OUR EARLY SETTLERS. THE TRIP TO YORKE PENINSULA.
Towards the end of the sixties, the farmers on the South Rhine and Eden Valley were having a very bad time through red rust reducing the yield from 20 bushels to or 4, and as most of them were on rented land from 10/-to 12/- per acre, and reaping by sickle, which cost 12/- per acre, you will readily understand why they were looking further afield. Nearly all the wheat from Eden Valley went per waggon to Jno. Dunn & Co.'s mill at Mount Barker.
About that time the lower end of Yorke Peninsula was being surveyed. The first hundreds were Melville, Moorowie, Para Wurlie, and Dalrymple, and were held by Anstey and Giles, of Penton Vale Station; Wm. Fowler, Moorowie; Roger Landers and Stephens, Lake Sunday; Thos. Rogers, Carribie; and Orrie Cowie, by Jas. Gilbert. It was rich grazing country, and it was no wonder they did not look pleased to see the 'cocky" inspecting the land. As soon as the land was thrown open a good lot of it was taken up and "dummied," generally securing the water. At that time no one person could take up more than a square mile. The price started at £2 per acre, and gradually came down to 20/- per acre. After it had been open for selection a certain time it then could be bought right out for cash at 20/-. Limiting selection to 640 acres was a mistake. No one could carry on mixed farming on that acreage, as nearly all the land was very rough and stoney. In 1870 the late F. W. Friebe and I took a run over to see what prospects there were to open a shoe shop and store. We left Port Adelaide per "Edith Alice," and arrived at Salt Creek one Sunday morning in May, tramping it to Middle Hut, which was located near Seven Roads. Mr. H. Newland, saddler, was already established at Seven Roads, where Mr. Dugan was going to lay out a township later on. Mr. Newland kindly drove us as far as Orrie Cowie. At that time there was already a sprinkling of settlers. Mr. Friebe decided to try his luck, and joined Mr. Newland at Seven Roads, but I was not impressed; the land seemed too rough for successful farming and the settlers too scattered to start a store. At first everybody wanted a block with a little clear land and avoided those with lakes as much as possible. The Government would not cut the lakes out. They had all to be paid for as land. By degrees the whole of the hundreds were taken up. As a good number of the settlers were old customers of ours from Eden Valley, we, our firm of Gottschalk and Klem, decided to follow them, and opened a general store at Edithburgh. In 1872 the late C. Kruger had taken up land at Oaklands, so we arranged to go overland together. We left Eden Valley in 1872, C. Kruger with an English waggon and five horses, and I with a van and four horses, leading five behind. We went via Angaston. Tanunda, Gawler, and Two Wells to Port Wakefield. It was very wet season, and the road track from Two Wells was in awful state. We got bogged a good number of times. The track from Two Wells was not grubbed, and there was scrub malice on both sides. The mail coach from Adelaide to Moonta had leather springs. No other kind would stand the rough stumps. We got to Port Wakefield on Saturday and that night there was a tidal wave. In the morning our conveyances were in water up to the axles, and we could not get near them, but the water soon soaked away, and in the afternoon we managed to get round the swamps and camped at the foot of the bald hills at Yarraroo. We then went by easy stages, following the coast track, all scrub, till we got to Oyster Bay, now Stansbury. There we found a Mr. Taylor building ketch called the "Elizabeth Ann." We asked him why he was building ketch there. He told us he could get all the naturally crown timber for ribs. The young sheaoak trees were the very best for the purpose. I think he built three ketches there. An old friend of mine bought the "Elizabeth Ann" when she was ready for sea for £l,200, and we often loaded her at Edithburgh with wheat. A very good stout boat she proved to be. Next morning we went to Haywood Park and camped. Not knowing how we were going to get to Edithburgh, we rode up to Seven Roads to see our old friend, W. Friebe, and get directions. At that time there were only tracks from one shepherd hut to another from the head station. H. Newland and F. W. Friebe returned with us to spend the evening with us at camp, as Mr. Kruger was close to his selection, and we were to part company, so we put the whole of our flour together and made an old man damper. When we rolled it out of the ashes it was nearly as high as our front wheel. It was pronounced by our visitors A1. Next morning we passed Penton Vale, and got badly bogged several times, and saw a stack of salt about 80 tons there in bags The late Mr. L. Giles had it scraped to see if it could be sold, but I believe the bag rotted and the salt melted with the rain. After we got established at Edithburgh we tried to sell it for him, and submitted samples to all the leading merchants at Adelaide. They all declared it valueless, not even good enough to salt hides. So much for prejudice.
Now we know of no other salt. We reached Sultana at Edithburgh night. Next morning we hunted up our allotments and shifted on to them and struck camp, and glad the over land journey was over. Edithburgh at that time consisted of the Troubridge Hotel, half up, being built up Jas. Young, of Port Wakefield, and two-roomed cottage with thatch, occupied by Mrs. Eastern, who cooked and washed for her sons, near by. Not much of a space to build a general store, you will say, but we knew when we decided to go to Yorke Peninsula that we should have to go after trade that is why we took over a van. We soon got busy, got a van load of goods over, and made the first trip. We had to keep the pot boiling while the store and dwelling for my partners family were being built.
Soon after we arrived we had an open air meeting at Seven Roads to erecting a jetty. W. V. Cornish Sail Creek was a very energetic young man, and he and the skinpers of the "Sailor Prince" and "Edith Alice" told us some Murchhouson stories of the dangerous position, with no holding ground, etc., at Edithburgh, but the meeting carried Edithburgh for jetty. We know the Government made lots of mistake in that regard but as far as Point DeMole (Edithburgh) is concerned it made no mistake. It is the only jetty that has a good depth of water. John Wisham got the tender to build the first short structure and cutting, and a good stout job he made. From then on the township of Edithburgh grew rapidly. The first mail by water was carried by A. Martin in a little 5-ton cutter called the "Sultana." He carried all our stores via Glenelg, reaching Edithburgh regularly on Sunday morning. We kept the post office in the store, and conveyed the mail to Weaner's Flat (Yorketown) on the following morning per horseback, and returned same day. Martin was almost as punctual as the steamers on his trips, The Government evidently did not have much faith in the country, as no inland townships were surveyed till (1876) Minlaton and Maitland were surveyed. Mr. Chas. Beaumont saw his opportunity at Weaner's Flat. There was a small block of land that farmers would not take up on acount of two-thirds lake and one-third land. As it had laid open the required time it could now be bought for cash, Mr. Beaumont bought it and surveyed the township called Yorketown. He persuaded H. Newland and W. Friebe to come to Yorketown and would give them an acre each for 5 pound which they accepted. Mr. Beaumont building the hotel, and with Ed. Jacobs already on the corner where Erichsen's store is the township could boast of four business places. The land was generally cleared by pulling down with bullocks in winter and broken up with a single fixed plough. That meant a pair of good horses and man to do one acre per day, or 10 weeks to do 60 acres. Today we do that in a week. On account of the tones and stumps the area was united in most cases till the stumpiump plough came into use. The late Caldwell. M P., of Wattle Point, was the first man to bring a stumpjump plough over. A field trial was held at Wattle Point. The implement was rather cumbersome and made a great noise, but all present were satiseld the principle was right. It would jump the stones and scrape off the little soil there was and best of all no one had to hold the handles. The blacksmith soon got busy. Once they saw the idea, they soon improved it from year to year Clarence Smith, of Ardrossan, is to my mind the king of the stump-jump plough. Mr. Heazegirdle, of Edithburgh did a roaring trade with a 3-furrow for £22. There was a fine spirit of self-reliance the old pioneers, such as clearing roads, scraping and cleaning out wells. The Oakland' farmers wanted, buy wheat at Wool Bay (now Pickering) but there was no jetty nor cutting. They volunteered to make the cutting, fence a block of land all free, and 40 men turned up with picks, shovels, and crowbars, making the cutting in one day. Mr. F. L. Barnes, of Oaklands, carted the 8,000 bags that we took in there on account of John Darling & Son for 1d. per bag. Folk in those days did not run to the Government for every 2.5d. job that wanted doing, but did it themselves. Getting back to Edithburgh, the late Mr Ben Rose was soon on the job to build a little chapel, and never grew weary of the theme, so it was derided that he should see what could be done re material. A block of land was already bought, and subscription lists were got out to see what cash could be raised. Mr. Rose soon had all stones, sand, lime, and water. Even the young men gave labor, but I don't remember how much cash we raised Mr. E. Guilon got the job to build, plaster, and paint at 2/9 per yard. How does that compare with to-day? A good job he made of it. When the building was completed we were £80 debt, which we got from the Home Fund, but had to pay off £10 per annum. Four ladies gave a tray each for a tea meeting, the £10 was forth coming each year, and when it was reduced to £40 eight gentlemen came forward and gave £5 each, so in 1879 the building was free of debt. The Rev. Robt. Kelly, a single man, was our first preacher. He came by the little "Sultana." and we conveyed him on horseback to Weaner's Flat. Mr. Kelly boarded with Mr. Macklin at Sunbury, where I think they had a small building for school and service. All of Mr. Kelly's work was on horseback, and his circuit as far as Maitland at times. He had a fine lot of local men assisting him, including R Caldwell. Jas. Caldwell, J. Bartram. S. Woods, Thos Barnes and F. Havey. The Edithburgh Chapel was opened by Mr. Kelly on Christmas Day 1874, with a tea meeting. It was a great success. The first steamers to call at Edithburgh were the Lubra, Kangaroo, and Royal Shepherd, on their way to Port Augusta, and calling in on their return Fare, 15/- each way, but they took no cargo. It was a good service until the steamer Glenenelg was put on. Her capacitv was 1,200 bags wheat—a very good boat calling at Glenelg for passengers to help the Glenelg Railway. Later a local steamhip company was formed, and Mr A Martin was sent to Scotland to buy a suitable boat He purchased the lame Conmrie?." but on arrival we found we had to spend £400 to make her suitable for the trade. On the way out from Scotland we got her to call at Newcastle and filled her with coal at 7d per ton, which helped to bring her out. Our first schoolmaster was Mr Jas. Gelled, a fine type of man and an ardent Methodist. He was very musical, which was a great help at the church. Our first doctor Dr. A Vonuida, coming from the Bilimman Mine. A team and waggon brought his furniture all the way overland, a great journey. He resided near Lake Fowler, Iater he built in Yorketown ( V ( '.. Rerh-• now ..1 ,TV.i<• — ' The d'.'1-tor was fiirioii- driving AUvavan. l would gallop them ed 'I • 1 li k. I>1 poiti. to where he was called. The first agricultural show was held at Edithburgh. Held alternately at Edithburgh and Yorketown. The first concert was a Catholic one, held in a barn between Yorketown and Seven Road-—a great success. We had to go through a sheet of water near Sheehan Well for finite a quarter of a mile. The late Ebenezer Ward in the 70's selected land at Para Wurlie. He received the gold medal at the Paris Exhibition for wheat grown at Para Wurlie. He was instrumental in getting the crossing over the Peesy Swamp made, and it was named after him. He also gave a recitation when the Edithburgh Institute was opened_ Jno Smith was the first manager of the National Bank, kept at the back of our store till they built in Blanche Street. The dairy at Comey Point got its name because Rogers' people milked a great number of cows there and made butter and cheese and shipped it to Wallaroo Mines, and made £7,000 that way. We sold our store to Mr. Geo. Hart, and went into contract work, carting, lime burning and wheat buying, etc. till 1879, When we dissolved partnership I decided to go on the land. My friends did all they could to persuade me not to go to Corney Point. Said I would starve there, the land was no good, etc. My only experience in farming was wh 10 vears old to carry a bullock whip Inside a team of bullocks in a single furrow plough, near Pewsey Vale, and I don't know whether I or the bullorks were most frightened, but they saw bought experience is best. True, I had a pretty bad spin for a time, what with kangaroos, wallabies, and poor crop, but all was altered when super came, which increased the yields 100 per cent. Now we are coming to the next stage of progress, viz.., top dressing, and I predict that within five years top dressing pasture land will be as universal as for cereals. That top dressing will increase the carrying capacity 100 per cent, is beyond dispute, and if any doubting Thomas' are about let them come to Corney Point, and I will show them rough stoney black grass land which will convince them without a shadow of doubt, thanks to science and chemistry. No wonder there is a boom in land values in good rainfall districts. Maitland land is fetching almost £30 per acre, and yet before super several farmers were ruined through poor crops, which were as low as and 4 bushels. Now, in conclusion, to justify the Maitland-Paskeville railway, or better still right down to Edithburgh, we want oil or coal that folk say are in abundance at the lower end. Nothing but boring will prove it, and boring costs money, and folk are not very keen to invest what they cannot see. I hope the effort that is being made for a trial bore will be successful.
By Mr. O. Klem, of Corney Point.