At the risk of being boring, I continue to find some interesting information regarding this seemingly momentous event, at least at the time anyway. And I have also added an interesting small article that was written in The Chronicle (South Australia) in 1921. Although this story obviously does not relate to the earlier flood that involved James Heneker in 1876 it shows how catastrophic floods in otherwise dry river beds can do so much damage. Here in Australia we are always warned about not camping in dry outback creeks for the fear of flooding which can occur much higher up but cause so much damage. I remember my father telling me of the time when he was a lad living in Hawker in the far north of South Australia and how he and some mates had camped in a dry river bed. Apparently a flood came down in the middle of the night, and I believe one of the boys drowned. !!! Here is the story that caught my imagination, and incredibly sad that as there was nothing to identify the person, it seems to this day, someone just disappeared and no one would ever have known what happened to him.
A SKELETON IN A TREE.
“On January 31 Harold Abdulla reported to the Hawker police that he had found the ‘body of a man in the Wonoka Creek. Mounted Constable Carman left with Mr John Smith to investigate, and found the skeleton of an unknown man in a fork of a tree in the creek, where it had evidently been washed by flood waters. As there has been no flood since early in November last as high as where the remains were found, it is presumed that the body has been lying there for at least three months.Nothing was found to show the identity of the deceased.”
The Chronicle Saturday 12 February 1921 (courtesy of trove.nla.gov.au)
Load on Fire
DEAR BEETEE — In my letter appearing in the issue of ‘The Chronicle’ of May 3, I notice the letter finishes ‘Alfred Darling.’ How this should appear I cannot understand, as I don’t think that name is suitable to me, and I am afraid if I were known to you that you would not consider me one! I was very pleased to see Mr. Henniker’s letter from Hawker in the same issue replying to ‘Par North Widow’s’ letter re the waggons and loads being washed away from Wonoka Creek in the flood. I had intended writing about the floods. I was always under the impression that the waggons were the property of Mr. Henniker’s father and that three teams or waggons and their loads were washed away. ‘Far North Widow’ says something about the hotel there. At the time of that flood there was no hotel there, only an eating house kept, I believe, by people named Car son. The hotel and other buildings were not erected there until about 1878. The hotel was of iron, and kept by Mr. James Watters (since deceased). He was at one time a traveller for Branon’s boot warehouse. The hotel was only a small iron shanty. This building was removed into the township of Hawker when the town site land was sold. The allotment that the hotel was built on later brought the large sum of about £365. ‘Par North Widow’ says their teams were well up on the high hills at the time, but there are no high hills near there that a team could get on. Another Load’s Fate Years later another load of stores caught alight when crossing the Wonoka Creek. The alarm was given, and the driver and the owner of the team tried to overturn the load by locking the waggon, but he was not successful. Consequently he unhooked the team, and had to stand by and see the load and all the contents burnt in front of his eyes. Nothing could be done to save anything, as cartridges were continually exploding. This occurred only a few chains from where the waggons and then loads were washed away. For years after the remains of the fire were to be seen there, and parts of the waggon and nails, tinned fish, and other goods. This fire must have occurred previous to 1881, as the buildings were still on the creek. There were two stores, the hotel, saddler’s shop, and the eating house. This was then kept by Mrs. Patterson and her daughters. The post office was then kept by Miss Patterson. The mails used to arrive from Adelaide on Sunday morning, which was quite a red letter day. At that time the mail came from Hallett in a two-horse vehicle and continued on to Blinman, returning on the Tuesday morning. A guard used to accompany the mail right from Adelaide every week and back. His name was Mr. Spiller, and he travelled with the mail every week right up to the time the railway opened, when it was brought by train. I am very sorry to see in ‘The Chronicle’ such bad reports of the state of the north country, and also the restrictions that have been placed on the using of water in Adelaide. Some kind person was good enough to send me two clippings from the paper, with a note saying they noticed I was a constant reader of ‘The Chronicle’ and hat the clippings might interest me, but no name was put on the memo. Hoping that the seasons in S.A. will soon change for the better, and thanking you for your kind consideration in publishing my letters
‘WONOKA’ (Brookton, W.A.).”
The Chronicle Thursday 5 July 1934 p 54 (courtesy of trove.nla.gov.au)
And lastly on this subject:
THE WONOKA CREEK FLOOD.
To The Editor
Sir— will you permit me through your columns to solicit from the benevolent public generally, and more particularly from those wealthy Northern runholders to whom the late rains have been of each incalculable benefit, assistance for those to whom the same rain has been most disastorous. By the tremendous, sudden, and quite unprecedented flood of Saturday morning, the following wagons and drays, with their loading of goods, rations, horse-feed, &c, and all tackling, and harness, were swept away from the Wonoka Creek camping-place:— Murray & Jordan’s two wagons, two drays, tackling, and loading: … £392 10 0 Henneker’s wagon, harness, and loading, and money £116 3 0 Cherry’s wagon, tackling and loading £90 0 0 £593 13 0 Nearly one-half of which is the cost at Port Augusta (as by cart-notes) of the loading, for which the men are liable. After three days’ search, only six bags of flour and one tin of coffee have been recovered in a distance of nine miles. Of the wagons and drays some pieces have been recovered, but they are total wrecks. I feel sure that by making this very hard case public practical expressions of sympathy will not be long in showing. Subscription-lists will be issued immediately. Meantime I shall be happy to receive, on behalf of the teamsters, contributions. I am, Sir, &c., W. M. GREEN, Manager Wonoka Station. March 28, 1576.
The Chronicle Saturday 1 April 1876 pg 6 (Courtesy of trove.nla.gov.au)
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