Haines and Cassini

Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Saturday 21 March 1908, page 11

Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), Saturday 4 April 1908, page 47

KANGAROO ISLAND.

AMONG THE FARMERS. HAINES AND CASSINI

[VIII.—By our Special Reporter.]

Two mounted constables and a justice of the peace formed the curious escort under which I made my initial entrance into the Hundred of Haines. No; I had not in any way brought myself within the pale of the law, neither had I thoughts of indulging in nefarious practices. The explanation of the situation was simply this:—My companions were on business bent, and had courteously consented to act as my guides. After we had cone a couple of miles beyond the farm of Messrs. Stewart & Harley, the gallant steed which I bestrode showed signs of weakness. Acting on the advice of my ex experienced friends I promptly steered for the homestead, and there—thanks to the kindness of Mr. S. Vokes, manager for the firm named—was able to give the animal the attention and rest which it required.

—An Extensive Property.—

The next proceeding was to stroll over the farm—named Wyndford, after the town in Scotland where Mr. Harley was born—which ranks among the foremost of the modern enterprises on the island. Different persons had told me that the ow ners had spared no expense in clearing and preparing the land for agricultural use, and it did not need a close scrutiny to prove that the statements had not been exaggerat ed. The property compnses 4,700 acres, is 12 miles from Kingscote, and two miles from the top of Nepean Bay, where the shipping is done, and at the beginning ot 1907 was covered by scrub. On January 25 the roller was set to work; to-day 400 acres is under cultivation. This probably represents a record on the island, and redounds to the credit, not only of the proprietors, but of Mr. Vokes as well. Last season wheat, oats, and barley were drilled in, and, considering the dryness, did fairly well. The wheat (Silver King) went 11 bushels to the acre, and the hay 15 cwt. The barley, however, was a failure, which Mr. Vokes attributes to the late sowing. The reaper was tried over three acres of oats (Calcutta), and the clean-up produced 16 bags. Mr. Vokes admits that the soil, which is a sandy loam, with a red clay subsoil, will have to be worked thoroughly; but after that has been done he thinks it will fully jus tify the high expectations entertained re garding it. During the coming season 300 acres will be placed under crop, and the remainder fallowed. Imported grasses do capitally on the slopes adjacent to "Kelvin Diver" (partially dry in the summer), which winds through the padlocks within a hundred and fifty yards of the house, and all kinds of vegetables also make rapid and strong growth. An excellent fresh water well is situated on a bank of the watercourse, and is utilized for domestic and other require ments. Everything conceivable has been done by Messrs. Stewart & Harley to give their possession the status of a model farm. The large, roomy iron house on the top of a hill is surrounded by fruit trees, and a promising garden stretches halfway down to the creek. Nearly all the trees, which include apples, figs, pears, almonds, and olives are progressing splendidly. Among the farm stock are six working bul locks, seven splendid horses, and numerous pure-bred poultry. Although built with iron, the stables and sheds are strong and commodious, and the implements are the best that money can buy. Whether or not the property will prove a complete success from the agricultural standpoint remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the gentlemen whose money and enterprise have been the key to its opening are de termined to give it a fair trial.

—Further Afield.—

The next settler upon whom I called was Mr. J. Olds, a former resident of Menzies, and a recent arrival in Haines. He was absent from home, but his bashful little son stated that his father had 150 acres cleared, and the previous season had put in 20 acres. The return, however, had been most disappointing. A drive of four or five miles through sand and bush, which appeared to be interminable, brought me to the house of Mr. H. J. Wiadrowski, whose feats an the whirring wheels will be fresh in the minds of enthusiastic admirers of cycling. He owns 5,000 acres of land, 18 miles south from Kingscote, which he originally acquired in partnership with his bro ther. At that period—three years ago last August—the country was a more wilderness; now nearly 400 acres is devoid of every thing objectionable, except an odd root here and there. Mr. Wiadrowski has "worked like a nigger," and has met difficulties with unflinching nerve and an undeviating determination. He possesses determination and the eternal optimism of the born backwoods fighter, and if victory can be wrested from the soil (which is of a light sandy nature, about 6 in. deep with a retentive clay subsoil) he will win it. The first and second years' crops, in consequence of adverse climatic conditions and superficial methods of cultivation, were not particularly encouraging, but last season 120 acres of wheat, 35 acres of Cape barley, and 45 acres of Algerian oats gave yields which gladdened Mr. Wiadrowski's heart. The firstnamed averaged a bag and the two latter three bags each to the acre. Mr. Wiadrowski intends to grass the land, and then combine farming with sheepraising. He says he is perfectly satisfied with the soil, but considers that it must be worked incessantly for two or three vears before it will give any appreciable return. With the object previously indicated, he has experimented with lucerne, cocksfoot, Yorkshire fog, paspalum, and ribbed and rye grasses, and they have prospered splendidly. He his grown some exceptionally large potatoes, French beans, and cucumbers, among other things, which have produced prolific crops. Mr. Wiadrowski has two neat cottages, one of which is used by his father-in-law an elaborate ar ray of farming implements, the usual stables and sheds, a serviceable black smith's shop, and every other convenience essential on a progressive farm "out back.'' As with the majority of farmers on the Island, he manufactures a small quantity of eucalyptus oil, and thus augments the family exchequer. In our chat he referred to a matter in which about 30 settlers within a radius of five miles of Claremont (his farm) are all deeply interested. At present they have to journey between 12 and 20 miles to American River for their mail. Should there be a strong north wind at the time of the arrival of the steamer this cannot be landed, with the result that they are compelled to wait for several days longer for letters and papers. The uncertainty and trouble, it is stated, could be easily averted by the establishment of an office in the centre of the group of settlers, and the delivery of the mails by driver from Kingscote.

—A German Settler.—

A mile and a half from Mr. Wiadrowski's is the homestead of Mr. J. F. Scholz, a bluff, plodding German, of Angaston, who in co-operation with his sons, has cleared 300 of his 2,900 acres right-of-purchase land in two years. He has unbounded faith in the efficacy of fallowing, and is confident that it will do much to improve the productiveness of the soil. Last year he reaped two bags of wheat to the acre, and is looking forward to a higher return during the approaching season. Vegetables of all descriptions thrive on the low-lying land, and one mangold wurzel which Mr. Scholz recently unearthed turned the scales at 22 lb. A feature of the holding is a lovely permanent fresh water lagoon within a stone's throw of the house. Rushes 8 ft. high abound in the lake, and are relished by horses and cattle. Other new settlers are Messrs. A. Avery (who has a moderate tract of land fallowed), Palmer, and Edwards (who have recently begun operations). C. Milde, of Blyth, and F. Wheaton, of Redhill (who will probably put the drill over a couple of hundred acres at seeding time).

—Around Cassini.—

Although many years have passed since Cassini was opened for settlement only lately has any noticeable influx of settlers occurred. And no wonder. A rougher or more inaccessible district can scarcely be imagined. Of course, parts of the tracks are beyond cavil, and present opportunities for exhila rating drives, but the balance, made up principally of ruts, roots, sand, and treacherous rocks, render speedy travel utterly impossible, and the seat of a four-wheeled trap anything the reverse of a bed of roses. Still, there is an aspect which tends to partly compensate for the sufferings endured. That, is the glorious scenery. Monumental giants of the primordial forest; stand in stately grandeur in the bed and along the banks of the river, which in the winter is a raging torrent. As one ascends higher and higher the exquisite vista which unfolds itself like the film of an immence natural bioscope fascinate; and holds the spectator spellbound. Hills, crowned with dense foliage, roll away into the dim distance, meet the sky, and disappear in a haze of indefinable blue.

There is no motion in the air, no sound

Within the treetops stirs,

Save when some last leaf, fluttering to the ground,

Drops like a wounded bird.

—Hard Workers.—

The first dwelling encountered in the hundred, pursuing the course of the Cygnet River towards its source, is that of Mr. N. Brennand, who was "gumming" near to Stokes Bay on the day of my visit. That his farm is not neglected, however, is evident from the neatness which distinguishes it, and the stability of the various buildings A mile distant, on the opposite side of the road, are the homes of Messrs. H. Geisler, and A. Schultz, who own 1,900 acres, 200 of which have been deprived of their natural covering of thicket in less than three years. Two crops have been reaped, but neither was particularly satisfictory. Messrs. Schulz & Geisler, however, are by no means despondent. The large portion of their soil is dark sand, from 6 to 8 in. deep with a clay subsoil, and (accord ing to Mr. Schultz) needs only to be opened and sweetened to grow first-rate crops. Vines and 130 mixed fruit trees are making excellent headway, and, like vegetables, appear to do better than grain. The farm is efficiently stocked in all departments, and affords a further illustration of the methodical, economical, and industrious nature of our German farmers. On reaching the topmost point of the range I met Mr. R. E. Seppelt driving a team of fine draught horses. Night was rapidly settling down and we were a long way from our destination; but we ascertained that in the three years during which he has been in occupation of his block, about four miles above Mr. Brennand's and adjoining Messrs. Foggo Brothers', he has cleared 150 acres, and last season reaped four bags of oats, one of wheat, and four tons of hay to the acre. A large percentage of his land is river-flat soil, and naturally far superior to that on the higher levels. Thirty miles south-west of Kingscote are the 8,000 acres of freehold land whcih Messrs. Walter and Oliver Marshall. sons of the veteran wheat hybridizer, Mr. R. Marshall, purchased three years ago. Many persons consider that they have made a mistake in their selection, but that has yet to he proved conclusively. The soil varies from sand and ironstone gravel to chocolate, and near to the river are some fine patches which look capable of growing practically anything. So far all the crops have been sown on the hills, with poor results. The farm is admirably equipped and is being developed vigorously. Among the live stock are a dozen horses, 13 bullocks, a dairy cow and calf, and numerous high-class poul try. Several fresh-water soaks serve as useful and easily accessible substitutes tor wells.

—Some Conclusions.—

After having travelled through the settled—and, for that matter, unsettled—portions of the Hundreds of Menzies, Cassini, Haines. and MacGillivray, and heard the opinions of old and new residents concerning the capabilities of the soil, I feel bound to confess that in my judgment the value of much of the land, from an agricultural point of view, has been overestimated. With a few exceptions the best of the country skirts the north coast, and has been occupied for many years. Most of that further south ranges in quality from second rate to practically worthless. With modern scientific methods of cultivation it is often possible to obtain profitable returns from soil which a generation ago was deemed to be beyond hope of redemption, but it seems to me that, even with those advantages, only partial success can ever be achieved in a large part of the area indicated. The rainfall aver ages from 18 to 24 in., and generally comes at opportune times; but, in the opinion of some judges, the land lacks the inherent constituents necessary to make it entirely suitable for the production of cereals. It does not follow, however, that be cause of this the country may not serve for sheep and cattle raising. The cost of clearing, which varies from about 15/ to £1 5/ an acre the first year, would be a large item; but once the scrub has been disposed there should not be any insurmountable obstacle in the way of satisfactory advancement.

KANGAROO ISLAND. (1908, March 21). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 11 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56462969

KANGAROO ISLAND. (1908, April 4). Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), p. 47. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164105100

Next article >>>