FROM PASKERVILLE TO EDITHBURGH 1898
The railway from Port Wakefield to Wallaroo Bay is the arbitrary line delineating the northern boundary of Yorke's Peninsula On this line of railway is the prosperous, one-sided, one street of Paskeville.
The district is essentially a wheat growing one. In places the soil is a brown loam, and in others of a cal careous nature. The farm Houses have a neat, cosy, comfortable appearance and proclaim that their fortunate holders have been and are successful tillers of the soil. Paskeville boasts of having alongside of it one of the best farms in the province. On this farm the build ings of stone and iron are substantial and useful, clean, and weli cared for. The land under crop has evidence of most careful cultivation. Here as else where in the district seed drills and commercial fertilisers are winning their way.
We left Paskeville just as the orb of day was peeping o'er the Hummocks on the first Monday in May, with the ther mometer at freezing point, and a thin white sheet o'er the carpet of green, whilst an east wind, keen, editing, and cold, found its way through alt our wraps. Trudging behind a flock of sheep we looked upon Paskeville as a cold, bleak place during the months of winter. As we moved onwards we found the 'cockies' were early at work, ploughing, sowing, or harrowing with the six or seven horse teams. The favorite team appeared to be seven horses and all abreast.
About seven miles out we passed Kaneton and found ourselves on the three-chain track. Kaneton is a one house village. Around here the soil is a rich brown loam, but ascending a rise we are confronted with miles of malilee, with patches of cleared ground between. The arm, the axe, the fire, and the pluck of the settler have cleared off patches of mallee. Bat alas, nature has not been with the settler, and he (the settler) has had to go. All at once we came upon a strip of land richer and more productive, with crops of wheat coming up well. Here in its natural state, untouched by man, the soil grows mallee of larger size and sheaoak of fair proportions.
Reaching the Tipara dam, 13 miles from Paskeville, we camp for the night. At dawn next morning we are once more on the road. A mile or so of steady climbing and the desolate, stunted mallee growing on a calcareous soil confronts us. Again we strike a strip of fairly rich soil, which has grown timber of fair size and now is being cleared and cultivated for wheat grow ing. Here again we notice that the seed drill is in use.
Now we are in Arthurton with its one hotel, one store, and two churches.
Leaving Arthurton we come to two roads, one going to Ardrossan and one to Maitland. Taking the latter we at once enter that desolate, dreary, dwindling mallee. Not being able to procure any bread at Arthurton we decide to try and obtain some at the most promising farm house on our road. But farm houses are few and far between. At last we reach one that has a neat and clean appearance outside and resolve to try and purchase a loaf of the staff of life. We knock at every door, front and back, but in vain ; we cannot make anyone hear, although we can hear sounds from within as of a piano being punished, and as we crawl up the road towards Maitland still those cries of distress from that whipped piano assail our ears.
On a little further we camp for the night, while one of us goes to Maitlaud for bread. The other yards the sheep and prepares the camp and fire for the night's rest. As we sit by that camp fire inhaling the perfume of a grilling chop on the coals and listen to the frizzling sound it emits, we think it sweeter than the shrieking cries of a punished piano.
Again the sun rises and we are on our way towards Maitland. Our in dustrious little drover and canine friend pauses by a wooden slab on the road side. May be she wishes to shed a tear for one of her species departed. Not having yet learned to read the engrav ings on wooden slabs we interpret the meaning thereof for her, and tell her this spot is known as the dog's grave and herein lies interred the remains of a medical man's dog.
The fair, prosperous, well built and well laid out town of Maitland is beside us. As we wend our way on the out skirls of the town we have time to admire the panorama that stretches before us. Close at hand a fair and growing town, with the fertile Yorke valley dotted with homeateads lying beneath and stretching away southwards, to the west farms and farms, and further away a long stretch of white sand hills and sway out beyond Ike beautiful blue waters of Spencer's Gulf lit up by the rays of the early morning's sun.
Around Maitland the homesteads speak of past prosperity, the fields of a hopeful season to come. Fruit growing has been attempted, and for certain varieties with fair success. Apricols, peaches, and grapes do very wall ; they seem to luxuriate in the rich calcareous soils. With first-class agricultural land on either hand we reach the four-mile dam. Water there is plenty, but we cannot get tlie pump to work. Being idle so long, no doubt, it is on strike until its internals are repaired or re placed. Water being a necessity to us and plentiful in the district we moved on to a "cockey's" dam or duckpond, got what we required, and then camped for dinner. Once more on the move we noticed several seed drills at work. In every paddock the farmer was busy. In one we noticed a ten-horse team ploughing (five abreast).
Soon sundown proclaimed another day was done and a cold one it had been, so right glad were we to gather round the camp fire. One knows not what a night might bring forth. When we crept under canvas lor the night the bitterly cold south-east wind had crept away and a clear, cold blue sky spoke of a frost, but 3 a.m. found us crawling out of wet blankets and a driving rain beating down upon us. We smiled, for we knew the rain was for the country's good. Placing a few large mallee roots on the fire we waited events. The dawn brought a chaage, the rain ceased, and mallee rails were praised round a blazing fire. Soon our camp presented the appearance of someone's backyard fence on washing day.
FROM PASKERVILLE TO EDITHBURGH 1898
Another day, and another start. Soon Urania township was passed through. A township of four buildings — a State school, store and post office, blacksmith's shop, and a church. Urania is nine miles from Maitland. The land to the east of Urania, known as the Urania Plain, is a strong and fertile chocolate loam. To the westward and southward limestone predominates, covered with low mallee except where cleared for cereals. Climbing up a slight rise Spencer's Gulf can be seen. All day showers are swiftly flying northwards, driven by a strong southerly wind. The clouds divide. One succession of showers runs up the west coast, and the other up the east coastline, and thus we escape a wetting.
Mount Rat with its State school and accommodation house is reached and passed. To the west and nearer the coast can be seen Wauraltie Township. From Urania until five miles south of Mount Rat the soil is poor calcareous, Jupiter Cluvius has been most consider ate to this dry inferior country by flooding it with copious showers a few weeks since, and in consequence the land wears a verdant smile. One of the oldest settlers informed us that not for nineteen years past have Mount Rat and Wauraltie been blessed with such a fall of rain.
Five miles further on the country has improved. Here we noticed a five-horse team hitched to a plough and being driven by a female, whilst another female was busy harrowing. A little later on we learned that this farm is worked and managed by females, there not being a man on the place! May success crown their labours!
A little later we camp for the night amongst heavy timber, principally peppermint, growing on rich calcareous soil. Next morning the sun rises, but fails to dispel the cold. A few miles through fair agricultural country and we reach Minlaton.
After leaving Minlaton a lady cyclist passes us. We admire the cool way she sits her machine, and make the remark, ' How much more natural, ladylike, and comfortable a lady is on her wheel than most females are on horseback.' By-the-bye, the road from Paskeville to Edithburgh is a splendid one for cyclists ; well-made and in first-class order almost all the way.
Soon the country changes, and for several miles we pass through some of the worst and most useless country to be found in this province.
Reaching Minlacowie Hill we have a most magnificent view of Sonthern Yorke's Peninsula. To the south a forest of sheaoak and ti-tree. To the west Spencer's Gulf with Hardwicke Bay, forming a beautiful curve, ending in Point Turton with its immense flux quarry, with Corney Point behind. Warooka, a village on a hill, can be seen distinctly on a clear day in the distance, south by west. Down a long and gentle slope for two miles and we are on the Lower Peninsula, where sheaoak and ti-tree take the place of the dull, endless, rolling sea of mallee.
As we near Yorketown the farms appear more numerous and smaller in size than in the mallee country. Lakes take the place of the only small good patches of soil amongst the mallee. During the last two or three seasons these lakes have yielded a more profit able harvest than wheat growing.
From the ' city of churches,' Yorke town — it only has seven — to Edithburgh the country is calcareous with numerous lakes thrown in. In most seasons this part grows wonderful crops of grass, and is a good grazing country, but of late years wheat growing has come down to very light yields. Many farmers are hoping that with the use of seed-drills and artificial manures they may again get good yields, and find themselves on the right side of the ledger when their year's accounts are balanced.
Edithburgh, situated on the east side of the Peninsula, has of late years risen in importance owing to the development of the salt industry. It is how ever, provided with a jetty that is too small for the trade. About twenty-five thousand tons of salt are shipped from here each year in addition to wheat, wool, lime, and other farm produce, to say nothing of the imports.
Edithburgh and Yorketown have not shared with the higher Peninsula in a good downpour of rain. Around these places the country is as bare and dry as three mouths ago. The farmers already look on the dark side. The signs of the season are ominous. Another dry year stares them in the face, so say they.
The general impression one gets from a trip down the Peniusula is the advance made in the methods of cultivation of cereals. The use of the seed-drill and manures steadily increases. The more thorough cultivation of the soil is taking the place of the older " scratch it-in-anyhow " styles. The use of the binder and header is increasing, thus making more use of farm produce.
One thing, however, is much neglected by tbe majority of farmers — the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. How many farms are there on Yorke's Peninsula that will not grow vegetables at some season? None. A couple of acres of fruit trees would supply the household with abundance of fruit. Apricots, peaches, and vines do remarkably well, and may not other kinds succeed it tried? If fruit trees are planted too thorough cultivation is impossible, but it must be done at the right time. From practical observation during the past summer the time between seeding and haymaking has proved to be best, and the earlier and oftener the better. The early cultivation absorbs the rain. The later cultivation should be to get a fine tilth on top to retain the winter rains; but, if left until summer advances the moisture is taken away instead of being held in.