Hog Bay firebrick industry

Brick Kiln and Jetty, Hog Bay [B 18220] State Library SA

Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), Saturday 11 April 1908, page 47

Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Saturday 4 April 1908, page 10


[XI.—By our Special Reporter.]

At one time keen rivalry existed between Kingscote and Hog Bay—or, as it is officially known, Penneshaw—but with the passing years the desire to emulate and excel has gradually diminished in both towns. Now local residents—notwithstanding that the former place has advanced by leaps and bounds, while the latter has remained almost stationary—give little thought to their individual merits. Visitors, however are by no means so unconcerned, and seldom lose an opportunity to belaud, sincerely or in a bantering spirit, whichever attracts their fancy.

Out of these competitive eulogiums have arisen the terms "Capital" and "Premier City," which are applied to Kingscote and Hog Bay respectively, and arc frequently r sponsible for the momentary bewilderment of the uninitiated. Several stories are current relative to the manner in which the "Premier City" derived its original title. One attributes it to the presence in the pioneer days of large numbers of pigs that had been introduced from New South Wales and Tasmania, and another is that it was named after a mariner called Capt. Hog;. The latter is generally considered to be the more feasible explanation. The appellation of Penneshaw is understood to have been evolved out of the names of Dr. Pennefather (who years ago acted in various official capacities in Adelaide) and Miss Shaw (now Lady Lugar, wife of the Governor of Hongkong), a correspondent of The Times, who was visiting Government House on the occasion of the proclamation. Few people, however, take cognisance of the new name, and the majority of the older residents decline to use it.

—A Pleasant Prospect.—

The town is spread over an extensive area of undulating country, which (except for a couple of hundred yards south-east of the jetty, where there is a rapidly shelving beach) presents an abrupt face to the

Waves which vainly seek,

To utter all the story of the sea,

And die in music with the tale untold.

The cliffs are not particularly high or steep, yet they are sufficiently rugged to evoke the enthusiastic acclamations of the admirers of Nature's marvellous handiwork. The action of the water on those near to the town, owing to their peculiar composition produced extraordinary effects. Here the lines of rock are like serrated edges of innumerable crosscut saws placed side by side, and there they bear designs as grotesque as wonderful. Even when the winds are at perfect peace, the restless sea boils and bubbles among the jagged pinnacles and blades; but when there is war in the skies and the black-winged legions of tempest arise, the ocean rages and swells and foams and bursts with a thunderous clamour upon the seamy shore. The general aspect on the occasion of my visit was delightfully picturesque. A grand view of the town and its surroundings and of the mainland 10 miles away is obtained from the top of the hill, about a mile from the jetty, on the Cape Willoughbv road, where mallee and sheaoak constitute a beautiful foreground of dark green. From that point an exquisite panorama opens before one. Few, but neatly and solidly built, houses are dotted about without heed apparently ro any special scheme of arrangement. To the left, abutting on the American River Road, 50 yards from the sea, and three or four times that distance below the well kept cemetery, to the council chamber and public hall. On the same side of the thoroughfare, a quarter of a mile nearer to the jetty, are the post office, public school, and Anglican and Methodist Churches. The only hotel and two out of the four business establishments—recent additions to the architecture of the town— are within a stone's throw of each other on what may be called the main street, a couple of hundred yards from the jetty, which is reached by way of a sharply de scending and winding road along the edge of the cliff.

—Historic Features.—

Like Kingscote, Hog Bay is rich in historic possessions and associations. A short distance west of the town is Kangaroo Head where Capt. Flinders first landed on March 22, 1802, and observed and killed some of the kangaroos that suggested the name which he applied to the island. That noteworthy incident is commemorated by a large cairn of limestone, which forms a conspicuous feature of the promontory. Antechamber Bay, a few miles east of Hog Bay, and Cape Willoughby, further south, also owe their names to the great English navigator. So far as is known, the next renowned visitor to the island was the French Commander Baudin, who, after his meeting with Capt. Flinders in Encounter Bay, and after having again visited the eastern shores of Australia, called at Hog Bay early in 1803. A record of the visit was engraved in French on "The Frenchman's Rock," less than a quarter of a mile from the jetty on the east side. A couple of years ago an imposing canopy was built by Mr. Owen Smyth over the celebrated stone, which is now securely protected from the weather and from the miserable vandals who have no more souls than kangaroos and whose hides are not so valuable as those of the marsupials. Not only do they lack reverence for the things which link the present with the past, and serve to remind patriotic persons of the strenuous and stirring battles with Nature which were fought by the pioneers, but also their vanity and conceit are so immeasurable that they scrawl their own obscure names upon such hallowed memorials. Prevented from exhibiting their pitiful inanity on the famous rock itself, the vandals have turned their attention to the canopy, which is assuming the appearance of a fifth-rate hotel register.

—Necessary Improvements.—

Until about five years ago Hog Bay was sadly neglected—end no wonder. The absence of a jetty rendered it compulsory for passengers and mails to be landed at Christmas Cove in a dinghy, and when the weather was unsettled they were frequently carried on to Kingscote. As a result the town merely marked time for many years, and there seemed to be a likelihood that it would for ever remain a small village and nothing more. At last, however, after much petitioning and agitating, the authorities consented to construct a jetty. The completion of that work witnessed the begining nine of a renaissance, which, though slow in development, is nevertheless appreciably obvious. For a period the increased shipping facilities fulfilled requirements, but, particularly since the inauguration of the new steamship service, it has become increasingly patent that a longer and wider jetty is imperative. This desirable improvemcnt has been promised, and will be provided at the earliest possible moment. Under existing conditions the utmost difficulty is often experienced in placing the Karatta beside the structure, owing to its shortness and the proximity of the adjacent rcefs.

Another convenience just as urgently needed is telephonic communicaion. The only means by which messages can be forwarded to the mainland other than by the mail twice a week are by riding to Cape Willoughby, 18 miles distant, and telephoning thence to Kingscote, whence a cable leads to Adelaide; or by sailing in a boat from Hog Bay to Kingscote. Both are tedious methods, especially in case of emergency. and tend to leave the town practically isolated. After having tolerated and agitated until they are positively tired of their position, the residents have decided that they must have a telephone, and the reasonableness of their request is warmly and unanimously supported by all who visit the bay. Active steps have been taken to obtain the installation of an instrument and the erection of a line to connect with that be tween Cape Willoughby and Kingscote at Willson's River, nine miles from Hog Bay; but the Postmaster-General has not yet said that the work shall be done. It' is earnestly hoped, however, that approval will not be withheld much longer.

Seeing that it has to keep in repair 45 miles of district roads, that its funds are limited and that sometimes nobody can be induced to undertake road-mending, the local council should be congratulated upon the state of its thoroughfares. Generally they are excellent, and add materially to the pleasure of drives and rides through the country. The members of the council are Messrs. W. Howard (Chairman), W. Buick, M. Willson. J. H. Davis, and R. Clark; and the clerk is Mr. E. C. Trethewy. All of them are deeply concerned in the welfare of the district, and they never lost an opportunity to further its interests. Although it has not been distinguished by such striking development as has characterised the Kingscote end of the island, considerable progress has been recorded lately. For example, whereas in 1905-6 the rates produced only £87, the arrears £0, and the Government subsidy £17, the revenues from those sources in 1906-7 were £101, £21, and £22 respectively. During the current year, no doubt, the receipts will be still larger.

—A New Industry.—

Some time ago excitement was occasioned in Adelaide by the reported discovery, about 10 miles from Hog Bay, just off the Cape Willoughby road, of an extensive and valuable bed of tourmalines. The gems, however, soon pinched out, and the mine was closed as "another disappointment." One person, however, Mr. Provis, felt confident that the property would yet prove fruitful, but in another way. He had carefully studied the nature of the felspar and china clay and stone in the immediate neighbourhood, and was so impressed with their value that at the first favourable opportunity he brought them under the notice of a number of gentlemen in Adelaide. Shortly afterward the Kangaroo Island China, Stone and Clay Com pany, Limited, was formed to work the deposits, which included, in addition to the substances referred to, mica, silica, and fire and hall clay. All of these abound within a square mile. Nowhere else on the island, or in any other part of the Commonwealth have they been found in such close association or such apparently inexhaustible quantities. The company's land is 280 acres in area, and easy of access. The best of the fire clay is "quarried" on the opencut principle, about 500 yards from the mine proper. The silica is taken from a drive at the bottom of a 20-ft. shaft, 120 yards away in another direction, and the china clay and stone and felspar are mined within a few feet of each other.

Two years ago the company erected a dry crusher and a grinder, and 12 months later; imported a wet grinder from Germany. The motive power is supplied by a 12-h.p. portable engine. The difference in the dry and the wet process is that in the former the material, after having been crushed by two 1-ton rollers on a moving 3-ton base, passes into a grinder, whence it emerges in a dry slate ready for use; while in the latter, after it has come from the crusher, the broken stuff is placed inside a cylinder lined with porcelain and containing scores of flint stones and a proportion of water. The cylinder is then set in motion, and the felspar, or china stone, is ground into a liquid mass. This is poured into a tank, under which a slight fire is kept burning until all the water has evap rated, and left only the dry powder residue. The reason for the two methods of treatment is that some pottery makers prefer the one to the other. China stone, felspar, and silica have been shipped to Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney with gratifying success, although there is still plenty of scope for the expansion of the business. Owing to the fact that all the best pottery used in Australia, such as china tea services, is imported from England and Belgium, the demand here for the materials essential in its manufacture is only limited, and is confined mainly to Sydney. In view of the superior quality of the china stone and clay and the felspar, however— they are said to be quite equal to the finest Cornwall products—and the certainty that as time goes on the Australian pottery industry will develop and occupy a stronger position, a better demand for the stone must naturally ensue. Just now four men, including the overseer (Mr. W. Shakeshaft), are employed on the mine. The mica on the properly is treated as only so much useless dirt. A trial shipment of 3 tons was dispatched to London in the early stage of the company's career; but, as it did not realize expectations, no further attempt has been made to use it for commercial purposes.

—Fire Brickmaking—

A year or more ago the company resolved to combine fire-brickmaking with its other operations. Mr. Mastin, who had had much experience in England, was appointed manager of the whole concern, and as a result of his energy and careful oversight highly encouraging success has been achieved. The brickworks are on the foreshore, within a dozen steps of the jetty, and are up-to-date in every detail. The fire clay and the silica, which are brought from the mine by teams, are disintegrated by means of a heavy crushing mill. They then pass through perforations in the bottom of the pan into a mixer, whence they travel forward to a vertical pugmill. Here water is added to the clay, which is tempered, and leaves the mill at the bottom ready to be moulded by hand into bricks of various shapes and sizes. A certain amount of "grog" — calcified clay or broken firebricks—is always mixed with the raw clay and silica, to which it gives additional strength and body. The bricks are burnt for between four and five days at 1,500 or 1,600 deg. Fahr., and a kiln takes nearly a week to cool. During my stay at Hog Bay the finishing touches were being given to a fine new kiln, which will accommodate 25,000 bricks at one time; 45,000 fire and ordinary bricks were used in its construction. Bricks manufactured by the company have been, and are being, used by most of the leading firms in South Australia, who speak in unstinted praise of them as equal to the best Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and Scotch bricks. They burn an excellent colour, are remarkably durable, and withstand an enormous heat. The company intends eventually to make all kinds of tiles, terracotta, and fire-clay gas retorts, as well as bricks. It deserves prosperity in its commendable enterprise.

ABOUT HOG BAY. (1908, April 11). Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), p. 47. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164105577

KANGAROO ISLAND. (1908, April 4). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 10. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56463169