Reminiscences of Kapunda, South Australia, in the 1860s

Originally published in the Kapunda Herald 9 December 1927

Mr. J. S. Browne, of Hamilton, New Zealand, writes: –

I have read with much interest, in your issue of September 23, the record of your “Back to Kapunda” celebrations. Mr. J. H. Treven’s memories ante-date me by some years, but I have a very vivid recollection of the old days and the men he writes about –

Dr. Blood, of the breezy manner and overflowing quiver;

William Oldham, who in his time played many parts – parson, mine manager, and captain of volunteers;

James Crase, who butchered, speculated in land, and built an hotel;

Drs. Geyer, Tallis, and Glendenning; then there was Hardy, baker, who afterwards built the Lord Palmerston Hotel;

Moyle, bootmaker;

Greenhough, chemist;

Willet, butcher;

Schram, storekeeper.

The Sir John Franklin was the leading hotel. The principal store was carried on by Mr. Lewis, who afterwards migrated to Allandale.

Miss Lydia Lewis conducted a private school at Kapunda, before she married Dr. Geyer.

Huggins & Behnam, Rudall, and Palmer attended to the legal business of the community.

Small and Rudall were auctioneers.

Jas. White, who had a place a few miles out, carried on some kind of an estate, &c., agency.

Goodchild was associated with him.

Mr. Sabine was incumbent of Christ Church, being succeeded by Mr. Smythe.

Mr. Williams looked after the Wesleyen fold.

Mr. Anderson was schoolmaster.

Mr. Darwin postmaster, and

Scandrett and Elliott published the paper.

If I remember rightly, their predecessor was mulcted in heavy damages through libelling the Official Assignee, whose name was Cherry. (In this connection it was, I think, Mitford, the brilliant editor of “Pasquin,” who when warned that his drastic criticism of high officials would get him into trouble, assured his friends that he “knew enough to spell cheery with a small c.”)

Kapunda was a fairly busy place in the early days. The local copper mine employed a large number of men: Teams of a score or so of mules laden with copper ore from the Burra mine, were a common sight. An extensive mule breeding establishment was conducted by Mr. Escott near the present Kintore Bridge. (The old bridge was known as Light Bridge.) I remember when the railway was opened to Kapunda. Mr. Carroll was the first stationmaster.

Main Street, Kapunda, 1871. State Library of South Australia.

My father was Stipendiary Magistrate at Kapunda for many years from the early sixties, Mr. O’Hara being Clerk of the Court. We first lived at “Helston Cottage,” owned by a Mr. Strickland. There was a brewery, Futheringham’s, not far off. Later we moved to “Thadmor,” Belvidere, beyond Kintore Bridge, a place owned by John Brooksbank. (The house we lived in was occupied when I last visited it by a Mr. White.) In my day, the country all round Thadmore was wooded, and infested with grass and shell parrots, cockatoos, cockateels, &c. Large numbers were trapped for export. Snakes were numerous and frequently invaded the house and cellar. We had quite a number of neighbours on 80 acre sections – Wayland, Conolan, Harvey, O’Hara, sen., &c. When I revisited the district a few years ago I noticed that most of those homesteads had disappeared; the trees, the birds, and the wild flowers, are gone, and the country is all given over to wheat growing. In my young days Anlaby with its delightful fountains and parterres and splendid orchards, protected by bird netting, was one of the show places of Australia. A merry crowd of us used to assemble there at Christmas. Mr. Buchanan was manager, being succeeded after his death by Mr. Morris.

Sources:

  1. Reminiscences of Kapunda. (1927, December 9). Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 – 1951), p. 3.
  2. Main Street Kapunda 1871 – Courtesy: The South Australian Library [B 19714/43]
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