODDA.
The death of Mrs Emma Skipworth Rodda, which occurred at the residence of her son-in-law (Mr A. Rodda) on Thursday, December 10, removes a well known and in many ways remarkable Peninsula personality. Mrs Skip worth Rodda was born in 1843, and. was thus in her 83rd year. Her parents, Mr and Mrs John Rowe, left England in the sailing ship Stag in 1838. On arrival in South Australia Mr Rowe bought a block of land between Port Adelaide and the city, and built a mud hut, thatched with river reeds, where Mrs Rodda was born five years later. Subsequenty Mr Rowe bought land at Greenwith (Golden Grove) and here they met Mr George Skipworth, who in due course was married to the lady of his choice in Christ Church, North Adelaide, by the Rev. W. Woolcock, in 1863. Some time afterwards the couple came to Kadina and then took up land at Greens Plains. Mr Skipworth died in 1886, leaving, a widow and twelve children, ten of whom survive. Mrs Skipworth manfully carried on for some time, but eventually sold the farm and the family removed to Nhill (Victoria), taking up land there. After some of the children were settled at Nhill, Mrs Skipworth returned to Kadina, and in February 1903 married Mr Thomas Rodda and settled at Kadina. In 1915 Mr Rodda died, the ten children surviving, eight of whom are married. Mrs Skipworth, prior to her last and practically only illness, was well above the average height of woman and was sturdily robust, an idea helpmate to her pioneer husband. The honeymoon was spent in a wagon, and the couple spied out the land to determine where to settle, finally choosing a site near Boor's Plains. They lived in a tent for some time, and were often surrounded by camping blacks who demanded the usual flour, sugar and tobacco. By judicious friendliness the Settlers were able to avoid serious trouble with the natives. The water problem was a serious matter in those days, and distilled sea water had to be procured from Wallaroo. Rain water was caught in the canvas tent, and was carefully collected with a big spoon. A home was ultimately built at Greens Plains, and as the chidren grew up they helped in the manifold farm work Cattle and horses had to be taken many miles at first to water at the dams, and subsequently Mrs Skipworth also undercook the duties of pound keeper, Kadina was then hidden in the dense scrub, and but a handful of houses were built, but the growth of Wallaroo Mines soon gave an impetus to the progress of the town. Amusements were few and primitive, and a magic lantern slow was a great event, especially for the children. Mrs Skipworth was possessed of the courage and Will power essential to pioneering work, and despite her years was mentally and physically alert. She had the tenacity and sincerity of conviction and opinion inseparable from a strong individuality, and when the day of leisure came she took a keen interest in public affairs. Her independent character and outlook were shown in frequent contributions to the correspondence columns of the daily and local press when questions of public welfare were under consideration. She was kindhearted and helpful in every possible, way, and she will be much missed as a vigorous and charitable personality. She was an ardent Methodist, and a firm believer in the prohibition movement. On her 80th birthday, a reunion of the family took place at Kadina, and her childen and grandchildren from all over the Commonwealth assembled to the number of close on an hundred to do her honour. The funeral which took place at the Greens Plains cemetery on Friday afternoon, was largely attended, six of the grandsons being the pall bearers. The Revs. C W. Smith and J. Tiller officiated at the graveside Tho surviving children are:- Mrs Jos. Rodda (Hyde Park, Adelaide},. Mrs Alfred Rodda (Kadina), Meadames J. Camp W Judd and F. Judd (Ariah Park N.S.W.) Miss Skipworfh (Christ-church, N.Z.) Mr G. E. A. Skipworth.. (WalIaroo), Mr A. E (Skipworth (Yel-lana),Mr H. A. J. Skipworth (Buddingower, West Wyalong, N.S.W.) and E. W. S Slipworth (Nhill, Victoria). There are fifty-four grand children and thirty-seven great-grand childlen. The arrangements were in the hands of G. H. Haddy.
EARLY DAYS AT GREEN'S PLAINS. REMINISCENCES OF MR A. RODDA.
The Boor's Plains branch of the Agricultural Bureau endeavors to make its monthly homestead meetings as varied and attractive as possible, and with this end in view, invited Cr. A. Rodda (chairman of the District Council of Kadina) to give some of his reminiscences of the early days of pioneering, at a meeting on Thursday, September 7. Mr Rodda has had a wide experience in this respect, and the resultant address proved exceedingly instructive, especially to the younger generation of farmers.
Looking Back at 1872.
Mr Rodda, in the course of his remarks, first of all paid a tribute to the bureau system, which had been inaugurated by the late Mr Molineaux over 50 years ago, and also mentioned the '"Wild Cat Column" conducted by the late Mr Peter Allen in the "Kadina & Wallaroo Times'' of that period. The humor and wit of Mr Allen had : cheered many a farmer and helped him to carry on with the hard work of pioneering. That evening, said Mr Rodda, they were almost on the site of the house where he had slept for the first time in February, 1872, over 67 years ago, when he had been but a small boy. His father had built the old homestead, and the house in which they now were, was situated on a knoll thickly covered with big mallee, one of which was still standing at the gate. They could thus realise the many changes that had taken place. His father had paid £1 an acre to have the trees felled, and £4 an acre to make the ground fit for cultivation. Green's Plains land was much sought after, and his father had decided upon it because he wanted land with a good 'bottom." Hay was mostly grown because it was needed for the horses used at the Wallaroo Mines and at Moonta, and farmers carted the wood to the mines at 7/ a ton, and even as low as 5/6, with stumps at 6/ a ton when money was scarce. The land had been bought from Mr S. Lucraft, and in parts was covered with wild oats, especially near the house.
Using Single Furrow Plough.
With a single furrow plough 80 acres had been put in, and it had been very hard work. In the absence of fencing, it had been his task to keep the cattle and horses off the crops, and he still remembered the cold days when he had to keep his lonely watch. When about 12, he had attended school for one year at Watervale, and when it came to the decision as to whether he should go again, the matter was vetoed because his father and elder brothers could not afford it. There had been a year of bad drought, when the water had soon run out, and they had to use distilled water from the mines, or procure it from the soakage wells on the Wallaroo beach. Three loads had to be brought every week to keep the family and stock going, and a team was thus always on the road. Under these conditions money was scarce, but he was glad that he had had at least one year of tuition under Mr Cole, a fine teacher. Sir David Gordon had been one of his pupils.
From Single to Double Furrow.
The single furrow plough had not been a speedy implement, said Mr Rodda, and the average had been from 1.25 to 1.5 acres a day, and under those conditions 60 acres had been put under crop and several acres sown for hay. The next year they had a double furrow plough, which was quicker. The hay had been cut with a scythe, and raked with an iron rake, very hard work, and 30 acres of crop had been cut with the sickle, the bundles tied with straw, and then stacked. It had been very hard work for a boy, and at night they had been literally dead tired. The wheat had been placed on hard ground and threshed by horses and ponies going round in a ring. A neighbor had employed four men with scythes, the best man being put "forward" to set the pace. His father had then bought a grass cutter, 4ft. 6in., and he, the speaker, had had to ride the horse, as he was the lightweight of the family. The next year a 4ft. 6in. stripper had been purchased, which had taken four horses and two men to work it. In 1874 they had a good season, and 40 bushels an acre had been reaped. This had been off new scrub land combined with a good season.
Increasing the Holding.
Two hundred acres of land, at £2 an acre had then been purchased, and this had been cultivated with the two furrow and single furrow ploughs. This had gone on for several years, and then the survey for the railway had begun, as also the survey of Lochiel and Thomas' Plains. The countryside was then still wild, and only rough tracks led to Moonta and other places. Once off the track, and you were lost. Wallabies were plentiful, and fires had to be lit at night to frighten them off the crops. A Mr Walter Condell then had suggested that they cut down the scrub and grow wheat on the land. This was done, and the single furrow iplough had been used. The results had been wonderful, and 100 more acres had been put in. To the design of his brother, Mr T. H. Rodda, a stump-jump plough had been made by May's, of Wallaroo, and his attempt was certainly worthy of mention.
Boor's Plains Taken Up.
His father, said Mr Rodda, who had been a Cornish miner, had had no use for stony land, but soil with "bottom,'" and had found it at Green's Plains. The Daddow and Stanway families had taken up land at Boor's Plains, and the land had been gradually cleared and cultivated. What a change had taken place in the methods of cultivation. With tractor and plough they could now do 30 acres a day. In the old days the cart behind the harrows had been a life-saver. (Laughter). What a tremendous difference today, what with harvesters, auto-headers and other modern inaplements. It had been a long time before they got a harvester that did the whole job. The winnower had been considered wonderful at first, and now they had 14ft. auto-headers, binders, and what not else. Chaff-cutting then had to be done with horse-works.
The Old Days Gone.
The old days of hard toil had gone, said Mr Rodda, and nearly all the old implements, ploughs, etc., had been sent to Japan to be made into shot and shell. He and his brother Fred had bought in those early days a second-hand binder, following on the scythe period, and then taken on the new implements as they were invented. Speaking of the social life of the early days, Mr Rodda said that the families of that period were closer attached to each other. Church socials, picnics, tea-meetings, and other functions were enjoyed, where they played twos-and threes and kiss-in-the-ring. (Laughter). There had also been sports, although they had not had much time for cricket on account of the continuous work. A Kadina Show day was an event to be remembered, the site being in the east parklands, off the Alford road,. He believed that his wife (who had been the first white child born at Green's Plains) and he was the oldest surviving residents of Green's Plains. They had had their joys and their sorrows, and he could, not help paying the highest possible tribute to the mothers of those early days, who worked hard side by side with the men in bringing about the wonderful change they now saw, and who fostered the finer side of life in a rough period. He remembered the crowd at Kadina waiting the arrival of Governor Jervois in the rain, and the comment of the Cornishwomen when they saw him: "Ee beeand much to look at. I'ld sooner 'ave my man any day."
Problems of Wheat Growing.
"Well," concluded Mr Rodda, "they were hard but good times. We had plenty of toil and hard work, but with plenty of good food and sleep, hard work hurts no one. The young men of today should remember this. We had the loving kindness of our mothers, and their helpfulness, and we carried on alright. Today, if wheat prices had not failed, no one would be in trouble. But it is clear that we cannot produce wheat under the cost of production. We used to get from 5/ to 5/6 a bushel in the early days, and made growing pay, but nowadays one must have super to get results. Moreover, the price of land is above its real value, and this is a factor in the present condition of the farmer. We have lost at least £1,000 a year for the past six or seven years, and no one can carry on at that rate. However, we all are hoping that prices will improve (a minimum of 3/4 would be satisfactory) to the benefit of not only the farmer but the State and nation as a whole: and chief of all, is our sincere hope that the war clouds will soon roll away and peace come again.
GA2386 - State Records of South Australia Use Searching - Keyword Search - Green's Plains
Green's Plains West School, later Thrington School
Date Range: c 1875 - 1959 Inventory of Series Description
On the 16th January 1875 a School Reserve was granted to the District Clerk of Green's Plains West in the Hundred of Kadina. (1). A Declaration of Trust was signed by the Trustees on the 1st February 1875 for the designated land situated in the north eastern corner of section 32, in the Hundred of Kadina. (2)
In 1876 an application to increase a Board of Education grant was made to the Minister of Education and Agriculture by the District Clerk for Green's Plains West for the erection of a second school building. Notification was given that the request would be approved once the land was transferred to the Council, in accordance with the provisions of the Education Act 1875. (3)
The school was officially opened by James Goldsworthy in 1878. (4)
In 1884 correspondence between the Minister of Education and the Chairman of the Green's Plains West Residents Committee discussed the need for a school in the south west of the Green's Plains district, one of the reasons given for not opening a new school in this area was the existence of the school at Green's Plains West. (5)
At some point in the late 19th century the school was closed, although no evidence at the time of writing has been found as to why.
In 1896 an official application was sent by parents residing in the Hundred of Kadina to the Board of Education requesting that the school be reopened as the Paskerville or Copper Hill Schools were too far away for regular attendance. This request was approved by the Board and an opening recommended as soon possible due to the number of children in the district not receiving an education. (6) The Green's Plains West School was re-opened in 1898. (7)
In 1916 a grant was approved for the dedication of section 676, to the east of the Green's Plains West School, for school purposes. (8)
In 1922 the east wall of the school was reported as 'much cracked' and in a 'very dangerous condition', and the school dwelling house was reported to be in a bad state of repair and infested with white ants. The Architect-in-Chief recommended the dwelling house to be demolished and the school room portion to be repaired. The work was completed in 1924. (9)
Damage caused by white ants continued to be a re-occurring problem and in 1932 the School Committee secretary appealed to the Education Department for further repairs due to extensive white ant damage remarking that repairs had not been made for several years even though the Education Department were legally obliged to spend set annual amounts on repair. Work was completed in 1933. Further white ant damage was reported in 1936 to skirting boards and window frames and the school floor and repairs were undertaken in 1940. (10) Several references are also made to white ant damage in the 1950s. (11)
It is unclear when the school became known as Thrington School, or if there was an official change of name, although it is referred to as Green's Plains West and Thrington in the official records at least as early as 1916. For example, section 676 was referred to as part of the Thrington School Reserve in 1916 (12), and the Architect-in-Chief referred to the School as Thrington School in 1938. (13) Manning Index records a name change in 1942. (14)
In 1956 the Education Department recommended the temporary closure of 16 small schools including Thrington School. This was due to a shortage of teachers in South Australia to fill 79 vacancies. The schools were to be left without a teacher and the children allocated to nearby larger schools. Parents were assured that this was an emergency measure only and when at a later date the supply of teachers improved, the schools would be reopened should the parents want this to be done. In the case of Thrington School it was proposed the children would now attend Kadina School. (15)
In the August of the same year the teacher records that a 'notice of closing' was received and it was decided at a parent's meeting a few days later to send a 'deputation' to Adelaide to try and keep the school open. (16)
On the 6th September 1956 the School Journal entry records the school was 'temporarily ... cleaned and locked up.' (17).
In the case of Thrington School it was proposed the children would now attend Kadina School. In December 1957 the Inspector of Schools reported that the parents were happy with this arrangement but none of them would like to see the school closed permanently. (18)
The school officially closed on the 31st January 1959. (19) However, the school Admission Register shows that no children were admitted to the school after 6th September 1956. (20) Upon the closure of the school, the remaining students were admitted to Kadina Primary School.
(1) GRG18/2 File 1867/1916
(2) GRG18/113 Bundle 107
(3) GRG18/1 File 36/1876
(4) GRS 14281/1/P, see photograph of commemorative plaque.
(5) GRG 18/1 File 2082/1884
(6) GRG18/1 File 1127/1896
(7) See photograph of memorial stone recording the school's official opening and closing dates, GRS 14281/1/P
(8) GRG18/2 File 1867/1916
(9) GRG18/02 File 1291/1922
(10) GRG 18/2 Files 441/1932 and 1617/1940
(11) School Journal GRS 14279/1/P
(12) GRG 18/2 File 1867/1916
(13) GRG 18/2 File 441/1932
(14) Manning Index, URL: http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/manning/pn/g/g9.htm#greensP, accessed 04/04/2012
(15) GRG 18/2 File 7250/1956
(16) School Journal, 22/08/1956, 27/08/1956, GRS 14279/1/P
(18) GRG 18/2 File 7250/1956
(19) GRG18/2 File 4617/1958
(20) GRS 14278/1/P
Contents Date Range Series Date Range Number of Units Public Access Series Id Series Title
1918 - 1956 1918 - 1956 1 Open GRS/14278 Admission register - Green`s Plains West, later Thrington School
1922 - 1928 1922 - 1928 1 Open GRS/14280 Teacher`s examination register - Green`s Plains West, later Thrington School
1952 - 1956 1952 - 1956 1 Restricted GRS/14279 School journal - Green`s Plains West, later Thrington School