SYMBOLIC OF CHANGING WAYS
Historic Landmarks On Yorke Peninsula.
ACROSS Yorke Peninsula from Port Vincent to Port Victoria, down its length from Kadina to Cape Spencer, ancient landmarks, reminiscent of the Peninsula's past and symbolic of its changing ways, may be rediscovered by the tourist on a leisurely trip.
These old relics are full of interest if you care to brush the dust of the years from their history and learn their story from local residents with long memories. These old men, who live mostly in the past, will point out the crude homes of pioneers which are making way for modern houses. They will tell you that romance and tragedy still lurk behind crumbling wall and sagging roof— romance of the pioneering days, tragedy of failure, of families banished from their farms only to see their lost land yield prolific crops when super, wrought its miracle to the Peninsula wheatlands. Apart from well-known landmarks on the beaten track— the historic mines at Moonta and Kadina, the salt lakes and some of the larger industries—the peninsula is dotted with lesser known relics whose histories are no less interesting. Out from Maitland along the Yorketown road, old milestones, carefully preserved, lessen the journey as their friendly white forms roll by. Mail boxes scattered along this monotonous stretch seem friendly.
The silence which shrouds the old Mount Rat hotel, out from Urania, is in strange contrast to the noisy revelry that woke the echoes years ago when the hotel was a popular rendezvous with teamsters on the long trek. Only a few walls remain today, but green kalsomine clings stubbornly to the rums as though it would retain something of the hotel's gaudy past. Opposite is the Government tank, where thirsty horses drank.
Past Minlaton the famed salt lakes appear along highway and byroad, their surfaces shimmering like mirrors in the sun. White heaps of pure salt blaze crystal highlights, and soft pink tones lend some of the lakes an unreal beauty.
Having seen reference to the Emu waterhole at Curramulka, I decided to find this unique rock-hole from which a town derived its name.
Strangely enough, despite the fact that the hole formed the basis for a publicity campaign to attract visitors to recent celebrations, and that most residents can tell you all about it four people were unable to direct me to it Each pointed in the direction in which he supposed it to be, and no two directions coincided. The fifth man told me vaguely that it was 'somewhere on May's property.'
I found it finally, a hole 5 ft. in diameter in a solid ledge of rock. Mr. May remembers the days— 60 years ago— when blacks dipped water from the hole and emus came there to drink in the soft light of the setting sun. The blacks knew the locality as Curramulka — Emu waterhole — and the town that grew in the hollow a mile away still retains that name.
Twelve miles away, in the very heart of Port Vincent, I was shown the ruins of the home built by Captain Chase, explorer and earliest settler. On one occasion Chase lay in this house seriously wounded while his wife attempted to drive away hostile blacks who stalked around the home. Here, too, died Augustus Craigie, hero of the terrible bushfire that swept across Yorke Peninsula on December 20, 1869. In the local cemetery is a stone erected to his memory by public subscription.
Stansbury boasts the longest wheat chute on the Peninsula, down which bags shoot from the cliff top 80 feet above. The bags are loaded on to trucks and hauled along the new jetty, which points scornfully in the direction of its predecessor — ancient and long since condemned.
Further down the coast, at Wool Bay, the 100-leet high tower, symbol of the Peninsula lime industry, offers a magnificent view to a visitor energetic enough to climb the steps leading to the top. Rugged coast and sparkling sea are spread out in a panorama to the horizon. Fishing boats sail like toys across the varying greens; cars and people below are dwarfed to miniature proportions.
Coobowie's chief landmark is a jetty composed solely of loose limestone dumped into the sea. Thousands of tons of stone must have been used in construction.
Edithburgh is something of a ghost town industrially, for the glamor of past activity has departed from the salt industry. A smokestack pokes its long inactive finger into the blue sky; the strange silence of dormant industry pervades the barn-like buildings, but with fine optimism the residents will tell you that the salt will boom again.
Down by the jetty the gypsum tower reminds one of another phase of industry, and the salt is accumulating on the lakes — hundreds of them, gleaming a promise of luture prosperity. So perhaps Edithburgh may yet regain something of its former industrial importance.
Out across the water Troubridge Island lies like some great cruiser, its lighthouse and scattered buildings clearly visible in the crisp afternoon light. In the local cemetery are the graves of me 40 men who perished when the Clan Ranald sank in fourteen fathoms on January 31, 1909.
Following the coast from Edithburgh one finds many interesting landmarks. The gypsum works, strangely isolated at Stenhouse Bay; the old 'plaster works' at Inneston, now in ruins; romantic Reef Head and its wrecks; Pondalowie's famed Middle Island and the great white sandhills that tower beside the track, reminiscent of the sandhills of the interior.
Back at Corny Point, with the sun a flaming golden orb dipping into the sea, I watched the white plaster walls of the picturesque lighthouse reflect the changing colors of sunset. Gold, scarlet, and deep cerise washed across them, changing their moods like expressions fleeting across a sensitive face. Gulls wheeled, screaming; the sun's last rays lit twinkling candles in the glass windows; the sea roared against ancient rocks in a constant roll of sound. It was a glorious scene.
A mailbox on the Yorketown road. In the background are the ruins of the Mount Rat Hotel. photos