A CHEQUERED CAREER,
REMINISCENCES OF A PIONEER. No. III.
[BY J. B. Hack.]
Discovery of Mount Barker Hill.— Starting Afresh.— Burra Mines.— Religious Life.— Wesleyanism.— Mining Speculation.— Timber Merchant and Con tractor.— Gold Diggings —Broker and Accountant.
— Dairy on the Coorong. — Sheep-farming — Return to Adelaide.— Hill & Co.— Agent.— Public Service. — Final Retirement. Before resuming the thread of the narra- tive reference will be made to an interesting event of the year 1837. One of the mares had broken away from the tether, and had been lost for a considerable time. The Timor pony was also adrift. A party of men had begun to split timber near Mount Lofty, and one or two loads of fencing stuff had been brought down. I heard that the mare and pony had been seen by the splitters, and I and Tom Davies— a first-rate bushman, whom we brought with us from Launceston — rode up the hills to bring them in. We found their tracks near Mount Lofty, leading eastward. Up to this time the country was unexplored beyond the splitters' huts. Tom, who was a first-rate tracker — as good as a native— took up the tracks and followed them until late in the afternoon, when he gave in, and we returned to Adelaide. Next day I sent him with another man to follow up the tracks. They returned with the two horses, and said they had found them in a reach of a river running from the north — since named the Onkaparinga. I made up a party — Mr. Morphett, Stuart, myself, and a gentleman from Hobart Town, with Tom Davis as guide. We struck the river and crossed it, and were greatly pleased with the fine grassy country we were riding through. The kangaroo-grass in the bottoms reached to our knees on horseback. On ascending a rise, a mile or two from the river, we came in sight of a very prominent hill some miles to the east. Mr. Morphett said it must be the Mount Barker hill de- scribed by Captain Hart on his boat expedi- tion down the Murray. We at once decided on reaching it, and about 5 o'clock in the evening we were all on the summit ; we were the first white men who had ascended the hill. We could trace the course of the Murray into the Lake Alexandrina, and had the Encounter Bay coastline full in view. It soon became nearly dark, and promised to be a wet night. We were not equipped for camping out, and to me it was an unknown experience. We had noticed some water near the Mount, and made for it. By the time we had lit a fire the rain was very heavy, and we were obliged to dry first one side and then another, as sleep was out of the question. We were too much excited by the discovery of so beautiful a country to grumble at the small inconvenience of a wet camp.
Returning to the period of our losses in 1843. I began the world afresh, with no means available to commence any under taking requiring capital. I found, however, the means of starting two or three bullock teams as a carrying concern, which enabled me to live in tolerable comfort. In the year 1845 the Burra Mine was discovered, and I agreed with the Directors to bring down to Adelaide the first loads of ore which were raised, and I continued for a year or two to work on the Burra roads. While engaged in the undertaking above mentioned I went to hear the local preacher of the Wesleyans, who preached in one of the miner's houses in Kapunda. Becoming much interested in the work which was accomplished by those good men and in the different religious meetings held by the Society at Kapunda I eventually joined them. At this time the Rev. Mr. Draper was the senior minister of the Wesleyan body, and was frequently my visitor. The Rev. John Harcourt, now in Victoria, then travel- ling as a young minister, was often at my residence in Kapunda, and was much beloved by the people. In the year 1845 the Burra special survey was taken out and divided between two Com panies, 10,000 acres to each, the northern part containing the great boil of copper ore falling by lot to the present Burra Mining Com pany, and the southern to the Princess Royal Company. Having taken a great interest in the opening of the Burra lodes and having been engaged in bringing down the ore to the port, I was towards the end of that year offered the management of an expedition to prospect on the supposed continuation of the lodes of the Kapunda Mine, which were then very productive and had been worked to a short distance of the northern boundary of the Kapunda section. A Syndicate was formed, and the seclion on the north of the mine was purchased at a very high rate with every prospect of cutting the Kapunda lodes. The purchased section was called the North Kapunda Mine. I was instructed to sink shafts east and west facing the Kapunda Mine to water-level, and run an adit from both shafts which when completed would settle the question as to the value of the new section. This work was accom plished, but no trace of copper was found. The lodes which had been so rich were found to be broken off before the new property was reached. The value, however, of the new town of Kapunda, which was built on the North Kapunda property, has to a great ex- tent recouped the Company for the cost of the speculation. I then undertook the opening of a lode of copper on Allen's Creek, two miles north of Kapunda. a large quantity of blue carbonate being found near the surface. This was the property of the large Copper Company formed in London. Their mine was a dis- appointment, as the copper deposit settled down on hard stone and disappeared, and no further trace of copper has been since found in the locality— no trace, at any rate, of sufficient importance to warrant any specu- lative outlay. Early in 1848 I commenced a timber busi- ness in North Adelaide in connection with a builder and contractor— R. S. Breeze. While engaged in building Christ Church, North Adelaide, Mr. Breeze was suddenly taken by an illness and died. I had to finish the con- tracts on hand, and took several others, and was so engaged until 1851, when the Victorian Diggings took away most of the male popnla tion, and I was eventually obliged to wind up at a great loss. In February, 1852, 1 made up a party for the Victorian goldfields— myself and four of my sons. We took over a dray, three horses, loaded with provisions and the material and tools needful for surface mining. After a toilsome journey we arrived on the Bendigo Diggings on April 1. We worked principally on Ironbark and Long Gully, and were more successful than many. Our permanent camp was on Bendigo Creek, near Golden Point. In September I returned overland with one of my sons on horseback, following the track of the gold escort which had preceded us. In a few hours we overtook them at Wel lington on the Murray. We were able to secure about 40 pounds of cold as the result of our expedition. Soon after returning to Adelaide 1 com menced as a loanbroker and accountant, and undertook the loan branch and accounts cf Mr. Atkinson, a rising lawyer. Soon after Messrs. Hart & Hughes opened their new Port Mills, and offered me the place of ac countant at a salary of £500. I continued with them until December, 1858, when my eyesight became impaired, and I was obliged to give up office-work. I had now the offer of a run on the Coorong opposite McGrath's Flat, which I purchased for £200, and leaving North Adelaide we removed there and commenced dairy opera tions. There was no sort of improvements on the run ; everything had to be done. I took with me doors and windows for a house, and managed by degrees to make a home. A part of the deck of a vessel was washed ashore near our camp, and we broke it up and found deal battens enough for the frame work of a house of five or six rooms, filled in with bush materials, and thatched with bog grass. We were successful in making ex- cellent cheese, but found it yery difficult to get it to market, our route being via Goolwa. The great trouble was that the run was un- suitable for a dairy, and after some years trial it appeared that the balance of expendi- ture over receipts was too great to be over come. We took up scrub country about forty miles inward from the Coorong, and sank several wells, finding good water 60 to 100 feet deep. I purchased, in partnershin with Mr. G. M. Smith, 3,000 ewes at Mount Gambier from Dr. Brown. These were aged and troubled with footrot, anil did not turn out well. As more recent experience has proved, it is necessary to fence-in lands in the scrub. The travelling of the sheep to and from the water is too harassing for them, espe- cially in our case aa respects the Mount Gambier sheep. The sheep speculation was discouraging and the dairy business alto- gether unsuccessful, so the end came ; and at the close of 1862 we determined to return to Adelaide, which I reached with my family in July, 1863. After winding up the Coorong business I made an arrangement with H. Hill & Co., railway contractors, to enter their service as accountant, and commenced in January, 1864. Messrs. Hill & Co. were unsuccessful in obtaining the renewal of their contract in 1867, and Mr. John Rounsevell succeeded them, when I was continued as accountant. In 1S6S Mr. Rounsevell and I parted, and I again opened an office as general agent and accountant, which was continued until July, 1869. I then accepted an appointment as accountant to goods department (railways) under Go- vernment at £400 per annum. In 1870 I became General Accountant, and in 1879 was appointed as Controller of Railway Accounts, which was held until June 30, 1883, when I applied for permission to retire, which was granted with eight months' leave of absence. .
... -Being now 79 years old, I have only to wait for my final retirement from the scenes of a very chequered life, in which I trust I have made very few enemie3 and many friends.