Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Talking of Tarlee - Sheaf tossing

SHEAFTOSSING (1)
This article appeared in 1947 with the reporter and John McInerney reminiscing about the Tarlee picnics of days gone by. Like so many Trove articles it opens up more lines of enquiry so Tarlee sheaf tossing led me to the history of a mill in Gawler and an Italian musician who composed “The Cat’s Polka” and “The Canary Waltz.”

But first the sheaf tossing.  In the picture above you see sheafs of wheat being tossed by pitchfork from cart up to the man responsible for building the haystack. (1)

Tarlee Sheaf Tossing

OUR esteemed old Riverton friend John Mclnerney confirms what Mr. Herb. Gray suggested about the origin of sheaf-tossing. 'Yes, it was my late brother Jim who first suggested a prize for sheaf-tossing at the Tarlee picnic more than 50 years ago. The method was to place a bar about as high as a load of hay, and competitors had to pitch the sheaf over this; the distance it went after was the deciding factor, As Mr. Gray stated, the sheaves were just as they came off the binder, and didn't stand very many throws. However, a plentiful supply was on hand and fresh ones were used. About 22 entries were received for the initial contest.
binder
Reaper-binder-harvester with sheaf carrier
Museums Victoria - https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/774148

'Bowling at a single stump was also on the bill for the first time; and this is a popular event at picnic sports today. Another novelty was a polo race. Competitors lined up on hacks armed with a polo mallet, and had to thump a ball about 15 chains or so to the winning post. Swimming contests, too, were decided in a large pool close by in the Gilbert. 'For two or three years Phil Roberts ran here as a boy, but the committee insisted that he should in future run in the men's class.  Mr. Joe Denton, of Farrells Plat, was another good sport, and Mr. Bevan. 'A splendid luncheon was provided by the ladies— turkey and ham in plenty—with a help-yourself supply of pickles. I believe that the luncheon for 1/ was an attraction in itself. Setaro's Canary String Band supplied the music for the day and night, Really, in those days, the Tarlee picnic was spoken of as the Onkaparinga of the North.
'The railway was opened to Tarlee on July 1, 1869. Before this wheat was carted with bullock teams to Duffield's mill at Gawler. Fancy strolling beside a team of bullocks for such a distance. (2)
This article led me on more explorations. What was Setaro’s Canary String band and what was Duffield’s mill in Gawler?

Setaro’s Canary String Band


setaropicFrom May of 1889 advertisements for Signor Francesco Setaro’s band started to appear in newspapers. Hundreds of events from then on, referred to this popular band which provided music of a great variety from opera to popular tunes.

Yearly socials of literary societies, church groups of various denominations, fetes, picnics, banquets and sports occasions were all enhanced with music provided by this band. Sometimes it was intermittent music between other recitals or dance music provided at the end of an evening function. 

The band name with canary added in came about as recognition of  one of several popular pieces he composed - The Canary Waltz.

The background story is revealed in his obituary published in 1926. He had arrived in Adelaide at age 20 to play in a jubilee concert. He was already an accomplished musician who had been performing since he was 12. Slightly different details are provided in the various obituaries published by the newspapers, but at age 59 his illustrious career had come to and end. He was recognised as a generous citizen willing to contribute his talent and teaching skills to the citizens of South Australia. (3)

Duffield’s Gawler Mill


duffield mill
This photo shows the mill in 1882.
https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+47835
I then explored references to  the Gawler Mill and found through Trove that as early as 1862 additions to the mill were being made to cater for the quantity of wheat being delivered there.
The addition to Mr. Duffield's mill is fast progressing, and already overlooks the old building. When completed I should think it will be one of the largest mills in the colony, if not the largest of any. An immense amount of new wheat is being brought into the town, most of which at present finds its way to Duffield's mill; the mill and premises are literally crowded with wheat. (4)
Fire was always a hazard for the mill. Disaster struck not just once, but at least three times. In June of 1867 the newspapers reported the complete destruction of the mill wherein the shafts and mill wheels were damaged beyond repair by the intensity of the heat.(5)

In September of 1867 the new foundation stone was laid and building of the new mill was expected to be completed by the end of 1868. (6) Work proceeded apace with the new mill officially opened in July of 1868. (7)

The new mill however was short-lived and in December of 1868 the residents of Gawler were awoken to cries of “Fire, fire” once more. Yet again Duffield’s mill was destroyed and out of action. An inquest was quickly established to determine whether there had been foul play. (8) By August of 1869 the rebuilding of the mill was almost complete. In 1876 another conflagration consumed the mill and all it contained. (9)

Once again the mill was rebuilt and reopened in February of 1877. It continued to trade under a variety of guises including producing compressed fodder during the Boer War. In April 1927 after years of standing idle the old mill was once again consumed by fire. (10)

IN 1928 the death knell was sounded for the Victoria Mill as it was known. It was demolished to make way for railway yards. Its chequered history was recalled in the 1928 article 1928 'THE LAST OF THE OLD VICTORIA MILL.'

Walter Duffield the owner of the Gawler and several other mills is profiled here in The Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Trove a true treasure of stories of the past.


1. ‘Building a stack of cereal hay’ http://pir.sa.gov.au/aghistory/photo photoID 306946

2. 1947 'Out Among The People', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), 9 October, p. 43. , viewed 11 February  2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93226029

3. 1926 'OBITUARY.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 18 January, p. 11. , viewed 20 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64327151

4.1862 'GAWLER.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 31 January, p. 3. , viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31807106

5. 1867 'GREAT FIRE AT GAWLER.—DESTRUCTION OF MR. DUFFIELD'S MILL.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 28 June, p. 7. , viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39178794

6. 1867 'THE NEW VICTORIA FLOUR MILLS, GAWLER.', The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 - 1922), 21 September, p. 3. (LATE EDITION.), viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article207672514

7. 1868 'THE VICTORIA MILLS GAWLER.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 18 July, p. 9. , viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158932347

8. 1868 'DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT GAWLER.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 19 December, p. 6. , viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158934811

9. 1876 'LOCAL TELEGRAMS.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 28 January, p. 5. , viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31964777

10. 1927 'GENERAL NEWS.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 26 April, p. 10. , viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54092726

11. 1928 'THE LAST OF THE OLD VICTORIA MILL.', Bunyip (Gawler, SA : 1863 - 1954), 6 April, p. 11. , viewed 11 Feb 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96672759





1 comment:

  1. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2018/02/friday-fossicking-23rd-february-2018.html
    thank you, Chris

    ReplyDelete

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