John Wright


To-morrow, July 29th, Mr John Wright of this town will celebrate his 92nd birthday. We offer our congratulations and best wishes. Recently we had a long chat with the K.I. veteran. We learned that he was born in Adelaide and when about six years of age, (1858), his father brought the family to K.I. and took them out to the sawmill on the Company's section at Cygnet River, where he was working, driving a bullock team. One day young John nearly succeeded in chopping off one of his brother Tom's fingers. The father bound the finger up, and although it healed, it was always stiff. Mr Wright's second trip to the Island took place when he was twenty-two years of age. He landed at Hog Bay and walked to D'Estree Bay. There were only faint tracks in those days, and very hard to find. His sister and her husband, the late Mr and Mrs Joseph Bates was then living at Destree Bay. Mr Wright in 1878 was married to Miss Emma Grainger by the late Arch-bishop Morse, who sailed across from Yankalilla in a small yacht. Mr Wright said that this trip was a very profitable one for the clergyman who on this occasion married three couples at £5 each. Mr Wright's main source of income was obtained from snaring wallabies and opussums. He received on some occasions as much as £2 per doz. skins. The living was hard, the main meat supply was wallaby, and the household stores were a bag of flour, tea, sugar, and a few odd???????; vegetables when they could grow them. On ???? ??????? Mr Wright sowed barley on a small sandy piece of land by the aid of a rake. The barley grew such a heavy crop that he had to put down a threshing floor. To do this be carried up flat stones off the beach and bedded them in the sand, the stones on the outside of circle being stood on end to stop the grain from spilling over the edge of the floor. After the grain had been trodden out Mr Wright had to wait for a windy day. Then he tossed the grain in the air — the wind blew the straw away and the barley fell on to a cloth. (A slow job that). Mr Wright carried the barley to Cygnet River and sold it to the late Mr J. W. Daw for 5/ a bushel. When Mr Wright moved into Cygnet River, he lived for a time on the property now owned by Mr Herbert Cook. Then he bought "Fernville" and started to plant an orchard, buying a few trees each year— 700 trees. It was a long job as there were many big gum trees to be grubbed. When the Telegraph line was put through to Cape Borda, Mr Wright was employed sinking holes for poles and dug the last hole nearest the Lighthouse on a Good Friday morning. Sinking was very hard around the Lighthouse and Mr Hamilton, the contractor, did not want to use ex plosives and Mr Wright was promised a bottle of beer if he got the hole out without having to blow it. As no beer was available he received 5/ for putting down the last hole, wages were 5/ a day and tucker. Wooden poles were erected but they had to be replaced with iron poles. Mr Wright cated some of the iron poles, being paid £4 10/ a ton, twenty poles to the (Continued on page 3, column 4).





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too. After the Hd. of Haines had been surveyed Mr Wright had the contract to move the surveyors to the Hd of Cassini. About twenty years ago Mr Wright sold ' Fernville' to Mr Frank Wakelin. He decided to take a holiday and visited his brother Tom at Kalgoorlie, W.A. a long train journey. He has also visited his son George at Camberwell Victoria. Mr Wright never had any schooling, but he taught himself to read. He has never written a letter but can sign his name. Although be has travelled practically all over the Island, Mr Wright never saw a kangaroo in the scrub, and the first of these animals seen by him, was one the late Mr C.A. Anderson placed in the inclosure in front of the Queenscliffe Hotel. Mr Wright is enjoying fairly good health, but his eye-sight is very poor and has not been good for many years. Mr Wright resides in Drew Street with his niece, Mrs J. Northcott.

REMINISCENCES. (1944, July 28). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 4.
(Continued from page 4). (1944, July 28). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 3.