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  • minlaton

Minlaton - SA. A Brilliant Blend

Located 197 kilometres west of Adelaide and 88 metres above sea level, Minlaton is the main service centre for the surrounding rural districts. Offering a variety of facilities for travellers venturing to the 'bottom end' of Yorke Peninsula, Minlaton is a picturesque township with wide welcoming streets.

The town was originally named Gum Flat because it is the only area of the Southern Yorke Peninsula where red gums grow naturally. The name was changed to Minlaton, which is derived from the local Aboriginal word 'minlacowie' which means 'sweet water'.

The area was settled in the 1870s by farmers who found the conditions ideal for growing wheat and barley and the grazing of sheep. Today this small township promotes itself as 'The Barley Capital of the World' and offers many facilities for locals and tourists alike.

District Council of Yorke Peninsula - History of Minlaton

In its early years this locality was called Gum Flat, it being one of the few places on Yorke Peninsula where large trees grew.

There was an aboriginal well in the vicinity which the natives called "Minlacowie" and which meant "Sweet water."

The name is said to be derived from the aboriginal Minla and the Anglo Saxon "Ton" which meant "Town"*
* Place Names of Australia

Minlaton is the centre of a large industrious agricultural district. Two other towns come under its auspices namely Port Vincent and Curramulka. It is noted for its agricultural show.

In 1956 the Department of Mines, as part of an oil exploration programme, drilled a depth of 994 metres (3261 feet) to Cambrian rock, but there was no indication of oil*. *The Geology of Yorke Peninsula. Page 83.

A Mr John Cudmore, whose farm was hereabouts, began experimenting with phosphates in 1889. In 1892 he brought the first drill into the district and by sowing his weat with 38.1 kilograms to .405 hectares (1 acre) he increased his yield over 500 percent. This was the beginning of a new era for the farmer. Mr Cudmore later became an agent for the Adelaide Chemical works and by his industry and initiative the whole of the State benefited*. *The Cyclopedia of South Australia. Page 865.

On the northern side of the town is a memorial to Captain Harry Butler and his "Red Devil" Bristol monoplane; a local boy who joined the Royal Airforce and became Chief Flying Instructor for the R.A.F.

He returned from the war decorated with the Air Force Cross and brought with him an AVRO biplane and a Bristol monoplane. In 1919 he flew the Bristol from Adelaide to Minlaton for the local people to see.

Minlaton - SA Memory

Area before establishment of the township Robert Cock and Surgeon Jamieson explored in the vicinity of Coobowie (the heel of the Peninsula) in 1838, but reported that the soil was not particularly fertile and there was a lack of running water. The following year, in June, two special surveys were conducted at Port Victoria and Port Vincent. While there were some preliminary land sales, the survey had no lasting effect and 'died a natural death' (Cook p. 5). In 1843 a second exploration of the lower peninsula was undertaken by William Robinson. He had overlanded stock from New South Wales to Adelaide in 1841, and subsequently taken up land on the River Wakefield, as well as further north at Hill River. Robinson landed at Oyster Bay (Stansbury) exploring from there, but his report was unflattering. Again the lack of surface water was a key factor, but the heavy scrub and sheoaks meant that 'not one acre of land [was] fit for cultivation' (Cook p. 5)

In 1846 Alfred Weaver sent his employee Charles Parrington to select grazing land. Parrington chose Oyster Bay and became the first white man to live on the Peninsula. He subsequently advised Thomas Giles and George Anstey to take up the Gum Flat Run which extended from Moorowie to Port Victoria, covering 167 square miles. Subsequently pastoralism thrived on the Peninsula. From 1855 farmers began to claim a precarious foothold on the coastal fringes particularly near Surveyors Point (Port Vincent) and at Black Point. Stephen Goldsworthy notably held freehold farming land as well as pastoral leases, but by the mid 1860s there were still only 67 acres sown with wheat, and the total yield was only 374 bushels. (A further 90 acres were planted for hay.) However, against this there were 135,554 sheep and 1,578 head of cattle in addition to nearly 1,000 horses.

Minlaton surveyed
But men were looking for farm lands, and the large leaseholds on the Peninsula were targeted. The first surveys were conducted in 1869 in the Hundred of Melville. In 1874, Giles and Anstey at Gum Flat Run received notification that their government lease was to be resumed, and the land to be surveyed and sold to farmers. The Hundred of Minlacowie was proclaimed on 26 March 1874. New town and suburban allotments were surveyed at Gum Flat Run, and the name Minlaton chosen for the settlement. By March 1876, the survey of the town was completed, but the sale of blocks was delayed for five months. Several businesses were established just outside the township in the triangle of land formed by the Yorketown and Cemetery Road: these included Minlaton's first blacksmith Andrew Gardner, and Calder and Baker's wheat store and general trading centre. Amenities were slow to follow. Most urgent was some form of water storage along the road to Stansbury, where the townspeople were obliged to go to collect their mail and incoming stores and to take their harvest for export. This was a round trip of 30 miles without surface water, a long distance for thirsty teams of horses or bullocks. Finally the government agreed to supply this need, but the road itself remained in deplorable condition.

The towns and adjacent farms were remote and isolated, made more noticeable when the telegraph line to Yorketown passed through Minlaton in 1877 but with no provision made for a telegraph station in Minlaton itself. This was only remedied in 1878 after the postmaster William Long built a telegraph office himself. Long had been appointed postmaster in April 1876 and established a twice-weekly collection of mail from Stansbury, but by 1881 a coach had connected Minlaton with Stansbury, and to the railhead at Moonta. A return trip three times a week became available carrying mail, passengers and small freight. A telephone service was connected in 1911, and a trunk line service to Adelaide in May 1916 - this was finally automated in 1969. A daily bus service was established between Yorketown and Paskeville in 1926. Harry Bastin who had taken the contract to deliver the Sunday Mail to Peninsula towns riding a motor bike with sidecar began to carry the odd passenger back to Adelaide. This service grew and Bastin was able to buy a car and began to advertise his Sunday service. His business expanded until he had a fleet of buses carrying passengers to and from the Peninsula. The isolation was decreasing.

The town
Laid out on a grid pattern with a belt of parklands which now contain many of the district's sporting facilities, by 1877 Minlaton had two chapels, two stores, a hotel and a blacksmith's shop. This first tradesman was followed by many others, all essential to the town and surrounding district: saddlers, wheelwrights, masons, builders, another blacksmith, and butchers and bakers. A mill was established in 1886 on the Maitland Road. A motor repair business was operated by Walter Riddle from a workshop behind the hotel from about 1910; he expanded his business and in 1915 established Southern Yorke Peninsula Motors. His son continued the business after World War II. Riddle also supplied the town's electricity using a generator driven by a Stanley steam car which he subsequently converted to diesel power. The Electricity Trust of South Australia took over the power supply in 1948, and three years later connected Minlaton to the existing network at Maitland.

Water, the other essential, came variously through bores, wells and rainwater tanks. The soil around Minlaton has always been too porous for the dams that could be dug elsewhere on the Peninsula. Finally, in December 1957, the town was connected to the Bundaleer reservoir vis Paskeville.

Medical services for the town and district were erratic for many years. Eventually in 1903 the residents were able to guarantee an income of £400 a year for a doctor. In June of that year Dr A W Hart was appointed, and remained for nine years. He was central to the establishment of the Minlaton Hospital in July 1905. This was taken over by the District Council in 1929.

Minlaton Public School opened in 1878 to accommodate 60 students. Prior to this several women ran small schools in the town and district but records of these are sparse. The school included a teacher's residence as well as the schoolroom. An extension was added in 1880, and in 1924 a new school was built. A secondary school was not opened until 1945, using the parish hall. Every Friday, students and teachers carried all the furniture out to a shelter shed, returning it on Monday morning, as the hall was used for the weekly picture show, the Sunday School and other church functions. A custom-built secondary school was opened in 1954. In 1990 the complex became an R-12 district school catering to the Minlaton, Brentwood and Hardwicke Bay regions, with feeder schools at Stansbury, Curramulka and Port Vincent.

The first proposal for a district council was made in 1877, but was quickly dismissed. A council was finally formed in 1888, and the first meeting was held on 13 February. The council comprised the Hundreds of Curramulka, Koolywurtie and Minlacowie, and that portion of the hundred of Ramsay not included in the district of Dalrymple. John C Tonkin was elected first chairman. Meetings were held in the institute or in other rented rooms, until finally the first council chambers were built in 1920. In 1939 the council moved to the town hall - which was the rebuilt institute. In April 1889 the district council assumed management of most of the local jetties, until these were taken over by the Harbors Board in 1913. While management of the jetties had caused council some headaches, it was reluctant to part with them.

The council's boundaries were fluid for a number of years, with annexations and severances. In November 1907 portions of the hundreds of Muloowurtie and Wauraltee were annexed to the district council of Minlaton. In June 1908 severance was made of portions of the hundred of Ramsay from the district council of Minlaton to the districts of Melville and Dalrymple.

In 1987 the District Council of Minlaton made an unsuccessful submission to the Local Government Advisory Commission for an extension of Minlaton's northern boundary. Finally in February 1997 the District Council of Minlaton voluntarily amalgamated with the District Council of Central Yorke Peninsula, District Council of Yorketown and District Council of Warooka, to form the District Council of Yorke Peninsula. This organization's operations are spread over a number of the original District Council sites, with Minlaton the base for the expanded Council's finance and information technology centre.

Early Photographs of Minlaton


Harry Butler's Garage - State Library of South Australia - B 34680


Photo B. May


[General description] A large pine tree dominates this view of shops in the main street of Minlaton. Tenants of a row of nineteenth century shops on the right of the tree are : D.M.S. Davies, Auctioneers and agent for the Savings Bank of South Australia; A. McKenzie & Son, Saddle and Harness Makers and Harris Massey Machinery Agency. [On back of photograph] 'The main street at Minlaton / 1932 / Reproduced in Chronicle, September 13th, 1932'- State Library of South Australia - B 8275


Country show at Minlaton 1910 - State Library of South Australia - B 41665


Photo B. May


Hospital under construction at Minlaton 1911 - State Library of South Australia - B 32068


Minlaton Hospital - State Library of South Australia - B 26722

Gum Flat or Minlaton

Saturday 15 July 1876, Wallaroo Times and Mining Journal (Port Wallaroo, SA : 1865 - 1881) Trove

The Government did not in tend to change the name of a new township on Yorke's Peninsula from Minlaton to Gum Flat, because " Gam Flats" were already too numerous.


Sat 25 May 1878, The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889) Trove

Minlaton (or " Gum Flat") is one of the newest of the Peninsula townships, having been surveyed only a couple of years ago, and it already boasts of two places of worship; Baptist and Wesleyan, a State school, a fine Hotel (Mclnerney's) of 20 rooms, two large stores (Long's and Baker & Calder's), three blacksmiths shops, two or three other business places, and some private dwellings. Nearly all these are substantially built of stone, and the trade of the township is sufficient to induce the National Bank to make arrangements for erecting a branch there. Township and suburban blocks realised very high prices, and the agricultural lands in the neighborhood were sold at £3 10s. to £5 10s. per acre. Minlaton is centrally situated between Stansbury, Minlacowie, and Port Rickaby, so that ito products can be easily shipped from either of these ports, where there are jetties. A bad piece of sandy road exist between Minlaton and Stansbury ; but the Moonta Road Board has passed a sum of £3,000 for making it, so that in a very short period the Minlatonians will be able to get to their principal port with any description of loading. One of the drawbacks of Minlaton, in common with other inland-townships on the Peninsula, is a want of fresh water, but this difficulty will be met in course of time by the construction of tanks and dams, and in certain places fresh water is to be obtained by sinking wells. The yield at last harvest in this district was from 10 to 15 bushels per acre, and an excellent sample of grain was produced. As there are a number of families about here the delay in opening the State school, which was finished some three months ago, is causing dissatisfaction and uncomplimentary remarks upon the Council of Education.

About Minlaton.

Sat 7 May 1904, Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904) Trove

In the vicinity of Minlaton, which is in the Hundred of Minlacowie and County of Ferguson, are several large landholders, who are continually adding to their area under cultivation, and effecting substantial improvements to their homesteads, as well as maintaining a high standard in stock breeding. The quality of the farm horses is especially marked, and the owners take great pride in possessing the best that money can procure. Horses bred on the Peuinsula invariably command high prices when offered for disposal. The town is situated on a plain about midway between the seaboard of St. Vincent and Spencer's Gulfs, and inland 14 miles westerly from Stansbury. Originally the locality was known as Gum Flat. A few stalwart trees now mark the place where station buildings once stood, and this is also the site of a well, which provide water for stock purposes. _ During recent years increased prosperity in production has brought about corresponding improvement in commercial affairs, which is strikingly seen in numerous dwellings and substantial business premises, notably Mr. T. R. Trehearne's extensive store and Mr. D. McKenzie'e saddlery and fodder establishment. Mr. Matthew, gun., has constructed a new shop and bakery, and Mr C. R. Marlow will shortly begin the erection of large workshops and showrooms next to the institute. The residents of the district contemplate the erection of a hospital, while several other additions to the residential capacity of the town and suburbs are in progress. Withal there is no "boom" in agricultural or commercial circles. The progress is simply due to natural expansion of the farming industry, supplemented by a desire by residents to keep well abreast of the times and local requirements.

—Local Government.—

The officers of the District Council of Minlaton are Crs. H. Evan (Chairman), T. Brown, J. McKenzie, A McKenzie, H. Martin, T. Conell, and T. Mahar, The clerk is Mr. J. Williams. The area under their jurisdiction is extensive, and road maintenance makes a heavy onslaught on the council's resources. An improved water supply would prove of great convenience to the townspeople. Banking facilities are afforded by a branch of the Bank of Adelaide, with Mr. C. Wreford as resident manager, Dr. Hart ministers of the physical ailments of the district, and is evidently popular in his new sphere of practice. The institute is well equipped with literature and magazines, and possesses an excellently kept billiard table, which is available for residents at a nomminal fee as club members. Mr. J. D. Maher, the state schoolmaster, is hon, secretary to this useful institution. The postal and telegraph department is presided over by Mr. J. A. O'Brien. M.C. W. King is resident police officer. The Minlaton Agricultral Society is flourishing. It has an enthusiastic executive, of whom Mr. J. Nankiveil (President), Mr. R. A. Ford (treasurer), and Mr. W. G. Teichelmann (secretary} are the leading spirits.

—Trading Operations.—

A satisfactory amount of business is connucted by Messrs, C. Mathews, T. R. Trehearne, T. Odgers, and W. Short, general storekeepers; J. Williams and H. Martin, blacksmiths and implement makers; J. White, Butcher; Tillbrook and Matthews, bakers; C. Zippel, bootmaker; E. Lock and D. McKenzie, saddlers; O. R. Marlow, ironworker, carpenter, and builder. Messrs. VV. & H. Long have the local mill, which has a working capacity of 30 bags of flour per day. Mr. J. Cudmore; one of the largest landholders in this district, has recently retired from the storekeeping business, and erected a substantial residence on his farm.

—Loss of Horses.—

At the time of my visit Veterinary Surgeon Desmond was at Mr. Russ's farm, about three miles south-west of the township, investigating the cause of the death of five valuable draught horses. The result of post-mortem examinations led Mr. Desmond to conclude that the disease was similar to that which played sad havoc with horses in the districts of Hawker and Port Pirie some time ago. Pressure of engagements did not permit Mr. Desmond to thoroughly investigate the matter while at Port Pirie but there is evidently strong necessity for immediate action being taken by the authorities with a view to minimise the risk of lose by stockowners, the majority of whom would be only too glad to pay for authentic information respecting stock diseases and their remedies. The loss of £250 worth of trained farm horses at this period of the season is a serious blow to Mr. Russ. In order to assertain whether the complaint was prevalent among other horse stock in the district, Mr. T. McKenzie, a neighbouring farmer, and Chairman of the local bureau, sacrificed one of his farm horses. The post mortem conducted by Veterinary Surgeon Desmond and Dr. Hart disclosed the fact that similar parasites were present in the internal organs of this animal, although, no symptoms of illness had been manifest. Actions similar to Mr. McKenzie's are worthy of record, as the loss of his horse was the means of furthering scientific knowledge.

—Agricultural Operations.—

Since the recent rainfall farmers are in good spirits, and ploughing or seeding is in progress throughout the district. An other successful season is expected by all concerned, which will enhance the productive record of Minlaton. From Minlaton a beeline is made for Port Victoria via the short cut to Wauraltee. This route, although rough in places, saves several miles travelling. The main road runs through the settlement known as Mount Rat and adjacent to Koolywurtie, and then branches off to the left, eventually passing through Wauraltee. There is, however, a difference of four miles in favour of the first-mentioned road. Farm-houses, surrounded by good land, are passed every few miles, and the waters of Spencer's Gulf are in view throughout. The township of Wauraltee is modest in size a few houses and the state school denote its locality, but shortly business activity may be infused into the settlement by the establishment of a branch store by Mr. Trehearne, a Minlaton tradesman. The post office is at the private residence of Mrs. Mitchell, who acts as postmistress, and Mrs. Dvorak presides at the state school. Farming is the principal industry.


Sat 3 Jul 1926, Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931)

Minlaton is the trading centre of a prosperous agricultural area on Yorke's Peninsula, 18 miles in a northerly direction from Yorketown, and 17 miles inland from Port Vincent. It is probably the best laid out country town in South Australia, for it is bounded by four terraces—North, South, East, and Weet—which are again surrounded by well-fenced parklands 297 acres in extent. Avenues of ornamental trees beautify the main thoroughfares, while the streets are all spacious, and are uniformly called First, Second, Third, Fouth, and Fifth streets. The town is subdivided, into blocks of land, each containing an area of half an acre. A number of modern bungalows and villas have recently been erected, and there are now over 125 houses in the town. Roads in the district, all of limestone formation, compare favourably with those in other country districts. The main road from Yorketown to Paskeville is undergoing reconstruction and repairs at the present time in many places. A Federal grant of £1,500 has been given to the District Council of Minlaton for main road work, And this sum is being spent on work along this route. From Minlaton township, roads branch off for Stansbury, Port Vincent, Curramulka, Maitland, Fort Rickaby, Brentwood, and Yorketown.

Minlaton district is composed of the Hundreds of Minlacowie, Koolywurtie, Curramulka, and Ramsay—an area altogether of 229,028 acres—stretching across Yorke's Peninsula from gulf to gulf. A new assessment of property in this district is at the present time being undertaken by Mr. R. W. Langman, of Adelaide.

An Aboriginal Hunting Ground.

Close to Minlaton, on tbe eastern side of the town, lies Gum Flat, so called by reason of its many stately gums, similar in variety to those met with along the River Murray. The flat, some 50 acres in extent, is the only part of Yorke's Peninsula in which native gums have ever grown. Each winter the rains convert most of this flat into flooded swamp, and this perhaps, is the reason why a number of the old trees are dying. The old Gum Flat homestead was situated among the trees, only half a mile on the eastern side of Minlaton. The flat was a favourite hunting ground of the aboriginals in the early days, and many of their remains have been found at various times in the swamp land region. At one time kangaroos, wallabies, and emus abounded in the locality. Kangaroos are still plentiful in the Stansbury scrub, although wallabies and emus have completely left the peninsula. Between Minlaton and Stansbury there is a tract of scrubland country, 10 miles in extent, which is reckoned to be a worthless area, unsuitable for agricultural purposes. The scrub is gradually being encroached upon by farmers whose holdings adjoin it, and there is every probability that it will in the future be brought into crop-yielding order. At Minlaton this scrubby country is known as the "Stansbury Scrub," while Stansbury residents speak of it as the "Minlaton Scrub," neither town seemingly desiring to own it.

Automobiles Popular.

It is understood that Minlaton district has more motor cars per head of population than any other district in South Australia, with the one exception of Maitland. This to a great extent is due to the fact that there are no railways on Yorke's Peninsula, and residents must depend on their cars for getting about. Practically every family in the district owns one or more cars, while in Minlaton township alone there are 50 cars. To keep this fleet of cars in good order there are three local garages. The Southern Yorke's Peninsula Motor Works, managed by Mr. W. J. Riddle, attends to all classes of engineering and motor work. Apart from general business, the firm generates electricity for the town. The intersections of the streets are lit by 11 street lights, while besides this there are over 100 consumers of light and power. The consumption of electricity during the past 12 months has increased by 50 per cent. The firm at present engaged In installing an auxiliary engine and generator of three-quarters the size of the present plant. The engine at present runs constantly for 13 hours each day. A kerbside pump has recently been installed by the garage in the main street. Messrs. Freeman & Dunnet, of Ardrossan, in February. 1925, took over the garage at Minlaton formerly carried on by the late Harry Butler. The present plant is quite up-to-date, and the garage undertakes all motor repair and engineering work. The firm controls eight different car agencies, and reports 61 car and motor cycle sales during the past 12 months.

Minlaton has since January 1 last been served by a daily railway motor bus service, which passes through the town on its way from Paskeville to Yorketown. Residents can purchase a return ticket to Adelaide for 27/ first class and 22/ second class; which carries them per motor bus to Paskeville, thence by train to Adelaide. The car leaves Minlaton for Paskeville at 6.10 a.m., and returns to the town at 4.8 p.m. Mails, luggage, cargo, and passengers are all catered for on the car. It is excacted that as soon as the railway line is broadened from Bowmans to Kadina an even better service will be given. Saturday afternoon in Minlaton is the farmers day in town, and on this day dozens of motor cars may be seen lined along the main street. Saturday is the busiest day for the storekeeper, too. Irregularities in regard to the weekly half-holiday in the neighbouring towns to Minlaton is very unsatisfactory. Minlaton, Stansbury, and Port Vincent stores close on Wednesday afternoons, Yorketown and Edithburgh on Friday afternoons, and Curramulka and Maitland on Saturday afternoon's.

Up-to-date Farmers.

The latest power farming machinery and agricultural implements are being generally called into requisition by tbe Minlaton farmer of to-day. Since the introduction of superphosphate to arable land near Minlaton years ago by the late Mr. Joseph Parsons, land then worth in the region of £1 per acre-immediately rose in price, and since then values have steadily increased with succeeding years. Minlaton farming property at the present time is being sold for from £8 to £18, the average value of agricultural land in the locality being estimated at £12 per acre. Practically every farmer in the district combines sheep and cattle with his wheatgrowing operations. Foremost among breeders are Messrs. H. Mumford, S. F. Hoyle, F. H. Tonkin, Brown Brothers, G. R. Giles, and T. J. Butler. Among well-known primary producers are Messrs. J. C. Gersch, J. Brown, F. H. Tonkin, F. Mahar, and T. Brown, and there are many others too numerous to mention. Many successful farmers have just recently retired, and have settled down in Minlaton, building for their own comfort substantial bungalows and villas. Among these may be included Messrs. P. G. King (Koolywurtie), James Brown (Koolywurtie), J. Martin, the late Simon Vanstone (Brentwood), H. Boundy (Brentwood), and A. Bishop. Minlaton has three local stock and auctioneering events who act for the farmers and graziers in the surrounding districts—Messrs. Goldabrough, Mort, & Co., D. M. S. Davies, and Elder, Smith, & Co., Limited. The introduction of superphosphate to the district has not only benefited the wheat and barley production, but has been the means of increasing the carrying capacity of land for stock, as well as for sheep. The Central Yorke's Peninsula Agricultural Society holds its annual meeting on the Minlaton Showgrounds. There is some controversy as to the date of its first meeting, although the general opinion of residents is that it was held in 1877 on a small township allotment. From its inception the society gradually progressed. Five years later 10 acres of park lands was reserved for show purposes. A further seven and a half acres was added in 1902, and thus the present showground is one of the largest in country areas. The grounds are excellently situated, and are surrounded by a substantial stone wall. The ring itself—one-third of a mile in circumference—is surrounded by lofty gum trees. The late Mr. D. J. Teichelmann was the secretary of the society for 29 years, during which time it made splendid progress. The gate money in 1882 amouonted to £40, and entry fees £31. At last year's show meeting, held on October 28, 1925, those totalled £318 and £172 respectively. At this meeting cash prizes awarded amounted to £508, in addition to 49 cups and trophies, valued at over £230. Motor cars parked around the grounds numbered 1,200. This year the oval is to be enclosed by a substantial fence, and considerable extensions to the main show building are contemplated. Sheepyards of concrete and galvanized piping, equal to any in the State, were erected on the ground two years ago at a cost of, £300. The society is fortunate to possess such men as Messrs. C. H. Boundy as President and D. M. S. Davies as secretary. A successful sheep-dog field trial was held in April last in connection with the agricultural society on the Minlaton Showgrounds. The trials continued for three, days, and there were 72 entries. Some of the sheep dogs in the locality are trained to a remarkable degree of perfection in droving sheep, and several among them are valued by their owners up to as much as £40 each. Close to Minlaton, along the main road to Maitland, is the butter and cordial factory of the Yorke's Peninsula Co-operation, Limited, at which large quantities of butter are manufactured. The cordials supply the demand throughout all the districts between Arthurton and Yorketown, and in the summer season ice and icecream are manufactured. Most of the shares of the company are held by local producers, who send in their cream to be treated. Since the establishment of this factory two other similar factories have been opened at Yorketown and Stansbury. During the past few years the dairying industry has made great strides, as most of the land in the district is suitable for dairying. The managing director of the company is Mr. E. Jaehne, the Chairman Mr. D. M. S. Davies, and secretary Mr. D. Nickels.

Minlaton has for the past three years had a continuous telephone service. At the present time 138 subscribers are connected with the local exchange, and additional homes are continually being linked up. The recent expansion in telephone business is attributable to the instinctive progressiveness of district farmers, the better facilities given by the Posal Deparment, and to the enthusiasm of the postmaster (Mr. E. C. Melville). Being the centre of a large outlying district, the Minlaton Post Offiee officials handle a large amount of postal matter. Minlaton has four churches, the Baptist, Methodist, Anglican and Roman Catholic, all of which contribute to the religious welfare of the district. A parish hall in connection with the Church of England has just been erected adjoining the church, at a cost of over £2,000, A successful dance is held fortnightly in this hall, proceeds from which are in aid of the new building. The Minlaton Institute—with seating accommodation for an audience of 800—is one of the largest of its kind in the State (in country areas). Towards the end of last year two new dressing rooms and a billiard, room were built at the rear of the hall. The Minlaton Hospital, opened in l909, was erected by presidents of the district largely as a result of the organizing efforts of Mr. P. C, King. The institution provides invaluable hospital treatment for a country population spread over a wide area. A new isolation block, a welcome addition the hospital, was opened in March last, by Sir David Gordon. Dr. C, Richards, of Moonta, has just recently taken over the practice at Minlaton, formerly carried on Dr. A. B. Russell, who now resides at Yorketown. Minlaton Hotel prominently situated in Minlaton main street, caters for a big section of the tavelling public.

Minlaton has two banking institutions in its main street, The Bank of Adelaide, and the Commercial Bank. Both of these have been established locally for many years, and efficiently conduct the financial transactions of a primary production area of more than ordinary wealth, there being probably no sounder or surer crop district in Australia.

The two largest stores at Minlaton are those of Messrs. Trehearne, Limited, and E. Jaehne, which, between them cater for the large and varied demands of this prosperous district. Messrs. A. McKenzie end Son established a leather business in Minlaton in 1902, and have kept abreast of the times in the trade, although, owing to the increase in the number of motor cars, the harness trade has suffered. The firm is now concentrating more actively on the boot and shoe department. The Minlaton Racing Club was formed less than two years ago, and has up to the present time held two successful meetings. Results from the meeting held in March last showed a net profit of £185. The club secured a long lease at a peppercorn rental of 80 to 100 acres of land situated two miles north of the town. All improvements are of a substantial nature. The running track, fenced in on both sides all, the-way round the course, is considered by owners and trainers alike to be one of the best running tracks outside the metropolitan area.


Photo B. May


Thursday 15 September 1932, Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) Trove

Minlaton: Some Stories Of Gum Flat Forgotten Pioneer Of Yorke's Peninsula. No. XIV.

Who was the first white man to set foot on Yorke's Peninsula? The question was put to a dozen people in Minlaton who should have known. Only two of them did. He was Charles Parrinton, and he lies buried in a neglected grave in the tiny cemetery on what was once Gum Flat station, less than a mile from the heart of Minlaton. To him is due the honor of opening up the country, and it is up to the people of the peninsula to put a suitable monument over his remains.

I stood in the little cemetery of about two graves on the site of the old Gum Flat station. It was a damp, dark day, but the sun came through the clouds for a moment, and rested on the stone which marks the grave of Charles Parrinton, as though to invite me to do justice to the memory of the man who pioneered Yorke Peninsula.

I cannot tell you much about Parrinton. I doubt if anybody can. He was one of those curious products who loved to wander in lone places far from the haunts of man. In the densely-timbered country of the narrow peninsula, washed by the waters of the two gulfs, he found his ideal home — among the blacks, the emus, and the kangaroos.

Now he has made it his abode for all time, for he sleeps there in the forgotten cemetery, and only occasionally an old-timer remembers he is there.

But the fact is undeniable that he was the pioneer of Yorke Peninsula, and posterity will marvel if no action is taken to perpetuate the spot.

I was able to glean a few meagre details about the life of Parrinton. The "cemetery" is on the original Gum Flat station, and there are only two graves there — one housing the remains of a pioneer named Russ, and the other those of Parrinton. They are side by side, lost in a wilderness. Probably you would not find them unless you had one of the old pioneers for a guide — for the younger generation knows nothing of the men who made the heritage they enjoy, and probably they do not know the name of Parrinton. Some of them, I know, do not know that the old cemetery exists.

Mr. Joseph Williams told me Parrinton was a curious chap. He was an Englishman of good family who came here from Canterbury. He buried himself away from civilisation. He found a happy hunting ground in the dense scrub of the peninsula, where he made money by shooting kangaroos and selling the skins. He lived with the blacks, and came to know their habits well. Prior to coming to South Australia, he hunted in the backwoods of America. An absolutely fearless adventurer, he was just the man that Weaver wanted when he commissioned him to find a "run" on Yorke Peninsula.

Parrinton's grave is surrounded by a fast-decaying picket fence, but it is covered with bushes of white marguerites, which look as if they might have been planted by some loving hand only a month or two ago. I wonder how they got there.

I could not help feeling while I gazed on that isolated plot that romance was buried there. I also felt that Minlaton was not doing justice to the man who was actually its founder, and the founder of the peninsula. For its was Parrinton who selected Oyster Bay (now Stansbury) for Alfred Weaver. This Oyster Bay property was the first station established, on the peninsula. Then followed the "run" by John Bowden, taking in the country to the south which now includes the towns of Yorketown, Coobowie, and Edithburgh. The next arrivals were Coutts and Sharples, of whom I have no details, and then followed Anstey and Giles, who established Gum Flat (now Minlaton and Curramulka) .

I think the Minlaton council ought to make that grave its special care. The slate stone bears the inscription: —'In memory of Charles Parrinton, born at Canterbury, Kent, January 1st, 1811; died at Gum Flat, May 3rd, 1877.'

Gum Flat.

To look at the peaceful country round Minlaton, one of those rural centres where you tell yourself that nothing ever happens, you would not imagine that in the early days ferocious blacks murdered and stole, and were murdered in turn, in the bush that does not now exist. But such is a fact.

In those days, of course, there was no Minlaton. It was just Gum Flat station.

As I remarked in a previous article, in telling the story of these Yorke Peninsula towns it is impossible not to overlap. Just as when you write of early Wallaroo you find yourself embracing Moonta and Kadina, so when you write of the places further south you often find difficulty in separating Minlaton from Maitland, or Yorketown from Edithburgh. The 'runs' of those days were so large that they might easily cover the site of several distant towns.

It is a curious circumstance that portions of Eyre Peninsula should have been settled long before any settlement took place on Yorke Peninsula. Port Lincoln was taken up before any attention was given to the 'leg' across St. Vincent's Gulf. There was a reason for this.

The general idea was that Yorke Peninsula was all scrub, and practically without water.

It had been my intention to tell you the story of Alfred Weaver here. On second thoughts I will leave it for the Yorketown section. Here I will deal with George Anstey, for it was Anstey who established Gum Flat, and Gum Flat today is Minlaton.

This Anstey was the same George Alexander Anstey after whom Anstey's Hill near Hope Valley is named. The Little Para was at one time called 'Anstey's Rivulet,' after the same pioneer, who owned a special survey — as they called the early leases — in the Barossa district.

Anstey came to South Australia from Tasmania. His father was a member of the Legislative Council there. Anstey the younger was regarded as a 'big man' in the squatting line, and in 1842 he owned 10,000 sheep, a figure then only exceeded by the South Australia Company.

He was rather a picturesque figure, this George Anstey— straight-laced, conservative, and outspoken. For three whole days he was a member of the nominee Legislative Council of South Australia. If history does not lie, he made full use of those three days to tell his colleagues what he thought of them. Probably they were the three liveliest days in the history of our Parliament. Then he resigned, and in his letter to the Governor he accused the members of 'shameful preference in matters personal to themselves as to their pockets and prejudices but most mischievous to the country.'

George Anstey did not believe In mincing matters.

Such was the founder of Gum Flat. He died in England in 1895.

Troubles With Blacks.

If was in 1847 that Mr. T. Giles took up the country about Minlaton and Curramulka on behalf of Mr. Anstey. Regarding the stocking of the land, Mr. Giles has left it on record that 'It was no easy matter getting sheep round there, as the scrub grew so close to the cliffs that in some places we had to wait for low water to drive the sheep along the beach.'

One squatter who took his flocks round in the summer lost 2,000 animals through their drinking salt water.

There were two great drawbacks to the settlement of the country — the lack of water and the ferocity of the blacks. It was impossible to travel sheep in the summer, for there was no water between the Wakefield River and the Gum Flat station.

The natives had been left with the peninsula to themselves so long that they did not take kindly to the invasion when it came. It was some time before they were taught to leave the white men and their possessions alone.

One day a native was squatting In the scrub, his whole attention riveted upon a lizard he was cooking. He was so absorbed that he failed to hear a soft footfall behind him. When he looked up it was to encounter the gaze of something he had never seen before— a white man.

He sprang to his feet in terror, and became rooted to the spot with fear, trembling in every limb. The white man made friendly gestures, and presently The black held out the lizard to him as a peace offering. That was the first encounter on the peninsula of the two races. Unfortunately, relations did not continue on such a footing.

The aboriginals soon came to know the taste of mutton. They devised all sorts of ruses for stealing the white man's sheep. It was not an odd sheep or two; it was a hundred or more at a time. One of their favorite methods was to set fire to the grass. The maddened animals would scatter into the bush, where Biljim's spear did the rest.

Gum Flat had not long been settled when black brother tried this game on George Penton, the manager, whose name is commemorated in Penton Vale. Penton was a fearless fellow who would stand no nonsense. He made the blacks tear branches from the trees and beat the fire out. The blaze had a big hold, and Penton kept the natives acting as a fire brigade until they nearly died of exhaustion. They never tried that particular system with Penton again.

One afternoon when a shepherd was watching a flock about two miles from the station, the aboriginals made an attack. One section of them went after the shepherd, while another drove away the herd. The shepherd reported to Penton, who saddled up and set out after the blacks, taking a mounted companion, with him. He found the flock, but the natives had disappeared.

He guessed they would make for the scrub half a mile distant, and thither he rode. The scrub was too thick to allow mounted men to go through. Penton gave his horse to his companion, and set out on foot singlehanded to recover any missing animals.

Presently he saw the figure of a man ahead, carrying a sheep on his back. Penton gave chase. The aboriginal dropped the ewe and ran, with Penton close at his heels. There was a second black ahead of the first, and this man dropped a spear so that his companion behind could pick it up as he ran. As the blackfellow stooped to recover it Penton shot him dead. It was his life or the black's.

The incident did not turn Penton from his quest. He pushed on until he reached the camp, where he found twenty dead sheep. No blacks were to be seen. That they had left in a hurry was evident, for they had left spears, waddies, and nets behind,

Penton had no more trouble over his own sheep. His courage had overawed the blacks. That was the way to deal with them. If one showed himself afraid the savages would kill him and steal the sheep.

An instance of this sort occurred at Sharples's run, a neighboring station. The blacks attacked a shepherd near Hardwick Bay. The man ran away, and the aboriginals went after him, howling wildly. Had he stood his ground the natives would have left him alone. As it was they killed him, and mutilated his body frightfully. Of course they stole the sheep.

Penton heard of this and went after them. He found the savages in great force. They had driven the animals into a 'yard' made of brush, and signalled with their spears that they intended to stick to their booty. It was getting dark, so Penton decided to push on to Sharples's, get help, and raid the camp at daylight. Next morning a party of five set out for the camp. The ringleader of the outrage, a black who had been employed on Gum Flat station, was killed. The others fled into the bush. A number of the sheep had been eaten, but 180 were recovered.

As I said previously, to look at Minlaton today you would never credit that such scenes were enacted there years ago.

An Hour With Old Minlaton.

In the council chamber the other Monday morning I had an interesting hour with old Minlaton. Old Minlaton is represented by the veterans who, like Caesar of other days, came, and saw, and conquered. New Minlaton comprises those who are now, shouldering the burdens which have been made so much lighter by the pioneers who have blazed the track— a track which took some blazing, for the early problems of the peninsula were hard work, struggle, and the will to win.

The men to whom I talked about the seventies and the early eighties of Minlaton were Messrs. Dave Cook, James Brown, Joseph Williams and J. J. Butler (father of the intrepid airman, Captain Harry Butler), and their stories were all similar — of an endless fight against nature to reclaim the wheatland of the 'leg' from the grip of the ti-tree scrub, and to pacify the predatory instincts of the dusky warriors of the wilds, who instinctively saw in the coming of the white men the end of the black man's race.

Fifty years ago black brother roamed the bush in tribes 50 to 200 strong. Today not a single peninsula native remains—not even at Point Pearce, where the mission station houses the remnants of the fast diminishing colored people. The bush, too, is gone. All that remains of it is the limited area of scrub country lying between Minlaton and Stansbury— and the axes of the pioneers are at work there.

Here is the typical story of a pioneer, Mr. Dave Cook. It may, with slight variations, be regarded as the history of every man and woman who, renouncing the comforts of the cities, plunged boldly into the unknown to battle for the right to live.

As a youth of 14 in 1876 Mr. Cook, with his father, six brothers and four sisters, made their way overland from Rapid Bay. Two drays, drawn by 26 bullocks, and a few odd beasts, was their entire fortune. Before them lay practically unknown country. The little that was known was not encouragingscarcity of water, hostile natives, dense bush. Minlaton did not exist, not even as a name.

After leaving Port Wakefield the plucky travellers came up against the main obstacle to settlement— lack of water. Their five-gallon cask of the precious fluid was reserved for the stock. As to their own wants, they decided to take their chance of finding a well.

Time has not effaced the memories of that dreadful journey. For two days the pioneers were without a drink. They suffered the tortures of the damned. Then, towards evening of the second day, they found the footprints of a flock of sheep. These, laboriously followed, led them to the Tiddy-Widdy wells, near Ardrossan. Thus was disaster evaded by the merest chance.

Stout hearts were needed when they reached their selection. The country was a mass of ti-tree, mallee, sheaoak, and peppermint. It looked as if a lifetime of labor would make no impression on that illimitable sea of tangled scrub. But the whole family took off their coats and got to work. Today that impossible forest is one of the finest farm properties about Minlaton, and Mr. Cook sits back, a sturdy and independent veteran, and watches his boys carrying on the task from the point where he left off.

Mr. Cook was one of a family of ten. He has carried on the tradition of large families, and is the father of 13 — seven boys and six girls. He is inordinately proud of his flock, and he is justified. A more sturdy-looking group of Australian humanity would be difficult to find. You may judge this for yourself from the photograph in the supplement.

Gum Flat station was cut up for closer settlement 50 years ago. Mr. J. J. Butler in his youth was a boundary rider on the property. Most of the old homestead has disappeared, but part of the house of the original manager has been incorporated in a modern residence now the property of a Minlaton resident. The old wells, which were the only water for travelling stock south of the Wakefield, excepting, of course, the wells near the sea coast, are still in operation. You may see them about a mile out of the town on the road to Stansbury.

On the property of Mr. E. E. M. Twartz, chairman of the district council, about ten miles out of Minlaton, is an old chimney with a history. It Is the remains of a hut which belonged to a pioneer shepherd named Scott. Scott was murdered by blacks as a result of a feud. The dogs belonging to the aborigines attacked Scott's sheep, and Scott poisoned the dogs. The blacks held a council, and decided to kill Scott. In the dusk of one evening they crept on him through the scrub and speared him. Then they seized his own gun and bashed his brains out. The crime was not discovered for some time, until a boundary rider found the body. After that it was difficult to get anybody to look after sheep in that part of the country (now Brentwood) until a man named Pepper was secured. The station at that time belonged to Mr. Giles, an ancestor of the present M.P.

Minlaton has three strings to its bow —wheat, barley, and wool. Its barley is renowned, and much of it is marketed through a local pool. Like other places, it has hopes of oil, and two companies are boring in the vicinity. The town is not very large, and not very old. It was surveyed in. 1888. Like many other places, it has a habit of not doing as it is told. It began about a mile away from the present town, and was expected to stay there. It didn't do anything of the sort. Instead it crept back to where it now is, and stayed there. Several of the patriarchs—a man is a patriarch in Minlaton at fifty— remember the first religious services being held under a gum tree near the Gum Flat swamp in the days before the churches came.

There is good country round Minlaton. It is 60 miles from the nearest railway. The town has no complaints about that, but it does growl because it has no bituminous road. And while it growls it hauls it produce ten miles over the roads to Port Rickaby, from whence it comes to Adelaide, or wherever else they choose to send it, or to Port Minlacowie, through which 140,000 bags of wheat were shipped last season. Minlacowie, by the way, was responsible for giving Minlaton its name— a sort of miserable compromise between the English and the native versions. Minlacowie means 'plenty of water.'

Water Problem.

There was no water problem in Minlaton when I was there in July, unless the problem was to get rid of it. It was lying everywhere. But in the summer there is a real scarcity. The townspeople depend for their supplies on what they can coax into their tanks in the winter. If you bore the chances are ninety-nine in a hundred that you strike salt stuff. If you are lucky you might tap a supply fit for stock, but not suitable for irrigation. The Gum Fiat wells close to the town are still a source of public supply as they were in the pioneer days. Mr. Jos. Williams told me that even nowadays he has often to cart water five miles from these wells to his farm. One curious feature of the wells about the district is that the water after a lapse of years is apt to disappear. This has not so far happened to the Gum Flat wells, but the wells at Minlacowie, which at one time provided for 5,000 sheep, are now dry.

The only piece of country on the peninsula between Moonta and Edithburgh, which is still in the pioneer stage is a small stretch on the road between Minlaton and Stansbury. there you may hunt kangaroos if you are that way inclined. But this, also, is fast disappearing before the march of civilisation. I understand there is rough country on the western 'toe' around Cape Spencer, but I can tell you nothing about it. The chairman of the district council of Minlaton is Mr. E. E. M. Twartz. He is a young man born in the district, andhas been nine years in the council. He is also chairman of the hospital board, and president of the Agricultural Society. The district clerk Is Mr. E. R. Crocker.


Grave of Charles Parrinton (right) jn the little cemetery on Gam Flat station. Parrinton was the first white man to enter Yorke Peninsula.

Historic wells on Gum Flat for which, in pioneer times, drovers ased to make. Here jras the only water in the interior of the peninsula after leaving Port Wakefield.

Mr. E. E. M. Twartz, chairman of district council.


On Monday morning, August 27, there passed away at Minlaton an old and much esteemed resident in the person of Mrs. Sarah J. Illman. She was born in Devonshire, England, in 1836, and had attained the ripe age of 86 years. Mrs. Illman came from England in the year 1839 with her parents by the ship Lysander, and thus was a colonist of 83 years standing. Her parents took up their residence at Happy Valley, where they lived for a number of years. Later they went to Noarlnuga, where Mrs. Illman met and married Mr. Geo. Illman. After short stay at Willunga, the couple went to live at Aldinga, where they lived for 12 years. In the year 1876 Mr. Illman took up land in the Wauraltee district, Y.P. Here they lived with their family until the death of Mr. Illman 20 years ago. The latter was handicapped throughout life on account of an accident at an early age, but was nevertheless successful as a farmer. After the death of her husband Mrs. Illman lived with her daughter at Mt. Rat, and nine years ago settled in the Minlaton township until the time of her death. For the last two years she suffered much in the way of sickness, and was quite bedridden for the last few months. The funeral took place at Port Victoria on the following Wednesday, when she was laid to rest beside her husband. There were eleven children of the marriage, eight of whom survive her viz., Messrs. John R. (Salisbury), Harry W. (Black Forest), Joseph (Maitland), Caleb (Wauraltee), Mrs Elizabeth R. P. Newbold (Salisbury), Mrs. E. Hester Cliff (Mount Rat), and Misses Mary A. and Sarah J. Illman (Minlaton). There are also 28 grandchildren and five great grand children. Mrs. Illman never took a very active part in public affairs, but her influence was felt in no mistaken manner, especially through the family she successfully reared. She was a life member of the Methodist Church. On Sunday evening, September 2, a memorial service was held the Minlaton Methodist Church at which special reference was made to the life of the deceased. Rev. J. H. Pointon conducted the service.

Early Residents of Minlacowie. photo

Friday 28 February 1936, Pioneer (Yorketown, SA : 1898 - 1954) Trove

Standing—A. Rogers 60, Jos. Williams 78, F. Tilbrook 69

Sitting—J. Butler 7, R. Rogers 81, W. Jacka 80, N. Rogers 78

MINLACOWIE 80th Birthday

Mr. William Jacka, sen., was the recipient of congratulations from many friends on attaining the 80th anniversary of his birthday recently.

At his residence on February 9 quite a number of relatives and friends attended to wish him a happy birthday, and between thirty and forty sat down to a beautiful spread provided by his family. Amongst the number were Messrs. Robt. and Noah Rogers, old friends of the guest, who had travelled from Wagga Wagga (N.S.W.) and Warracknabeal (Vic.) to be present.

Mr. Jos. Williams, in proposing the health of the guest, referred to the high esteem in which he had been held all his life, and wished him, on behalf of the company, a happy birthday.

Mr. R. Ropers supported the toast, and gave quite an interesting and jolly account of the early days of Minlacowie, which they had spent together as boys and neighbors.

Mr. R. H. Tilbrook also spoke, and referred to the bounteous spread provided by the ladies.

In the evening the party was supplemented by an enjoyable entertainment voluntarily provided and rendered by grandchildren of the guest.


Members of the Minlaton band. Standing, left to right: H. Ferries; W. Peterson; D. Fletcher; J. Litster; H. Peterson; G. King: T.W. Marlow. Sitting: F. McKenzie; D. McKenzie; J.S. Blood; Alex Ford (leader); G. Martin. Sitting on ground: J. Vierk; E. Mathews; W. Blood for J. Barlow - State Library of South Australia - B 29667


Thu 21 Nov 1946, The Producer (Balaklava, SA : 1940 - 1950) Trove

More delightful travelling brought us to Minlaton, a centre where private enterprise and individual initiative are found to a very marked degree. Like other Peninsula towns, Minlaton has adopted a one way traffic system, and in the centre of the roadway, gardens and shrubs in seasonal variety bloom according to Nature's order, to be admired greatly by all passing by. The Town Hall is an outstanding modern building with curved instead of square external walls : when we saw it on this occasion, it was lit with a profusion of colored lights. Over here, people laugh at power restrictions, for they are well provided for with their own highly efficient, well-cared-for power stations, in definite contrast to areas served by soulless monopolistic enterprises. But more later concerning our visits to power houses.

Strolling down Minlaton's main street, we entered into conversation with many local and district residents, for this day was "Sale Day," and the town was crowded. It is an education in itself to meet many of the intelligent citizens of this fair town, for one hears many new aspects of various problems of the day. One person in particular we well remembered for his forth-right opinions on Transport and Liquid Fuel control, these subjects being like red rags to a bull to most people on the Peninsula, because of the full scale on which road transport is used, and had there been an inspector from one of these Boards anywhere within fifty miles at least, his ears must have been burning! The writer has had the experience of a prosecuting inspector who had the audacity to try to sell him oil while representing a firm, after having taken certain action whilst under Government protection. This type of citizen could most certainly sell icecream in Hell and do a roaring trade in heavy fur coats at the same time.

To get back to our subject once more, the Peninsula folk have done a grand job under endless restriction. The shopping facilities in MinInton are very comprehensive, and we were always able to buy something out of the ordinary or of value as a souvenir. Despite the widespread shortages, we would occasionally see, in the various towns through which we passed, something which would be unobtainable in other places, and on each occasion the feminine bargain-hunting instinct manifested itself as it always does.

Minlaton can be recommended to all, not so much because it is a friendly town, but because, although not large, it gives the distinct impression of doing a large volume of trade in spite of the proximity of other towns: it must have many times the opposition that Balaklava has, as a business centre.

Enjoying Minlaton's goodwill, we strolled further afield, and noticed a number of lawns, including a very fine bowling green. Mention of such facilities in other towns described, has been omitted, but Minlaton was found quite outstanding for its fine efforts to cater for young and old a like.

To sum up, Minlaton is neat and very clean and tidy, reflecting the finer virtues of human endeavour and enterprise, and probably the fullest co-operation' between the public and public bodies generally. We farewelled Minlaton with the sentiments "Carry on your excellent work, and make your fine little town even better, particularly from a tourist point of view — you will see many of them in the years to come."


Photo B. May

Early History of Minlaton Churches.

Friday 22 February 1952, Pioneer (Yorketown, SA : 1898 - 1954) Trove

In a very interesting talk on the early history of Minlaton given by Mrs. F. H. Tonkin at the meeting of Minlaton TocH on Tuesday February 5, the speaker told of the establishing of the various churches in Minlaton The Baptist Church was the first one established. It was used for its first services on 23rd December, 1877, although it was not complete and on Christmas Day of that year the first tea meeting was held.

The Rev. John Nancarrow previously held services in several homes. Then an acre of land was secured, and with Mr Trott as mason, and Mr. Herring as carpenter the work was done. The committee comprised Messrs. W. Long, John Nankivell and J Nancarrow.

On March 5, 1874, the pioneer Methodist minister, the Rev. R. Kelly, paid his first risit to Gum Flat Station homestead, which was situated just east of the present Minlaton township.

Mr. Kelly was stationed at Yorketown, then known as Weaners Flat, and paid all his visits on horseback.

His first service was held in the Gum Flat station kitchen on April 15, 1874. The next was in November, when 25 persons were there, were present.

Two years later there were seventy persons present at a morning service held in the blacksmith's shop. This was presumably Mr Gardner's blacksmith shop, which stood up on the hill near the present residence of Mrs E. Correll.

In May. 1876, Mr. Kelly called a meeting land on some land on which to build a church. In 1877, the Rev. W. T. Rowe became overseer of works for the building of the present church. The foundation stone was laid by Mrs Kelly in July 1877, and the church opened for public worship on February 24, 1878. Services were conducted by the Rev Johnson James. Later in the year it was ceiled, plastered, railings and plaforms erected, and a harmonium installed. Mr. Gardner was the first choir master. He also made, and presented to the Church, the hand gate—which is still In use.

The first Anglican service was held at the home of Mr. Gilthorpe. Settlers walked miles to attend. The Rev. F. M. Marshall came up from Edithburgh once a month to conduct a service. After the Institute was built in 1881 services were held there, and it was not until 1885 that a meeting was called to discuss the building of a church. A committee, comprising Messrs. Cook, T. Rickaby. C. R. Marlow, J. Bennett, T. Correll, J. Clucas, T. G. Bennett, J. Fletcher, and W. J. Ponder as Secretary, was appointed.

In 1886, when tenders were called for the job, fourteen were received. Mr. C. R. Marlow's tender was accepted. The church was opened on August 22nd, 1886, by the Bishop of the diocese, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Kennion. The priest in charge was the Rev. M. M. Whillon.

The last of Minlaton's four churches to be crected was the Roman Catholic church built in and opened for service in 1905, when Archbishop Spence blessed and dedicated It. Previously services had been held at the homes ol some of the parishioners — generally at the home of Mr. John Mahar, the grandfather of families now living in the district.

Mrs. Tonkin tells a typical pioneer story of the day when the Rev. Mr. Kelly had to cover his circuit, which stretched from below Yorketown up to Sunny Vale (near Moonta on horseback. One night he arrived at Mrs. J C. Tonkin's house from Sunny Vale, tired and hungry.

WR Trehearne W Peterson 10-8-04new

Walter Trehearne's General Store Minlaton

Minlaton Baptist Church

Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

Faith and works had their due reward when Minlaton Baptists gathered for their Diamond jubilee Celebration on April 11-1-. Capable leadership and a mind to work on the part of all concerned resulted in a series of services and functions, the success of which exceeded all expectations.

The special preacher for the celebrations was the Rev. A. C. Hill, F.D. B.A. B.D., who was accompanied by his gifted wife (formerly of Minlaton, and who rendered invaluable service in song and recital.

The celebrations opened on Sunday, three services were held in the Church, the afternoon being specially devoted to the interests of young people. The Church proved all too small to hold the crowds of worshippers both afternoon and evening, many being unable to find room. It is estimated that over 300 were present at the evening service. Mr. Hill's messages were virile and appropriate for the occasion and created a deep impression upon his hearers. The services were enriched by the capable leading of singing of the hymns by the choir, which also rendered beautiful anthems in good style under the baton of Mr. Kay Cross. Throughout the whole series of meetings the singing of Mrs. Hill was wonderfully uplifting.

On Monday evening. April 12th. 1937, a Reminiscences Meeting was held, when there was a very line gathering of past and present members. This was in charge of Rev. A. C. Hill, and he being one of the "come-backs," was able to contribute more than one delightful reminiscence of fellowship and service in the Church 3o years ago. His genial personality and breezy manner soon set the ball rolling and many were the tales, amusing as well as inspiring, told of the "good old times."

Those who contributed to the enrichment of the meeting were: Rev. A. C. anil Mrs. Hill. Mr. and Mrs. J. Swincer, Mr. T. Geater. Mr. I F.. Swincer. Mr. M. Onick, Mrs. 1, Treasure, Mrs. Glen Smith. Mr. I. A. Darby. Mrs. R. H. Clarke, and Miss Chester. Others present who had "come-back" were: Miss D. Treasure. Mr. and Mrs. C. Nankivell and family, Mr. and Mrs. F. I. Nankivell, Messrs. V. J. and V. A. Nankivell. Miss M. Nankivell. Miss Motia Swincer. Mrs. T. M. Geater. Miss D. Page. Mr. John Carmichael, Mr. 1. Carimchael. J nr.. Mr. and Mrs. . Stevens, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Carmichael, Mr. Colin Carmichael. Mr. David Carmichael. Mr. Mheri Swincer. and Mr. and Mrs. T. Willing.

Apologies for absence and greetings from upwards of thirty families were received and read at the meeting by the secretary of the Chutch. Mr. G. Glazbrook.

Tuesday. April 13th was a day that will long he remembered by all who participated in various function. At 3 o'clock a "Reunion Service" was held, when a splendid congregation gathered. The service was conducted by the Pastor, the Rev. S. A. Paris, Last several of the past members forming the choir. Mrs. A. C. Hill very feelingly rendered the solo. "Sometime We'll understand." The Rev. A. C. Hill delivered the address on the subject, "God the ------r," which was listened in with close attention and was much appreciated. An autograph album provided opportunity for visitors to leave behind a permanent record of their visit. A much appreciated feature of the celebrations was an invitation from the headmaster of the Minlaton school, Mr. Hauser, to all old scholars to visit the school during the morning. A good number availed themselves of the invitation.

The High Tea, held in the Institute supper room, was a positive triumph. We have never seen tables at a church function more heavily laden nor more beautifully arranged. More than 200 sat down to this sumptuous repast, and the rattle of knives and forks, together with the babble of happy voices, gave evidence of the successful consummation of many hours of preparation on the part of many willing workers. The top table was graced in addition to the ordinary fare, by the cake. It was a gem of the confectioner's art and proved to be as good as it looked. Mrs. A. G. Treasure lit the candles which formed GO on its second tier, while Mrs. A. Button inserted the knife. There was enough and to spare for everybody. The Pastor railed upon Kev. A. C. Hill to voice the thank of everybody to those who were responsible for the arrangements which he did in his usual hearty manner.

The final gathering was held in the Church, which was again full. Appropriate hymns were sung heartily, and the choir again rendered anthems. The Pastor was in the chair, and those who took part were Mrs. -den Smith and Mr. T. Nankivell, who both rendered solos, while Mrs. Hill gave a delightful musical monologue. The Pastor voiced the gratitude of the people to those who had shouldered the burden of leadership in preparing for the celebrations. Mrs. Glazbrook, who, as Church Secretary, had a great deal to do. Mr. and Mrs. M. Quick, whose catering for the high tea was beyond praise. Miss Shaylor, who had charge of the decorations and workers, Mr. R. Cross, who trained the choir, Mrs. Porter, who was at the organ, all who contributed goods for the meals, etc.. and especially to Rev. and Mrs. Hill for the magnificent service they had rendered the Church. Mr. Hill's final message to the people related to the glory of the church and the responsibility of its members.

Supper was served in the Institute room and this again was crowded. The hour was very late when the last eary workers left for home—tired, but perfectly happy in the consciousess that the Diamond Jubilee had een greatly blessed in its exposition f the Itulh that "l ove never faileth." —S.A.P.

"Back to Minlaton."


Mr. Witt. Correll (now of 88 Fisher St. Fullarton), brother of the late Mr. E. Correll, of Minlaton, was one of the speakers at the Reunion Meeting on October 23, held in connection with the Jubilee Show at Minlaton. Being one of the foundation members of this association, he said it gave him pleasure to congratulate the Society on its success, apart from the advantage they have of being a big district and not too close to rival shows. He said there were two factors which contributed to their success—firstly, they always worked amicably, all pulling together and no strikes; and, again, they always looked out to have a good secretary. The late Mr. Teichelman was a born showman, with a good scripture name, and he must have left his mantel to his succesosr, Mr. Davies.

Mr. Correll supplied us with a few lines describing what obtained over 50 years ago and now. He said: "When I first saw Minlaton, then called Gum Flat, there was not a house there, and most of the inhabitants moved about on four legs. My father was one of the first settlers oil the Troubridge area (Edithburgh district) and also in Minlacowie. I will give a few comparisons of things then and now. Then, if a settler had a decent spring cart to take his family out, he was up in the "top-notch" of civilisation; now, the pigs ride to Shows and markets in motor lorries. Then, he was in a big way of farming if he had a doublefurrow plough. I ploughed 80 acres in 1870 with a single-furrow plough and two horses; the last ploughing I did was with a tractor and modern disc plough. Then, we had to sow the seed by hand. After a few years a little machine came from America which you hung round your neck and turned a handle as you walked. After that came the machine fixed on a dray. The first reaping machine used was a sickle and one of my fingers has still evidence of my first attempt. My first threshing machine was a flail. In the early days, before the stripper was invented, the grain crops had to be cut with the sickle, and as there were very few mowing machines, most of the hay had to be cut with a scythe. This was followed by the side delivery machine, which laid the hay in sheaf lots ready to be tied up; then that wonderful labor-saving machine, the twine binder, came into use.

After several years rumor came round of a new plan of dealing with mallee land. It was referred to as "mullenizing." Eventually a plough was tried on stoney land near Edithburgh. I went to see it work; it was the first edition of the jump-plough. It had long, heavy beams on the body, with weights on, to keep the ploughs in the ground, instead of the bridle draught. When the share struck a stone, these beams would up-end and come down on the frame with a loud bang, which could be heard a mile off. Several settlers got their ploughs altered to jump, and blacksmiths started making jump-ploughs. Trials were arranged for and were well attdhded. It gave people a chancc to see and sugguest improvements. Eventually the late Garry Smith (father of the manager at Ardrossan) came out with his crank axle plough and scooped the !»ool. The jump-plough has been the means of many thousands of acres of mallee land being cultivated that- could not have been done until the stumps had been grubbed. If the jump-plough had not been invented, and the use of superphosphate not been introduced and used in agriculture, Australia would have been in a much worse position than it is to-day.

"The invention known as the Ridley reaper came as a wonderful boon to agriculturists. It started as a machine to strip the heads of grain off the straw, and now winnows the grain ready for the bag. There is still room for improvements in the manner of threshing and winnowing.

For our 1871 harvest we had one stripper and one winnower amongst three settlers. While my father way waiting for his turn of the winnower I cleaned 150 bags of wheat with a dish in the wind. Our first crop on Troubridgc went 19.5 bushels to the acre.— wheat. Big Purple Straw. There were only about six varieties then, and nnw there arc over 100 kinds. The five first settlers had a quiet time for the first year, but the results of our first harvest encouraged a number of fresh settlers to select land in Troubridge area and Warooka. We early settlers had to work early and late, as we had to build some place to live in, and to fence our crops, as the station stock roamed about and kangaroos were plentiful. Amongst the new settlers were a number of Wesleyan local preachers. A Mr. Brokcnsha held service, first in a tent, and Mr. James Davey had a builder to erect his residcncc. As new settlers got settled down a bit, Mr. W. T. Carter, a probationer for the Methodist Ministry, came and conducted services. The Rev. J. Corvan, of Walalroo (Anglican), paid us visits later. The Rev. M. M. Whitton was resident at Edithburgh. The Revs. J. Nankarrow and Dinnis represented the Baptists. The late Mr. Stephen Carter was the first school teacher, and built a small school at Honiton.

Inside Trehearnes Shop new

Inside the General Store

GA1451 - State Rcords of South Australia

Minlaton High School Date Range: 1945 - 1991 Inventory of Series Description

Minlaton High School first opened in the Parish Hall in 1945. It shared these premises with the Anglican Sunday School. In 1954 the High School shifted to a site on 2 North Terrace. It amalgamated with Minlaton Primary School in 1991 and became known as Minlaton District School.

Contents Date Range Series Date Range Number of Units Public Access Series Id Series Title

1945 - 1990 1945 - 1991 1 Part Open GRS/10223 Admission registers - Minlaton High School

GA1450 - State Rcords of South Australia

Minlaton Primary School

Date Range: c 1878 - c 1991 Inventory of Series Description

To provide education for students from reception to senior secondary.
Minlaton Primary School was established approximately 1878. It amalgamated with Minlaton High School in 1991 and shifted campus on North Terrace to be known as Minlaton District School

Contents Date Range Series Date Range Number of Units Public Access Series Id Series Title

1972 - 1991 1972 - 1991 1 Part Open GRS/10224 Admission registers - Minlaton Primary School


The flour mill at Minlaton 1910 - State Library of South Australia - B 64081

Capt. Harry Butler. A.F.C. R.S.

Smoke Social and Presentation.

On Wednesday, January 24, a smoke social was tendered Captain Harry Butler in the Minlaton Institute supper-room. There was a large attendance, presided over by Mr. S. C. Crawford, President of the Minlaton and Curramulka Sub-Branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia. The Chairman cordially welcomed visitors from other districts. He stated that the object of the gathering was to publicly recognise, in some tangible form, Capt. Butler's wonderful work. He referred to the Captain's valuable service during the war and the many good deeds and great assistance he had rendered to patriotic and other movements since his return to South Australia. He said it was not until they had found out how near they had come to losing Capt. Butler in his "buster'' last year that they woke up and realised what a wonderful man they had amongst them. It had been difficult to decide the best form the presentation should take, mainly owing to the Captain's modesty, who had always maintained that he had not done anything to earn a presentation. Before making the presentation he called on Mr. S. F. Hoyle to propose the toast of the evening: Mr. Hoyle said it gave him great pleasure indeed to submit the toast "Our Guest." He had known the Captain from childhood, and in those days, when he had seen him getting enjoyment out of bits of broken machinery, he had thought Harry was not cut out for a farmer. He did not think he would live to see the Captain rise so far beyond what he had then anticipated. He spoke feelingly of the Captain's parents— better neighbors and truer friends one could not find anywhere, and to them the Captain owed a great deal. The toast was warmly supported by Messrs; H. D. Betts, R. Wilkinson, F. G. McLean, K. B, McLean, J. O'Leary, and C. S. Hincks. The toast was drunk with musical honors. The Chairman, in presenting the Captain with a beautifully illuminated address, a roll-top desk, and and an office chair, said he did it with the best feeling and good-will that it was possible for a body of men to show to another. They all recognised the Captain's wonderful ability, and they desired to show their appreciation of his work and worth in some tangible way. He asked the Captain to accept them from the people of the town and district. He felt sure that Capt. Butler would appreciate the address and make good use of the desk. The address was one of the finest pieces of work of its kind in South Australia. It had been executed at the School of Arts and Crafts in Adelaide.- The following is a copy of the address:— To CAPT. HARRY J. Butler, A.F.C., R.S We, the undersigned, on behalf of the Returned Soldiers and other residents of South Australia, desire to express in tangible form their great appreciation of the many public and high-spirited services you have rendered to the British Empire, and particularly to this State, during the period of your war service and since your return from the scene of hostilities abroad. The knowledge of the splendid recovery after your recent accident is gratifying to all classes of the community. You have always evinced a keen interest in all patriotic movements and given your whole-hearted support, and practical assistance towards all things appertaining to the benefit of our Empire and State. Your courage and ability as an aeronaut are of the highest order, and will ever be remembered by the people of South Australia. Your name will be handed down as one of the pioneers of aviation in Australia, It is hoped you will be permitted, during many years, the enjoyment of witnessing the good results accruing from your many attainments. Signed on behalf of the people of South Australia—H. N. BARWELL, Premier. For the Returned Soldiers — S. C. CRAWFORD, President, H. D. Betts, Secretary, Minlaton, Sub-Branch Capt. Butler, in rising to respond, was greeted with loud applause. He said the presentation had struck him as a thunderbolt. He felt unworthy of it, and could not find words to express his feelings, and if he took note of his feelings he would rather be anything up to 30,000 feet above where he now stood. The gathering that night had given him more pleasure than his accident had given him pain. He very greatly appreciated the many kind remarks and this act of his comrades and friends on Yorke Peninsula. He would carry the remembrance of it to the last of his days. He took it that those who were responsible for it were paving a tribute, not only to him, but to aviation. It showed that they were interested in the great work that had been done and would be done in the air. It gave him great confidence and strengthened his hopes for the future of aviation. The Captain mentioned that the Federal Government were giving great consideration to the establishment of an aerial mail on Yorke Peninsula, and he hoped in the near future (This side of 12 months) to have the pleasure of piloting all who were present across Yorke Peninsula for many years to come. He again thanked them all for the very fine gifts. He felt quite unworthy of all the kind remarks that had been said about himself. Mr. O. K. W.Bruns had charge of the toast, "Mr. and Mrs. Butler, senr," and was ably supported by Mr. Geo. King. Mr. Butler and his son Tom responded. Mr. R. G. Whitelaw proposed " The Land We Live In." Messrs. V. B. Roberts and J. V. Davey replied. Mr. Craig, the artist responsible for the execution of the address, said it was a privilege to be present. The work on the address had been a labor of love, and no piece of work had been done in the School of Design with more pleasure attached to it, because it honored a man that they liked. Mr. W. R. Kelly proposed "The Fallen Soldiers." At the close of his fine address the '' Last Post'' was sounded by Mr. F. McKenzie, whilst those present stood with bowed heads. The toast was drunk in silence. During the evening the Orchestra, under the conductorship of Mr Carl Thomas, rendered appreciative music. Songs were given by Messrs. Leishman and Adam and a recitation by Mr. Bannon. Mr. E. Jaehne proposed a vote of thanks to the Orchestra, to which Mr. Hinton responded. A happy gathering, in which good-fellowship was the prominent note, was closed with the National Anthem and "Auld Lang Syne."