Forty Years Reminiscences on Southern Yorke's Peninsula.
In the early part of the year 1870 Messrs James Brown, George Hoare, Thomas Correll, James Davey, James Dugan, senr. and jnr , came to Southern Yorke's Peninsula to settle on their selections near what is now known as Seven Roads in the Troubridge Agricultural Area. They had taken up land under the Strangways Land Act.
These pioneers, who have now gone to their rest had a hard time at first, as their selections had been fed off until not a bite of grass was left. It was difficult to get supplies, as their was only a small sailing craft trading about once a fortnight. Stock had to be fed on sheoak. The pioneer farmers received a weekly mail overland from Adelaide through the courtesy of Mr L . H . Giles, the manager of the Pentonvale station. A district council was formed and roads were cleared. A small jetty was built at Point De Mole now called Edithburgh. Steamers trading to Wallaroo called in and storekeepers and tradesmen came and settled in in the village. In a few years the seasons became more dry and red rust made its appearance. The kinds of wheat then grown were not so rust resistant as those now used. The farmers grew wheat year after year on the same land until the land began to grow sick, oats and barley were then tried but low prices and not much demand soon put an end to that. A large industry was worked up with hay and has been maintained till the present. At one time bricks were made near Lake Fowler but the clay turned out to be unsuitable. Before the farmers came the owners of Pentonvale station had had the salt from the many lagoons bagged and carted to the seaboard but as there was no market for it, the salt was left there until the bags rotted away. The salt trade was afterwards taken in hand by Mr Thos. Woods, then followed Henry Berry & Co. who put up refineries at the various lakes. Now, as is well-known, the refining of the salt is all done at Edithburgh where the factories work day and night. The Gypsum (sulphate of lime) which there are thousands of tons round some of the lakes has become a trade of considerable extent and gives constant employment to a number of men and teams. In the eighties we had a run of late and dry seasons, many of the settlers and tradespeople left the district. The farmers tried pig raising, poultry and sheep. At that time very little wheat went to market and at one time sheaved hay had no commercial value, the pick of a yard of horses could be bought for £10 or £12. The run of dry seasons had some redeeming features. In the seasons when the winter rains did not come till about June the salt on the lakes considerably increased in quantity and the cockspur which had overrun many farms, died out, the years were too dry for it to mature its seed. The farmer of to-day owes a good deal of his success to those gentlemen who have spent so much of their time in cultivating and selecting new varieties of wheat of good milling, good yielding and rust resisting qualities. Better kinds of grain in wheat, oats and barley, together with the use of phosphates have made the farmer prosperous in a way he never knew before. For quite a number of years the lambing trade has been good and barley for malting purposes has been largely grown with good profits. At one time the losses of cattle from dry bible was so great that farmers were compelled to turn to the goat for the milk supply. Lime burning is an industry that has been steadily increasing since the early days of the farmers. The first kilos were worked at Edithburgh and now large kilns are in many places along the coast. During the last 20 years we have a had variety of weather conditions. Some years we have had many days of south east winds in the summer months and other years hardly any. Then again we have had some years when thunder storms were frequent and cloudy days and very little rain, and others plenty rain with very little cloud. I have noticed that the years when very little south east wind blew in February and March, were dry years. Much south east wind early in the year, say January, was mostly followed by too early rains and then dry winter. Some years we have had two layers or strata cloud moving in different directions or in the same direction at different speeds—with these conditions we have had thunderstorms and good rain. It does not appear to be the want of cloud, but the want of the necessary electrical conditions to precipitate the moisture, that causes the dry seasons.