Trip Report - Clayton Farm 8-11 March 2013


We left Adelaide at 4:30pm in peak hour traffic on a very warm Friday afternoon to head to Clayton Farm situated just 3 km out of Bordertown off the Naracoorte Road.   It was a good trip down stopping at Tailem Bend for a bite to eat and arriving at Clayton Farm at about 8:45pm.   We were the last to arrive Friday as most had arrived earlier in the day and enjoyed a get together and happy hour earlier in the evening.   Those who arrived during Friday were given a guided tour of the farm on Friday afternoon.    Friday night there were 12 vehicles and 23 members and friends in camp.


We were woken at approximately 5:30 am on Saturday morning by the resident rooster crowing but fortunately he did have a snooze and did not crow consistently.   A leisurely morning was enjoyed chatting and wandering about the farm taking photos before we headed into Bordertown mid morning.   We met at the Morning Loaf Bakery in Bordertown at 11:30am for lunch before 12 vehicles took a tag along tour around Bordertown and District with a very informative guide Wally Milne and members of the Bordertown & District Agricultural Museum (Clayton Farm).


The first point of interest was the 4.5 hectare wildlife park on the outskirts of town, famous for its colony of white kangaroos which are not albino but a genetic strain of the Western Grey.   We drove around the perimeter fence, however due to the heat the kangaroos were not very active and were a little hard to spot.

We continued on past the grain silos and then the old Bordertown railway station which is no longer in regular use.   The Adelaide/Melbourne daylight trains still stop here but only if required to pick up or drop off passengers.   It was then onto the Bordertown Recreation Lake, an artificial lake which rises and falls with the level of Tatiara Creek.   This lake was created as a result of the by-pass built in 1988 when large amounts of soil were dug from the site and used in the erection of a bridge over the railway line.   The lake is regularly stocked with yabbies, redfin, perch and other breeds of fish providing a good spot for fishing as well as other leisure activities such as canoeing.


We then drove back through Bordertown town centre, established in 1850 when a route was planned to escort gold from the Victorian goldfields in Ballarat back to Adelaide.   The first school was established in 1874.   It was then on past Blue Lake Milling where they produce rolled oats, the wetlands which purifies the town septic systems and returns clean water back into Tatiara Creek, and the abattoirs where they can process 6000 lambs a day in full production.   The lambs are chilled and sent to Tullamarine Airport for export all over the world.


Next we called into the Glenda Rowett Gallery and Studio.   Glenda’s husband is an onion grower and he gave us a short talk on the 300 acres he has under crop.   It was then into the gallery to admire the magnificent artwork Glenda produces.   From here it was a short drive onto Poocher Swamp which fills with water and floods in the winter but also drains the Tatiara creek into the watertable through runaway holes.


Our tour continued onto Buckingham Methodist Church and school which was built in 1884 and has been very well preserved as it is still being used by a congregation on alternate Sundays.   It was then onto Mundulla a small historic town 35 km from Bordertown.

We continued through vineyards and farming country stopping at a historic horse dip built in 1931 using local timber.   The dip was used for the control of a parasitic itch in the working horses (Clydesdales).   We then travelled through an area set aside to establish the town of Custon, which was to have been the railhead of a broad gauge line to the port of Kingston SE.   The train line was built but never used and the town failed to eventuate.   We then visited a property named “Wheelabarraback” where they breed Clydesdale horses.   From here it was back to Bordertown and Clayton Farm via the main street of Wolseley and the World War 11 inland aircraft fuel depot.   This was an extremely interesting and informative afternoon exploring the district around Bordertown.


Once back at camp there was just a short time before we headed to the Mundulla Hotel for the evening meal.   Another 2 vehicles and 3 members arrived during the day today bringing the total attendance for the weekend to 14 vehicles and 26 members and friends.

It was a warm evening and we were seated at a long table in the undercover outdoor area behind the hotel which was built in 1884. While waiting for our meals to be served we were entertained by a group of ladies celebrating a hen’s night who dressed each other up in toilet paper wedding dresses.


Sunday morning we were again woken by the crowing rooster.   Due to the heat expected today we gathered at 9:00am to take a trip to Kingston SE instead of Ngarkat Conservation Park.  This trip was led by Dave from the Border Country 4WD Club, and with several more of their club members 13 vehicles set out on the 100km drive to Kingston.   The morning was overcast with six spots of rain as we crossed undulating farming country.   One section had been burnt about six weeks before and was now starting to shoot new regrowth on the trees.   The fire apparently started by a faulty irrigation pump on a property which fronted scrub land.


Following a stop at the Kingston bakery we gathered at the caravan park to collect Dave’s wife and children before continuing on to deflate the tyres at the Pinks Beach car park.   We then drove along firm sand to the Cape Jaffa boat ramp admiring the calm blue ocean and even seeing two dolphins quite close to shore.   There were a number of campers set up along the beach enjoying the long weekend with their families, boats and fishing rods.   From the Cape Jaffa boat ramp it was a short distance on bitumen before travelling along the dunes overlooking the sea on a dusty 4 x 4 track around the tip of Cape Jaffa.   We then headed back onto the beach which we followed for some distance, before Dave became stuck in soft sand due to the high tide, so it was decided to drop the tyre pressure in the rest of the vehicles to below 15psi.   Unfortunately after only one vehicle had made it through it was decided we should turn back.   After retreating from the beach we continued along a track in the Bernoulli Conservation Park but soon had a second tyre problem.   This proved to be the same as the first one, just a valve not screwed back on properly.   We all reinflated the tyres to 20psi and continued along the dirt track to a junction where we made a wrong turn and again all had to turn around.   We then took a track to the main road which we followed to Long Beach.   Here we stopped on the beach to eat our lunch.   There were many people on the beach and the water looked very inviting so a few ventured into the surf following lunch.   A few vehicles continued along the beach into Robe before returning and collecting those who had stayed to swim for the beach drive to Boatswain Point.   It was amazing to see so many families enjoying a Sunday afternoon in perfect sunny conditions along the beach.   We stopped for a photo shoot against the backdrop of the dunes just before exiting the beach.   Once we had inflated our tyres we all headed back to Clayton Farm via Kingston and Mundulla where we did not arrive until after 6:30pm.  


Upon our return to the farm we were spoilt by The Friends of Clayton Farm who had organised a fantastic BBQ meal of three delicious salads with a sausage, patty and bread followed by fruit salad and ice cream.   This was a wonderful evening spent chatting with friends both old and new about the day’s adventures.


All too quickly Monday morning dawned and the rooster crowed.   Michael offered another tour of the farm property to those who had missed the one on Friday afternoon so we met at 8:30am and were taken on a very extensive tour.   The tour covered the farm machinery housed under cover in the large new purpose built sheds as well as many pieces about the property.   The original settlers of the property were the Wiese family who came from Clayton on the lower Murray River, hence the naming of the property.   In the historic homestead built in 1885 is an extensive display of old furniture, clothing and household appliances.   From the homestead we walked to The Woolshed (the largest thatched roof woolshed in the southern hemisphere).   Here we saw large feed troughs constructed from hollowed trees sitting on the cobbled veranda.   These were used to feed the cattle in the winter.   The amazing building was constructed in about 1901 from massive whole red gum forked tree trunk posts with slab walls from Bull Oak and a straw roof.   The property suffered a fire on 5 February 2004 which saw three straw thatched buildings destroyed but fortunately the Woolshed survived.   We looked at other buildings including the huge stone chaff shed with conveyer belts, bundling pits and intriguing wood floor.   There were also the rethatched and rebuilt silage sheds, buggy shed, stables and the pigsties which had been damaged by the fire.   After a look at the blacksmiths shed we finished the tour.


By the time we finished the tour and returned to camp many had left.   It was very warm so after a bite to eat it was time to pack up and head home as well after a very enjoyable weekend.   Many thanks go to John Smedley, in conjunction with his cousin Neil, for the effort and organisation they put in to ensure a fantastic weekend for all to enjoy.


Rod & Aileen (NPC 388)