Kangaroo Island in 1910

Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), Saturday 12 February 1910, page 43


On sighting Penneshaw (Hog Bay), which is a five hours' run from Glenelg, and the first place of call on Kangaroo Island, one cannot help being struck with the appearance of the new jetty, which cost about £4,000. There is a fine wharf, with spring piles on either side, which pre-vent a steamer in the roughest weather from damaging the jetty. On the shore end to the left are the large buildings of the China Clay and Brickworks, where it is said, the best firebricks in the State are manufactured. A little further on up the hill is the post and telephone office. The latter opens up communication with Kingscote and other places, and is a great boon to the district. The hotel on the top of the hill, and not far from the jetty, occupies a prominent position, and over looks St. Vincent Gulf, Backstairs Pas-sage, and the lighthouse at Cape Jervis. Next to the hotel is the new police station, which cost about £1,500. Several new buildings have been recently erected in the Hog Bay township, and a new hall and institute is about to be built. The land is rich around this centre. All the farmers go in for barley growing, and a few sheep. The barley yields are as high as 70 bushels to the acre. One farmer, who owns 450 acres, is reported to run 1,000, sheep, bullocks, horses, and cows all the year round on his selection, and gene-rally ships about 400 bags of barley each season.

On arriving at Kingscote the first improvement that attracts the eye of the visitor is the new jetty, which is being erected at the cost of something under £4,000, and is expected to be completed within three months. It is only about 50 ft. from the old jetty, and looks as long again. It is 4 ft. higher, being built to suit the class of boat that now trades to Kingscote. On the right of the jetty is the post and telegraph office, in charge of Mr. R. Lamprey. A new office was built two years ago, but a movement is on foot to have the building more in the centre of the town. The largest building in Kingscote is the Ozone Hotel, which commands an extensive view of Nepean Bay. The Queenscliffe Family Hotel is situated more in the centre of the town. There are also several boarding houses, all of which do a good trade in the summer months. The visitors to Kingscote spend their time fishing or in motor or coach excursions. Judging by the population that gathers in the township on Saturday evenings good business with the people "out back" must result. Yacca gum appears to be one of the foremost industries of Kangaroo Island at the present time, as every other man who is spoken to is "out gumming," and a stack of some thousands of bags is waiting shipment near to the jetty.

During the last few years the Union Bank has opened a branch at Kingscote, streets have been formed, footpaths kerbed, and several acetylene gas street lamps erected. The soundness of the buildings, which number about 70, and the general appearance of the town, give one the impression that something of value must be "out back." The new country is opening up fairly well, and extensive clearing is going on.

Driving through the Hundreds of MacGillivray and Seddon and a portion of Newland—which is not yet allotted—to Vivonne Bay, one sees vast improvements and clear tracts of land in all directions. Last year a new post office was opened in the Hundred of MacGillivray, and named after the hundred, and the mail runs out weekly from Kingscote. The residents are now building a hall for use as a school and for other purposes. About 3,000 acres of land was cultivated and put under crop last season. The yield of barley, wheat, and oats is not yet known, but Mr. A. C. Burgess is reported to have stripped 40 bushels of Federation wheat to the acre from over 40 acres.

In the Hundred of Seddon another post office—with a weekly mail—has been opened, and has been called Kaiwarra. Messrs. Saunders & Engelbrecht, who now own the estate bearing that name, are carving their way into the interior. Their hay crop yielded 14 tons of hay to the acre, and there is 100 tons of hay in the stack, which will be a good standby for opening up new country, where never more than 10 tons has been grown before. Some eight acres of potatoes are looking first class. In the same hundred Messrs. Lloyd and Roberts, of the Clare district, are farming, and several other newcomers include Mr. J. Ford, formerly of Burra. The contract has been let for a jetty 1,000 ft. in length at Vivonne Bay to Messrs. Lewis & Reid, and the work of excavating on the shore end has been started.

When the Hundred of Newland, which surrounds Vivonne Bay, is thrown open by the Government it is expected that good settlement will result. Other newcomers in the Vivonne district are Mr. Edwards at Karatta, Mr. Hubble at Grassdale, and the new owners of the Rocky River Estate, which consists of 9,000 acres of freehold, and is valued at £30,000. Tenders are being called for the clearing of 500 acres of land on the estate, and a large party of men are engaged, and have started to gather yacca gum for export.

Next to Newland is the newly proclaimed Hundred of Ritchie, and west of that again is Rocky River. In the three hundreds there must be over 250,000 acres, mostly suitable for agriculture, and as the only port is Vivonne Bay the produce must pass over the jetty, but it will be necessary to open up the land with a light line of railway. This, it has been suggested, should go from Kingscote to Vivonne Bay, and thence north-westerly to the land in the Rocky River hundred.

On the north coast a jetty is required at Stokes Bay to open up the Hundred of Cassini, where there is an abundance of yacca gum. Some of this land has been sold at 10/ per acre freehold, and the yield of gum per acre has been estimated at 2 tons. The market value of the gum at the jetty is £4 a ton. Of course, in considering the yacca gum in dustry one must bear in mind that it is diminishing. As a rule the plants stripped do not recover. The residents in the hundred west of Cassini (Duncan) would also cart their produce and yacca gum to the Stokes Bay Jetty. The largest landholders in the Hundred of Cassini, and about eight miles from Stokes Bay, are Messrs. Marshall Brothers, who hold 8,000 acres, and are just making the boundary sheep proof, when they expect to carry 1,000 sheep and farm as well.

The future prospects of Kangaroo Island were never better than they are to-day. A committee has been formed to take steps and arrange for an agricultural and horticultural show to be held at Kingscote this year. The Government has just completed a new schoolhouse and teacher's residence at Kingscote, at the cost of £1,500. A schoolmaster is now in charge. Given railway facilities to Kingscote, the future of Kangaroo Island is assured. The tramway, five miles in length at American River to the salt lake, is just about complete. The Commonwealth Salt Company, which has its headquarters in Sydney, expects to have 100 men salt-scraping in a few weeks, and eventually intends to erect a refinery at American River.

KANGAROO ISLAND. (1910, February 12). Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), p. 43. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164691163