hummocks station: history.
Captain John Ellis took up the first lease of Hummocks Station in July 1851 which included country he had held on occupation licenses since 1845.Captain John Ellis was born in England and settled in South Australia in March 1839, a little over two years after the colony was founded. He purchased grazing land around Port Gawler, later moving northwards and almost certainly the first to graze sheep north of Port Wakefield towards the Hummocks. Ellis returned to England in 1867 and his lease was managed by Dr Matthew Moorhouse, who was the first protector of Aborigines. Moorhouse was an early and successful pastoralist in this colony and pioneer squatter in the north. Dr Matthew Moorhouse lived in the homestead (which was named Barunga Homestead) on the property. The Barunga Homestead was described by the Surveyor General, Goyder in 1864 as a “substantial 9 roomed stone house and cellar, newly built”. It was built in the early 1860’s as best we can determine. Nearby built at the same time included a blacksmith and carpenters shed, later upgraded to the ironstone trap shed and store room which was valued at 18 pounds in the early 1880’s.
The station obtained bulk supplies of groceries and issued rations to the boundary riders, the homestead and the cook in the shearer’s quarters. Each boundary rider was issued every 10 weeks with 200 pounds of flour, 40 pound of sugar, 28 pounds of salt and 5 pounds of tea.
“Barunga is an Aboriginal word meaning “place of meat”.
The Hummocks was a well-established station carrying about 25,000 sheep when it was sold to a partnership between Robert Barr Smith and John Maslin in 1869. John Maslin was the resident manager for a period and lived in the Barunga homestead. At this time the partnership also operated the Bundaleer and Warrakimbo stations. This homestead became the central point of the Hummocks Station and then was known as the Hummocks Station homestead. When they dissolved the partnership in 1886, Mr. Barr Smith employed a manager. George Murray, believed to be the first manager employed by Mr. Barr Smith, he was in poor health, and in 1900 Mr. George Matheson was appointed overseer to assist him.
Mr. Barr Smith arrived in Adelaide in 1854 where he was employed by Elder & Co. By marrying Miss Elder, Mr. Barr Smith become brother in law to Sir Thomas Elder. For many decades now Elders and Smith were pioneers of the pastoral settlements and agents in this state. In 1886 he alone took over the Hummocks Station run from John Maslin. The Hummocks Station carried up to 34,500 sheep and the largest clip taken from it was 712 bales in 1895 (In January 2017 that clip would of returned $1,174,800). He gave the property to his son Tom Elder Barr Smith in 1899.
In 1918 the South Australian Government purchased a total of 29,728 acres from Tom Elder Barr Smith. In 1921 returned soldiers were invited to apply for blocks on a 12 month trial. The formal agreement allowed 65 years for payment, with a final payment allowed after 10 years.
One of those original families that purchased land in 1873 was Mr. John Michael when he selected land along the Barunga ranges south west of Snowtown. Six generations of the Michael family have farmed and are still farming on land that was part of the original Hummocks Station.
Andrew and Rosemary Michael and family are the current owners of the Hummocks Station and many of the original buildings that include the restored shearer’s quarters are hired out for functions and accommodation.
The historic Hummocks Station shearer’s quarters is a beautiful ironstone building originally built to accommodate shearers and permanent staff during the 1880’s. The high roof central part contained, at the north end, a large dormitory for casual shed hands employed during shearing and the south end, a large dining room able to cater for up to 80 people. In the early 1890’s Mr. Matheson was breeding his own rams for Hummocks Station in some hilly country west of the homestead.
The tradition of breeding rams on Hummocks Station continues today with the Leahcim sheep stud (michael backwards: pronounced Leah- sim) operating two of the worlds most advanced breeding flocks. One sheep flock is a White Suffolk of which Leahcim was one of the foundation flocks that started the breed off with the White Suffolk sheep breed now being the leading sheep meat breed in Australia. The other is a Poll Merino breeding flock that is recognized worldwide for the technologies used and adopted within this flock. Leahcim sheep and genetics are sold all around the world and in every sheep breeding state of Australia. Leahcim sheep now genetically influences over 50% of all the sheep in Chile and has had a great impact on the genetic gain in many of Australia’s sheep flocks.