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The history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) online

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* The following were the first members of the new Legislative
Council : A. M. Mundy (colonial secretary), W. Smillie (advocate-

feneral), C. Start (colonial treasurer), T. S. O'Halloran, T. Williams,
. Morphett, and G. F. Dashwood. Mr. Williams resigned shortly
afterwards, and Mr. Jacob Hagan was nominated to fill the vacancy.


Ordinances of the Governor and the Legislative Council;"
" An Ordinance to facilitate the Adoption of the Laws
of England in the Administration of Justice ; " " An
Ordinance to avoid Trifling and Frivolous Suits at Law; "
" An Ordinance to regulate the Profession of the Law ; "
" An Ordinance for the Limitation of Actions and Suits
relating to Keal Property, and for simplifying the Remedies
for trying the Eights thereto," and so on.

By the end of the year 1843 it was becoming evident
that, despite all the struggle it had gone through, the
colony was in reality in a healthier and more flourish-
ing condition than it had been since its foundation.
For one thing, it had become a grain-exporting instead
of a grain-importing country, owing to the fact that
thirteen hundred proprietors were now settled upon
their properties in the country districts. Other sources
of wealth and prosperity were opening up on every
hand. The year was remarkable, to an extraordinary
degree, for colonial inventions and improvements in
machinery, and for the introduction of new manufactures.
During the time of enforced leisure, while the general
depression lasted, many of the colonists had been
turning their attention to the invention of machinery
to facilitate work when the prosperous days should
return. The offer of a premium for the best reaping-
machine resulted in the production of about fifteen
models and designs, and, ultimately, to the general
adoption of Mr. John Eidley's celebrated machine, which
gave an unprecedented impetus to agriculture. Mr.
Eidley was a miller at Hindmarsh, and erected there
one of the first steam flour-mills that had been put up
in the colony. He was not a competitor for the pre-
mium, but mechanism was a hobby with him, and
although his knowledge was self-acquired, he was
successful in introducing an implement which revolu-
tionized the agricultural interests of the colony.*

* " The greatest invention ever produced for the agriculturists of
South Australia is Kidley's reaping machine, which reaps and
thrashes the wheat by one simple process. A machine of this kind
could be used only where the climate is dry, and where the grain


His invention sinks all others into insignificance,
but at about the same period Mr. Pettit invented an
extraordinary plough ; Messrs. Swingler and Dent were
on the track for finding out a new motive power ; Mr.
Pita way discovered a new method for propelling boats ;
Messrs. Harding and Bankhead produced excellent
models of an aerial machine (the subject being then
much under discussion in England) ; many colonists
followed the example of their neighbours in New South
Wales by boiling down sheep and cattle for the sake of
the tallow ; Messrs. Owen and Warner commenced the
manufacture of blacking ; Dr. Davey succeeded in
manufacturing starch equal, if not superior, to any
imported. It was an era of progress and enterprise,
and all these attempts to develop the talent and re-
sources of the colony had a beneficial effect.

But there was another source of wealth which had
been gradually developing, and was destined to be one
of the most potent factors in the continuous prosperity
of the colony.

One of the early arrivals at Kangaroo Island in
1836 was " Professor " Menge, an experienced German
geologist and mineralogist, who, finding no scope in the
settlement for his particular studies, commenced the
cultivation of a plot of land, and became so engrossed
in it as to be oblivious to everything else. His little
garden was his study, and, notwithstanding the ravages
of the wallaby and other wild animals, he tended it
with an enthusiasm incomprehensible to his fellows.

But in 1837 Mr. Menge, with most of the other
settlers, was obliged to remove to the mainland, and he
at once turned his attention to those studies to which
he had devoted the greater part of his life. He made

is allowed to ripen and harden in the ear. In some of the Australian
colonies the machine cannot be used in consequence of the moisture
in the air. In South Australia, however, as soon as the crop is
fully ripe, the machine is put into the field and the wheat is reaped
and thrashed with amazing rapidity, and at a very small expendi-
ture. It may safely be said that the cost of farming has been
reduced to the minimum in South Australia." Harcus's " South
Australia," p. 61.

1843.] MINERALOGY. 187

an investigation of the ranges from Cape Jervis upwards
to the Barossa, and was delighted with the indications
he discovered of the existence of gold, silver, copper,
lead, iron, and nearly every variety of precious stones.
In a short time he had collected 100 specimens of
rocks and minerals, which he arranged and classified.
But the fact of his not opening up a single mine led
most people to doubt his assertions that the colony
possessed great mineral wealth. This fact can, however,
be easily accounted for ; he was a mineralogist and not
a miner, a collector rather than a trader, and it would
have afforded him more pleasure to discover a variety
of specimens than to have come upon one or two rich

He was an eccentric individual, and took his own
line in life without reference to others. He made no
important practical discoveries, but he earned for
himself the title of " Father of Mineralogy " in the
colony, as there is no doubt that he was the first to
arouse inquiry into its mineral resources.*

The first undoubted indication of the existence of
silver-lead ore was made in 1838, on a section belonging
to Mr. Osmond Gilles, at the foot of the hills near
Adelaide, but no attempt was made at that time to
open up the mine ; while the trade in land, scarcity of
labour, the want of means of transit, diverted attention
from copper, afterwards to become one of the chief
sources of wealth to the colony.

But in 1841 public attention was, for the first time
in a practical manner, directed to mining operations by

* On the first day Mr. Meng6 set foot in the colony he said that
copper and gold abounded " the hills are full of them."

To him belongs the honour of having proved to a demonstration
that precious stones abound in the colony, and in the course of his
residence there he discovered the following :
Amethyst. Chrysolite. Emerald. Opal.

Aquamarine. Chrysoprase. Garnet. Smaragdine.

Beryl. Cornelian. Jasper. Tourmaline.

Chalcedony. Diamond. Mocha-stone. Topaz.

Specimens of these were sent to the Great Exhibition of 1851, and
attracted considerable attention.


the formation of the South Australian Mining Associa-
tion to work the Wheal Gawler Silver and Lead Mine,
which had just then been discovered by some practical
miners near Glen Osmond. A few tons of the ore were
sent to England in the Cygnet as a sample, and an assay
made in the colony resulted in giving 12,526 ounces
of silver to the ton of ore and 75 per cent, of lead.*
Mr. J. B. Neales was an active worker in the mining

Much about the same time, a lode of copper was
discovered on the banks of the Onkaparinga, near
Noarlunga, in a section belonging to the South
Australian Company, and shortly afterwards the Wheal
Watkins Lead Mine.

But the great discovery of this period the valuable
Kapunda Copper Mine was made in the latter part of
1842, first by Mr. C. S. Bagot, youngest son of Captain
C. H. Bagot, whilst gathering some wild flowers, and
shortly afterwards by Mr. F. S. Dutton, who, in his
work on the mines of South Australia, thus describes
his part of the discovery. A flock of sheep had been
dispersed in a thunderstorm, and Mr. Dutton while
searching for them rode to the top of a hillock to
view the surrounding country. " After being out
nearly the whole day in drenching rain," says Mr.
Dutton, "I ascended this little hill prior to returning
home, for one last view of the surrounding country.
The very spot I pulled the horse up at was beside a
large protruding mass of clay-slate, strongly tinged and
impregnated with the green carbonate of copper. My
first impression was that the rock was covered with
a beautiful green moss, but on getting off the horse
I quickly found, by breaking off a piece from it, that
the tinge was as bright in the fracture as on the
surface. My acquaintance with mineralogy was not
sufficient to enable me to pronounce on the precise
character of the rock, but I had little doubt that it

* It is recorded that the first piece of silver discovered in this
mine was applied to the singular use of stopping the tooth of a
member of the Bar in the colony.


was tinged with copper from the close resemblance of
the colour to verdigris."

The steps taken by Mr. Dutton to secure the land
containing the newly discovered mineral led to a
curious coincidence. He says, "To Captain Bagot,
with whom I had long been on intimate terms, I
confided my discovery, when he also produced a
specimen which was found by his son, and on a sub-
sequent visit to the place we found that the two spots
were in close proximity, although at first, from the one
being on a hill and the other in a plain, we thought
they were two different places. To make a long story
short, we soon ascertained that the specimens were
undoubtedly copper ores; the discovery was of course
kept secret ; we got eighty acres surveyed; all the forms
as laid down by the old land-sales regulations were
complied with ; the section was advertised for a whole
month in the Government Gazette, and we became the
purchasers of it at the fixed Government price for
waste lands of 1 per acre."

Having secured the services of a few Cornish miners,
a considerable quantity of rich ore was raised,* and it
soon became evident that the mine was of unusual

In purchasing the eighty acres Mr. Dutton thought
he had taken in all the copper deposit, but some other
out-croppings were observed, not only by his own
miners, but by other people. When the next section
of one hundred acres was put up to auction in April,
1845, it was bought by Captain Bagot for the large sum
of 2210, so keen was the competition.

While excitement was still running high on the

* Previous to the erection of smelting works and the construction
of a railway to Kapunda, the ore was carted to the Port on drays
holding two tons each, and drawn in dry weather hy six bullocks
and in wet by eight. They reached Gawler Town (eighteen miles)
on the first night, the Dry Creek (eighteen miles more) on the next
night, and arrived at the Port early on the following morning.
The convoys consisted of eight or ten teams, and made the journey
with ease once every ten days, besides carrying up to the mines on
their return all supplies required there.


subject of the Kapunda mines, the Montacute Mine, in
the Mount Lofty Eange, ten miles from Adelaide and
sixteen from the Port, was discovered by one Andrew
Henderson, overseer of Mr. Fortnum, when searching
for a bullock which had strayed. Mr. Fortnum was a
chemist and mineralogist, and he at once pronounced
the specimen shown him by his overseer to be copper
ore of a rich quality. Instead of keeping his own
counsel, the secret was divulged, first to one, then to
another, until it reached the survey office, and the
chance of securing the land without the competition of
a public sale was lost. It was brought to the hammer
on the 16th of February, 1844, when the new regulations
had come into operation. Mr. Baker was deputed by a
small syndicate to bid as high as 4000 for the eighty-
acre section, but at that time little was known about
the value of the Kapunda ores, and the bidding was
not very high, and when the price reached 1550 it
was knocked down to Mr. Baker for that sum. Within
a few hours, the syndicate resold thirty hundred parts
for 5000, and the property became merged into the
Montacute Mining Company.

Several other mines were discovered and partially
worked about this time, such as the Yattagolinga, the
Onkaparinga, and others ; but all these were practically
abandoned when, in 1845, the great discovery of the
Burra-Burra Mine was made, which threw all the other
mines into insignificance, and gave an enormous impetus
to the mining interests of the colony.

Notwithstanding the abuse poured upon Sir George
Grey, he pursued the even tenor of his course, and
many felt no little surprise that he never alluded to
the stinging articles which were constantly issuing
from the local press. The explanation is to be found
in a letter addressed tb an old friend in England, Mr.
George Fife Angas.

" With regard to the articles in the , to which

you allude," he says, " I have never read them, and am
sometimes quite surprised, when I receive papers from


England, to find what abuse has been heaped upon me
here. If I had not pursued this course I could hardly
have avoided being annoyed."

How chagrined those editors would have felt if they
had only known this, and what a flood of light it throws
upon the quiet, self-contained man, upon whom so much
responsibility rested.*

The year 1844 opened with great activity in business
and industrial concerns generally. The depression was
now so far over as to enable all classes of the community
to breathe more freely ; Governor Grey was no longer
regarded by the majority as the enemy of the colony,
and the opposite conviction was strengthened by one of
his first acts at the beginning of the year, namely, a
reduction of the heavy port charges a concession which
gave general satisfaction.

With the comparative leisure consequent upon a
partial cessation of hostilities, he was able to give
attention to many matters which had hitherto been
impossible. His well-known advocacy of the rights of
the aborigines found expression in his opening address
to the Legislative Council, when he announced his inten-
tion to bring in a Bill for the reception of the evidence
of aborigines without oath. In urging the necessity of
endeavouring to remedy their disabilities he said

" One of the most distinguishing features of modern
colonization is the anxiety manifested by the immigrants
to render their occupation of the ancient territory of
the aborigines productive of the blessings of Christianity
and civilization to the people whose country they enter,

* " He ever maintained," says his biographer, " that it was the
duty of a servant of the Crown to go on in the performance of the
public service without devoting time and energy to the refutation
of attacks made upon him. He held that such attacks would
always be made when public duties were faithfully performed, and
that they would meet with adequate and proper judgment when
time had afforded the evidence upon which public opinion could be
fully expressed. And he considered that the energies of those to
whom had been committed great responsibilities, were too valuable
to be wasted in useless apologies or lengthened arguments, and
should be applied exclusively to useful and beneficial purposes."


and the settlers in this colony have ever lent the
Government a zealous aid in the promotion of any
plans having for their object the civilization and
welfare of the native population. It is obviously
one of the most important duties of the Legislature
of a country circumstanced as this is, to promote
this feeling by every means in their power, and to
endeavour to induce each member of the community
to perform, within the sphere of his individual in-
fluence, those duties towards the aborigines for the
fulfilment of which he rendered himself morally re-
sponsible when he entered the territory. No prouder
or brighter distinction could adorn the history of South
Australia than the fact of its first European occupants
bequeathing to their children a territory unsullied by
deeds of violence and crime, and I rely upon your
bestowing the most careful consideration upon the
measures I am about to introduce into the Council with
the object of giving increased means of ameliorating
the condition of the aborigines, both to the Government
and to the settlers, upon whose Christian and benevolent
sentiments towards them the welfare of the scattered
and wandering native population must mainly depend."

In addition to the bill for the reception of evidence
without oath, another was brought in for the care of
the orphans of aborigines. In recommending it,
Governor Grey said he considered that the care of such
orphans afforded the best chance of civilizing the race,
by educating the children and attaching them to our
customs. It was a plan that had been tried at Swan
River with satisfactory results.

It was a sign of the improvement of the times that
attention was once more seriously directed towards
exploration. In April the Governor was able to
accomplish a long-cherished wish of visiting the south-
eastern districts and that part of the overland route to
Port Phillip lying within the boundary of the colony.
Accompanied by Mr. Charles Bonney, commissioner of
Crown lands, Mr. Burr, deputy surveyor-general, Mr.
George French Angas, and Mr. Gisborne, the Governor


set forth on his travels. The results of the journey were
very satisfactory, as it was ascertained that by keeping
near the sea- coast, instead of pursuing the line of route
previously traversed, there was an almost uninterrupted
tract of good country between the rivers Murray and
Glenelg, widening as it approached the boundaries of
New South Wales, until it formed one of the most
extensive and continuous tracts of good country at
that time known to exist within the limits of South
Australia. Moreover, the south-eastern portion of the
province was as fertile as any other part of it, capable
of easy communication in all directions by drays, and
with good bays on the coast for the shipment of

Another expedition, under the command of Captain
Sturt, was fitted out this year with the object of
obtaining some knowledge of the interior of the
continent. Captain Sturt was one of the idols of
the people, the discoverer of their province, the father
of South Australian exploration, a fellow-settler, and
withal a man whose courage, energy, and scientific
attainments won the admiration of all. He started
on the 10th of August, when business was suspended
in the city to do honour to the leader and his
adventurous band. Among the objects of the ex-
pedition was the discovery of a supposed chain of
mountains lying parallel with the Darling and running
north-west, with rivers rising from them. Great
preparations had been made for the expedition, and
when the cavalcade set forth down King William
Street towards the Torrens, escorted by over a hundred
horsemen, who accompanied the party as far as Dry
Creek, it seemed that all the city and the regions
round about had assembled to do honour to the
occasion. At German Pass, where now the township
of Angaston stands, the travellers were hospitably
entertained by Mr. J. H. Angas.

Despatches were received from time to time, detail-
ing how Captain Sturt had found that "the flats of
the Darling exceeded in luxuriant verdure those of the



Murray;" how, on the way to the hills, the wind
blew with the constancy and intensity of a hot blast
from a furnace, insomuch that they had great difficulty
in breathing so rarefied an atmosphere; how scurvy
broke out, and illness set in ; and how, in one part
of the journey, the thermometer, fixed in the shade of
a large tree four feet from the ground, stationary at
135 Fahr., at 2.30 p.m. rose in the direct rays of
the sun to 157. The travellers proceeded as far
northward as water was known to exist, and then
had to carry forward a supply. On the 13th of
February Captain Sturt reported : " I was then nearly
abreast of Moreton Bay in point of latitude, more
than two hundred miles to the westward of the
Darling, and in longitude 141 22' as near as I
could judge; and yet, as I looked around, and from
the top of a small sand-hill I had ascended, I could
see no change in the terrible desert into which I had
penetrated. The horizon was unbroken by a single
mound from north round to north again, and it was
as level as the ocean. . . ."

" I returned from this excursion," he continues later,
" with the full conviction on my mind that I had twice
been within fifty, perhaps thirty, miles of an inland sea.
It was, in truth, impossible that such a country, from
which the very birds of the air shrank away, should
continue much further; but whether such really was
the case remains yet to be ascertained."

He determined to make another attempt to reach the
north or north-western interior as soon as the rains
would enable him to do so; but on account of the
shortness of provisions he deemed it expedient to
send back a third of his men in charge of Mr. Poole,
his chief assistant, who had suffered much from scurvy.
The party left the depot on the 13th of June, 1845 ;
and on the following day Mr. Poole suddenly expired,
from internal hemorrhage, and his place was supplied
by Mr. Piesse, the storekeeper.

After their departure, Captain Sturt again and again
made excursions, in the hope of finding a practicable


route to the north, but was each time driven back from
some uncontrollable cause. On the last occasion he
rode eight hundred and forty-three miles in five
weeks, and for twelve weeks was exposed to the
perils of excessive heat, insufficient food, and loathsome
water, which resulted in a severe attack of scurvy
and a painful affection of the eyes. At the end of
January, 1846, he arrived in Adelaide. The results
of the expedition may be summed up as follows:
Knowledge was gained of an immense stony desert in
the interior, which it was found impossible to penetrate
or even to skirt sufficiently to ascertain its extent in
any direction attempted at that time; a large creek
was discovered (named by Captain Sturt "Cooper's
Creek," in honour of Sir Charles Cooper, the Chief
Justice), and which was afterwards found to be a con-
tinuation of the Victoria of Mitchell. It was satisfactory
also for South Australians to know that most of the
good country seen while out on this expedition was
within the boundary of their own country.

In the same month of the same year that Captain
Sturt started to explore the interior (namely, August,
1844), another expedition, the result of private enter-
prise, under the leadership of Mr. Darke, set forth
from Port Lincoln and proceeded in the direction
of Fowler's Bay, from whence a report had come,
brought by runaway sailors, that good country was
to be found. The explorers penetrated for about three
hundred miles into the interior and found excellent
country, but on the return journey their leader, Mr.
Darke, was killed by the natives.

Not only was returning prosperity shown in the
matter of exploration, but in various other departments
there were signs of progress, probably in none more
than in ecclesiastical affairs. Large accessions were
made to the ministerial staff of the various religious
bodies. The Church of Scotland had erected a new
place of worship in Grenfell Street, and the Congrega-
tionalists an auxiliary one in Franklin Street. The
members of the Church of Eome had welcomed their


bishop, and commenced the erection of a place of worship
on West Terrace. The Methodist New Connexion had
re-opened the chapel in Hindley Street, and opened
another in the village of Walkerville; the Primitive
Methodists had received two new ministers ; and other
denominations either commenced operations or extended
those already begun.

A picture of early days and scenes in a country Non-
conformist chapel is graphically drawn up by an early
settler thus :

" It was in the very wet winter of 1849 that we first
attended the little church at McLaren Vale. No place
of worship in all Christendom could have been more
bare or unadorned than that. A barn-like building,

Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 34)