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Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren
The plaque commemorates the involvement of Balgowan in the grain industry.

The small coastal town of Balgowan near Maitland was once an important shipping port for the surrounding farming district.  Its maritime history played a significant role in SA’s grain shipping era, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for those involved.

First there was the original jetty, built in 1881, that was never used because of its location. Then, there were the grain chutes erected as a makeshift answer to the problem. Finally, graingrowers were granted an operational jetty in 1907.

Local author Stuart Moody knows the timeline all too well after conducting in-depth research and interviews with people in the shipping industry and the local farming community.

In the past 2.5 years he has documented every piece of evidence about the port – between 1870 and 1950- – and this month released a book which shares his findings, Balgowan the Outport.

“The book is about Balgowan the working port, not Balgowan the holiday spot,” Mr Moody said. “Balgowan’s maritime history has not previously been recorded in detail.” Mr Moody said Balgowan graingrowers suffered a severe setback with shipping right from the word go. “After much lobbying by local wheat growers, a jetty was finally built … but jubilation soon turned to disappointment and anger when the jetty’s size and location became apparent,” he said. “It was located west of Point Warrenne in quite shallow water and surrounded by hazardous reefs.”

Mr Moody said it was a dangerous, if not impossible, manoeuvre for the shipmasters to reach the jetty, and that not one bag of wheat was ever shipped from it. “Imagine being promised a jetty and then not being able to use it,” he said.

Wheat growers were left with no choice but to cart grain to Moonta or Port Victoria by horse, cutting loads back to one a day. In 1903, two grain chutes were erected from the cliffs at Point Warrenne to facilitate the loading of work boats below, which would then be transferred to vessels anchored out in deeper water. These work boats carried between 12 and 20 bags at a time.

“It was all double and triple handling, and not all that efficient,” Mr Moody said.

And then, after 26 years, farmers saw the light at the end of the tunnel. A functional jetty was finally established, and several million bags were shipped out across the next 50 years. The jetty gradually fell into disrepair through the years, mainly due to storms and a lack of maintenance, before finally succumbing to a combination of a very high tide and gale force winds in 1981.
Stock Journal, 20 June 2016. 


Address:Schwartz Road & Main Street, Balgowan, 5573
GPS Coordinates:Lat: 34.323845
Long: 137.494545
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Technology


Front Inscription

Commemorating the involvement of Balgowan in the grain industry

The first township allotments were sold at auction in 1879 and the original jetty was built in 1881 but was sited over a reef and could not be used by shipping.

Another was built in 1907 and was last used for commercial shipping in 1949 - 50.

The jetty was destroyed by a storm on 1st June 1981.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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