Lawrence's Yorke Peninsula Tour,
[By J. Randall of Watervale.]
On Sunday Jan. 30th., 1949, with a pleasant breeze blowing, a party of tourists left Clare at 9 a.m., under the guidance of Mr. H. Lawrence for a tour of Yorke Peninsula Stopping at Seven Hill, Watervale, Leasingham and Auburn to add to the number, the complement reached thirty six, all out to see and enjoy what there was offering. With a printed itinerary containing, interesting data as to mileage and educational points, for each little party, the bus was headed for Balaklava. En route were seen great yackas, with their black sticky rearing like sentinels, and out of which teemed hundreds of rabbits on the return trip, just before Sunset.
As the top of the range was mounted, a view of the plains, with Balaklava to the left and Snowtown to the right, came into sight. Some of the richest farming land in the State was seen, where failure is rarely known, but further along the onion weed seemed rather prolific. Through Halbury speeded the party where great wheat stacks were ready for loading. Mallee and pine trees varied the scenery. Dead and scorched mallee trees bore testimony to the disastrous fire that swept the country last year as far as Rhynie. The railway line which was crossed six times in five miles, accompanied us to Balaklava. The bus slowed down to view the 'Devil's Garden', this is a very low lying part and derived its name from the fact that it was the order of the day, when wheat carting, to be bogged in this mire. Across the way was the relic of a school, which had its origin in 'Devil's Garden' but after a flooding, when the water entered the school to such an extent that it reached the top of the desks, it was thought expedient to make a move. The River Light when crossed was quite dry. By making a detour of two or three miles, as the Balaklava Bridge was undergoing repairs, the town itself was reached, once the leading agricultural town of the State.
R. J. Finlaysons Butter Factory was passed where butter, which had secured Champion Prizes, had been manufactured. Balaklava has a very fine Hospital, quite a good golf course and the best country race course in the State.
A milk float on its round, caused our genial driver to call 'anyone want a milk shake.' An enormous iron shed evoked 'the remark 'who wants to build a home?'.
For 16 miles a straight road was traversed parallel to the railway line. The East-West line was crossed at Bowmans. Here the country was very dry and crops are erratic, this year beautiful, and next year nothing'. The 'simple life' was demonstrated by a caravan on the wayside. Saints Railway Siding showed great wheat stacks. At Bowmans an unusually long goods train was in the yard, almost stretching it seemed to the next station. Someone remarked that the guard would need a field telephone for communication with the engine or else a bike. Live 'Kangaroos on Paraded' caused comment. A spur line of the Adelaide Electric Light on its way to Melrose through Blyth was of interest. This will eventually supply Clare. Feed in paddocks was very sparse even the old Scotch thistle straggling for existence (no fear of bush fires.) This tyne of land brought us to Pt. Wakefield, where Mr. O. Barber from Lochiel who is married to Mr. Bill Coles' twin sister, Alice, of Periwortham, joined the part. Mr. Barber told us that Lochiel was named after that particular town in Scotland as the view to the gulf, looked like so many lakes.
A drink and 'a bite' was taken by some at Mrs. E. Roberton's Tea Rooms. A few drops of rain fell but that did'nt dampen the party's spirits. Now limestone and all salt bush make the country very uninteresting. The line to Kadina was crossed. Tobacco and Cranbury bushes loomed up now and again.
The Eastern Coastal Road was taken from Pt. Wakefield and the sight of the gulf all the way to Edithburg was most refreshing and a joy. The white crested waves and the varying cliffs called forth joyous ejaculations time, and time again. Through Pt. Clinton and on to Pt. Price. A beacon at the entrance to the Creek, running from the Gulf to Price was clearly visible. Into this creek, which is quite narrow but very deep, come ketches to load salt which is refined at the works there. Into great square 'pans' the salt water is pumped and left to evaporate. The salt is then scraped, great elevators moving back and forth, build the salt heaps like pyramids. Miss E. Lawrence bade the party farewell and was 'picked up' on the return journey at Arthurton. Mr.' E. Sanders grocery store was passed. He is a cousin to Mr. F. L. Sanders of Clare.
Quite a nice camping area was a hive of industry. It was apparent that even babies camp. Great mangroves edged the sea, while high cliffs were on the off shore side of the road. Nearing Ardrossan, a touch of home was introduced. The midday news was switched on. Lawns and pines grow down the centre of the Main street of Ardrossan, which was reached at 12.10 p.m.
From the jetty, a good view of the town situated on very high red bare cliffs and the great stacks of wheat, was gained. At hightide one could imagine the sea just booming against those cliffs. Quite a number of visitors and locals seemed to be engaged in the art of crab' catching and cooking. Poultry farmers would shed dry tears at the amount of wheat spilt and going to rot on the jetty.
At 12.30 p.m. a picnic lunch was enjoyed. Leaving Ardrossan, the road became like the 'big dipper' and' the younger ones enjoyed the thrills even if the older ones did'nt. Pine 'Point with its white gleaming beach, boasted of more wheat stacks; viewing a dilapidated bag place a remark came forth that 'boarders were taken in.' Pt. Julia's beautiful beach and cliffs would be hard to surpass. Here the crops grew within a few feet of the cliffs' edge.
Pt. Vincent the popular peninsula holiday resort, where some Clare and Hilltown people are at present staying (Mrs. T. Butler being among them) was inspected for one hour and a quarter. Two members of the party enjoyed a swim in the briny, while some partook of refreshments. The fishing fleet at anchor was an impressive sight. There are two Members of Parliament with holiday homes here. The holiday shacks, built from Lime bricks and roofed in tiles, are in great demand even at the price of £3/3/0 for a room. The Shell and Plume Co., are the opposition. The petrol is pumped direct from the ketches to the Companies tanks and the Peninsula is served from here.
At Stansbury barley is loaded by chute from the stacks to the ships. The coastline in these parts is very rugged. Built at Klein's Point is the Adelaide Co. Cement Quarries, where the stone is blasted, crushed and loaded for Pt. Adelaide by a conveyor belt. The detonator house was guarded by earth banks. Wool Bay, a very popular beach in these parts also had the wheat stacks, which were by now a familiar sight. Coobowie Bay sported a very fine Memorial Playground which incidentally was being officially opened on Australia Day holiday. Here the absence of cliffs is most marked. From cliffs hundreds of feet high to level ground seemed a great contrast. A solid bridge made of stones with sea each side was traversed. Riddle. How does the water get through? A great mass of great black swans were enjoying the water. Edithburg was reached and here the party divided six men staying at the Troubridge Hotel. The light house on Troubridge Shoal seemed almost to touch us. Here many ships have gone to their doom. Those who desire first hand information of the high-jinks with the top-less top hat and the sing-song must get in touch with Messrs Charlie Rucioch and Tom Rucioch and Tom Griffin. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately I was not present. The rest of the party journeyed onto Yorketown where rooms where allotted at the Melville Hotel and tea more than welcome. Yorketown was voted a very nice town with an excellent shopping centre. Quite a few people visited people known to them in the town — Rolie Sobels, Bob Wurfel, Mr. and Mrs. Cope and Mrs. Hahndorf — all from our own part of the globe.
After breakfast on the Monday most were aboard for a return to Edithburg, to view the town and to 'collect' the 6 men. Between Yorketown and Edithburg there was a remarkable number of stone homes in all stages of demolition and it was particularly noticed that they were all of that style of architectural design which built the fire places on the outside of the home. Salt lakes were at quite frequent intervals, Lake Fowler being quite a large one. Near here seven roads meet. Edithburg has a very fine Memorial Garden in the Main street with artistically arranged fir tree arches. On a plaque it reads: — 'Matthew Flinders R.N. 1774-11814, Commander of H.M. Sloop 'Investigator' on 24th. March 1802 discovered and named Troubridge Hill after Admiral Troubridge of the Admiralty and on 1st. April named Troubridge Shoal. Unveiled Pioneers Day 1948.'
The familiar sight of great stacks, this time barley, was evident. The tourists wandered at will round the town and all were struck by the beauty, of St. Margaret's, Catholic Church. It is built of limestone and cobbles, which have been left in their natural state and the piecing together has take in much thought and loving care. It is sad to see towns that have been such hives of industry going into a backwash. This seems to have happened to Edithburg. The great buildings: that housed the works for table salt, epsom salt and caustic soda making stand silent and grave. A return was made to Yorketown for lunch. A substantial collection was made for the solitary waitress, who did such a splendid job in such an efficient manner. Thanks are expressed to Mrs Maxwell, hotel proprietress for he hospitality under rather trying circumstances. At 1.15 p.m. we bade farewell to this progressive town Yorketown, Lake Sunday and Monday Lake were seen. Throughout the Peninsula a very familiar sight is the stone fences. A surprise came when a fence was sighted made of Sheoak (a brush fence quotes Keiths Symons). Corny Point was seen in the distance, also Port Minlacowie. Miles and miles of limestone and still miles and miles haunter us. Someone must have had the backache forming these great mounds. Up loomed Minlaton, where one of the finest Town Halls in the State stands. This town also had a garden in the centre of the Main Street. Quite a number of residents seemed to be enjoying a game of tennis on good courts. An old steam engine used years ago in the shearing time stood forsaken in a paddock. A. E. Hall & Go's Aerated Water Factory was passed. The homestead of the late Harry Butler, airman, was glimpsed. Passing one farm house, Mr. Lawrence had vivid recollection of being attacked by a fierce dog when delivering fruit.
Mt. Rat, so called, I couldn't ascertain as there was no mount and or rat visible, boasted of an hotel that never closes — the doors and windows were gone. This hotel had been used in the days of horse coaches as a change station. Wardang Island, a ship's graveyard, was sited. Windmill heads had the alternate fans painted. At a distance it can be seen whether the mill is working or not (information by Freddie Wyman, best known as the fox shooter.) Sandhills, which looked like snow on a mountain stood out among the green of the mangroves and salt bush.
Port Victoria was reached, here a quarter million bags of barely stood ready to be loaded into a wind jammers. Another garden street and a Town Hall built in 1888. The swimmers were delighted with the bathing facilities. A ketch 'Jillian Crouch' from Port Adelaide was in shore and all strolled up the jetty to view her. An inspection was made, and by the look of the refrigerator, the occupants do themselves grandly. The Captain's Bridge was quite an interesting place and the binoculars gave a chance of inspecting Wardang Island. After an hour's break, on again. Large stone underground storage tanks seem to be the order of the country. At South Kilkerran it was thought a camp might have to be made in the mallee as the bus misbehaved for a few minutes — but no, everything is alright again. Maitland, originally named Yorke Valley, is a municipality, and boasts a Mayor. It is spoken of as the capital of the Peninsula, and is a most prosperous centre. Some visited Noonan's hotel. Along a road straight for 25 miles skipped the bus. This road leads to Moonta. Past Arthurton, up Shilling Hill, and then miles of a glorious avenue of mallee. It bad now become a refrain 'more stones'. Looming up comes Melton, the first railway station on the actual Peninsula. A family of goats were seen browsing. Kulpara flashes by; a sight of the Hummocks tells us Pt. Wakefield is near. Radio news announces the fire at Neagle's Rock and the towns who 'came to the rescue'. It is getting towards sunset and the rabbits are frolicking. Chatter is getting leas as few by few leave the party. Clare is reached at 7. 30 p.m., having travailed 302 miles. A hearty vote of thanks to Mr. Lawrence for making possible such a grand tour. Those in the party were: —
Mr. S. Blight, Mr. T. W. Sobels and James (Watervale), Mr. and Mrs. Ramm (Stanley Flat), Mr. and Mrs. A. Heinrich (Black Springs), Mr. Munchenberg, Miss M. Burgess (Watervale), Mrs. G. Randall (Watervale), Mrs. H. V. White (Burra), Mrs. M. E. Hill (Burra, Mr. and Mrs. Mattner (Auburn), Mrs. L. Nieks (of Bondi Sydney), F. Wayman (Sevenhill), J. H. Guy, tut,. Mr. and Mrs. G. Giles. Mr. T. Griffin, Mr. 0. Barber (Lochiel) , Mr. M. Catford (Leasingham), Mr. O. Burford and Bruce (Leasineham), Mr. E Burford (Watervale), Mr C. Rucioch,, Miss E- Lawrence. Mr. G. Simpson, Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Glaetzer, Mr. H. Lawrence.'