Kangaroo Island Farms.
No. XV. HAWK'S NEST.
Owing to several reasons, chief being an extension of the scope of newspaper enterprise, some little time has elapsed since our last article on Kangaroo Island Farms appeared. However, during the past week the thread was taken up again and, on Tuesday last, a representative of the Courier paid a visit to Hawk's Nest — Messrs Nelson and Daw's property, which is situated some 25 miles from Kingscote, in the Hundred of MacGillivray.
Journeying mile after mile through dense scrub the traveller, leaving Mr H. Ayris' well-known farm — Pulcara — on his left —at last takes a turn to the right, and, ascending a ridge, involuntarily draws rein at the summit for, unless he has been prepared beforehand, a surprise awaits him. Set within a circle of low-lying hills is a great tract of cleared country, most of which has been under crop, as is evidenced by the stubble. As one journeys across the property towards the homestead, which is situated about the centre of the cleared land, the reflection uppermost is simply one of admiration for the bull dog pluck and perseverance which has been largely responsible for the clearing of this big tract of country in the heart of the bush — for the figures are— between 1400 and 1600 acres of cleared land.
Seven years ago Mr A. H. Daw came down to Kangaroo Island looking for a suitable tract of country to take up. He carefully inspected various properties in the Hundred of Menzies and other parts, but learning that Hawk's Nest (then held under a pastoral lease by Mr J. Florance) was for sale, he inspected the property and, it being placed under offer to him, he paid a deposit there and then. At that time Hawk's Nest comprised a tract of some 25 square miles. The purchaser thought that if the Government would allow him to cultivate he could evolve a tip-top farm, and be made an application to this effect. As this could not be granted Mr Daw offered the property for closer settlement, on condition of being granted a certain area of freehold. This the Government agreed to and granted him 3,280 acres. As a matter of fact Mr Daw can claim to have been one of the first movers in the direction of closer settlement.
When Mr Daw first went on to the property there were about 15 acres cleared — the rest being under a growth of dense scrub— principally black mallee, the existence of which is usually accepted as an indication of a superior class of country. As managing partner for Nelson and Daw, Mr Daw went straight into harness, and commenced to carve out a farm in the scrub. When he first purchased it as a pastoral lease the country was carrying 800 sheep and eucalyptus was being manufactured, but when the freehold was obtained the question of agriculture was uppermost in Mr Daw's mind. The first year he cleared, ploughed and put in 220 acres of barley and wheat, realising a return of between 500 and 600 large bags of grain, besides 60 tons of hay, with which he was well satisfied. The second year he cleared 250 acres and cultivated that, with satisfactory results, allowing the 220 acres cleared the first year to rest. Several old residents told him that if he went in for fallowing he would simply be wasting his time. Not withstanding this he fallowed 35 acres of what he had left out, and this returned him just double the yield of the unfallowed land. The third year he cultivated another 250 acres, this being again attended with satisfactory results, and cleared an other 350 acres. During the fourth year he sowed 400 acres of wheat, barley and oats, and cleared another 300 acres. The fifth year was last year and, as everybody knows, the severe floods gave the Island a set-back so far as crops were concerned. Mr Daw had 265 acres of fallow land in, but, with the exception of 100 acres, the crops were all submerged by water. From the 100 acres a return of 400 bags of grain and 50 tons of hay was secured.
Mr Daw, however, is not going to trouble much about agriculture for the next few years. He can see something ahead which is going to make Hawk's Nest one of the best paying land propositions in provincial South Australia, and we believe he is on the right track. For the raising of fat lambs there is no more suitable place in the State, the natural advantages being all that could be wished for. To illustrate this a few observations gleaned in a walk about the property with Mr Daw will bring the matter more clearly before the reader. To start with, on arrival at the homestead, where the usual hearty bush welcome was forthcoming, the visitor was very strongly impressed and agreeably surprised on observing, but a few yards from the door, a splendid freshwater lagoon, which extends over an area of 100 acres, and varies from 8ft to 10ft in depth throughout, and as much as 14ft at the narrow neck (of which more anon) where it empties itself into the channel or creek which also connects with Murray's Lagoon— a vast sheet of fresh water which may be observed in the distance from the homestead. The Hawk's Nest Lagoon is fed by Big Timber Creek. The water is of first-class quality, and is, at present, being used for domestic purposes. The practical stock-raiser can easily guess what a valuable asset lagoon and creek are to Hawk's Nest. The property has been sub-divided into 13 paddocks and they are each supplied with water — a never failing supply throughout summer and winter. Mr Daw has erected a flood-gate at the neck of the lagoon, which will act as a conserver.
Before indulging in a walk through the paddocks the host of the day piloted his visitor to the site of the new residence which is being erected by Mr V. Boothey. The foundation had just been laid on a splendid and central situation which will command a sweeping view of the various paddocks. In the years to come, no doubt, it is not too much to say that the new homestead-to-be will be surrounded by a fine orchard and thereby make a fitting jewel for the general setting. It was quite evident to the visitor that Mr Daw is looking forward to this and that be intends to make Hawk's Nest his home. Other improvements shortly to be made will take the form of stone stables.
The stroll through the paddocks proved an interesting revelation. The 3,280 acres comprise 1500 acres of red chocolate soil, 1250 acres of black peaty flats, the rest being composed of sandy loam and limestone and a balance of 300 acres of ironstone. Strolling along over the rich chocolate ridges, which looked good enough to grow anything, Mr Daw pointed to a sheet of water stretching over the flats below. This was flood-water—the overflow from creek and lagoon — owing to which over 1000 acres of excellent grass country has been submerged. Had it not been for this Mr Daw considered the property would be carrying another thousand head of sheep this year. On these flats he had grown 12 tons of mangolds on a quarter of an acre, between 2 and 3 tons of potatoes per acre, lucerne 3ft. high and luxuriant in its growth, maize 8ft. high, while such grasses as perennial rye and Yorkshire fog made splendid headway. A sample of kale 6ft. high, grown on the flats, was seen by Professor Angus (late Director of Agriculture) and Mr Richardson (Assistant Director of Agriculture) who remarked that they had never seen anything like it. All of the above-mentioned had been grown without irrigation. It might be mentioned in passing that Professor Angus asked Mr Daw to put a price on the flats but was informed that the land was not for sale. Strolling along we were shown one paddock of 25 acres, partly under water, from which Mr Daw took last year 177 bags of malting barley ; from another of 30 acres he has taken as much as 7 bags of Prior barley to the acre. We also noted a 100 acre paddock in which perennial rye had been sown; upon this sheep, at the rate of 2½ to the acre, had been having a good time for the past 6 months. The rye was sown last March and the sheep turned into the paddock in July. Mr Daw is a great believer in this grass which seems to be quite at home on the Hawk's Nest property. He has at present 130 acres under perennial rye, and is sowing another 300 this year; also in loamy country he will, in April, sow 80 acres of lucerne.
Getting to the fringe of the uncleared country, we were shown the heavy roller which has been used in clearing the big scope of country at Hawk's Nest. The roller, which is constructed solely of wood, with the exception of 8 bolts, is Mr Daw's own patent, and is worked in a very simple fashion. A team of horses is harnessed to a dray, and the pole of the roller fastened to the axle of the dray below. Some of the land just at this spot had been rolled before Christmas. Here also, both inside and outside the scrub, there was a splendid and luxuriant growth of native grass, over 3ft. in height in many places. Here the beneficial effects of "a burn" was exemplified for a fire ran through that portion of the estate last March.
Returning to the homestead by another route the splendid headway made by lucerne, Yorkshire fog, rye and other grasses was perceptible. And now Mr Daw opened his surprise packet and gave the visitor a preliminary idea of the immense possibilities looming ahead. This took the form of some 30 fat lambs, grazing in one of the paddocks on rape. These lambs were born in September, and are of the Lincoln -merino cross, and their weights would easily range from 50lbs to 60lbs. It is safe to say that not one would go under the 50lb limit. Two years ago the 30-acre paddock in which they were grazing was under scrub. The following year it grew 7 bags of barley per acre, and this year, sown with rape, it carries 30 fat lambs which form a picture to delight the eye of the stock-breeder.
But this was only the first portion of Mr Daw's surprise packet. A little further and a sight met the eye which — for the time of the year — was phenomenal. A month ago Mr Daw sowed on a 5-acre piece of flat country (limestone and dark loam) rape, thousand-headed kale, mustard, and a little barley, mixed. To-day, without irrigation, the crop is a foot in height, and as green as a vegetable garden on a river bank. No man was more surprised than Mr Daw himself at the remarkable growth made, and it has helped him to formulate a new line of action, particularly as he has a thousand acres of land on the property capable of growing the same crops. To start with, he will turn the fat lambs on the 5-acre rape plot (which, by the way, has involved the enormous expenditure of 4d. per acre for seed) and, having 'topped them off,' he will ship them to Adelaide and put them on the market as an experiment. Mr Daw can see far enough ahead now to feel sure that he can produce a good supply of prime lambs annually at Hawk's Nest at a time of the year — January, February, March — when the majority of lambs, particularly in the dry districts, are in a wasted state. To further this and other ends, such, probably as dairying and pig breeding, he has mapped out a highly practicable scheme. On the banks of the Hawk's Nest lagoon be purposes erecting an engine for irrigation purposes, feeling confident that he can grow hundreds of tons of lucerne, sorghum, maize and other fodders. With a centrifugal pump he calculates that 25,000 gallons of water per hour can be pumped, enabling him easily to get three good fodder cuts during the summer. Still following up the matter of irrigation he outlined an other portion of his programme. After careful calculation and observation he estimates that, by the installation of an up-to-date floodgate at the neck of the lagoon, he can, during the summer, irrigate the black peaty flats before mentioned, by gravitation. Mr Daw stated that, although he had been on the property so many years, he could gallop across them at any time during winter, without the slightest indication of his horse travelling on 'boggy' ground.
Mr Daw pointed out in further conversation, with reference to yields of produce, that be has grown up to 40 bushels of barley per acre, 50 bushels of oats, and 30 of peas. He has also met with success in the cultivation of onions, melons and pumpkins. As a fertiliser he favors Mt. Lyell nitro super.
It seems to us that there is a very big future ahead for Hawk's Nest and that Mr Daw has placed his hand on the key to the problem of working it in the most profitable manner. In addition to this fine estate Messrs Nelson and Daw hold 4,240 acres at the south of Hawk's Nest, and are also interested in 7000 acres at Karrata North. They also recently acquired a farm at Cygnet River, opposite the Racecourse, for the better working of stock. This year only a limited few hundred sheep may be seen on the estate, but these comprise 250 remarkably fat lambs, in addition to the older ones. The lambs, with the exception of the ewes, will all be put on the market.
Some time ago Mr T. McCourt senr., a well-known landholder of the South-East who visited Hawk's Nest, remarked on travelling over the property that it was equal to land in the vicinity of Mt. Gambier. All this, of course, is very satisfactory to the owners of Hawk's Nest, but they would be still better pleased if the Government would assist with a light line of railway. Mr Daw remarked that they were handicapped, being 25 miles away from Kingscote, the cartage expenses being a very big item in the development of the estate. He is a strong advocate of the proposed line and considers the Island will never be properly developed until the iron horse arrives.Kangaroo Island Farms. (1911, January 28). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 5. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191640076
Recently a correspondent of the K.I. Courier visited Mr A. H. Daw's, Hawk's Nest, and he speaks very highly of the progressive work that has taken place there. Hawk's Nest is situated about 27 miles south of Kingscote. Mr Daw has now 400 acres of land under cultivation, comprising 250 acres of barley in first-class order, the rest being taken up by wheat and oats and also canary seed. Mr Daw expects the lot to average about three bags to the acre. He has gone in for Lancefield barley, and expects some of it will go about 40 bushels. The oats, he thinks, will average 35 bushels. He expects to have another 300 acres cleared and under crop next season, although this is only his second year on the property. Then there are other things at Hawk's Nest which are worthy of mention ; walnut trees, apples, plums, peaches, apricots and mulberries. On a mulberry tree which had only been in six months there is a fair crop of fruit. There are potatoes grown without either manure or rain, weigh about a pound each. Of mangolds there is a splendid crop and Mr Daw has already taken 10 or 12 tons from a quarter of an acre. On another patch there is a self-sown crop of potatoes which has grown splendidly. There is also a quantity of English clover and mellilotus. Carrots are also growing well. Mr Daw will cart his produce to the Bight of the Bay, but intends to take it to D'Estree Bay (only 8 miles distant) ultimately. He also intends building a fine residence in the near future. This soil is equal to that of Mount Gambier and as he has put in a lot of work in developing the place he hopes, by and by, to have one of the best farms on the Island. Mr Daw is to be congratulated on his enterprise and industry. About a mile or so west of Hawk's Nest lies Murray's Lagoon—a sheet of fresh water about 10 miles in circumference — a veritable breeding-ground for wild duck and swan. Part of this is on Mr Daw's property. ...A Trip Out Back. (1907, December 7). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191629612
Research by Geoffrey Chapman
1873 Hawk’s Nest’s Pastoral lease owned by Michael Calnan. It is not known if Michael cleared any land but a small 3 roomed wattle & pug hut with a thatched roof was built at Timber Creek.
In 1872 Richard Chapman purchased land at Vivonne Bay and in 1877 - Richard & Eliza Chapman were living in the original wattle and pug 3 roomed hut at Hawk’s Nest. This hut was later described of being located in the tea trees at Timber Creek’s water hole. Initially the hut had a brush thatched roof but as it leaked badly in the winter, a large canvas sail was spread over the roof. The family lived in the hut from late 1872 to 1879 while Richard was working his pastoral leases. Family story tells of access from Kingscote only via a small windy track which went first to ‘White Lagoon’ then down the hill to Sunnyside where they had to cross over the Cygnet River at a shallow ford. From Hawks Nest there were a similar narrow track which went out to the Eleanor River.
Early settler stories suggest that these narrow tracks were later widened to take oxen & wagons, horse and carts- probably from about 1875 to 1878. A number of creek crossing proved to be problems in winter.
1898 Hawks Nest -Murray’s Lagoon area. Leased by Jack Florance holds pastoral lease 464 (25m), which area lies to the east of Mt Pleasant Station and surrounds Murray Lagoon. A.J. Florance also holds pastoral lease 797 (44m), which lies below P/L 464. [All this area now part of the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area and Seal Bay Conservation Park (western side of P/L 797). Pastoral lease 464 contains the area Hawk’s Nest (now the Hawk’s Nest Road traverses this area)] (source: Surveyor Generals Office Dec 1902)
1907 ... [K.I. Courier article as above] ...
1910 Hawk’s Nest Station lease : Frederick H Winch, proprietor of the Ozone Hotel at Kingscote (which he had built and which opened in 1907) worked the station with his hotel partners, Arthur Henry Daw and Mr O Nelson.
In 1912 Mr F Winch released English Perch into Murray’s Lagoon
1919 to 1921 Hawks Nest Pastoral lease 2631 Samuel Hercules Leopold Fielder He was found dead on the property on 25 January 1921 and after was buried at Kingscote Cemetery
1923 -1945 Hawks Nest KI : Pastoral lease Block 835 South of Hawks Nest , Hd. of MacGillivray purchased by Major Harold William Hastings Seager & pastoral Block 836 South of White Lagoon, Hd. of MacGillivray by brother Edward Clarendon Seager
On 12 December 1924, Harold William Hastings. Seager secured a pastoral lease over 1,780 acres, also at Hawke’s Nest and on 1 December 1933, he and his brother were allotted 3,284 acres under an acquired soldier’s agreement, and situated in the Hundred of MacGillivray, County of Carnarvon.
On 31 January 1935 they were allotted another 1,228 acres, also in the Hundred of MacGillivray. On 28 October
1930, he was granted permission by the Hon. Minister of Repatriation to allow officers of the Commonwealth Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (Division of Animal Nutrition) to investigate disease amongst his sheep known as ‘coast’.
On 28 July 1925 he married Joy Debenham Tearne,, daughter of Professor Tearne, of Sydney, there being one son Micheal of the union. His wife was a qualified medical practitioner, and assisted in the research investigations, acting as a Liaison Officer by extracting thyroid glands from sheep killed for food on the station, and forwarding same to the Adelaide laboratories of the council, and also conducted blood tests and mixes sheep licks. Various soil and pot culture tests had been conducted on his holdings by the Waite Research Institute.
Their old house is now derelict, and Hawke’s Nest is now owned by Geoff and Pat Brooksby. Seagers Road is nearby.