Chapter 5 ~ European Settlement
The first European to visit the Clare region was John Hill.  In 1838, he conducted an expedition that briefly surveyed the area. It was a brief journey that gave the new settlement some knowledge of what lay further out from Adelaide. After Hill’s return to Adelaide, he was able to give detailed information about the region. In addition, he found a new river that he named the Hutt River.
Eager to open up more land, the government employed Eyre to explore the lands beyond the Hutt River. To this end, Eyre departed from Adelaide on 1 May 1839. On the homeward journey Eyre took a more easterly route and discovered a new stream which he named Hill River:
Eyre's exuberant descriptions of the land gave great enthusiasm to a new migrant, John Horrocks. Coming from Lancashire, he was looking for a place to settle and establish a farm. In late 1839, John Horrocks and John Hope set off from Adelaide to establish a sheep station in the area. During their visit to the area they experienced some difficulty from which the name Skillogolee Creek remained as a reminder of their adventures.
While Horrocks and his assistant, Hope, surveyed the lands where he eventually hoped to lease, some Kaurna men trailed him. These men were curious as to the nature of Horrocks’ survey work. In the late afternoon, when Horrocks and Hope had nearly completed their day's work, a group of Kaurna men attacked them. The Kaurna men made a great deal of noise and issued loud threats to frighten the expeditioners. This was their usual method of inducing fear into an opponent. When this failed to produce the desired effect upon Horrocks and Hope, the Kaurna men decided to come into close quarters and tackle the intruders. In the ensuing melee Horrocks and Hope rode off quickly to save their lives. This resulted in them losing all their provisions except for a small supply of flour.
As night began to fall, Horrocks and Hope urgently needed to make camp. Horrocks and Hope rode back to the creek where they had spent the previous night. Since they only had flour, their circumstances compelled them to survive upon 'Skilly'. It is a ration of tasteless gruel made from porridge and hot water. Thus they referred to the creek where they made camp with the pejorative term of Skilly Creek. It reminded them of the place where for many days they were reduced to living upon this unpalatable food. Later it evoked keen memories of their trials. No one came up with a better name for the creek so the name remained and still does today. 
Later on, at the end of 1839, when Horrocks decided to settle in the area, he established his first home in a hollowed out tree upon the banks of Skillogolee Creek. To commemorate his pretensions of noble ancestral origins, Horrocks called his new home, Penwortham. This term was applied to both the hollowed tree next to the creek and the lands surrounding this tree.
The contact between Horrocks’ shepherds and the Kaurna community continued for a long time. At times this tension exploded into bouts of extreme violence. The Kaurna people were not prepared to allow Horrocks and his shepherds to settle upon their land in peace. As far as the Kaurna people were concerned, the fencing and stock raising activities drove away the game and while grazing destroyed their vegetable supplies. The coming of Horrocks may have been good for European settlement but it was a severe economic and political blow for the Kaurna.
Horrocks and his men were attacked on many occasions. One report illustrates both the tensions that existed at the time and the bias in the settler community against the indigenous people. The event occurred only a few months after the settlement of Horrocks at Penwortham.
It began on 21 February 1840, when an informant from Penwortham passed the news onto The South Australian Register. A newspaper reporter then made some enquiries. This period was characterised by the newspaper and government working close together through the intimate acquaintance of the proprietor and the Governor. However, while a story like this could not be suppressed, it could always be watered down to remove the sheer brutality of the event.
After receiving the information from Penwortham, The South Australian Register reporter alerted to Governor to the fact that the newspaper was about to publish this story. This pre-warning allowed the Governor sufficient time to make a considered response to the news. Consequently, it appears that Gouger tried to give the impression that something was being done by the government ensuring that something empirical was being done before the story broke. The following day, on 22 February 1840, The South Australian Register carried the details of the story. They also gave their own sanctimonious explanation to the events that occurred.
There are three items in this report that summarise the feelings of the settlers towards the indigenous land owners.
The first item was the right the settlers felt they had of apprehending indigenous people without permission. They used the brute force to undertake the arrest of a person without any respect of Kaurna law. There is nothing in this story that indicates that the indigenous people had a right to their land or that they did indeed have sovereignty over the land. The police acted in the role of occupying forces carrying out orders without regard of any established international legal principles of occupation.
Next there is no mention as to either the gender of the "native" or the circumstances under which the police were going to arrest the "native". These issues are essential for the tenor of the article suggests that "natives" are likened to vermin since nothing "can stand out against the annoyance they inflict". Further investigation of the story tends to indicate that the incident was provoked by poor faith shown by the shepherds and towards the "native".
There is every indication that the problems stemmed from the failure of Horrocks’ shepherds to properly recompense the "natives" for the usage of their women for "immoral purposes". Apparently, the "native" and a few other "natives" entered the property to take the recompense in the form of sheep that they had been previously promised. The theft of the sheep provoked Horrocks to complain to the police. The mounted police responded by tracking down the "native" and recovering the stolen cache of sheep. Naturally, the "natives" were bitter about the shepherds' duplicity and fought for the right to possession of the sheep. During the dispute, the "native" vigorously resisted any attempt to be arrested or lose the sheep. While fighting with the police constable, the shepherd who was responsible for causing the strife in the first place shot the "native". None of this is reflected in the matter-of-fact report.
Finally, there is the moralising aspect of the article. The reporter states with sanctimonious piety that: "We have before remarked on the imprudence of settlers in the far bush allowing natives to approach their stations at all." There was only one reason why the indigenous people and the shepherds came together at all. It was to trade. Each had an abundance of items the other desired. The shepherds had food which replaced that which was chased away or destroyed by the grazing of the sheep. In exchange, the Kaurna had women, a gender decidedly in short supply in this region. European women rarely would wish to live in the squalor of the shepherds' life. Thus, only indigenous women were available. The attitude of the Kaurna towards sexual intercourse ensured that there was no moral dilemma arising from this transaction. While the reporter asks the shepherds to stay away from the indigenous women, he does not provide any alternate solution to the problem. This was never a serious consideration among the moralisers.
In taking action, Robert Gouger, the Colonial Secretary, is far more pragmatic and precise with his comments. To cover himself from any ramifications of this action and the questions that might be raised, he pre-empted the article of The South Australian Register when he wrote to Horrocks on 21 February 1840  requesting further information about this incident. He wrote:
As this letter from Gouger details, he was more concerned about accounting for the death than undertaking any process of justice. At no stage is there any request for an arrest warrant for the crime of murder. There is not any serious attempt to examine the matter. The shepherd was only required to make a statutory declaration before a magistrate to clear up the matter. In view of the two hangings of Kaurna men the year before for murder, this action seems extremely lenient and biased.
The final outrage in this whole matter is the person who was murdered. It was the woman who was promised food. She is the victim in this whole affair. Her family was cheated. On good faith, she prostituted herself to satisfy the desires of the shepherd. In return for these sexual favours she was to be rewarded with a sheep. The shepherd sent her away from his hut empty handed. This led her family to seek compensation that was only natural under Kaurna law. In accordance with Kaurna law, they exacted recompense. To end the argument, the shepherd saw a good opportunity to kill the woman he had abused the day before. At no stage in the above two reports that there is any concern for the woman. No one cares. She is just an object to be used, abused and destroyed. As an object for sexual gratification, she was desired but as a human, she was considered to be vermin and only fit for destruction. Such was the nature of British culture and justice.
Wyatt's statement is explicit and uncontested. Rape of Aboriginal women was common. The admission was not even further investigated indicating a lack of concern over the welfare of Aboriginal women suggesting that this was an acceptable practice best left for the storekeepers and shepherds.
Back in Adelaide, the pressure to settle on the land forced the Governor's hand. He commissioned further surveys into the area for the purposes of securing additional land sales. To this end, in 1841, the Governor dispatched a survey team under the command of Sergeant Forest to the region north of Adelaide to examine and map available lands. As part of Sergeant Forest’s survey expedition, Corporal William Ide  of the Royal Sappers and Miners conducted the first survey within the region. 
This process proved vital for further European development. While the land remained unsurveyed, people used it without authorisation. Furthermore, those who did claim a right to farm there could claim no security of tenure. This held up investment and mortgages to develop the land. At that time, people had already moved livestock overland from New South Wales and were ready to undertake serious farming activities. For that reason alone it was most important to get a survey completed quickly.
During this time, the administrative arrangements of the new districts created in South Australia required alteration for streamlining government activities. The area formed part of the newly proclaimed County of Stanley on 2 June 1842. The County of Stanley covered some 1,414½ square miles or 905,284 acres in the mid-north region. It was in this region that the story of the Adams family enters the historic records.
Life in this close knit community of Stanley County was intimate and personal. By 1844, the census records show that some 226 people lived in the Hutt and Wakefield district. Of this population, there were 151 single males, and 28 single females, while the balance was either married or widowed. The figures indicate that there was a great disproportion of single males. The pressure caused by this imbalance received resolution by the introduction of Aboriginal women as either de facto spouses or as prostitutes.
House styles described in the census is indicative of the life lead by the settlers within the region. Twenty dwelling sites housed this total population. The break-up of the house construction is revealing. Four of the houses were constructed of stone or brick. Fourteen homes were made from timber while two other houses were constructed of material that the census does not elaborate upon. The image of this area is one of a great number of itinerant single males while the balance lived in very primitive houses. Even religion did not calm the souls. Out of this number of people, some 150 recorded themselves as Church of England, 30 as Roman Catholic, 26 as Presbyterians, 1 Jew, 1 Methodist and 8 dissenters. There are 10 who did not even bother to record their faith.
By 1851, and before the gold rushes in Victoria, there was a tremendous amount of new development due to the growth in Kooringa’s population. Copper was the source of the wealth extracted from the region. The population of the Burra area grew until it became the seventh largest city in Australia, being even larger than Perth and Brisbane combined. New roads were constructed which stimulated more settlement in other areas. This new population grew to serve the various needs of the travellers. The population growth and road traffic were fundamental in shaping the life of Kudnarto and Adams after their marriage.
At this time, Skillogolee Creek was a growing settlement with the potential to expand. Apart from the shepherd’s cottages, there was the Port Henry Arms hotel and Titcume's butcher shop. As long as bullock drays were used to carry copper ore from Kooringa to Port Wakefield, the presence of a permanent water-soak on Adams’ land ensured the growth of Skillogolee Creek.
Seven kilometres to the north-east of Skillogolee Creek lay the tiny village of Auburn. This was an important turn-off to Port Wakefield. "Piebald" Williams, a mine manager bought the land on speculation of continued growth of the Burra region. Once acquiring the land, he had plans of a town drawn up and lodged with the Lands and Survey Department. Once the town plan was approved, Williams began to subdivide the land and sell off building lots.
With a sentimentality born of Ireland and the poetry of the great English bard, Oliver Goldsmith,  Williams named Auburn after that village so described in poem The Deserted Village.  Williams' mind was elsewhere when he read the lines:
Where health and plenty cheer'd the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delay'd:
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endear'd each scene;
At no stage could Auburn match the words which described the village in Goldsmith’s poem. Even Goldsmith could not do so, for in reality, the village of Auburn was actually Lissoy village in county Westmeath, Ireland. The plain upon which Auburn is located could never parallel that in the poem. The only reason for sweet Auburn being the loveliest village of the plain lay in the fact that it was the only one on that plain. The cloying sentimentality of Williams deluded him into believing more about Auburn than really existed. To the world, it appeared that Williams’ name of Auburn was seen as a detrimental joke. As one traveller sneeringly said:
At the time this critique was written, the town consisted of four buildings. The most substantial building was the Rising Sun Inn kept by Joseph Edwin Bleechmore. Near his hotel was the blacksmith's shop owned by William Norrell, an enterprising man who was desperate to expand his humble holdings despite his parlous financial situation. These two people had the first substantial buildings in the town. Others soon followed proving the old adage "Put up a public house and a blacksmith's shop, and a village will soon follow."  A town did follow. Auburn, whose name derived from one poet, also claims its bard, C.J. Dennis.  Maybe, after all, Williams was just a sentimental bloke.
Just south of Auburn, some three kilometres away lay a vast tract of land known as Kercoonda. This comes from a Nugunu term that translates as a "camp near water". The name arose because of a major waterhole on the River Wakefield that the Nugunu people knew as "yundalya". At Kercoonda, William Slater maintained his head station for his sheep farm. He also opened a Post Office in 1848. Just some few hundred metres away from Slater's farm was the Queens Head Inn operated by the licensee John Alexander Robertson.
North of Auburn was another turn-off to Port Wakefield near a permanent water-hole. To facilitate the crossing of the Wakefield River by the ore carrying drays, the Patent Copper Company built a sturdy bridge over the creek. The corner area was affectionately known as 'Billy Tatum's', so named because of a garrulous shepherd who set up camp at this location. As a subcontractor, he hired himself out to the various stock licence holders who wished to move their sheep through this region to other pastures.
Moving further north lay the town of Watervale. It sits upon an extensive flat. The flat land broken by a creek that wends its way to the Wakefield River. At the southern end was the commercial sector of the town containing a hotel, some general stores, butchers' and blacksmiths' shops, and other shops. The place contained about thirty houses with a population of about a hundred inhabitants. At the northern end of Watervale was the home of Dr George Francis Moreton, MRCS. The good doctor lived next door to the northern most public-house, known as the Prince of Wales. Outside the perimeter of the town lay many gardens growing lush crops of vegetables and huge melons. These crops served the needs of the local area but its main market was to be found at Kooringa.
A further eight kilometres north leads to the village of Penwortham often described as the most attractive village within the County of Stanley. Nathaniel Hailes, an auctioneer and author of the popular Timothy Short's Journal of Passing Events, described the village as 'Penwortham the Pretty'. 
The village of Penwortham contained only a few houses with a scattered population. One of the most outstanding buildings of the time was the parsonage designed and built by Reverend John Charles Bagshaw who also designed the St Mark's Episcopalian Church.  It was considered to be the oldest church north of Gawler. The Derby Arms was the only public-house in the village. It was an ugly, run down building. The facade held true as to the interior. People considered the hotel a horrid place to stay, the service being poor, and the accommodation primitive. Apart from the Derby Arms Penwortham was in an extremely pleasing location with rich and fertile soil in the land surrounding the village.
About three kilometres further north, along a fine diamond flat, and up an opening in the range, was a substantial stone house, with a roof of wooden palings, known as 'Woodlands'. This gardened property formed the home of John Jacob that is reached by a turning west from the main road. On the east side of the road, Jacob had a further farm where he was growing a considerable amount of wheat.
Moving a further 6.5 kilometres north, the character of the countryside impressed all travellers with its sheer beauty. The tree stands were dense enough in growth to be referred to as a lush forest. Within the forest were white and red gums interspersed occasionally with sheoak trees. With the hauntingly romantic beauty of rolling hills heavily timbered with trees gave the traveller a feeling of great serenity.
A little to the north of this area was the Emu Plains. Copper was discovered in commercial quantities at this place. However, once production started, the failing copper mining works of the Emu Plains Mine continually struggled to break even. The ore grade was so poor that, in the end, it was derisively dismissed as not being able to produce enough copper to manufacture a single penny. These were indeed harsh words when one considers the amount of copper required to make a penny.
North of Emu Plains lay the regional centre called Clare Village. Settled in the Hundred of Clare, the village lay chiefly upon Edward Gleeson's land, being some 540 acres. Gleeson was an individual blessed with incredible luck. He named the area after his homeland in County Clare. The village Gleeson planned and created also bears this name.
Hutt River  flowed through Clare Village. Its waters ebbed and flowed according to the prevailing conditions. The surrounding soil was very rich and at times, formed patches of black loam. There were all sorts of vegetable produce being cultivated, especially potatoes, as the seasons determined. Consequently, the land was prime farming area and prices for the land at a premium. Any land that came upon the market sold quickly - a real seller's market.
There were many substantial buildings within Clare Village. Legal administration was catered by a Local Court building wherein Gleeson presided as the local Magistrate. Added to this, there was a Post Office with Gleeson as postmaster. To enforce the law was a Mounted Police office and a stone police barracks. Next to the barracks was 'Waterloo Store', a prosperous, general and dry goods store. Nearby were two further stores. As with all rural towns, there was a blacksmith, a shoemaker, and a tailor. Punctuating each end of town were two public-houses, one at the north end and the other one, south. The Clare Inn, sitting at the northern end of town was the more popular hotel among the Catholics because of Mortimer Nolan. During 1850, Nolan renovated it to upgrade the facilities. As a sideline, Nolan also ran a sandstone quarry on the land near his public-house. On the south end, the Travellers Rest operated in better condition. It was popular with the non-Catholics. This quiet and rather rural spot has two inns, one at each end of the village.
There are several Roman Catholic families of Irish origin in Clare. This included Gleeson himself and Mortimer Nolan of the Clare Inn. Nolan's evangelical activity extended to placing in all Inn’s bedrooms, the well-known tract Garden of the Soul. Apart from the Episcopal Church, there is a Roman Catholic Chapel in the village. Furthermore, although lacking a proper church hall, the Methodists used a cottage for their worship.
North of Clare Village, at the base of the hills was the Gothic structure of St Barnabas's Episcopal Church. The person who donated the land, Gleeson laid the foundation stone in 1851. It took a great deal of time to construct the church and eventually when built was able to accommodate two-hundred people.
Going north of Clare Village was Gleeson's farm known as INCHIQUIN. In 1840 Gleeson settled upon this selection in the Clare Valley. Gleeson had won his wealth from a major pay-out from the Calcutta Lottery. He spent his money on establishing his farm. People considered his farm a credit to the area. He planted a garden with fruit trees and vines. These trees tended to have poor productivity. The seasonal problems that effected the crops found their cause through Gleeson's lack of understanding of the weather. Besides fruit, he grew hay. This was his main activity. Demand for hay came from the large numbers of livestock traversing the area carrying ore from the mines at Kooringa.
The Clare Village road went north, crossing a ridge called 'The Camel's Hump'. The ridge was part of Robinson's Range, named after William Robinson, the owner of the sheep station located between the Hill and Broughton Rivers. His property, known as Hill River Station, was 32 kilometres north-north-east of Clare Village. The rivers upon the property were also usually empty or consisted of a few water-holes. The station itself tended about 1,500 sheep.
Going towards Kooringa, the Clare Village Road crossed two creeks, the Hutt and Hill Rivers, which rise from the ranges beyond Robinson's, run east, then turn south, each being a tributary of Broughton River. Both rivers are usually empty and present as dry river beds although at times there is a trickle of water traversing the creek bed.
On the plain between the two rivers lay a large horse and sheep station belonging to Jemmy Chambers. It was a vast property that supplied good horses for his haulage business. All people who passed this property knew of Jemmy's horses by the hundred of all colours grazing, or trying to graze over the parched planes. Part of his business included the various local mail runs, one of which ran from Kooringa to Clare and Clare to Adelaide. One run, from Clare to Adelaide, left Clare every Monday and Thursday morning at 6.00 am.
Before entering Kooringa, about 32 kilometres away was a substantial place called 'Bundaleer'. It was Hughes'  property on the Broughton River. He was one of the Mine shareholders and thus earned considerable money from the ore and coal traffic between Port Adelaide and Burra. Although his house was close to Kooringa, Hughes claimed he had never found the time to visit the mines. Hughes was more interested in his sheep rather than his mines. Currently ‘Bundaleer’ is now part of the Bundaleer Reservoir.
It was into these localities that the history of Kudnarto and Thomas Adams occurred. Most people mentioned within the survey played some role within Kudnarto and Adams’ lives while they lived at Skillogolee Creek.
The area around the Clare Valley contained a very close and intimate group of people. They isolated themselves into two distinct groups, each group having little interaction with the other. The firsts were the Kaurna people who had inhabited the area for many thousands of years. The Europeans had very little to do with them and invested very little time in attempting to understand them. The only exceptions were four German Missionaries and the erstwhile and current Protector of Aborigines. The Kaurna kept to themselves and from force of circumstances found it necessary to deal with Europeans. It was a voluntary separation built upon mutual distrust and arrogance. This continuing tension formed the background in the lives of Kudnarto and Adams.
1. John Hill went on to explore around the Streaky Bay area in 1839. Return to text
2. Eyre, E.J., Journals of Discovery into north Adelaide. in Bennet, JF, (1840) The South Australian Almanack and General Directory for 1840, Robert Thomas & Co., Adelaide, p. 50. Return to text
3. Eyre, E.J., Journals of Discovery into north Adelaide. in Bennet, JF, (1840) The South Australian Almanack and General Directory for 1840, Robert Thomas & Co., Adelaide, p. 50. Return to text
4. Extracted from Lands and Survey V8, F2, p. 5; Adelaide Chronicle, 6 October 1932; and, Manning, G.H., (1990) Manning's Place Names of South Australia, Adelaide, p. 286. Return to text
5. The South Australian Register, 22 February 1840, p. 4D. Return to text
6. Letter dated 21 February 1840, GRG 24/4, D224, No. 39. Return to text
7. The Legislative Council Select Committee, (1860) Report on the Aborigines, Paper 167, SA Govt Printer, qq 636 - 638, p. 28. Return to text
8. Lands and Survey, V8, F2, p. 3. Return to text
9. Lands and Survey, Field Book No. 1, p. 61. Return to text
10. Goldsmith, Oliver (1728 - 1774), English poet, novelist and dramatist. Return to text
11. Goldsmith, O., (1909), The Deserted Village, London, p. 35. This edition is specially illustrated with colour sketches by Hankey and makes delightful reading. Return to text
12. Yelland, E.M., (1970), Colonists, Copper and Corn, Hawthorn Press, Melbourne, p. 140. Return to text
13. South Australian Register, 15 July 1851. Return to text
14. Dennis, Clarence Michael James, (1876 - 1938). Born in Auburn, he worked in Adelaide in a solicitor's office and as a journalist. In 1906 he moved to Toolangi. His books include: Backblock Ballads and Other Verses; The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke (1915); The Australiaise: A Marching Song (1915); The Moods of Ginger Mick; and The Glugs of Gosh (1917). Return to text
15. Short, T., (1850) Timothy Shorts Journal of Passing Events, Adelaide, p. 17. Return to text
16. The plans for the church were drawn by the Government Architect. The church cost £351 to build. Return to text
17. The Kaurna name for Hutt River was Parriworta. Return to text
18. The two Hughes brothers lived there, John Bristow Hughes (1817 - 1881) and Herbert Bristow Hughes (1820 - 1892). The person known to be on the property at the time was known as Bristow Hughes who was John Bristow Hughes. Return to text
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