The pastoral era on Yorke Peninsula began in the early 1840s and the land near Weetulta and Redwings Farm was originally part of a pastoral lease. A new generation of pastoralists came in the 1850s dominated by the Rogers family. They acquired runs from Corny Point to beyond Port Victoria covering most the western half of the Peninsula. Their head station was at Ynoo near present day Maitland. When William Rogers died early in 1854 his leases were taken over by his wife Ann and his two sons who expanded the area of their leases. At one stage their Peninsula leases covered 208 square miles (133,000 acres) with one brother based at Ynoo and the other near Corny Point. The Rogers family built stone shearing quarters near Weetulta in the 1860s. When the pastoral leases around Weetulta were resumed by the government in 1872 Redwings property would have had new owners with one or two sections of land around 500 acres each as this was the norm for the Hundred of Tippara. At this stage the property presumably was named Redwings as it became freehold property. The first homestead was built in the 1870s as the grain farm and sheep property became well established and the stone fireplace of the 1870s homestead is all that remains of the first homestead which was nearer the road. The old pastoral lease shearers’ cottage and other structures would have been incorporated into the workings of the new farm. The farm was named after a ship called the Redwings which sank off Yorke Peninsula. The current owners purchased the property in 1998 and have done several renovations and restorations since that time.
The Redwing was built in 1834 by the British government as a schooner of 44 tons for naval service. By the 1840s it was on cargo and passenger runs to Hobart, Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney etc. She saw service as part of the Baltic Fleet during the Crimean War in 1855. It would seem that this same vessel was involved in transporting timber, mainly Huon Pine, to Hobart from the early 1860s. In the 1870s this coastal boat was also transporting firewood around Tasmanian ports only. She was last mentioned in newspaper shipping notices around 1890. But around 1900 Dr Angove of the winery fame had a yacht which he sailed at the Port Adelaide Sailing Club called Redwings. So the property could have been named after either of these vessels.
Farming on the Yorke Peninsula was aided by the invention of the stump jump plough of the Smith brothers in Arthurton (1877) and the Whittaker brothers (1877) near Ardrossan. Clearly if necessity is the mother of invention then farming the Yorke Peninsula required ploughs to jump over Mallee root stumps and large kunkar limestone boulders which were common. But by the 1880s farmers were concerned about the declining yields per acre. Roseworthy Agricultural College’s Professor Custance had discovered the impact super phosphate made to crop yields in 1883 and although a super factory began production at Torrensville that year it was not until 1899 that a super phosphate factory began in Wallaroo. The copper smelters at Wallaroo produced sulphuric acid as a by-product which was mixed with phosphate rock in kilns to form superphosphate. The Wallaroo Phosphate Company began operations in 1899. Thereafter the main imports at the Port of Wallaroo were coal for the copper smelters and phosphate rock for the fertilizer ovens. The Wallaroo Phosphate Company merged with the Mt Lyell Fertilizer Company of Tasmania in 1913. When the Moonta copper mines closed down in 1923 the fertilizer works was the main industrial employer in Wallaroo. The company had sulphuric acid railed in from Port Pirie where it was a by-product of the silver, lead and zinc smelters of BHP there. In 1965 this company became the Adelaide and Wallaroo Fertilizers Company and later the Adelaide Chemical Company. It eventually became Top Brand Fertilizers in 1980 and continued trading for some years but it no longer available. Phosphate or guano rock was originally imported from Chile to Wallaroo until 1907 when shipments started coming from Nauru which is basically a phosphate island!
Grain farming changed greatly in the 1920s on properties like Redwings and all over South Australia. Although the use of tractors was very limited in the 1920s it did grow in the 1920s and again more significantly in the 1930s despite the Depression. It then boomed after World War Two. Surveys by the Department of Agriculture showed that the number of horses per farm fell from 14 to only 8 during the 1920s. In addition, in the 1920s there was a significant rise in the acreage cropped per farm from 360 acres to 500 acres with increasing use of tractors and less reliance on draft horse ploughing teams. But why did the acreage cropped rise with such low tractor purchase sales? Anecdotal evidence suggests that farmers in the 1920s (and later) bought tractors communally with four or five farmers contributing to buy one tractor which they all shared. So tractors supplemented horse teams but did not replace them at that stage. Also, the acreage planted in oats for horse fodder in the 1920s declined as did the production of oats for city horse owners. In the 1920s motor vehicle usage in Adelaide replaced horses and carriages for wealthier households. Thus they no longer needed to buy chaff and hay from country chaff mills and farms. A survey has shown that in 1924 horse drawn vehicles comprised 25% of the traffic on Adelaide roads but in 1929 this had dropped to 4%. After World War Two farms changed again as they became fully mechanised with tractors and horse teams disappeared entirely and farms became bigger as properties were amalgamated. Grain farming became a large-scale operation. Farm sizes rose from around 500 acres to more than 1,000 acres and today they are usually 3,000 to 5,000 acres in size.
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