Edwin Hodder.

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

. (page 30 of 34)
Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 30 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

a complete success, for instead of having to wade
through water, or plunge through mud, as indicated
in the maps then extant, the major found good dry
land, and no obstacles other than those ordinarily met
with in new and untrodden paths.

Later, Major Warburton and Mr. Samuel Davenport
examined some of the country from Streaky Bay to
Lake Gairdner, as well as the Gawler Eange district,
but no striking discoveries were made.

Two expeditions made by the Governor, Sir Eichard
MacDonnell, in the year 1859 deserve some notice
here. Of the first he gave an account to the Hon. G. F.
Angas, who was at that time on a visit to England, as
follows :

" Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island, Feb. 17, 1859.
" I am just returned from a very rapid and successful
exploring expedition up the Darling in CadelPs steamer,
the Albury. I regard all these expeditions as an
extension of this colony's commercial boundary, which,
after all, is its real boundary for many important
purposes. It will interest you to learn that I only
left Adelaide on the 23rd ult. (January), and having
embarked at Blanche Town on board of the Albury
after a ride of seventy miles (via Angaston) from Gawler
through a fierce hot wind, I reached the junction on


the 26th and slept on Mount Murchison, 290 miles
by land and 600 by water from the junction, on the
5th instant, whilst I now write to you from Kangaroo
Island on the 17th, having between the 23rd ult. and
this morning steamed on Australian rivers nearly 2400
miles, and ridden about 200.

" I have just been telling Sturt how smoothly I have
been gliding through scenes of his hardships and
disasters. We are certainly progressing, as you may
judge when I tell you that an order dated from Sydney
the 23rd of January to deliver four tons of goods at
a station 400 miles up the Darling, was executed on
the 3rd of February, only eleven days after the order
was given at Sydney. . . ."

The Governor's second journey was made in October
of the same year, for the purpose of seeing the dis-
coveries of Sturt, Babbage, and Warburton in the north.
The farthest point reached was a range of hills which
he named the Denison Range in honour of the Governor-
General. Sir Eichard was absent for nearly three
months, and during that time he rode on horseback
1800 miles, endured the hardships of heat and thirst
common to explorers, and proved himself to be an
excellent bushman.

But all the explorations of this period, valuable as
they were, pale into insignificance beside those of John
McDouall Stuart, South Australia's greatest explorer.
His achievements have been so often and so fully told
in detail, that it will not be necessary to give more
than the barest outline here.

In April, 1859, Mr. Stuart, the draughtsman of Captain
Sturt's expedition, went out northwards and travelled
through the Pernatty country in search of pastoral
runs for Messrs. Chambers and Finke. He was accom-
panied by Mr. Kekwick and one attendant, and was
provided with nine horses. On the 17th of July
Stuart returned to Adelaide, and reported that he had
succeeded in reaching the then northern boundary of
the colony in about latitude 26 south, and that the
country traversed consisted mostly of immense plains


interspersed with numerous hillocks, from the summit
of which springs of water gushed out. Ranges, rivers,
and creeks were also met with by this small and
intrepid party ; in short, a most fertile and interesting
tract of country was reported to exist where it was
previously supposed that only scrub, sand, and saline
lakes were to be found. To complete the glowing
picture it was rumoured that an auriferous country
bad also been discovered. This rumour was re-echoed
some time afterwards by the Eoyal Geographical Society,
to whom some particulars of the expedition, not known
elsewhere, were communicated. So highly did the
Society appreciate Stuart's labours that they awarded
him a handsome gold watch.

When Stuart returned to Adelaide Parliament
was in session, and in order to encourage him, or some
other explorer, to cross the continent and reach the
northern coast a sum of 2000 was voted as a reward
for the accomplishment of this feat. Mr. A. Tolmer
was the first competitor, but before he had got beyond
the reach of the settled districts, owing to difficulties
with the horses and dissensions among his men, he gave
up the attempt.

Meanwhile, Stuart, with the assistance of Messrs,
Chambers and Finke, quietly and unostentatiously
made his arrangements for penetrating as far as possible
into the northern interior. As he preferred travelling
by land rather than sea, he applied for a vessel to be
sent to the northern coast for the purpose of taking
supplies, and of bringing him and his party back in the
event of their reaching the other side of the continent.
Very little was known of his movements except that
he had started with a small expedition for the interior.

About this time, that is to say in August, 1860, the
Victorian Government, stimulated by the action of
South Australia, sent forth an expedition, with the same
object in view, under the command of Robert O'Hara
Burke, with whom was associated Mr. W. J. Wills and.

On the 7th of October Mr. Stuart and his two


panions returned to Adelaide. In consequence of
scarcity of water, the hostility of natives, and the
smallness and weakness of their party, the attempt to
cross the continent had been unsuccessful. Neverthe-
less the results of the expedition were of exceptional
interest. Its promoters, Messrs. Chambers and Finke,
in placing Mr. Stuart's journal in the hands of the
Government, stipulated that it should not be pub-
lished for a certain period, so that the benefit of the
discoveries made should be secured to Mr. Stuart,
who was ready to continue his task when opportunity
should offer. The publication was deferred until, in
a further attempt to cross the continent, Mr. Stuart
had arrived outwards as far as Chambers' Creek. No
sooner was this valuable document issued than a special
messenger was despatched by the Victorians to place
Mr. Burke in possession of the information gained by
Stuart in the interior, but scarcity of water prevented
the messenger from accomplishing his task.

From Stuart's journal it appeared that he left
Chambers' Creek on the 2nd of March, and on the 22nd
of April reached the centre of the continent, where, on
a high mound which he named Central Mount Stuart,
he built a cairn of stones, and planted the British flag
Upon it. On the 2b'th of June, on reaching a large
creek, the party were attacked by a number of powerful
natives, and it was found necessary to beat a retreat as
soon as possible. Some of his hairbreadth escapes,
and the motives which induced him to abandon his
cherished object, are given in a letter to Mr. Chambers,
from which we quote :

"After making the centre I was assailed by that
dreadful disease, the scurvy, which completely prostrated
me and rendered me quite helpless. Still I persevered,
and endeavoured to reach the mouth of the Victoria
river on a north-west course, but was obliged to
relinquish the attempt three separate times through the
want of water. . . .

" I was now forced to go back to the centre. Three
miles to the north of the centre is a high hill, on which I


planted the flag, and named it Central Mount Stuart.
From this I could see ranges to the north-east, which
gave me a better idea of the country for water, and I
thought I might get an opening that would lead me to
the north-west of Gum and Spinifex Plain. I therefore
proceeded in that direction to latitude 19 22', longitude
134 18.' From this I again made another attempt to
make the Victoria on a north-west course, but again I
was obliged to retreat from the want of water. We
were one hundred and eleven hours, without a drop of
water under a burning hot sun and heavy sandy soil
to travel on. After this journey I gave up all hope of
making the Victoria, and tried for the Gulf of Car-

But in this attempt dangers, difficulties, and insuper-
able obstacles beset him at every turn, and finally there
was a desperate encounter with the natives.

" I took into consideration," Stuart adds, " the position
in which I was then placed my horses tired and weary,
three of them unable to be longer than one night with-
out water ; the men complaining six weeks before this
of being so weak from want of sufficient food that they
were unable to perform their duty their movements
were more those of men of a hundred years old than of
young men of twenty-five and myself being so unwell
that I was unable to sit in the saddle the whole day
without suffering the most excruciating pain ; our pro-
visions scarcely sufficient to carry us back, and now
being in the midst of hostile natives who were wily,
bold, and daring, so much so that I could see at once
that my party would be unable to cope with them,
although we gained the advantage at first. . . ."

These were among the amply sufficient reasons which
induced Mr. J. M. Stuart to return, and it was fortunate
he did so at once, for on his journey back he found
many of the water-holes dry, which he calculated would
have lasted much longer.

The furthest point reached on this journey was about
the nineteenth degree of south latitude, or about 1300
miles from Adelaide in a straight line, and about 300


miles from the north-west coast of the Gulf of Carpen-

The fact of this extraordinary feat having been
accomplished was doubted by many, and even denied
by one writer in Victoria, but the publication of the
letter, from which we have quoted above, silenced alike
the doubters and deniers.

On the return of his party to Adelaide, a great
demonstration was made in honour of the intrepid
explorers, and the Government voted the sum of 2500
to fit out an expedition to enable Mr. Stuart to make
another attempt to accomplish the feat of crossing the

On the 2nd of November, 1860, Mr. Stuart left
Adelaide to follow up his adventurous task. He was
accompanied by Mr. Kekwick, as second in command,
F. W. Thring, third officer, and a brave following, namely,
E. E. Bayliffe, J. H. Ewart, B. Head, A. J. Lawrence,
"W. Masters, J. A. Thomas, D. Thompson, J. Wall, and
J. Woodforde. On the 1st of January, 1861, they
started from Chambers' Creek, and nothing more was
heard of them until about the middle of September.
Then came the startling report that the party had
actually crossed the continent. But rumour lied, and
from subsequent intelligence it was found that although
they had reached the latitude of the head of the Gulf of
Carpentaria, they had not succeeded in getting to the
seacoast on the other side of the continent. After
penetrating some considerable distance beyond the
point previously reached, the first great difficulty arose
from meeting with some large plains, which he named
Sturt's Plains, after the great Australian explorer.
Stuart concluded that these plains had been at one
time the bed of a large fresh- water lake ; they were
covered with luxuriant grass, in many places above the
horses' knees, but the ground was very rotten and
difficult to travel over. The plains were skirted by an
impenetrable scrub and dense forest, which completely
arrested further progress, although gallant attempts
were made in all directions. In the neighbourhood of


the plains, however, a splendid sheet of water was found,
150 yards wide, nine miles long, and seventeen feet
deep in the middle. This valuable discovery named
Newcastle Waters in honour of the Secretary of State
raised the hope that, after all, the progress of the party
would be possible ; but at the end of nine miles the
deep water was succeeded by a chain of ponds, and
beyond, scrub and forest even denser than those that
had before driven them back. Again and again they
tried to force their way, but it was hopeless, and on the
llth of June Stuart wrote as follows :

" Tomkinson's Creek.

" Shoeing horses and repairing saddles and bags to
carry our provisions back. We have now run out of
everything for that purpose. We are all nearly naked ;
the scrub has been so severe on our clothes, one can
hardly tell the original colour of a single garment they
are so patched; our boots are also gone. It is with
great reluctance I am forced to return without a further
trial. I should like to go back and try from New-
castle Waters, but my provisions will not allow me. I
started with thirty weeks' supply, at seven pounds of
flour per week, and have now been out twenty-six, and
it will take me ten weeks before I can reach the first
station. The men are also failing and showing the
effects of short rations. I only wish I had sufficient to
carry me on until the rain will fall in next March. I
think 1 would be able to make both the Victoria and
the Gulf. . . ."

Although considerable disappointment was felt and
expressed by the colonists when it became known
that Stuart had again failed to cross the continent, a
warm reception was given to him and his brave com-
panions, and even before the whole of the party arrived
in Adelaide, steps were taken by the Government to
once more send Stuart out with a party well equipped
in every particular.

In all the explorations up to this time Sir Eichard


MacDonnell had taken the most profound interest, and
had given the most cordial assistance. It was a matter
of the deepest regret to him, as it was to the colonists
generally, that the term of his administration ceased
before the party, reorganized and sent out in the
beginning of December, 1861, returned crowned with
victory. We shall defer the narration of Stuart's final
exploration, therefore, until we come to the story of the
administration of Sir Eichard's successor.

Between 1859 and 1861 important mining discoveries
were made, which had an altogether exceptional in-
fluence upon the material advancement of the province.
As early as the year 1847 minerals were known to be
in existence on Yorke's Peninsula, although no one was
aware of their richness or extent, and it was not until
1861 that the two great mines in this locality, the
Wallaroo and Moonta mines, attracted public attention.
Singular to relate, both these mines, as in the case of
the renowned Burra-Burra and others, were discovered
by shepherds. It was in December, 1859, that a shep-
herd named James Boor, in the employment of Mr.
(afterwards Sir) Walter Watson Hughes, picked up
some specimens on the sheep run where he followed
his flock, and these, upon analysis, proved to be rich in
copper. In February, 1860, four Cornish miners ap-
peared upon the scene, and the result of their labours
led to a speedy increase of hands and the extensive
application of machinery. Mineral leases of the land
were immediately secured, a company was formed, and
success set in. The richness of the Wallaroo Mine may
be judged from the following figures : " The ore raised
between March, 1860, and December, 1884, amounted
to 428,333 tons gross weight, of a net value of
1,970,533, and represented a production of copper of
41,025 tons, of an estimated net value in the colony
of 2,873,121. The mine gave employment, when in
full work, to a very large staff, there being at one time as
many as 1003 men and boys engaged in the workings." *
* " South Australia," by John Fairfax Conigrave.

1861.] THE MOONTA MINE. 347

Splendid as these results were, they were eclipsed by
those of the Moonta Mine, discovered in May, 1861,
by a shepherd named Eyan, also in the employment of
Mr. W. W. Hughes. The claim of Eyan was disputed
by Mr. E. E. Mitford, the editor of Pasquin, a clever
satirical writer, who alleged that he had made the
discovery as early as 1848, but had not taken any
steps until public attention was turned to the Peninsula
as a mining district. Mr. Mitford endeavoured to
establish his claim, first through the Crown Lands
Department, and next by petition to Parliament, where
a Select Committee decided against him.

When the shepherd Eyan made the discovery of a
valuable deposit of copper ore at no great distance
from his hut, and, like the Wallaroo, only a few miles
distant from the sea-coast, he was in a dilemma. The
fact was Ryan was not a teetotaller, but, on the contrary,
was rather given to too free indulgence in "the cup
that cheers, but inebriates," and the friend to whom he
first confided the news of his discovery was slow to
believe him, as " lucky finds " had turned the heads of
many much more sober men. It appears that there was
some doubt in Eyan's mind whether he would secure
the claim for himself and a partner, or allow his
employer to become the fortunate holder. Whether
the latter was his intention or not will probably never
be known, but Mr. Hughes and his friends got scent of
the matter, and lost no time in lodging a claim for five
sections somewhere not very far from the locality
indicated. Meanwhile Eyan took a trip to town and
entered into an agreement with Mr. S. Mills to share
with him the discovery, and Mr. Mills proceeded to the
Land Office to lodge a claim. No sooner were the
doors of the Land Office opened than the rival claimants
entered, but the agents of Mr. Hughes being more
expeditious in filling up the forms of application
succeeded in first handing in their claim. To tell the
whole story of the events that followed, and all the
circumstances connected with the Tipara Mineral
claims as the Moonta sections were then generally


designated would fill a moderately sized volume. The
whole matter was finally referred to a Select Com-
mittee of the House of Assembly, appointed in 1863,
who asked and elicited answers to upwards of seven
thousand questions. Their report decided adversely to
Mr. Hughes's right to the property, and in favour of
Mr. S. Mills, as the party authorized to lodge the claims
by the legitimate discoverer, Ryan, and this decision of
course invalidated the claims of Mr. Mitford also, so
far as the committee was concerned.

But the report of the Select Committee was not
adopted by the House, the Assembly considering that
the case should be relegated to the liinbo of the Law
Courts. Mr. Hughes, however, secured thirty sections
in the vicinity of the first discovery, and twelve of
these were subsequently leased to the proprietary.
The property was at first represented by forty shares,
some of which were given away in a most liberal
manner, and the whole were subsequently subdivided.
The Moonta Mine soon proved to be more productive
than the famous Wallaroo Mine. " From the opening
of the Moonta Mine in 1861, to the 28th of February,
1885, the total quantity of ore raised amounted to
447,969 tons (gross weight) of twenty-one cwts., of a
value in the colony of 4,468,124, representing a total
production of refined copper of 85,104 tons, the value
of which to the colony may be approximately stated at
5,879,226." *

In 1861, in consequence of further mineral discoveries
on the Peninsula, some hundreds of claims for mineral
leases were lodged at the Crown Lands Office. Mining
became a mania ; tradesmen and others left their
ordinary occupations to pay a visit to the Peninsula,
nearly all -of whom found, or thought they had found,
" good indications." If two or more hit upon a likely
spot it became a race which should first reach the Land
Office to lodge the claim.

Several other mining companies were formed, or
" mining ventures " were entered into, while the mania
* " South Australia," by John Fairfax Conigrave.


lasted, the total capital of those who advertised amount-
ing to about half a million sterling ; but after the ex-
penditure of much money in prospecting, sinking, and
advertising, they were nearly all wound up, leaving
the colonists in general, and the tradesmen in particular,
poorer but wiser men. During the time that the
excitement lasted it was believed that a larger sum was
realized by. the sale and transfer of shares than was
payable in dividends by all the companies for a year to
come. Those who had resided in the colony during
the mining mania of 1845-46 well knew that, with the
exception of the Burra-Burra Mine, the most profitable
period in the history of all other mines had been while
there was sufficient enthusiasm to raise the shares
to a premium, and those " who knew a thing or
two," as the vulgar say, managed to feather their own

The large population attracted to the Peninsula by
the prosperity of the great mines led the Government
to lay out two townships, one at the shipping place,
named Wallaroo, and one a few miles inland, named
Kadina. So completely did the mineral discoveries
change the face of the country that in three or four
years the land, which had previously been a mere
sheep run, possessed two flourishing towns with sub-
stantial buildings, and a large population.

One great drawback experienced in both townships,
as well as at the mines, was the want of water, to
supply which distillation was, in the first instance,
resorted to, the salt and brackish water from the mines
being used for this purpose. A high price had to be
paid for this unpalatable liquid, and housekeepers and
teetotallers had a poor time of it. All new buildings,
therefore, had the roofs so constructed that they should
store every drop of rain water that fell on them, and
this was found to be a great improvement upon the
distilled water.

About this period another very important branch of
industry, destined in the near future to become a
staple in the South Australian market, was coming


into prominence. In a letter to Mr. G. F. Angas,
written in 1860, Sir Richard MacDonnell said :

" I have lately been going through the dozen duplicate
samples of wine which you sent me from Tanunda, and
at least eight of them are excellent. I have been quite
surprised at their quality, but I have no doubt this
country will be a good wine- producing country. People
are setting to work energetically planting vines in all
directions, and in four years I have no doubt we shall
obtain a tolerable footing in the English market."

The Governor was not far out in his calculation, but
it was not until 1871 that any trade of importance was
done with England. Vines were sent out by the South
Australian Company as early as 1835-36, but the first
vineyard proper was planted by Mr. John Reynell, on
his property at Eeynella, about twelve miles from
Adelaide, in 1840. In 1846 Mr. Patrick Auld com-
menced the celebrated " Auldana " vineyard. In 1863
the justly famous " Tintara " vineyard was planted by
Dr. Kelly. It must be confessed that at first Australian
wine was sorry stuff, but year by year planting went
steadily on. It was found that soil and climate were
suited to the production of every kind of wine, but
more especially of generous wines of the claret and
Burgundy type, while some, such as the " Highercombe,"
more resemble Chablis. We shall have more to say
about the marvellous development of the wine trade of
South Australia later on, but it may give an indication
of its enormous growth to state here that in four months
ended the 31st of May, 1890, one firm alone (Messrs.
P. B. Burgoyne & Co.) imported into England 123,658
gallons ! A year or two later than the date of Sir
Eichard MacDonnell's letter, from which we have
quoted, Mr. Anthony Forster, an old and experienced
colonist, wrote upon the wines and vine culture of
South Australia as follows :

" South Australia has made immense progress in the
development of agricultural, pastoral, and mineral
wealth. These are the three great staples of the country,
to which wine may be added as a fourth. The pro-

1861.] ANNEXATION. 351

duction of the latter is increasing largely every year,
and promises to become a considerable source of income
to the horticulturist, as well as a protection to the
community against the excessive use of more stimu-
lating beverages. The wine produced is cf a light
but excellent description, well suited to the require-
ments of a warm climate, and free from the noxious
adulterations so frequently discovered in imported

When Parliament was called together on the 20th of

Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 30 of 34)