ON YORKE'S PENINSULA.
About a week ago. a party left Adelaide for a few days' run on Yorke's Peninsula on various errands bent. It included the Conservator of Forests (Mr. J. E. Brown), whose mission waa to examine various portions of the country with a view to establishing forest reserves and nurseries ; Professor Tate, of the Adelaide University, whose object was to make some geological and botanical researches ; the Inspector of Mines, who wished to inspect the salt lakes and refining works ; Mr. Frederick Wright, who maintains his reputation as an authority on the harvests by a careful tour "round the crops" every year; and a member of the Press who was desirous of inspecting a portion of the colony, viz., the southern end of the Peninsula, which he had not previously visited. The learned Professor soon separated from the rest of the party to pursue his investigations at leisure. The remainder made arrangements to travel together, and only separated on arrival at the mining part of the Peninsula.
Edithburgh was reached after a pleasant run in the steamer Warooka, and here some of the visitors were able to gain some interesting information about an important and rapidly growing industry which has proved a great help to the farmers, who for many years had been, to use an expressive phrase coined on the journey, "eking out, a precarious existence on a calcareous formation." The export trade in eggs, most of which have been sent to Melbourne, has reached very large dimensions. Mr. George Hart, the leading spirit in this and many other enterprises, sent 100,000 dozen eggs to Melbourne last year. He is not the only purchaser, however. The storekeepers also buy from farmers, and place the purchase-money to the credit of the sellers' accounts. Their purchases added to Mr. Hart's exports would probably bring the quantity sent away in 1888 to 160,000 or 170,000 dozen. Mr. Hart has gone into the business in a most systematic way. His vans travel round the district, and take the eggs from the farmers' doors. On arrival at the Edithburgh store they are packed in a most safe and regular way. The cases are all of one size— eight to a ton of measurement— so that there is no waste of freight. Cardboard compartments in the shape of bottomless trays are provided with loose sheets of millboard to go between. Each tray contains eight dozen eggs, and there are seven layers in a case, making fifty-six dozen in each package. The packing is thus very close, and there is seldom any loss from breakages. The cases with their trays are returned after the eggs reach their destination, and go upon their travels time after time. The duty of 2s. per gross recently placed upon eggs by Victoria with a view of promoting a fraternal feeling between the colonies and encouraging a spirit ot federation has diverted a considerable portion of the trade to Sydney, and so far the demand has not slackened. These and other minor industries which are being acclimatized on Southern Yorke's Peninsula are doing much to add to the trade of that district and the comfort and prosperity of its people. Another industry which flourishes in Edithburgh is the export of chaff. Last year was a poor year, as South Australians know to their cost, but about 2,000 tons were sent away. Usually the export is about half as much again, the greater part going to New South Wales and Queensland. Mr. Hart has most complete machinery for the chaffing of hay, and indeed his establishment seems to be a model of management and enterprise. Enquiries were naturally made at Edithburgh as to the state of the crops. The great question at issue was whether rust would assert itself seriously among the crops, and the visitors were able to ask questions of several farmers who had brought their eggs to market. There seemed to be a fear of it, but no certainty that it existed in a bad form. One German agriculturist, who had evidently annexed one of the Englishman's dearest privileges, said that there was rust in his crop, but there "must be something to growl at," and he did not appear to be in much trepidation. At this point it will be convenient to say that the party during their wanderings inspected the crops as far as they could be seen from the main roads in nearly every hundred. From Edithburgh to Yorketown there is not much to be seen in the way of wheat, and the fields under cultivationly did not present a particularly clean appearance. Starting from Yorketown to Warooka an undue prevalence of wild oats, attributed by good authorities to the want of proper fallowing, was noticed. This was particularly remarked upon one section two or three miles from Yorketown, where a very heavy crop was reaped from new land last year; but this season, while promising to yield fairly, the wheat will not run to a high average. Rust was observed in some places. It had attacked the stalk, but the ear was in perfect condition, and there seemed to be no cause for alarm. Towards Warooka the crops improved materially. The land is of better quality, and large areas have been fallowed by some of the more careful farmers. The result is seen in clean well grown fields, which will in many cases, if all goes well during the next week or two, yield fully 15 bushels to the acre. In the township of Warooka there was remarkable evidence of the capacity of the soil. Mr. Keightley, who keeps a store there, is an enthusiast both in gardening and agriculture. He has planted vines, fiuit trees of all kinds, and flowers to a large extent, and has created quite a little paradise around his residence and place of business. An extraordinary sight was a crop of New Zealand white oats, which is growing on an allotment behind his store. It was fully 5 ft. in height, of a most vivid green, and the stalks were more like substantial reeds than anything else. It has been grown entirely without irrigation. The verdict of the visitors was that the crop would make excellent silage, but that it was too strong and big in the stalk for hay. Mr. Keightley will probably allow the crop to ripen, and the result will doubtless be a phenomenal one.
From Warooka the travellers proceeded to Point Turton, and admired the beauties of Hardwicke Bay, on the eastern side of the Peninsula, which would be a most delightful seaside resort for the jaded citizens of Adelaide if it were more accessible. Here the Conservator inspected the Government Reserve, with the object of coming to a decision as to its suitability for forest purposes. The next stage was to Levens, the station of Mr. T. Davidson. This gentleman, like many of his neighbours who have gone over the Border, has discovered that this part of the district is not fit for agriculture, and that it is not suitable for sheep and cattle unless in conjunction with land further from the sea owing to the prevalence of coast disease. He has, however, found it eminently adapted for horses. He has with great enterprise devoted himself to the breeding of carriage horses. His principal sire is Pride of the Hills, a noble animal, descended from the celebrated Talk of the Hills, and he is running about 150 horses upon the lands which he holds under lease from the Crown. Some of the land, which would not grow wheat, has been turned to account by the planting of wattles. One plantation of about 100 acres was started five years ago, and was found to be in such good condition as to earn the warm approval of the Conservator. Another block has been recently planted, and Mr. Davidson will probably extend his operations in this direction considerably, and there is every reason to believe with a profitable result.
From Levens the road led through the Hundred of Parawurlie, where some excellent crops and some good land in fallow were to be seen. Some yields of twenty bushels will probably be heard of here. Rust was seen here as elsewhere, but where it was found upon the stalk it had not penetrated beneath the outer skin, and the heads were full and uninjured. In this and the adjoining Hundred of Coonarie there is a large belt of Crown lands, very rough and stony, and covered with scrub, which Mr. Brown inspected. He was not favourably impressed with it, however, and is not likely to under-take the risk of conducting his operations on such poor country. The course now lay via Warooka to Yorketown, at which most convenient centre all the roads in this part of the district meet. From here the opportunity was taken by the Inspector of Mines to inspect one or two of the numerous salt lakes, which are a remarkable feature of the country. Lake Fowler is the largest, having an area of 1,700 acres, but the visit to this was reserved for a future occasion. Large quantities of salt are obtained from several of the lakes by simply carting the natural crystals from the bed when the water evaporates. At Lake Bookamarray, however, there is an extensive system of manufacture from the salt water. These works were started by Mr. Moseley, and carried on by him for several years. They are now, however, the property of Messrs. Henry Berry & Co., of Adelaide and Melbourne. The water is pumped up into shallow iron vats heated by furnaces, and as the water evaporates the crystals are raked out. The export from this factory alone is about 20 tons a week, and a large amount of labour is indirectly employed in the carting of firewood. There are other extensive works at a lake near Yorketown, on the Stansbury-road, which have been abandoned for some reason, but there is every reason to expect that the industry will increase and become a very considerable one.
Before leaving Yorketown for the more northern parts of the Peninsula some interesting facts as to the crops were gleaned from a resident, who had just returned from a tour among the farms. His verdict was that in the Hundred of Dalrymple the crops generally were good, and he mentioned one that would run to about thirty bushels. There was little rust, and the average for the hundred would probably be about ten bushels, or perhaps more. The whole of the south end of the Peninsula, including Moorowie, Dalrymple, Parawurlie, and Melville, would, in his opinion, be about twelve bushels. The hay crop generally was good, and had not been injured by the late rains. The same gentleman was eloquent as to the beneficial effect which the egg business had had upon the district. The farmers also were now generally keeping sheep, thus improving their land and helping their finances by the sale of the wool.
From Yorketown to Stanabury it was Found that the crops were good, and free from any serious manifestation of disease, premising an excellent result. At Stansbury the principal attraction was the garden and plantations of Mr. Frederiok Wurm, which deserve a much more detailed description than can be given as the result of a very brief visit. Mr. Wurm is a very practical and enterprising colonist, who has, notwithstanding much scepticism, succeeded in proving the capacity of the district for high culture. His garden is situated on the very edge of the sea. It consists principally of a sandy loam full of limestone nodules, but in the gullies the land is richer with more humus. About 100 acres have been planted; On the higher land there are about 4,000 vines and about the same number of olives, as well as 1,000 mulberries, all of which are in a most thriving condition. ln the most sheltered spots about 4,000 fruit- trees, including peach, apricot, lemon, apple, pear, quince, fig, walnut, and plum, have been planted. They have all made vigorous growth. The vines and many of the trees have already been in bearing. It will be remembered that excellent samples of dried fruits and raisins were shown at the Jubilee Exhibition. The young trees are showing signs of a good crop of fruit, notwithstanding their age, and there is every prospect that before long a large and profitable industry will be thoroughly established. Mr. Wurm has also gone in for Forest cultivation on a small scale. He has planted sugar-gums as a breakwind which, notwithstanding the exposed position and the poor soil have made excellent growth for the short time that they have been in the ground. About three miles after leaving Stanabury the traveller enters a belt of scrub lands atill in the hands of the Crown. It runs for about seven miles east and west by six miles north and south. At a point about six miles from Stansbury there is a Government dam. The country surrounding this was carefully examined by the Conservator with a view to its use as a forest reserve. The soil, which is shallow, is chocolate, with a good clay subsoil of a very retentive nature. It is covered with ordinary mallee scrub, and although not attractive to the ordinary selector met with tbe approval of Mr. Brown for his special purpose. It will be now a matter for the Commissioner of Crown Lands to say whether a reserve ehall be established here.
At Minlaton the opinion of well-informed authorities as to the state of the crops was sought. Rust was about in all directions, it was stated. Some alarm had been caused, and some farmers had cut their crops for hay, notwithstanding the prospect of low prices. The disease, however, had not advanced sufficiently to make its ravages a certainty. Barring its further advance the average for the Hundreds of Minlacowie, Koolywurtie, Curramulka, and part of Ramsay would be nine bushels. Some crops might fail, but so far the ear was not affected. The rust, it was stated, was worst on the strong land where there was a redundant growth. A hot wind was blowing at the time of the visit, which would probably lessen the risk of tbe disease spreading. By these informants alao satisfactory evidence was given of the improvement in the state of farming in tbe district. As a result of fallowing the land is cleaner, and the farmers have added to their incomes by keeping sheep and the production of eggs, and in some cases of honey.
Continuing the journey northwards the road passes through good average crops until the beautiful Yorke Valley is reached, where the superior land will tell with advantage upon the average. The worst case of rust seen on the trip was near Mount Rat. The disease had run to the upper stalk, but the heads were quite uninjured, showing not the slightest sign of falling off. On arrival at Maitland enquiries irom the most trustworthy authorities were made. From one gentleman, who had just made a general inspection of the farms in the Hundred of Tipara, it was learned that rust was prevalent in that part. In one caae it would take two bags from a crop which would otherwise have yielded from three to five bags. Other crops were affected, but not seriously injured. In Kilkerran and Wauraltee the crops were too far forward to suffer. The Hundreds of Maitland, Kilkerran, and Wauraltee ought, in the opinion of this well-informed informant, to yield ten bushels to the acre.
From Maitland the road to Moonta via Arthurton was taken, and many good crops as well as many a bounding in wild oats were passed. Exceedingly good results have, according to competent authorities, been achieved in the sandhills between Arthnrton and Moonta. Some land till lately neglected has been taken up, and some of the crops are expected to yield from three to four bags to the acre. On arrival at Moonta the inspection of the crops of Yorke's Peninsula was practically ended. As to the final result everything depends upon the weather during the next few days. So far the rust, although prevalent, has not done serious injury to the crops in general in the hundreds visited. There will be many cases of loss and of consequent hardship ; but except in individual cases a failure of the crop need not be feared unless the weather becomes exceptionally unfavourable.