Revisiting Yorke Peninsula

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), Thursday 11 August 1949

DEAR ELEANOR BARBOUR— The arrival of a new car ordered in what seems 'back in the dim ages' made possible a recent trip to Yorke Peninsula after an absence of some 25 years. I might add that it is not the large roomy car I had imagined, but a natty little affair, and after housing us, who have spread with advancing years, there is not overmuch room for many more in it. I wonder if other farmers' wives have the same experience as I do in sudden decisions by the head of the house. Beyond a mere 'well, seeding is finished so well set off,' there was no further notice of the projected trip, and in 48 hours we were heading for Port Clinton, the first stage of our tour. We made across country to Balaklava which proved an interesting town where we wandered around to our heart's content. It is difficult to imagine the five storied flour mill, an outstanding building, having been idle for so many years, but it seems to be busy enough now.

Port Wakefield brings one into full view of the blue waters of St. Vincent Gulf, but one has to rely in blind trust to follow the road by the good old RAA route map to get right round that point of the gulf, which marks the beginning of Yorke Peninsula. Here we first saw the electric light poles being put up en route for Ardrossan.

During the few days we spent at Port Clinton I watched with interest the use of electric power from the plant attached to the farmhouse. This power, many once thought, could not with reliability supply sufficient strength to run such household labor-saving devices as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, wireless, and last, but not least the electric iron. Admitting, of course, that this part of the country has its goodly share of wind, it is a remarkably good performance on the part of a plast driven by a force as cheap as free air— and the result is a contented 'purring' housewife. Incidentally, I do believe such better housing conditions are one of the direct answers to stem the steady drift of our people to the cities.

There is also an abundance of water laid on from Beetaloo, via a huge storage dam, and so, from the Woods and Forests Department have been purchased young trees which appear to be making fair headway. There is no Area School within reasonable distance, so the four young hopefuls sally forth daily by means of a pony and jinker and make the grade in grand style.

Loading At Low Tide

Rabbits appear to be a very sore point and the farmers rally around with tractors and ploughs in an attempt to break up their warrens and reduce their numbers.

Some years ago, our hose informed us, wheat ketches used to call at Port Clinton, where they would wait for the receding tide to leave them nigh and dry to be loaded by the farmers with grain. To do so the farmers proceeded out to the boat with waggons and horses until, as often was the case, the last team would find the incoming tide lapping around the axles and legs before the job was completed.

Price, nearby, appears to have a type of dredged inlet which is difficult to see because of a heavy growth of mangroves on either side. Ketches come in for barley, and there is also a large saltworks there. Ardrossan is a town of note. Here the enterprising Broken Hill Proprietary is setting up yet another of its many works. I was told the company has purchased 25 square miles of country out of which it expects to extract dolomite to be used as a part-process of making steel. They have built a men's hostel to house, I believe, some 60 workmen. More, no doubt will be heard of this interesting venture. The broken coastline looks dangerous, and it would be as well to be sure-footed around the shores of Ardrossan. I have been hopeful that some pageite from Ardrossan would write of this B.HP. undertaking. My visit was but a fleeting one, and I do feel that only someone on the spot could do justice to this subject. As usual, such interesting places have hoardings displayed warning of trespassers — too bad, when one would so much like to peer and pry.

Port Vincent is a pleasant little town with innumerable small craft bobbing at anchor in the bay, so with the prospect of fish in plenty we were disappointed when the cafe proprietor said the boats were the property of nearby farmers in which they relaxed and enjoyed themselves. It was Saturday afternoon when we were at Stansbury, so football fans were wrapped up in their game against Yorketown. The butter factory, with its heap of beautiful six-foot lengths of wood stored high nearby, was an unusual sight as wood, I am told, is scarce in places and as high as £3 a ton in Maitland. Did you say something? No, the large lorry of cream cans did not make me homesick.

At Coobowie we stocked up with provisions for a picnic next day at Corny Point. It was a surprise, indeed, to see such attractive fruit on show so far from fruit-growing areas. Tht price was not excessive considering the cartage necessary, but with Edithburgh less than three miles distant, Coobowie has not had much encouragement to spread into a major township. Troubridge lighthouse stands like a sentinel out to sea near Edithburgh. It does little credit to my geography that I did not recollect it during those happy yesteryears when, at the conclusion of school holidays, we teachers returned regularly by the little ship Warrawee and must have passed it not once but many times.

The Old School

Gypsum and salt appear to be trucked away, but the old track lines from Yorketown have been removed. On these, in former years, hundreds of waggonloads of crude salt came in to the Edithburgh refinery. Being made of steel, they were quickly purchased for shed posts, &c., when the lines were removed. We did a quick run out to my old school near Lake Sunday. There it stood, partly filled with barley, and only a stray black board to advertise that it was once a busy schoolroom. Cobwebs and mice abounded, and the play yard was tenanted by a flock of Merino rams. The area school has ousted the small school here, as is the case in most places— a step in the right direction, I feel convinced.

Many of the old friends have passed on, and some of my old scholars in the flower of their youth gave their all for dear old Australia when overseas. I would have dearly loved to have returned here at least 15 years earlier and renewed many friendships, particularly with dear old Grandma Nation, one of the finest women I have ever known — also with my one time chairman, Mr. Ben Lloyd.

Of the remainder of our trip . I will tell you in my next letter.

Best wishes to all from 'MRS. CHIPMUNK.

(I have the rest of your description of your trip 'Mrs . Chipmunk,' and will publish it soon. How interesting it must have been for you to go back to Yorke Peninsula after all those years!— E.B.)