History of the District Council

The town of Naracoorte now stands on the land of Naracoorte Station, originally selected by George Ormerod in 1842. In 1845, Ormerod sold a portion of the property to William Macintosh, who established the settlement of Kincraig there. In the mid-1850s, George Ormerod sold the remainder of the run to William and John Macintosh. Thomas Magarey bought the lease of Naracoorte. Thus the two townships, Kincraig and Naracoorte, emerged side by side.

In 1869 the rivalry that had arisen between the settlements was sufficiently settled for the two townships to combine under the one name of Naracoorte, with the aim of tying to achieve a local Council.

The settlers were, by this time, extremely concerned about the condition of the roads and bridges. Some attempted to have the South East made part of Victoria. The roads were the concern of the South Eastern Roads Board, which in turn was answerable to a faraway Government with other demands on its Treasury.

In 1862 an allocation of 4,000 pounds, a considerable amount of money for those days, was made by the South Australian Government for the construction of a road from Mount Gambier to Naracoorte. This road project led to the first overland mail coach service between Port MacDonnell and Strathalbyn via Mount Gambier, Penola and Naracoorte.

Finally a petition requesting Local Government, signed by sixty people consisting of townspeople and many new settlers, was successful. On 25 August 1870, the District Council of Naracoorte was proclaimed by the Governor Sir William Robinson, with the jurisdiction of the Hundred of Naracoorte.

The first Council meeting was held on 5 September 1870 in a house belonging to William Macinosh, and this became the home of the Council for the next seven years. At this meeting Mr D. Simpson was appointed Chairman, and it was also resolved that he should act as Clerk until the next meeting. He performed this duty until 17 September 1870, when Mr John Thomas was appointed to the position.

The District Council of Naracoorte joined the District Councils Association on 19 December 1870.

On March 1871, at a meeting which all the Councillors attended for the first time, Mr Dominic Daniel Daly, one time A.D.C. to his uncle Sir Dominic Daly, Governor of South Australia from 1862 to 1868, and already celebrated as one of the surveyors of the Overland Telegraph, was appointed Surveyor and Overseer at a fee of 2.5 per cent of each contract.

In 1888 the Council was extended to include the Hundreds of Hynam, Binnum, Jessie, Joanna, Robertson, Lochaber, and Glenroy. The Hundred of Jessie was named in honour of the wife of Sir Arthur Blyth, who was the Commissioner of Crown Lands when the Hundred was proclaimed. Joanna had been proclaimed in 1862, and was named after the daughter of Sir Dominic Daly. There were four Wards (Central, South, North East and North West) represented by a total of nine Councillors.

From the earliest days of the Council, all District works were done by contract and it was not until the 1930s that the policy changed to one of purchasing machinery and having works done by Council employees. This policy has continued until the present, but not without considerable debate and discussion.

With the exception of tools of trade, the first equipment acquired by the Council was a horse-drawn roller, purchased in Adelaide in 1879 for the sum of 48 pounds. Another roller was purchased at a later date, together with two horse-drawn graders. Eventually motorised graders were purchased and the horse-drawn equipment was superseded.

The first appointment of an auditor was made on 15 July 1878. This appointment followed an offer made by Mr G. Price to audit the Council’s accounts annually for a fee of 10 pounds. This offer was accepted, providing the other councils in the South East agreed to the proposal. In 1879 Messers Archibald Caldwell and Manes McGilchrist were appointed auditors.

In 1923, moves were made for the separation of the Town of Naracoorte from the District Council. A Committee comprising Messers Carracher, Brown, Bourne, Holmes, and Findlater was set up to consider the suggestion, and they favoured the change.

In September 1923 the petition was gazetted, and the division took place the following year on 7 February 1924. Following the severance, the Wards of the District Council were changed. There were now five (Frances, Hynam, Kybybolite, Lochaber and Robertson), each served by two Councillors.

During these early days, only essential work was carried out, and meetings were held at times convenient to the Councillors – quite often on Saturday mornings.

By 1942 the sum of 3,070 pounds was available for roadworks. The District Clerk’s salary was 390 pounds, and the Chairman received an annual allowance of 25 pounds.

At about this time twenty-four knapsack sprays were purchased, forerunners to the present vast and efficient fleet of eighteen fire trucks.

In 1947 the Council acquired a site in Smith Street and set up its own workshop to service its growing plant. A permanent Ranger/Inspector was engaged at a salary of 7 pounds per week.

The machinery had been added to at different stages, and by 1948 power graders were making their presence felt on roadworks. By 1950 front-end loaders were taking over from manual loading. In this year a bulldozer was purchased for 5,428 pounds.

Costs were making it difficult to open up new roads in some Wards, and this brought about the introduction differential rating. The period between 1950 and 1955 saw the introduction of long-service leave schemes, the Coronation celebrations, and the opening of the broad-gauge railway. A bitumen-sealing plant was purchased for 7,000 pounds and a crushing plant was set up adjacent to the town area. The new assessment totalled 380,374 pounds.

During 1957 the Council Chambers were given a facelift costing several thousand pounds: The original cost of the building had been 670 pounds in 1885. The present workshop area was opened to care for the ever-growing Council plant.

The District Council of Naracoorte was one of the first Local Government authorities to plan and execute a program of sealed District roads. It adopted the Victorian system of narrow-width sealing on a fairly light base construction, thus enabling maximum benefits with available funds.

While many of these roads have now been reconstructed for more and heavier vehicular use, others still service large areas. The Council also built bridges and operated crushing plants, projects not usually undertaken by Local Government bodies in South Australia.

In 1964 moves were made to acquire larger premises for administration, and the move was eventually made to the present chambers, where the first meeting was held in June 1965.

In 1970, the centenary year of the District Council of Naracoorte, the assessed value of the District Council stood at 1,521,219 pounds, with a rate revenue of 190,152 pounds. There were approximately 1,125 kilometres of open-surfaced roads and 350 kilometres of sealed roads. The plant consisted of five graders, four tractors, three loaders, eight rollers, one rock buster, five trucks, three small buses, one sedan, three utilities and a compressor.

In 1984 the Council adopted an assessed value of 128,707,700 pounds, with a rate revenue of 814,369 pounds. At that time the road making plant consisted of four graders, four trucks, five utilities (including dual-cabin utilities for road maintenance), six rollers, a scraper, a rock buster, a backhoe, a front-end loader, a service van, a water tanker, a low loader, a bitumen sprayer, and a compressor. A comprehensive workshop was fully equipped to do most of the maintenance needed on the equipment.


In February 1984 the District Council of Naracoorte joined the Corporation of Naracoorte and the Naracoorte TAFE in a joint Library Board. During 1983/84 the council contributed $2,675 on the understanding that a contribution towards the administration costs would be made in 1984/85. This contribution amounted to 10 per cent of the administration costs, with a total payment including books of $10,200.

The District Council of Naracoorte also had joint representation with the Corporation of Naracoorte on the Cemetery Board, the Aerodrome Board, the Tourism Association and the Pest Plant Control Board. The Naracoorte and Districts Pest Plant Control Board was formed in April 1981, with members from each of the Naracoorte Councils under the administration of a Secretary, a full-time Pest Plant Officer, and a spray operator who also acted as the Council’s Vertebrate Pest Officer.

Following representations from vendors and stock agents who were anxious to improve the marketing of stock in the region, a joint committee compromising the Corporation and the District Council was appointed in November 1970 to investigate the feasibility and desirability of establishing a Municipal sale yards complex. Following the Corporation’s withdrawal, the investigations were continued by the District Council.

The report was presented and accepted by the Council in November 1971, and then referred to the Minister of Local Government who approved the project in October/November 1972. The Council then purchased 23.42 hectares 3 kilometres east of the town and began construction. The sale yards were officially opened on 1 December 1973 by the then District Clerk Mr. R. D. Rule.

A total of $468,000 was borrowed during 1973, a further $35,000 in 1974 and $25,000 in 1977 to finance extensions to the yards. The yards were designed to accommodate live weight selling facilities and these were completed in 1982 with an installation cost of $57,500.

The District Council of Naracoorte was extremely proud of its efforts and success with the sale yards project, for when it entered this field there was no similar precedent in South Australia by any other Local Government body. During the first 10 years of operation, the throughput of the yards exceeded 6,310,000 sheep and lambs and 1,019,000 cattle.

The year 1984 saw the annexation of part of the Hundred Glenroy to the District Council of Tatiara. A petition from electors in that area believed that a stronger ‘community of interest’ existed within Padthaway, which was located within the District Council of Tatiara. The decision transferred approximately 16,000 hectares of land and in 1984/85 approximately $80,000 rate revenue.

Civic Biographies

CHAIRMEN SINCE 1936

Alexander Sackville Kidman - (1885-1948) A grazier from Hynam, he entered the Council in 1917 and represented Hynam Ward for 30 years (1917-47). He was Chairman from 1927 to 1947. Mr Kidman was a member of the Federal Land Valuation Board in 1944, the South East Land Valuation Board in 1937, and a member of the Country Freezing Works Committee in 1937 and 1944. He was instrumental in the construction of the Caves Valley Drain which directs floodwaters into the Naracoorte Creek.

Leslie Robinson Vincent - (1908-1988 ) He entered the Council in 1945, representing Hynam Ward and was Chairman from 1927 until his retirement in 1950. A keen sportsman, he played cricket, was patron of the Tennis Club, and was a past Captain and President of the local Golf Club. He was the chief Price Control Officer in the late 1940s. During his term as Chairman, the broad-gauge railway line link from Mount Gambier to Adelaide was completed and opened in Naracoorte.

Ivan Morison Bourne - (1903-1965) He was unsuccessful at his first attempt in 1945 to represent Robinson Ward, which he later held from 197... until his retirement in 1956. He was elected Chairman in 1950 and held this position until 1956. In 1953 he was President of the South East District Councils Association, which at his suggestion was renamed the South East Local Government Association. He was Secretary of the Bool Lagoon Fire Fighting Association (1939-44) and President of the Naracoorte Fire Fighting Association (1949-50), Secretary and Trustee of the Bool Lagoon Hall, and a landholders’ representative on the South East Drainage Board. Mr Bourne was presented to Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to the community.

Ernest Roy Williams - (1906-1975) A grazier, he represented Lochaber Ward from 1947 to 1961 and was Chairman from 1956 to 1959. He was foundation President of the Naracoorte and District Community Club and President, Vice-President, committeeman and coach of the Naracoorte Bowling Club.

Alfred Hamilton Bradley, M.B.E., J.P. - (1896-1985) A farmer, he represented Kybybolite Ward from 1950 until 1973, during which time he was Chairman from 1956 to 1964. He was made an M.B.E in 1969 and in 1973 was given a Certificate of Service in appreciation of his service to Local Government. In 1968 he was made a Life Member of the E.F.S. Mr. Bradley was a member of the Naracoorte Hospital Board of Management for 20 years, a Life Member of the Agriculture Bureau, Patron of the Naracoorte Pastoral and Agriculture Society and President of the South Eastern Fire Fighting Association and the Naracoorte District Fire Fighting Association. During his term as a Councillor, the Council purchased its first bitumen sprayer and differential rates were struck in Kybybolite Ward to achieve local roadworks.

Archie George Donald Johnson - (1906 -1997) Entered the council in 1955 and represented the Frances Ward until his retirement in 1979. In 1963 he was elected Deputy Chairman and in 1964 was elected Chairman, a position he held until 1972. Mr. Johnson was made a Life Member of the Frances Recreation Ground Inc. and the Border Districts Football Club in recognition of his services to these clubs.

Ronald Murray Kelly - (1913 -) A grazier and company director, he first served on the District Council of Yorke Peninsula from 1947 to 1950. In 1961 he entered the District Council of Naracoorte representing Lochaber Ward. He served as Deputy Chairman from 1964 until 1972, when he was elected Chairman, an office he held until 1977. Mr. Kelly served as a member of the South East Drainage Board and was also a member of the South East Water Resources Committee. During his term in office the Council purchased its present building and opened the Naracoorte District Sale Yards Complex. In 1977 he received the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal.

Murray McInnes - (1912-1983) A farmer and grazier, he served as a judge at sheep shows and as a steward at trotting races and was past Chieftain of the Naracoorte Caledonian Society. He entered the Council in July 1968 (the third generation of the McInnes family to do so) representing Robertson Ward. He was Deputy Chairman from 1974 to 1976 and Chairman from 1977 until his failing health forced him to retire in 1978. Mr McInnes was also Chairman of the Sale Yards Committee from 1974 to 1977.

Clement George Williamson, O.A.M., J.P. - (1914 -) A farmer and grazier, he represented Hynam Ward from July 2 1960 to June 30 1968 and from July 1 1970 to September 30 1982. He was responsible for the Constitution and establishment of the Naracoorte Aerodrome Board; the feasibility, research design and development of the Naracoorte District Sale Yards; and the feasibility and design of the Lawn Cemetery. In 1965 he initiated a request to E.T.S.A to supply the District Council of Naracoorte area. Mr. Williamson was also a delegate to, Vice President of and later President of the South Eastern Local Government Association; a member of the State Executive of the Local Government Association; and Local Government representative on the South Australian Meat Hygiene Authority. He was Chairman of the Naracoorte District Council from July 1978 to September 1982. In June 1980 he was awarded the O.A.M in recognition of his service to the Local Government and the community.

Robert Norman Bainger - (1923 -2012) A grazier, he entered the Council in October 1974 representing the Frances Ward. He served as Finance Chairman then as Deputy Chairman (1981-82) and was Chairman from October 1982 to May 1985. In 1979 he was a made a Life Member of the Frances Recreation Ground Inc. in recognition of his services since 1959.

DISTRICT CLERKS SINCE 1936

Archie Humphris- (1885-1948) Born at Orroroo, he has been the longest-serving officer of the Council since its inception. He was appointed Clerk of the District Council of Naracoorte in 1901 and in 1924 when the Corporation of the Town Hall of Naracoorte was proclaimed he was appointed the first Town Clerk. He held the duel position of Town and District Clerk until Mr. U. B. Patterson was appointed to the former position in 1937. Mr. Humphris held many public positions in Naracoorte and was Secretary of the Naracoorte Racing Club for over 20 years. He died suddenly in 1948, having served continuously as District Clerk for 41 years and as Town Clerk for 13 years.

Reginald Dudley Rule, Dip. L.G - (1919 - 1988) Born in Naracoorte, he started work as an office assistant and saw service with the A.I.F during the Second World War. He was appointed District Clerk of the District Council of Naracoorte in 1948, following the death of Mr. Humphris. During his term of Office, the Council underwent many changes. The continuous upgrading of bridges and roads and an extensive bituminising program necessitated more machinery and resulted in the establishment of a machinery depot and the employment of a mechanic. In 1965 the Council moved from Ormerod Street, its home since 1885, to its present premises on the DeGaris Place. The Naracoorte District Sale Yards Complex was opened by Mr. Rule in 1973. Mr. Rule retired in 1979, having served as District Council Clerk for 31 years.

COUNCIL MEMBERS FOR 1985-87
CHAIRMAN

Phillip Lloyd Williams- (1931 -) A grazier of Lochaber Ward, he represented Lochaber Ward from October 4 1981. In October 1983 he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Council and Chairman of the Naracoorte District Sale Yards Committee. He served in these positions until he was elected Chairman of the Council in May 1985. He was a member of the Finance, Sale Yards, Works and Machinery and Assessment Revision committees and the Civic Centre Committee.

COUNCILLORS

David Malcolm Bennett- (1946 -) A grazier, he was elected to the Council on May 4 1985 to represent Frances Ward. He was Council representative on the South East Livestock Industry Committee, the joint Cemetery Board, the Finance, Sale Yards, Works and Machinery and Assessment Revision committees and the Naracoorte and District Sports Centre Inc.

Stanley Reuben Brooksby- (1947 -) An earthmoving contractor, he joined the Council in 1984 representing Lochaber Ward. He served on the joint Cemetery Board and the Naracoorte and Districts Pest Plant Control Board, the Finance, Sale Yards, Works and Machinery and Assessment Revision committees. He was also a member of the Padthaway Steering Committee for the Development of Penny’s Land and the Steering Committee of the Padthaway Golf Club and was a committee member and past president of the Cockatoo Lake Recreation Committee.

David Murray Hood, J.P. - (1947 -) A grazier of Joanna, he was elected to the Council in October 1983 representing Hynam Ward. In 1985 he was elected Deputy Chairman and he was also Chairman of the Finance Committee and a member of the Administration, Works and Machinery and Naracoorte District Sale yards Committees, and of the Naracoorte District CFS Group Committee and the Joint Library Board. He was also a member of the Mid South East ReTree Committee and the Joanna Hall Committee, and a Fire Control Officer. In 1977 he represented Australia on a group and study exchange to Singapore and Malaysia.

Lindsey Robin Hood- (Born 1925 - now deceased) A grazier of Bool Lagoon, he represented Robertson Ward from July 10 1997 and was Chairman of the Works and machinery Committee from October 22 1982. He was a member of the joint Aerodrome Board, the Administration, Finance, Sale Yards and Assessment Revision committees and the Civic Centre Committee. During 1950-51 he was a member of the Australian Highland Pipe Band which made a goodwill tour of the UK during which it gave three command performances.

John Collins Jacob - (1935 - 2016) A retired grazier, he was elected to the Council on May 4 1985 representing Kybybolite Ward. He represented the council on the Joint Library and Aerodrome Board and was a member of the Finance, Works and Machinery, Sale Yards Assessment Revision Civic Centre and Central Boarder Advisory committees. He was a past President of the Naracoorte Golf Club, Group Captain and Fire Supervisor of the Naracoorte CFS.

Roderick Archie Johnson, J.P. - (1937 - 2018) A company director, he was elected to the Council in May 1985 representing Frances Ward. He was duly elected Chairman of the Naracoorte District Sale Yards Committee and served on the Naracoorte and Districts Pest Plant Control Board and the Administration, Finance, Works and Machinery and Assessment Revision committees.

Joseph Slade Matthews - (1921 - 2015) A semi-retired hobby farmer, he was elected to the Council on May 4 1985, representing Robertson Ward. He was Chairman of the Naracoorte and Districts Pest Plant Control Board and a member of the Administration, Finance, Works and Machinery and Assessment Revision committees. In addition, he represented the Council on the Naracoorte Hospital Board and the Naracoorte District Tourist Association and was a board member of the Longridge Home for Aged and Chairman of the Building Committee.

John Phillip Schinckel - (1921 - 2016) A farmer of Kybybolite, he was elected to represent Kybybolite Ward on May 4 1985. He represented the Council on the South East Livestock Committee, the Joint Cemetery Board and the Naracoorte Districts Pest Plant Control Board, as well as being a member of the Finance, Works and Machinery and Assessment Revision committees. Cr Schinckel was a committee member and Chairman of the Kybybolite Hall, a Life Member of the Kybybolite Agriculture Bureau, an Ambulance Board member for 10 years and a volunteer ambulance driver for 15 years. He was also Secretary of the Kybybolite United Farmers and Stockowners.

Kenneth Bertram Schultz - (1944 -) A farmer, he was elected to the Council in 1985 representing Hynam Ward. He served on the Naracoorte and Districts Pest Plant Control Board and was a member of the Finance, Works and Machinery, Assessment Revision  and Jubilee 150 committees. Cr Schultz was President of the Seed Section of the United Farmers and Stockowners. In 1975 and again in 1977 he represented the South Australian Seed Growers’ Co-operative as an adviser and supervisor on projects in Libya for the Libyan Government.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Martin Bruce Thompson, Dip L.G.,F.I.M.M., MI.A.A., J.P. (1946 -) Served as Senior Clerk with the Corporation of the City of Enfield from 1969 to 1974 and then as Assistant Accountant from 1974 until his appointment as District Clerk of the District Council of Naracoorte in 1979.

Features, resources and facilities of the Council Area

THE LAND AND ITS USES

Only 3 per cent of the State of South Australia receives over 500 millimetres of rain annually. The rainfall of the entire District Council of Naracoorte exceeds this average, thus making it an extremely versatile agricultural area.

Early land users exploited the natural vegetation of the scrubland and swampy plain country-originally seabeds nestled between sandy ridges representing past coastlines. The natural pastures were gradually denuded by overstocking, and the rabbit population increased to such and extent that the District carried less stock in 1925 than it did in 1867.

At about the turn of the century farmers began to use superphosphate for crops and in 1905 the South Australian Department of Agriculture established the Kybybolite research centre. It was here that some of the earliest trials on top dressing pasture with superphosphate were initiated in 1919.

Subterranean clover, a legume, transformed the pastures in this area from 1918 onwards. After 1925, as a result of the improved pastures and superphosphates, stock numbers started to rise again and over the next fifteen years they actually doubled.

Closer settlement schemes were initiated by the Governments of the day and in 1939 the District Council of Naracoorte received Newly Settled Areas grants that were used for specific purposes of grubbing, clearing, forming and gravel topping new roads. Solider Settlement Schemes in the post-war era saw the clearing and developing of former pastoral holdings as well as newly developed areas.

Massive scrub clearing campaigns were carried out by large companies as well as private individuals and it was not until the early 1960s that conservationists put pressure on the State Government to preserve areas for National Parks. The Bool Lagoon Conservation Park and Game Reserve covered about 3000 hectares of marshland supporting around sixty-five species of birds and a few kilometres away in the Mary Seymour Conservation Park 340 hectares of natural scrubland.

The District Council of Naracoorte had a large area that was non-rateable including national parks, lakes, roads and stone and Government-owned forestry, agricultural and game reserves. The Council drew rates from 213,742 hectares.

The total area of the Council was 2271 square kilometres. The Council had 1659 kilometres of roads which 180 kilometres had been sealed, 528 kilometres formed and gravel surfaced and 79 kilometres formed while 82 kilometres were still in a natural state.

POPULATION

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (1981) population levels had remained static at approximately 2265 since 1971.

PRIMARY INDUSTRY

The land surrounding Naracoorte supported a diversified primary industry.

An extensive livestock industry sent quality wool to marketing centres at Melbourne, Geelong, Portland and Adelaide. The Naracoorte Sale Yards complex provided an outlet for fat and store sheep and cattle, while producers supplied sheep to a strong live sheep market in the Middle East. There was also a small mohair and cashmere industry in the area.

A small dairying industry had always operated in the District, but since the closer of the Naracoorte butter factory, whole milk was picked up from the farms in refrigerated trucks and transported to Mount Gambier for the production of butter, market milk and cheese.

South Australian Co-operative Bulk Handling operated grain receival centres at Frances and Naracoorte for oats, barley and wheat. Sunflower, safflower, linseed and rape seed were grown for the oilseed industry. Peas, beans and lupins were the main legume crops.

Ancillary services to the local primary industries were provided by the Department of Agriculture, which had Research centres at Struan and Kybybolite embracing pasture, stock and crop management. A regional veterinary laboratory was also located at Struan.

The Woods and Forests Department had plantations of pinus radiata near the Naracoorte Caves and in the southern sections of the Hundred of Joanna. There were also some private plantations in the District.

An intensive small seed industry supplied a large percentage of Australia’s lucerne, clover and grass seeds. Strict certification control existed and the extent of the industry supported numerous seed cleaning and dressing factories. Much of the seed produced was exported.

The Hundred of Joanna had three small vineyards producing quality table wines.

SECONDARY INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE

During the 1970s, the Hynam Meat Works of South East Meats (Aust.) Pty Ltd opened with a killing capacity of 1500 sheep and 270 cattle per day, and with an export licence. A workforce of 240 made South East Meats a major employer in the District. The meat export and wholesale firm W. Angliss and Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd managed the meat works.

EDUCATION

The last fifty years saw the closure of nearly all the District schools, including those at Hynam, Joanna, Mount Light, Bool Lagoon, Struan, Keppoch, Laurie Park and Lochaber. Only the primary schools at Frances and Kybybolite had survived. The remainder of the District was served by a network of school buses travelling from the furthest points to the two primary schools in Naracoorte and the Naracoorte District High School. The further educational needs of the population were provided for by the College of TAFE in Naracoorte.

HEALTH

The Naracoorte District Council Local Board of Health met once a month and during 1984-85 a contract was negotiated with the Corporation of Naracoorte for inspectorial assistance by the Naracoorte Corporation Community Health Officer. The District Council also contributed annually to the immunisation services provided to the adults and children of the Town District.

RELIGION

Many of the old school buildings throughout the District were used for local church services and Sunday Schools, as were a number of the local District Halls and Institutes. Churches had been built and were still in operation at Frances (Uniting, Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic), Wrattonbully (Uniting), Hynam (Anglican) and Lochaber (Uniting) and the Assemblies of God Karobran New Life Centre ran a rehabilitation farm at Joanna.

TOURISM

The principal tourist attraction in the Naracoorte District was the Naracoorte Caves Conservation Park, where visitors could have inspected a cross-section of the many caves that honeycomb a 25-kilometre section of the Caves Range. The caves were first discovered in the 1860s. A new cave, the Fossil Cave, was discovered in 1969.

Rich Ice Age deposits of slit hid many fossilised skeletal remains of an amazingly diversified range of some 13 now extinct animals and 54 other species. The cave was a working museum where tourists had the opportunity to see scientists at work, sifting through 10,000 years of bones of such animals as the thylacaleo, procoptodon, diprotodon and many others. The area contained dry and wet caves with live stalactite, stalagmite and helictite formations.

Every spring hundreds of thousands of bent-wing bats migrated from their winter cave around south-eastern Australia to caves in the Naracoorte region, where they found conditions ideal for breeding and raising their young. Between November and February thousands of bats left the maternity cave at dusk to feed on insects, providing a most impressive spectacle.

Camping was permitted at the park, which provided powered sites, shower and toilet facilities and caravans for hire.

In 1983-84 about 60,000 paying tourists visited the area.

About 25 kilometres south-west of Naracoorte was the Bool Lagoon Conservation Park and Game Reserve. The Bool Lagoon Sanctuary supported one of the largest ibis colonies in Australia. Given certain conditions the Game reserve was opened on specific days during the ‘open season’ for duck shooting.

About 30 kilometres south-east of Naracoorte was the Karingal Camping Centre which catered for groups, schools and many training organisations. Approximately 3,000 people a year stayed in the camp.

SPORTING FACILITIES

The Naracoorte District had many fine sporting facilities, including the Frances Sports Complex, Kybybolite Sports Complex and the Hynam polocrosse grounds (the latter hosted the 1986 Australian Championships). In addition there were many tennis courts, cricket fields, a pistol club and facilities for lawn bowls, indoor bowls and table tennis.

Horse ridding was very popular. The Naracoorte Pony Club had its grounds at Mount Marcus and the Naracoorte Hunt Club which had many courses throughout the District regularly held an internationally-recognised Junior Three Day Event.

The Naracoorte Angling Club had the largest membership of any inland angling club in Australia, even though Naracoorte is 80 kilometres from the sea. Members held the State records for brown trout and redfin perch both caught in Mosquito Creek.

COMMUNICATIONS

The last 50 years had seen a vast change in the roads of the Naracoorte District, from dustbowls and quagmires to all-weather highways.

Freight and passenger services were provided by the Adelaide-Mount Gambier railway and the Kingston railway which passed through Naracoorte. Railway stations were located at Struan, Hynam, Kybybolite, Binnum and Frances. Strong competition was now coming from road transport for freight and passenger services to Adelaide and Melbourne. Limited air services were available at the Naracoorte Aerodrome.

LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE

The District Council of Naracoorte endeavoured to meet the challenges placed before it and over the years raised the level of its standards and efficiency. It hoped in the future to continue to improve the range of services it provided to the community.

Although maintenance of roads, fire protection and the eradication of pest plants would continue to dominate the needs of the rural community, the Council anticipated that it would be called upon to play a greater role in the area of social security and welfare.