Wheatons mark 100 years on K.I.

RECORDING history is important in any community and nation, not just to compile an interesting story but also from what it can teach us, and future generations, in order to prosper in years to come.

Unfortunately so much of our history, and the wisdom of those who made it, has gone to the grave but author and farmer Jason Wheaton has set out to ensure not all is lost.

He has just published a new and unique book titled, Kangaroo Island - 100 years of Farming on a Tourism Landscape.

It has been produced to celebrate 100 years of the Wheaton family's significant involvement in KI's history, a history that is so important in this state and nation.

Through his efforts vital pieces of KI and SA's history is preserved in a very easy to read format.

This is a wonderful quality hard back "coffee table" publication that covers a wide range of topics that tie together so well in ten clearly defined chapters.

It highlights the island's discovery and development, KI community involvement and sacrifice, right through to the natural environment and wildlife, sporting life and tourism.

Stranraer, the Wheaton family's home property of 1295 hectares at MacGillivray has been, and still is the centrepiece of their 100 years of KI involvement.

It has been transformed from a farming family's homestead and vital community centre, through to a high standard bed and breakfast hospitality business, having catered for over 11,000 international and local visitors since 1994.

KI is the birthplace of SA, the first official settlement being at Reeves Point on July 27, 1836 by free settlers.

All other Australian states were settled by convicts and in conflict with the indigenous populations.

However KI's history of European discovery goes back further than that to Matthew Flinders and Nicholas Baudin.

While Flinders was the first to sight, land on and to name the island, there are many French names still in use today from Baudin's influence.

Sustainable agriculture has had a chequered history.

Initially restricted to the northern coastal area and the Dudley Peninsula in the days of early settlement, this book covers the growth of agriculture, including Soldier Settlement Schemes, to see KI become a major contributor to the SA economy.

It covers the hardships of the great depression and the evolution of industries such as yakka gumming, salt and gypsum mining, possum skins and eucalyptus oil that sprang up as residents adapted to the needs of the time in order to survive.

Ligurian bees were imported from Italy in 1885 and now KI has the only pure strain in the world.

The island's isolation created the need for a strong community spirit to overcome the hardships and Jason's book explains the perseverance, sacrifice and service of citizens as they strived to create a future for their family and community.

Stranraer and the Wheaton family have played a major role as a community centre.

The homestead provided consulting rooms for the only local doctor in the early to mid 1900s, one of the buildings became the local school and land was donated over 70 years ago to form the famous MCG, in this case the MacGillivray Cricket Club.

The foundation of agricultural bureau branches was vital to the improvement in agricultural methods and productivity and again Stranraer was a centre for agricultural advancement on the island.

In the 1980s KI had the highest density sheep production in SA with over 1.25 million sheep.

That was a huge lift from the early days of agriculture on the island, when farmers were scattered along the coast eking a living from anything that would grow and feed the families of the island.

Stranraer, settled in 1920 by Jason's great grandfather, Robert Wheaton OBE, very much mirrors the island's and state's history.

The Stranraer name was adopted from the Scottish town of the same name and means 'safe resting place'.

It has certainly lived up to that translation over the past 100 years in the MacGillivray area.

Jason's grandfather Doug Wheaton took over the running of Stranraer after Robert's retirement to Kingscote, and Jason's father Graham, and mother Lyn Wheaton occupy the historic rooms and hallways of the Stranraer homestead.

They run the Stranraer Bed & Breakfast and ensure that the property and homestead will continue to play a significant part in KI's future.

Encouraged and supported by his wife Tammy, and sons Jack, Tom and Archie, Jason has produced a book that most certainly celebrates the Wheaton family's wonderful contribution to the past 100 years of life on KI.

He has given prospective readers a diverse and wonderful history of KI.

Details: To order the book visit www.JasonWheaton.com [no longer valid. Ed.] or www.stranraer.com.au