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S.A. Northern Pioneers: R.W. Bruce
Title : S.A. Northern Pioneers: R.W. Bruce S.A. Northern Pioneers: R.W. Bruce
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Creator : Mora Studio
Source : B 6912/E11
Date of creation : ca. 1870
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 50 x 33 mm
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Portrait of R.W. Bruce from Wallabidena from the S.A. Northern Pioneers' composite, 1850-1859 (shown in position on B 6912/2).

Robert Bruce, although of Scottish descent, was born in Mitcham, Surrey c. 1836. Bruce's early career was working in a shipbuilding yard from where he graduated to the life of a sailor on both sailing vesels and steamers around the world. In 1853 he worked his passage to South Australia on the Gypsy (ship).

Initially he worked in the Customs Department as a locker, but was then persuaded to try life on the land by J F Hayward. In 1858 he became an overseer and manager at Arkaba station under Frank Marchant. Bruce subsequently leased land in his own right in the 1860s, founding Wallelberdina station on the eastern shore of Lake Torrens. His brother, Douglas joined him there in partnership and it was stocked with 25,000 sheep. After their first woolshed was burnt down they rebuilt with a more substantial and fireproof building. The drought of the 1860s induced him to take his flock to Lake Weatherstone where he remained until conditions improved.

His brother Douglas died at Wallelberdina in 1873 after a fall from a horse. The accident caused Robert Bruce to sell the lease and he became the owner of Coondambo station, 179 miles from Port Augusta. Bruce visitied England in 1878 and returned again to South Australia in the early 1880s. Bruce also wrote poetry and prose, his best work being Benbonuna which is set on Arkaba station although not named as such in the book.

He died at North Adelaide 4 November 1908, at the age of 73.

Period : 1836-1851,1852-1883
Place : Lake Torrens, Port Augusta
Region : Flinders Ranges and Far North - Outback
Further reading :

Bruce, R Benbonuna : a bush tale of the 'Fifties' London : Long, 1904

Bruce, Robert Reminiscences of an old squatter Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1973

Bruce, R Echoes from Coondambo Adelaide : [s.n.], 1893 (Adelaide : Hutchison, Craker & Smith)

Cockburn, R Pastoral pioneers of South Australia Adelaide : Publishers Limited, 1925-1927 ("Reprinted from the Adelaide Stock and Station Journal.") vol. 2 pp. 78-9

Richardson, Norman A. Pioneers of the north-west of South Australia, 1856 to 1914, [Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1969] p. 37

Internet links :

Australian dictionary of biography online: Bruce, Robert (c. 1836 - 1908)

History of Arkaba Station

Coondambo Station 1869 B 5076



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