Railway desired, fruit and other things

Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Wednesday 25 March 1908, page 7|

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



[IX—By our Special Reporter.]

While a few of the residents within the confines of the Kingscote District Council view the proposed construction of a railway through the island with indifference, and others condemn it on account of the increased rates which it would involve, the majority ardently favour the scheme. Of course, considerable diversity of opinion prevails regarding the best route to be followed. Some people contend that this would be from Kingscote, along the coast to Brownlow, thence to the bridge over the Cygnet River, near to the racecourse, into the Hundred of MacGillivray at the north-eastern corner, and due west across the tablelands for (say) 40 miles. Others as firmly believe that it would be from the Government reserve near to the jetty, around the western and southern boundaries of the town, thence to Brownlow, and so on. Of the two the latter would, perhaps, be the better. At the present moment, however, the claims of .the rival routes are of only minor importance. The primary question exercising the minds of the advocates of the line is "Shall we get it?" That is the rub. The deputation which interviewed the Commissioner of Crown Land on the subject a couple of weeks ago made out a good case, but was told, in effect, that the Government could not think of asking Parliament to construct a line until convincing evidence was forthcoming that it would pay.

When the Hundred of MacGillivray was opened for selection applicants almost tumbled over each other in their anxiety to obtain blocks, for they believed that a railway would soon be built to facilitate the conveyance of their produce to the seaboard. In the light of the disheartening reply, given by the Minister it will he interesting to observe whether similar eagerness will distinguish the seekers after land in the Hundred of Seddon, which is to be proclaimed shortly. That such will be the case is extremely unlikely, be cause it must be recognised that without a line of some sort, there can be only a slight possibility of developing the "back"' land successfully.

—Opposite Views.—

In the course of his reply the Commissioner intimated that the country had not been sufficiently tested to warrant the promise of a line, and added that the hundreds named were too far out for the farmers to cart their produce into Kingscote. The islanders, who are more than pleasantly familiar with the miserable tracks and roads which have to be travelled, entertain a diametrically opposite opinion, and consider that, equally with the settlers at Pinnaroo and on the west coast, they are entitled to a convenience which they feel satisfied is imperative, and will tend materially toward the advancement and prosperity of the country. Further, they argue that if the construction of the work must be absolutely contingent on the provision of proof of the financial success of the undertaking, many years at best will have to elapse before that stage can be reached, and possibly it will never be attained. Therefore they submit that little good, if any, can be accomplished by continuing the survey of the intended new hundreds, and suggest that the officers engaged in that work should be recalled without more ado. Although such a drastic step may not be altogether desirable, or warranted, there is not the slightest doubt that under prevailing conditions only a remote chance exists of a widespread settlement of the land; be cause, in addition to the disadvantages indicated, the disinclination of the owners of ketches and other vessels to risk putting in at the different landing places, especially during the stormy weather, makes it well nigh impossible to do shipping.

It is asserted that in the neighbourhood of the Stunsail Boom, Eleanor, and Rocky Rivers, and along the tablelands is a lot of first rate agricultural land, capable of producing grain, which, together with gum, wool, and timber, would provide a large quantity of freight for a railway with private branch lines. In these circumstances, and seeing that once upon the table lands few engineer ing difficulties would have to be faced, those who desire the construction of a line might ponder the advisableness of asking the Government (in view of its opposition to a railway) to sanction the laying down of a light tramway with a small, but powerful, motor traction service. This would meet requirements probably for some years, after which, if it should he deemed desirable, a proper railway could be substituted.

— Fauna and Flora Reserve.—

Scientists, naturalists, and others interested in the preservation of native flora and fauna recently waited upon the Government with the object of securing the dedication of the extreme western end of the island to that purpose. The Cape Borda lighthouse reserve, comprising about 15,000 acres, which had already been set apart, was deemed to be scarcely iarge enough, and the Government was requested to augment it by the addition of the pastoral leases of Messrs. T. Hirst and W. J. & C.J. May, embracing an area roughly of 600 square miles. The aggregate rental for the three places is £29 12,7, and the improvements are valued at £206 10/. It is stated that when the lessees were approached with a view to the surrender of their leases, which will terminate in 1912, 1924, and 1922 respectively, they required £28,000 compensation—a condition which the Government declined to entertain. Thereupon the deputation asked that the holdings should be added to the Borda reserve immediately after they shall expire.

Few persons on the island outside of the parties referred to exhibit much concern about the matter, and seemingly care not what the upshot may be. That there is an absolute necessity for a fauna and flora reserve is generally conceded, and some residents have gone so far as to adopt protective measures on a small scale on their own land. One of these is Mr. Arthur Daw, near to Kingscote, who has devoted 10 acres to the accommodation of wallabies. The leather made from the skins of these animals, by the way, is said to be among the finest in the world. Gentlemen like Mr. Daw believe that, the present reserve ought to be extended, but some settlers content that the Messrs. May and Hirst should he dealt with similarly to other pastoral lessees, i.e., receive as much freehold land in consideration for the surrender of their leases; and that the balance should he surveyed for closer settlement. The Rocky River Station, owned by Mr. C. J. May, comprising 105 square miles, is said to contain the biggest scope of good land on the island, and to be capable of bearing 60 or 70 families comfortably. The contention is advanced that, if this and the other properties specified are excluded from settlement, not only will a grave injustice he done to the present proprietors, but much first-class country will be allowed to remain idle. Furthermore, it is pointed out that the Borda reserve is ample, and ideally situated for the protection of kangaroos, wallabies, opossums, and that its augmentation will mean endless bother and expense, owing to bush fires, and the consequent destruction of fences. On the other hand, the naturalists submit that the smaller area does not supply the conditions which are necessary, if the varied life which it is desired to protect is to be sustained, and breeding haunts adapted to their habits provided. They argue that the proposal is free from all personal interests; that it is entirely on behalf of the people: and that it will be of untold value to generations to come. The ultimate decision of the Government in the matter which it now has under consideration is being awaited with keen interest by those chiefly concerned.

—A Second Tasmania.—

On the table at which this is being penned are four Cleopatra apples, which though far from fully matured, are remarkably large, and present a flawless appearance. They were grown on Kangaroo Island, and constitute a fair and average sample of the pippin fruit produced here in different parts. It is safe to prognosticate that the day is rapidly approaching when the island will be a second Tasmania. The trees develop splendidly wherever they are planted, and yield magnificent crops of the finest fruit imaginable. Nearly every farmer owns a email orchard, and many have lately resolved to increase the size at !their plantations so as to engage extensively and systematically in the product on of fruit for oversea markets. Besides under taking apple cultivation, they intend also to grow pears, apricots, walnuts, peaches, and various-other fruits which experience has shown thrive on the island. The prospects of a prosperous industry therefore are most encouraging.

The best gardens are generally in the vicinity of rivers and the smaller watercourses where the deposits of alluvial form naturally rich beds for the trees, which take root quickly, and spring up in a marvellous manner. The soil in certain other places, however, is also admirably suited to the purpose of fruitgrowing. Owing to the almost invariable presence of a clay soil, which keeps the underportion of the land damp, even through an exceptionally dry summer, the trees require much less attention and water than they do on the mainland. This advantage, especially in a big orchard, is important consideration, and one which weighs materially in the cost of maintenance. The climate is perfect for the growth of fruit. There is practically no frost, the codlin moth and other similar pests are unknown, and the only enemies of the orchardists are the birds and the opossums. These spoil some tons of fruit each year, but traps and guns assist to keep them in check.

While on the subject of pests it may be as well to utter a word of warning relative to the practice of permitting the importation of old fruit cases, apparently quite regardless of the danger of the possible introduction in that way of the dreaded codlin moth. Unless effective steps should he taken without further delay it is almost certain that before long the gratifying immunity which the island has enioyed in this respect will exist no more.

The largest orchard which I visited was that at American River, owned by Mr. John Buick, who is renowned as a grower throughout the island. Mr. M. Chirgwin of Smith's Bay, disposed of a first class garden (with his farm there) a few weeks ago. Mr. P. T. Bell, of Wisanger, owns a capital garden, from which he gathers prolific crops of superb apples, pears, and the like; another prominent fruit grower is Mr. C. J. May, from whose garden on the banks of the Cygnet River, about nine miles from Kingscote, I obtained some Duchess pears, which surpassed any I had previously seen or heard of. They went about three or four to the pound, and were most luscious.

A RAILWAY DESIRED. (1908, April 4). Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), p. 47. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164105104

KANGAROO ISLAND. (1908, March 25). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 7. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56461979

Next article >>>