Bordertown: regional capital.
Unlike Mundulla, Bordertown was surveyed as part of the Gold Escort Route and not in response to the declaration of the Tatiara Agricultural selection area in 1872. Bordertown was surveyed in 1852 after discussion between the Surveyor–General and Inspector Tolmer of the Gold Escort service. They chose a site near a well, on the banks of Tatiara Creek and on Cannawigara Station close to Mr Scott’ woolshed. Importantly they wanted a town site near the Victorian border. They surveyed a grid town with North, South, East and West terraces and streets named after local pastoralists- McLeod, Binnie, Scott and Woolshed after Scott’s woolshed! The town was to be a half way depot for the Gold Escort service. Of the 104 town lots offered for sale only 10 sold and they were to Mr Scott and two speculators. More sold later but no one bought land to develop or use. In 1854 two police officers were stationed at Bordertown and a small police station was built and a police paddock for their horses etc established. They were the only residents in Bordertown. In 1856 a store keeper arrived and opened a store in the town and the first house was built. Then in 1859 a block was purchased for a hotel, the Woolshed Inn and the first hotel licensed. Later in 1865 the publican took over the store as well. The population of Bordertown was not growing! A new police station was built in 1863 and in 1867 a local committee erected a small wooden school room. The town had a few residents only but the surrounding stations had more. This was the situation in Bordertown when the Tatiara Agricultural Area was declared in 1872. As so little development had occurred in the town a new town was surveyed and designed. The new town surveyed in 1871 had a surrounding parkland belt and suburban blocks of land beyond that. With time the suburban blocks were all converted into ¼ acre residential plots.
But one other resident of the district needs mentioning. In 1859 the owners of the main local stations Cannawigara, Wirrega, Nalang and Padthaway got together and decided they needed the services of a doctor and that they would encourage Dr Penny to take up residence in or near Bordertown. Dr Penny had practised in Robe since 1851 and the station owners offered him a fixed annual income to move to Bordertown. Dr Penny chose a site outside of the town, nearer to Mundulla for his home site which he called Charla. A block of land was taken from Binnie’s Wirrega station. Penny started building a substantial stone home in 1861 which was not completed until 1865. Behind the stone house was a wooden slab kitchen. Dr Penny had 40 acres of gardens and stabling for his horses around the house. With such improvements Dr Penny wanted the freehold for his land. Special permission had to be obtained for a survey not within one of the hundreds. In 1865 George Goyder authorised and conducted the survey himself of a 38 acre block for Dr Penny. It became section one of the Hundred of Tatiara in later years. Dr Penny practised from Charla until his death in 1887. The Penny’s had purchased freehold selector lands in the 1870s and his family remained at Charla and on this property until 1968.
Once the farmers moved into the Hundred of Tatiara and the rural population increased so did the township of Bordertown as a major service centre. The town grew slowly but surely until the 1950s when it was boosted further with the AMP development of lands near Keith and the introduction of trace elements to make the lands north of Bordertown productive pastoral country. The 1950s were also boom years for both wool and wheat prices and farmer prosperity resulted in town growth and prosperity. Unfortunately it was also the time when so many early buildings were demolished and replaced with 1960s style structures. Today Bordertown has a population of 2,500 and many functions of a regional centre such as saleyards, stock agents, state government offices, regional hospital and nursing home, high school, local abattoir, engineering works, fuel depots etc.
Bordertown Historical Walk.
Bordertown railway station. The rail yards were hives of activity in the early years with wheat stores, two rail gauges, railway dam, interstate and local trains and stock yards run by the major stock and station agents such as Elder Smith and Company. The first railway station for passengers was erected in 1883 but without a platform. This burnt down in a fire in 1889 and a wooden replacement station, with platform opened in 1890. In turn this was replaced by a fine Art Nouveau American design stone railway station in 1914.
Eudunda Farmers Cooperative Store. This group opened a general store in 1936 as their 39 ninth store in SA. They opened in an 1880s store which they remodelled in 1940. The store was further altered in 1955 and completely revamped in 1987. In 1989 the Eudunda Farmers store moved to another location in the town and became the Foodland store and it still operates as an IGA supermarket.
Bordertown Hotel. It was licensed early in 1869 in the western part of Bordertown but the business struggled in the late 19th century. Finally the hotel closed in 1893. Owners tried to get it relicensed for several years and were not successful until 1898. They then purchased a new site near the railway station for ease of access by travellers and a brand new two storey hotel opened in 1903. Its exterior is largely unaltered from that time.
1. Child Care Centre/Kindergarten/Hospital.
Like most country towns Bordertown had several private hospitals, usually run by local nurses before the government hospital opened in 1924 as the Tatiara Soldiers Memorial Hospital. It was enlarged in 1926/27 to increase the size to over 30 beds. In 1967 a new hospital was built with more than 42 beds. A two storey nurse’s home was constructed adjoining the hospital in 1972. It is now the Charla Nursing Home, named after the home of the district’s first Doctor, Dr Robert Penny. After World War Two many SA communities wanted to adopt the relatively new trend of having a town kindergarten for pre-school age children. After lots of local fund raising Bordertown opened a kindergarten in 1955 on the corner of Patterson Street. It is now the Child Care Centre.
2. Lutheran Church.
Lutheran church services began in Lutheran homes, conducted by the Lutheran minister from Dimboola in Victoria, in the early 1930s. A Lutheran minister was stationed in Bordertown from 1939 but no church was built at that time. A second Lutheran synod also began regular Lutheran services in Bordertown from the late 1930s. At one stage Lutheran services were held in the Methodist Church. In 1950 both congregations met and decided to build a joint church for both synods and this was completed in 1953. Separate Lutheran services were held in the one church until formal amalgamation of the two synods in 1965 and the formation of Trinity Lutheran church in 1967. The church was too small for the combined congregations and so the 1953 church was demolished and replaced with a grand new church in 1985.
3. Anglican Church.
Anglican services began in 1880 in Bordertown but the first church was not opened until 1887. A fine stone rectory was erected next to the church in 1907. A vestry was added in 1925 and a stone hall in 1961. Surprisingly the church was not consecrated until a visit by the Anglican bishop in 1936. It is unusual in that the entrance is now at the rear of the church.
4. Methodist/Uniting Church.
Wesleyan Methodist services began in Bordertown around 1882 but a church was not built until 1887. An adjoining parsonage was built in 1897 but it has since been demolished and replaced (1961.) A new church hall was opened in 1963 and the old church has been much altered.
5. Masonic Lodge/Temple.
This strange looking building in DeCourcey Street began as the Masonic Lodge. It was opened in 1926 after being built by one of the local members. The Lodge was formed in Bordertown in 1911 and it met for years in the Institute building. Note the pillar and curved brick entrance. By 1926 the Lodge had obviously decided it was allowed to have windows facing the street. It had a large hall about 50 feet by 30 feet and a couple of meeting and supper rooms. It closed in 2008 and was sold in 2011. Note the symmetry of the façade; strong brick quoins and bricks across the roof line to give two identical almost square sections beside the entrance. It is an interesting structure.
6. Churches of Christ.
The first home services of the churches of Christ started in the Tatiara in 1882 with the origins of their building fund going back to 1890. A church opened at Carew in the Tatiara in 1899. The first Bordertown church opened in 1905, built by church members and a fine manse was completed in 1912. In 1953 a second church was built on their town land. This 1953 church is now used as a hall. The old 1905 church was demolished in 1963 and a new church of red brick replaced it in 1965. It still serves the Churches of Christ community in Bordertown.
7. Former Congregational Church.
The Congregational Church was erected 1880; the porch was added in 1924, and the hall was erected 1926. In 1966 a porch was added to link the church and the hall. Reverend David Milne was the first minister in this region. He visited Bordertown in 1862 and held the first services in the Woolshed Inn. He lived in Kingston with his second wife with whom he had seven children to complement the four from his first marriage. He travelled regularly to the Bordertown district for many years until he moved here with his family in 1873 after the Tatiara Agricultural Area was declared. He then continued with services and pushed for the erection of a Congregational Church which took another seven years to accomplish. He also serviced the Congregational Church in Mundalla and in Cannawigara and other small settlements. He continued preaching and he undertook Congregational Missionary work until 1910 when he died aged 83 years. The Congregational church closed when it amalgamated with the Methodist church to form the Uniting Church in Bordertown in 1971. It is now leased by the Naracoorte funeral parlour.
8. Old School Room.
Bordertown Old Primary School. The local wooden school room opened in 1867 only to be replaced with a stone room in 1874. The Education Department added another couple of rooms to create a T shaped school in 1884 as the school enrolments rose once the farmers arrived in the Tatiara. When the government started up the first country high schools Bordertown was one of the first when it opened in 1913 in the original 1874 classroom. The first teacher in charge was a woman but the high school closed in 1916 because of World War One. Few boys were left in the school as these younger ones had to work full time on the family farms as older boys had gone to war. High school classes resumed in Bordertown in 1920 and two new classrooms were added to the school for their use in 1921. The revamped high school became a Higher Primary School in 1922. From 1939 the Higher Primary classes occupied the 1884 classrooms as well as the 1921 rooms. In 1959 the government made the decision to separate the primary and high schools and the primary school moved to a new school site in 1971. The old school complex is used as club rooms for several town organisations.
9. Old Catholic Church.
Bordertown was added to the Catholic parish of Penola from its first surveying in 1852. After the 1872 farm selection act the parish priests from Penola visited more often. Catholic services in Bordertown began at the Woolshed Inn in 1881. A foundation stone for a Catholic Church was laid in 1883 and opened in 1884. This impressive church still stands albeit as a private residence. The limestone walls are an impressive 22 inches thick. The first resident priest for Bordertown arrived in 1939.
10. New Catholic Church.
When the first priest arrived in 1939 he purchased five acres of land for a Catholic School which was eventually built. The priest worked on building his own presbytery and it was completed in 1954 next to the church. A new St. Mary’s Catholic Church as opened in 1969. The old church was used as a hall for some time.
11. Council Offices.
The original Council Chamber for the district was in Mundulla. It closed in 1904 when the stone and brick chamber opened in Bordertown. This fine old building was demolished in 1959 when the new Council Offices were opened. A further two storey structure was added in 1978. Outside of the Council Offices is a bust of Prime Minister Robert Hawke donated in 1987 and unveiled by Bob Hawke’s father who returned to the town in which he had formerly served. In the foyer of the Council Offices is a painting of Hawke in the Hawke Gallery. The Council has an art gallery.
12. Old Institute and current Library.
Bordertown Institute. A local committee was formed and after several years of discussions and fund raising an institute was opened in 1878. Prior to this the library facility had been located in the 1867 school classroom until the Education Department took over that school and wanted to charge high rents for the library room. The Institute was increased in size and a new façade and new front rooms in the classical style with a grand pediment were added in 1909. The Premier of the day Mr Peake opened the new Institute. Yet another new institute hall was opened in 1960 again with the opening ceremony by the Premier of the day who was Sir Thomas Playford on that occasion. The extensions included a new town library. Many organisations held their meetings here and it was also the location of many private and official town functions. A theatre was added to the Institute/Library complex in 1982.
13. Hawke House.
This building opened in 1888 as the first national Bank in Bordertown. In 1897 it was sold to the Congregational Church as a manse and much later Prime Minister Bob (or Robert) Hawke was born here in December 1929. Presumably he was conceived here too as Clement and Ella Hawkes occupied this manse in 1928. The Reverend Hawke left Bordertown in 1935 and Bob Hawke started school at Maitland Primary School on Yorke Peninsula. The Hawkes left Maitland in 1939 and moved to Perth. Bob Hawke then undertook his secondary education at Perth Modern School before going on to the University of Western Australia. The school established in 1911 is a government school for academically gifted students. Hawke House is now owned by the Uniting Church and used as a welfare centre. Opposite Hawke House is the Apex Park which was originally designated as McLaren Place by the surveyor of the town in 1852 who was John McLaren. Look for the sculpture done by Bordertown High School students in 1999 and the mural done by Bordentown Primary School students in 1996. The mural on the Library wall was done by the High School students.
14. Woolshed Inn.
This was the first hotel licensed in Bordertown in 1859 and it was so named because it was close to John and Charles Scott’s woolshed for their Cannawigara station. In 1882 the early structures were added to with a new single storey hotel. As fashions and interests changed the Woolshed Inn became the Tatiara Hotel in 1927 but it reverted to the historic Woolshed Inn name in 1969. The original 1859 building with its 12 paned window can be seen in the yard of the current hotel.
15. Police/Information Centre/Tolmer Park.
This spot was originally the police paddock from 1854. Police have always been stationed on the corner. The toilets are called the Old Gaol but there was never a gaol, only a couple of cells in conjunction with the police station which was usual in any country towns. The Information Centre is here and inside you can see the front of the old police station built in 1930. The first police building was erected early in 1854- a mere shack. In 1863 the first proper police station costing £300 was built. In 1930 another new police station was built and the third station was put up in 1963. The old 1863 station was then demolished and the 1930 station was turned into a police residence. In 1983 the fourth police station was opened along the street. The old police paddock is now Tolmer Recreation Park. It was fenced in 1857 to stop the troopers’ horses from straying. The last Gold Escort service left here in December 1853. The police were then on their own with little to do. Look for the white kangaroos which have been bred from a single white male obtained in 1980 on the road towards Melbourne and read the information boards around Tolmer Park.
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