Yorke Peninsula Encircled
Go anywhere you will around the South Australian coast—or Australian coast for that matter—and one is periodically running against small jetties, none of them—except where a special industry is centred—of latter day vintage and practically all supporting, in a resting capacity, numbers of seabirds as a chief use these days; all erected in the time when twain-yoked bullocks, or, perhaps, horses were the sole means of draught for the district's wool or grain harvest, and return of the infrequent (except at harvest time) provision ketch. The motor truck with, unfortunately, its means of locomotion brought by sea for thousands of miles—in place of being grown of being grown the property, as with the other modes—has been the chief avenue for alteration, making it possible, as they undoubtedly do, to cart to the rail centres at reasonable cost, Yorke Peninsula—"The" Peninsula, however, stands somewhat apart, and these public utilities are almost all still in active use, the disused appearance being not nearly so prevalent as elsewhere.
The Peninsula has no railways. The nearest is at Moonta, but this point, being several miles north of the ; head of St. Vincent's Gulf, can be ruled out. The war and cessation of the wind-jammers in the wheat trade have, however, greatly restricted the usual trade, and the bigger ports, which were wont to see large ships loading for overseas about this period of the year, are all dead in this respect. However, they still are regular ports of call by the Gulf trading steamers and the smaller places have the attention of ketches to transport their produce, though these all now-a-days are modernised to the extent of an oil engine.
Eyes were cast towards the Peninsula (which can be seen from Mount Lofty oil a clear day) during "the" holiday period, and its "exploration"— though a "few" years late in actual effect—decided upon. A tent was placed alboard, to make certain of bridging the difficulties of accommodation when the beaten track was left in the rear or was too far ahead to make convenient. We certainly used it, hut without intention of libelling the place, it can truthfully be stated that opportunities for good camping places are so far apart as to be practically non-existent. However, that's getting ahead of the yarn.
Leaving Mount (Barker about 10 a.m. on Boxing day, we had a lateish lunch at Port Wakefield, where an old publican friend disregarded true trading instincts by supplying the necessary water for replenishing our bag. But an old West Coaster—like the 20 million Frenchmen—can't go wrong! The place is not exactly animated, for the same reason as indicated above.
We skirted the coast on a "floating" road, and, after some dust, enjoyed a fine sea breeze all the way south until nightfall, making stops at many points of interest. Wheat and barley were being carted everywhere, but the stacks were not yet of any great extent. Through Clinton and Price to Ardrossan, a nice town with a miniature beach situate at the foot of high, straight-down cliffs, the wharf and sheds nestling in a small alcove, down bo which is a steep roadway. Barley was being loaded into a ketch, and the beach was thronged with holiday-makers.
The sea continued well below through Muloowurtie and on to Port Julia, where the tiny jetty is tucked under the cliff. To the westward here a lot of tallow had drifted, and the road for many hundred yards was a foot or more deep in sand, which was the only such, trouble of the trip. However, with the mustered the passengers the deepest patch was negotiated without mishap and all were soon aboard again. Hereabouts there were some very rough patches of road, with remarkably good sections either side. Port Vincent and Stansbury (180-odd miles; where we spent the night), both good towns, were also en fete so far as the beaches were concerned—a large number from "out back" being in, judging by the assemblage of cans. From here, straight across the Gulf, were to be seen the lights of Adelaide, showing up conspicuously. This day there were two Mount Barker motorists on this road, and, strange to relate, they, met in a quest for direction.
Our Mount Barker fill of petrol was getting low, but Stansbury garage keepers evidently do not believe in opening too early, so pushing on, we did another nearly 30 miles, to Yorketown, before getting a supply. Still following the coast, Pickering disclosed the extensive works, jetties, etc., of the Adelaide Cement Co., and from here to Edithburgh road conditions were mostly as per nature, with! plenty of unfriendly limestone outcropping. Edithburg to Yorketown, also good towns, was bitumen. Some splendid country and evidence of good crops, while everywhere around are salt lakes, which give Edithburgh its prominence. Some of them had salt heaped up. Edithburgh, which was made a corporation in 1882. has port accommodation and facilities for ocean-going vessels, which have over the years loaded immense quantities of salt (the State's production to date has reached almost £i million worth, most of which has come from this part), gypsum, wheat, lime, etc. The salt industry expanded greatly from 1894. To the southward from the town, Troubridge Island and lighthouse were picturesquely evident. We spent a short time at Yorketown, and experienced some nice showers, which later cleared up.
Heading south-west, through low-timbered country, carrying an enormous quantity of red-flowering mistletoe, limestone country was soon again encountered. and it stuck "closer than a brother" for the next nearly 50 miles, with one break across some salt swamps. Apart front this and its approaches it was a constant case of "hastening slowly." Passers-by were few and far between, and for about 30 miles, except for one local motorist, who "gave us a lead" for some miles (and advised the asking of directions from "all we met"), only one traveller was seen. He (a local also) solicitously acquainted us that we were nearly over the worst of the track! Here and there all along were cultivated areas in long stretches of poor! country, but few houses. The sea was not far away, but only visible now and again, though from a hilltop near Cape Yorke a splendid view, right over the Althorpe Islands, was secured—the best of the trip.
Marion Bay, with a few settlers in the surrounding few miles, has rather elaborate jetty, used for some time by a gypsum company with works, and now a jetty of its own. At Cape Spencer, the most southerly tip of the peninsula, half-a-dozen miles further south-westward, over, so a number of campers and visiting fishermen informed us, a good road. However, we headed north to Corny for the night, over a much better track, but a lot more poor country, the fencing of portion of which was to be wondered at. Some of it was however, quite good, with further extensive wheat and barley areas. Corny is a small scattered settlement, boasting a post office, school, tennis courts, a grain-storage shed that has not been used for years, and a number of farm residences.
The country into Warooka was all of long-period occupation, with more sheep and stock about. Skirting Hardwicke Bay, through Brentwood, the bitumen was again picked up and Minlaton soon reached—a well laidout and prosperous looking place.
Ten miles straight north and the Port Vincent road deviates westward, and a splendid seascape unfolded—Point Pearce (where the aboriginal mission station is situated) to the north, Wardang Island (where the rabbit virus trial was recently made by the Scientific and Industrial Research Council) to the west and numerous islets in between. Port Victoria has & fine anchorage, and, with its splendid wharfage accommodation (ships of up to 30,000 tons have loaded here) and b&iiig the natural Outlet for an extensive wheat area, is perhaps the biggest sufferer by the non-calling of wheat ships. A bleak wind here, so we went on, 14 miles, to Maitland for the night.
Yorke Peninsula Encircled
Maitland is a corporate town, and, like all the "body" and "instep" of the Italy-shaped Peninsula, is surrounded by good grain-producing country, in quite a number of places, evidence of the rain were apparent by a tinge of green, but, needless to say. dryness was the outstanding feature. Trees, except those around homesteads here and there, were confined to the roadways, and not much there. A previous remark, anent it being a great pity that the "powers that he" did not years ago enforce a chain or so of mallee to be retained on every boundary, still holds good, and, had this been done, the Peniusala, as elsewhere, would have been a vastly more productive place than it is now. The town is well laid-out (broad streets) and appointed with rather more public trees than most. We were shown some nice wheaten hay, the crop of which had gone 11 bags to the acre, so the year was not 4 "light" one everywhere.
The number of horse-drawn vehicles met with so far was large compared with in the eastern Hills districts, but whether this was usual state of affairs, or au effort in the interests of petrol conservation due to the war, we were unable to decide, though appearance of the vehicles would indicate the former. As indicative of the general trend, however, it might be stated that it is recorded that in U.S.A. last year 592 horse-drawn vehicles were built, against 52,120 motive power ones. While on the subject of animals, we will pass on to the ubiquitous bunny, which, mainly as a whole family, was constantly under observation—with no more favorable intent than when the land was first opened up. On some of the coastal areas there were extensive colonies of them, and here the sports man who would miss a shot in the late afternoon would indeed be a "mutt." Foxes were also in evidence. One crossed the road in an unhurried trot, jumped upon and over a high stone wall and made a bee-line I across a paddock in which were several hundred sheep in sight. The sheep appeared the only thing concerned as they immediately grouped on a hill-top and observed reynard's transit. Near the head of the Peninsula, to the eastward, we were told that, during the holidays as many as 24 were accounted for in a day by a party of three shooters. Only one snake crossed our path.
Moonta was the next call, and being Sunday and warmish, the greater portion of the population appeared to he patronising the beach at Moonta Bay, and this locality is equipped much in the same way as beaches adjacent to the cities. Moonta has an aged appearance, as befitting a town that was largely built up to 80 years ago. when its life-blood, copper, commenced to flow, in conjunction with its neighboring partner—Wallaroo. 10 miles away, where the smelters were later situate.
Copper is to be found in many parts of South Australia, and its total production here exceeds that of any other State, though now very small—last year under 500 tons. The Moonta mines were worked independently for about 20 years from I860 and yielded nearly £55 million worth of copper, being the first Australian mining field to amass £1 million in dividends. Wallaroo meanwhile produced £2.5 million worth of the metal. Amalgamation took place in 1889, and then, up to closing down in 1931, a further £4.25 million worth was produced. Since, the field has worked on a cooperative basis.
The results of old-time affluence is apparent at Moonta (emphasised by recent appeals to the Government to "do" something), but Wallaroo, from a business point of view, does not exhibit this so much, the superphosphate manure works being now its mainstay. On its waterfront, however, the ruins of the smelters present a woe-begone appearance, the long row of splendidly constructed furnaces being now mere shells. Port surroundings, which deal with considerable wheat, are on a large scale, while the extensive beach to the immediate north—with half-a-mile of hard sand to the water at low tide—is a thing of joy to the whole locality surrounding. However, this was not always so. an old-time resident informing us that 60 years ago there was only a narrow strip, with sandhills; now these hills have moved back—certainly to the detriment of the country nearby. The beach was visited by many hundreds that afternoon, and is apparently a great rendezvous. It is equipped for holiday makers.
Kadina, six miles east, a big prosperous town, also has a copper "past" and this is prominently exhibited in a very large hill of residue, thrown up by the main shaft years ago and acting as a monument which must be slowly reducing by action of rain and wind. Like all mining towns, hope is still nurtured that the mines will "come again."
We continued on the main Adelaide road, over the Hummocks and to Port Wakefield.