Kangaroo Island Farms.
No. III. PULCARA.
' That Useless Ironstone Country.'
Twelve Bushels of Wheat Per Acre.
Just before rolling up our sleeves and squaring our elbows in preparation for the arduous task of giving to the outside world impressions of a visit to a Kangaroo Island farm, we glanced through the evidence as published in the dailies and given by the Surveyor-General on Tuesday before the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the proposal for the construction of a railway on K.I. Amongst other questions asked was the following :— "When we were on the Island we saw a good deal of that ironstone country, with gravel down 14 or 15 inches, and then cold, impoverished yellow clay. Is that country any good ?" To which the Surveyor-General replied : "There is land like that over in Mortlock, and it produces very good crops, 13 and 14 bushels per acre." Following on this it may be of interest to chronicle the fact that the scribe who pens these lines has but recently inspected country which is identical with all those thousands of acres of "useless ironstone land" viewed with such a doubtful eye by agricultural experts, and which, in response to fair treatment, has given a return of 12 bushels of wheat per acre.
On Tuesday last "boot and saddle" was the first item in the programme of an interesting day which embraced, perforce, a considerable amount of travelling through mud and water, owing to the recent heavy rains. A number of good properties were passed on the way, and these will be reviewed later on, as opportunity offers. For the present the burning question is (ostensibly ?) "the ironstone country" —and the "powers that be" are hesitating lest they should authorise the construction of a line of railway through a country "that will not immediately produce profitable returns." How many railways in this State, by the way, have paid "from the jump?"
The objective aimed at on this trip is Mr H. Ayris' property (Pulcara) which, situated in the Hundred of MacGillivray, is about 20 miles from Kingscote. Turning in the saddle as one ascends the Bight of the Bay hill, a magnificent panorama of the surrounding country unfolds itself— the Wisanger Range towering skyward in the distance and — out to sea — the new Kingscote jetty running off to a fine point. Below, a great tract of country; dotted by clearings here and there, showing where the sturdy scrub pioneers have been at work. For this is Scrubland.
Then we ride for some time, over an ironstone road— scrub to the left and scrub to the right — at intervals relieved by ' farms in the making.' And then — coming almost as it were out of the heart of the bush we are facing Pulcara, which is set off by a fine residence— a standing witness to Mr Ayris' pluck and faith in the country. In a few minutes we are ' at anchor,' Mr Ayris attending to the well-being of the visitors— the rest of the family (with the exception of his brother, Mr Tom Ayris) being away. After lunch a tour of inspection is made. The residence is situated on a rise, and on the flat in in front twenty acres of oats (Calcutta Cape variety) already show a strong healthy growth. This land is portion of 400 or 500 acres of rich chocolate soil, within Pulcara boundaries. Mr Ayris has reaped from this part of his holding as much as 25 bushels of wheat to the acre and 24 bushels of barley— and, from hay crops, as much as three and never less than two tons. The balance of Mr Ayris' property (Pulcara comprises 2,800 acres) is ' iron stone over a yellow clay subsoil.'
There are 70 acres of this ironstone under wheat this year and this has already made a good start, the varieties being Silver King, Federation and King's Early. Mr Ayris, who firmly believes that there is a great future ahead for K.I., states that from his "useless ironstone country" he has received a return of 12 bushels per acre of Mr John Turner's famous bearded wheat, and similar returns with Marshall's No. 3. For his own part, Mr Ayris added, he would be quite satisfied with considerably less than that for the first few years until the country is thoroughly worked up.
The "ironstone" garden which surrounds the residence is — between spaces allotted to fruit trees, ??? strawberry and other beds, ??? with a dense, luxuriant ??? mellilotus and natural green feed— particularly noticeable, of course, where a little stable manure had been thrown the previous year. Fruit trees, such as oranges, mulberries, etc., were showing a remarkably healthy growth, while we have never seen anything to excel the fine show of strawberry plants from which a quantity of first-class fruit has been picked this season. At the back of the house Mr Ayris has an experimental plot of some 12 acres under rape, tares and vetches, sown on the 12th of May. This mixture (which was well up above the surface) should make excellent feed for sheep.
Then we strolled to the flat in front of the homestead where the visitor was first shown the vegetable garden in which was a splendid growth of peas, beans, turnips, and a plot of onions over a foot in height and ready for transplanting. The sight the onions evoked a discussion on the subject of the splendid yield realised by Mr Ayris in 1908. In that year, from a piece of land 10½ yards square, 13 bags of onions were taken, average weight 1½ cwt. per bag. On being worked out this showed a yield per acre of 42 tons 18cwt., and at the price that Mr Ayris realised for those he sold, viz .6/ per cwt., the value per acre of such a crop would be £275 8/. We informed Mr Ayris that Dame Rumour had given it out as a fact that he had abandoned onion-growing because be was tired of being called a —(ahem) — modern Ananias every time he went to town. He smiled and replied that his time was taken up with scrub-clearing and other important matters but that he had not by any means abandoned the onion growing industry. He then conducted the visitor to the historic spot where these onions were grown. The soil is ''Ironstone over a yellow clay subsoil.'
Mr Ayris acquired the property some 6 years - ago from Mr Geo. Northcott. Up to that time only a small area of the rich flat country had been cultivated. For the first three years Mr Tom Ayris was in sole charge, and three years ago Mr and Mrs Ayris and family went out there. Since his arrival Mr Ayris has made a number of changes in the shape of a fine residence, and substantial outbuildings necessary for an up-to-date farm. He has now between 500 and 600 acres cleared and this year will have 130 acres under crop, as ploughing operations are still in "full swing". My Ayris stables 13 horses which thrive well on chaff cut from Pulcara-grown hay. He keeps a number of sheep for home consumption and is a great believer in ' poultry on the farm,' as there are 200 or 300 on Pulcara.
The owner of Pulcara is the right stamp of man for pioneering work. The Scrubland calls to men with strong hearts to come and develop it, and these men will make K.I. a fruitful district. Biding homeward towards the Bight of the Bay hills, one cannot help reflecting that there is something to be said for the artistic as well as the utilitarian aspect of the little known portion of South Australia. After the sunset hills and tablelands bathed in a soft light from rose over pearl grey sky tints. At the ' River' a break in the journey is made by a call on Mr Arthur Daw, whose hospitable door is always open to the traveller, and whose faith in the Island has never wavered in spite of all the ' bumps and knocks' K.I. has received.Kangaroo Island Farms. (1910, June 4). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191635970
... Mr H. Ayris' Pulcara, was another place visited. Mr Ayris is making great headway at his place also. He has from 150 to 200 acres of wheat, oats and barley, and the growth of his onions is simply phenomenal. Mr Ayris (who is 20 miles from Kingscote), is also going to have a fine stone residence erected. He has the stone ready now. He is doing a lot of clearing and, anxious to get more done, is looking out for more men. ...A Trip Out Back. (1907, December 7). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191629612
KINGSCOTE, January 12 .—Mr. Harry Ayres [sic], of Pulcara farm, situated in the Hundred of MacGillivray, has brought in 5 cwt. of white Spanish onions, many going over 1 lb. each, yielding equal to the handsome return of 28 tons to the acre. They were grown on the so-called ironstone country. For five or six years it has been proved onions and potatoes of excellent size and quality can be grown profitably on ironstone soil...THE COUNTRY. (1911, January 16). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 - 1924), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105292110
Descendants of :
Mary Ann HILL
1. Mary Ann HILL was born 18 Nov 1862 in South Para, SA and died 26 Sep 1951 in Somerton, SA. She married Henry HORROCKS 16 Jun 1883 in Prospect, SA. He was born 13 May 1850 in Albert Town, SA and died 27 Aug 1887 in Hope Valley, SA, son of James HORROCKS and Sarah HEAP. She married Henry AYRIS 08 Sep 1902 in Adelaide, SA. He was born ABT 1854 and died 06 Dec 1936 in Prospect, SA, son of Thomas AYRIS and Charlotte AYRIS - m
Other events in the life of Mary Ann HILL
Burial: North Road Cemetery
Children of Mary Ann HILL and Henry HORROCKS:
i. 2. Florence Sarah (Floss) HORROCKS was born 07 Aug 1884 in Dry Creek, SA and died 10 Nov 1977
ii. 3. Ethel May (Eff) HORROCKS was born 22 May 1887 in Hope Valley, SA and died 17 Oct 1973
Children of Mary Ann HILL and Henry AYRIS:
iii. 4. Ivy May AYRIS was born 31 Jul 1904 in Walkerville, SA and died 09 Sep 1989
iv. 5. Myrtle Daphne AYRIS was born 29 Nov 1905 in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, SA and died 01 Apr 2000 in Victoria
v. Henry William Thomas AYRIS was born 20 Jun 1908 in Walkerville, SA and died 28 Sep 1974
2. Florence Sarah (Floss) HORROCKS was born 07 Aug 1884 in Dry Creek, SA and died 10 Nov 1977. She married Ernest John BOXER 10 Apr 1909 in Norwood, SA. He was born 27 Jun 1875 in LeFevres Peninsula, SA and died 29 Jan 1958 in Prospect, SA, son of John BOXER and Marianne Laker HAMILTON.
Children of Florence Sarah (Floss) HORROCKS and Ernest John BOXER
i. Dorothy Florence BOXER was born 06 Mar 1910 in Narrogen, WA and died 31 May 2000 in North Adelaide, SA. She married Clement Henry SPECK 07 Mar 1936 in Prospect North, SA. He was born 21 Sep 1909 in Wasleys, SA and died 18 Sep 1960 in Adelaide, SA, son of Henry James SPECK and Elizabeth Ivy Ruth BENGER.
ii. Naomi A Thalbourne BOXER was born 1914 in Perth, WA
3. Ethel May (Eff) HORROCKS was born 22 May 1887 in Hope Valley, SA and died 17 Oct 1973. She married George William GOBELL 29 Sep 1920 in Walkerville, SA. He was born 04 Sep 1880 in Moorowie, SA and died 11 Aug 1972 in Adelaide, SA, son of George GOBELL and Kitty Smithett HAMILTON.
Other events in the life of Ethel May (Eff) HORROCKS
Electoral roll: BET 1939 & 1941, Salt Lagoon, Kangaroo Island
4. Ivy May AYRIS was born 31 Jul 1904 in Walkerville, SA and died 09 Sep 1989. She married William YOUNG 22 Oct 1932 in Prospect, SA. He was born ABT 1904.
5. Myrtle Daphne AYRIS was born 29 Nov 1905 in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, SA and died 01 Apr 2000 in Victoria. She married Leslie Roy McDONALD 1935 in Victoria, Australia.
Other events in the life of Myrtle Daphne AYRIS
Baptism: Nov 1907, St Albans, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, SA
Last updated : 5 Sep 2021
 The death occurred in Adelaide on Sunday last, of Mr H. Ayris, who, for about twenty years resided in the Kingscote District. About thirty years ago, the late Mr Ayris came to Kingscote from the far North and took a lease of Anderson's Queenscliffe Hotel. He afterwards bought the property which is now occupied by Mrs Brumby at MacGillivray. The late Mr Ayris had the homestead built and farmed the land until about 1920 when he disposed of the property to the late Mr A. T. Brumby and went to Adelaide to reside. He was 82 years of age and leaves a widow, one son and two daughters, and two stepdaughters, Mesdames E. Boxer and G. W. Goball.OBITUARY. (1936, December 11). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191250532
1. Arthur Thompson BRUMBY was born 16 Dec 1864 in Campbell Town, Tasmania and died 21 Apr 1936 in North Adelaide, SA. He married Edith Matilda FORSYTH 1903 in Victoria. She was born 1885 in Omeo, Victoria and died 1980, daughter of Peter FORSYTH and Alice THOMPSON.
Other events in the life of Arthur Thompson BRUMBY
Residence: AFT 1919, Pulcara, MacGillivray, Kangaroo Island
Property : 1920 acquired Pulcara
Children of Arthur Thompson BRUMBY and Edith Matilda FORSYTH:
i. 2. Roy BRUMBY was born 1906 in Omeo, Victoria and died 02 Feb 1992
ii. 3. Lorna Ivy BRUMBY was born 1915 in Omeo, Victoria and died 29 Apr 2002
2. Roy BRUMBY was born 1906 in Omeo, Victoria and died 02 Feb 1992. He married Verna Annie NESS 21 Feb 1944 in MacGillivray, Kangaroo Island, SA. She was born 1907 in Clifton Hill, Victoria and died 24 Jun 1975.
Other events in the life of Roy BRUMBY
Electoral roll: BET 1939 & 1943, MacGillivray, Kangaroo Island
3. Lorna Ivy BRUMBY was born 1915 in Omeo, Victoria and died 29 Apr 2002. She married Leonard Charles BURGESS 05 Aug 1937 in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, SA. He was born 21 May 1905 in Glenelg, SA and died 15 May 1995, son of William BURGESS and Winifred Beatrice (Winnie) WILLIAMS.
Other events in the life of Lorna Ivy BRUMBY
Electoral roll: BET 1939 & 1943, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island
Children of Lorna Ivy BRUMBY and Leonard Charles BURGESS:
i. Lorraine Winifred BURGESS was born ... in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, SA
ii. Elaine Edith BURGESS was born ... in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, SA
Last updated : 14 Aug 2021
Contribution from Geoff Chapman:
Pulcara- which is about 20 miles out of Kingscote on the eastern side of Elsegood road and north of Willson’s road [on the side and top of the hill]
Mary Ann Horrock’s nee Hill first married Henry Horrocks – later remarried Henry Ayris [widow with 1 child -William Henry Ayris ] and were owners of Queenscliffe Hotel which was run by children of Mary Ann Horrocks first marriage
HENRY AYRIS owned section 3 of hundred of MacGillivray [2,800 acres] which they originally called “Pulcara on the Hill”, later reduced the name to “Pulcara”- they used to grow vegetables, had fruit tree orchard. They had about 300 fowls plus a number of turkeys, a flock of ration sheep which supplied the Queenscliffe Hotel with fresh vegetables, meat, eggs and poultry. Henry had a team of 6 draught horses plus several riding and carriage hacks. Henry worked the Pulcara farm with his brother Thomas Ayris. On 20th July 1908, it was recorded Henry & Mary Ann had a son Henry William Thomas Ayris.
It was recorded that Henry Ayris on Pulcara grew at least 200 acres of wheat, oats and barley. References of huge crops of onions [in 1908, reported to be 27 tonnes to the acre], potatoes and strawberries Reference KI Courier
The property [ in 2002] was owned by Ron Willson and Mildred nee Howard and is now named “KANBARA “ reference Bev Overton
Nov 1912 Mr and Mrs. Alf Stirling were living at the Rocky River Station homestead . Mr Stirling and Mr Ayrius carting gum from Rocky River to Cape de Couedic with wagon and team of six horses. [Note: this was the first reference that Yakka Gum may have been cut from the Flinders Chase area. However, it was more likely the yakka gum was obtained in the NE part of the Chase, Karratta Station and neighbouring lands where the yakka’s are more likely to flourish in the lateritic soils] Two very high sandunes on the track from Rocky River to Cape de Couedic were called “The Bunkers” and “Majuba Hill” The hills are so steep and sand so loose, that the team of horses could only just pull an empty wagon back over the top to get to Rocky River.