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Stansbury

Much of the early exploration of lower Yorke Peninsula was begun from Oyster Bay, a convenient landing place, and named for the rich oyster beds that it contained. Robert Cock and partner explored from Coobowie in 1838 and reported on the apparent poor fertility of the region, and its lack of surface water. In 1843 further exploration of the lower peninsula was undertaken by William Robinson. He landed at Oyster Bay and explored from there but his report was unflattering: again the lack of surface water was a key factor, but the heavy scrub and sheoaks meant that 'not one acre of land [was] fit for cultivation' (Cook p. 5)

Despite this however a few years later Alfred Weaver sent his employee Charles Parrington to select grazing land: Parrington chose Oyster Bay and became the first white man to live on the Peninsula. Pastoralism thrived on the Peninsula despite the water shortages, and the remoteness from Adelaide and services.

Town and Hundred surveyed

By the 1870s however farmers were calling for the land to be opened for agriculture. Leaseholds were gradually resumed and the surveyors moved in. The Hundred of Dalrymple was proclaimed 20 June 1872; Stansbury was surveyed in 1873 and named by Governor Musgrave after a friend.

Pastor Christian Teichelmann moved to Stansbury in 1872 and opened the first shop; he also began the first Sunday School and was the first Postmaster. Alexander Anderson arrived in 1874 and took up land two miles west of the town. He was responsible for the erection of Stansbury's first jetty in 1877. In 1877 also the District Council of Dalrymple was formed with George Sherriff as the first Chairman. Stansbury is now administered by the District Council of Yorke Peninsula.

As the farmers took up the land the scrub was cleared. Some residual patches still stand providing an idea of the original vegetation with mallee, sheoak, broombrush and scrub wattle, with many orchids in the understorey. Kangaroos and wallabies were plentiful. Edward Snell's painting gives an idea of the scrub and the kangaroos.

The Oyster Bay Hotel was built in 1875. A second hotel was also built, the Dalrymple, but the town was not large enough to support two hotels, and it closed in 1897. The Oyster Bay Hotel eventually was renamed the Dalrymple Hotel. The Institute was built in 1884, being replaced 30 years later by a new larger building. The old building was eventually taken over by the Returned and Services League (RSL), and with an extension at the front served as the Dalrymple Soldiers' Memorial. A Moreton Bay fig tree was planted as a memorial to the soldiers of World War I, later being relocated to the foreshore near the jetty; commemorative gates were hung at the Recreation Ground in memory of the soldiers of World War II.

Productivity

The oyster beds that gave the district its first name also provided one of the first commercial enterprises for the town. But after intensive dredging the beds were exhausted by 1890. In 1960 Jim McIntyre introduced oyster farming into the clear waters of the bay. Other fishing also flourished in the bay, until over-fishing reduced stocks. The early farmers opted for fruit growing due to the poorness of the soil. Wheat and barley became the main crops in the district with the introduction of superphosphate in the 1890s. Dairying was for many years a thriving business with the South Australian Farmers' Union opening a factory in Stansbury in 1923. At its peak it produced 2400 pounds of butter a week. Increasing wool prices saw cows being replaced by sheep: less labour-intensive sheep were providing a better return for farmers. The butter factory closed in 1951.

Lime kilns were established in 1895 by Charles Dry; three years later Albert Pitt opened his first kiln and eventually operated nine kilns producing over 30,000 bags per annum. Other firms also entered this lucrative business. In 1911 Pitt began producing cement from the Stansbury limestone and in 1913 Adelaide Cement Co. Ltd was formed with A W G Pitt as the first managing director. The cement works were built at Birkenhead Port Adelaide and ketches carried the limestone across the gulf. The Stansbury quarry was abandoned in 1919 because of high clay content: the shallowness of the bay and the closeness to the town were also seen as disabilities. Operations were moved four miles south to Klein Point. A jetty was built here, and other amenities to assist the loading of the ketches, later larger steamships. Adelaide Cement and SA Portland Cement Company merged in 1970 to form Adelaide Brighton Cement Ltd. The company's custom built vessel Accolade II carries limestone across the gulf daily.

Schools and churches

There were several privately operated schools in the district before the Government school was built in 1878. The private schools continued to operate well into the 20th century, one as late as 1940. Secondary education is provided by Area Schools at Minlaton and Yorketown.

A Christian Church (serving all Protestant religions) was begun in January 1874 being held in the home of James Cornish, until the church was opened for worship in 1875, on land donated by Jacob Abbot. Methodists were served by an itinerant minister for several years. Then in December 1877 the Methodist church building was completed and opened in time for Christmas. The Church of England (Anglican) St Augustine's was opened in October 1878.

Transport and other amenities

Bullock drawn wagons were later replaced by horse drawn vehicles including smart buggies. Goods were delivered to Stansbury by ketch, later steamer, and the jetty would be thronged on Thursdays and Saturdays as farmers and residents collected their mail and supplies. By 1916 motor vehicles were replacing these modes of transport although horses were still being used for agricultural purposes. As the roads improved road transport took over the role of the steamships in delivering goods. The ketch trade lingered longer but once the bulk loading facilities for grain became available at Ardrossan (1953), Wallaroo (1958) and Port Giles (1968), these became a thing of the past. Electricity was supplied in the town by the local garage from 1930; in 1947 this was taken over by Electricity Trust of South Australia and in 1953 the town was connected to the main grid from the Osborne Power Station. Reticulated water reached the town in 1959.

Sports

The town has an active sports programme with football, netball, tennis, bowling, golf and boating facilities. The Stansbury & Port Vincent Classic & Wooden Boat Regatta is held biennially on 1 & 2 of April.

Further reading:

South Australian Register 9 March 1874, p. 6 col. b

South Australian Register 1 November 1886, p. 5 col. b [oyster beds]

Dry, Tammy 'Stansbury - Southern Yorke Peninsula' Cabbages and kings: selected essays in history and Australian studies, v. 20 (1992), p. 67-76

Historic walk of Stansbury [Stansbury, S. Aust.]: Stansbury Progress Committee, 2005

Stansbury 1873-1973,1986 [Stansbury, S. Aust.]: Stansbury Centenary Committee, 1986

Cook, Diana The striding years: a history of the Minlaton District Council area [Minlaton, S. Aust.?: Minlaton District Council?], 1980

Links

South Australia: Yorke Peninsula. Our towns: Stansbury

 

Alfred Weaver
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C. G. Teichelmann
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Ceres and her Commander
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Fire Station, Stansbury
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Klein Point jetty facilities
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Stansbury Jetty
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Stansbury Methodist Church appeal
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Stansbury School
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Steamship Ceres
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The Frolic
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Yorke Peninsula Saltwater Classic
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