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Early History of Clare
The founder of Clare, Edward Burton Gleeson, left the East India Company, and arrived with his wife and two children, and relatives from India on July 14, 1838, on the ship 'Emerald Isle', from Madras.
Clare was seen as a fertile garden by early explorers, and quickly settled.
Clare is destined to rank as the great agricultural centre of the mid-northern district.
Gleeville, Beaumont SA
Immigrant Gleeson had two dozen Indian servants, horses and a prefabricated house, which his 'Musselmen' (Muslim Manservants) erected, named Gleeville, at Beaumont. Gleeson quickly became the largest private landholder in Adelaide.
After the economic crisis of the Gawler Government, Gleeson took up land in the Clare Valley, and in 1838 built the first simple new house, named Inchiquin, after Irish Baron Inchiquin who was the head of the historic house of O'Brien.
This was the traditional land of the Ngadjuri tribe of Aborigines who were forced away by the English settlers, who opposed them with deadly weapons. Their hunting grounds were occupied by grazing sheep, with shepherds to defend them.
Clare subdivided 1838
The homestead above, built on 'Inchiquin Hill', replaced his first thatched cottage, and was begun in 1842, and completed in 1845.
'Paddy' Gleeson cut up his land into blocks in 1838, and laid out the town of Clare in 1842.
Paddy Gleeson planted some of the first wine grapes and fruit gardens but also ran three sheep runs (some staffed by Indians) west of Clare, even at Black Point, now Snowtown, towards the Hummocks Run.
The indigenous Kaurna tribe at Black Point repelled Gleeson's shepherds, who abandoned the area (and Black Point water-hole), returning to Clare.
Paddy was a man of great physical bulk (and a Protestant), who cut an imposing figure on his well-groomed cob horse, as he rode down the Main Street, Clare.
Inchiquin as Govt. House
Gleeson's principal business was wool exports (from his sheep runs of 150 sq. miles), needed in Britain for the new cloth factories of the industrial revolution.
Inchiquin, on a little hill, overlooking the Hutt River, was the Government House of Clare in early days.
All Clare's distinguished visitors were entertained at Inchiquin, especially for Sunday lunch.
Sir Richard MacDonnell and Sir Dominic Daly were among the SA Governors entertained there.
Two turkeys were cooked each Sunday, with Caraway cake and fruit to follow.
Gleeson became a regional magistrate.
Bishop Murphy of Adelaide
The first buildings in Clare itself were erected on the section owned by Bishop Murphy.
However thhe first large building in Clare was St. Michael's Catholic Church on Victoria Road, commenced in 1847 and completed in 1849 at the southern side of Clare. This land was apparently a 'Glebe' granted for free by the S.A. Government.
The shaded township of Clare in this Stanley County map below (section 39) belonged to Catholic Bishop Murphy;
'Inchiquin Hill' is on Sect. 47 (next to Section 44),
by the Hutt river.
The area marked 'Glebe' (in Section 41) Paddy gave to the Anglican church for St Barnabas Church and cemetery, as this is one of the highest points in the Clare township.
Bishop Murphy had this southern portion of land (shaded) in the town of Clare, sub-divided. He retained a portion himself and Messrs. McKay, Nolan, and Butler purchased the remainder.
The Bishop then had his portion surveyed into allotments, and sold by public auction by Mr. A. Fox in 1850, the average price being about £15 per acre.
St. Michael's Catholic Church
Bungaree Station, a lease north of Clare, was founded in 1841 by the Hawker brothers. They settled on a hundred square miles north and west, and bought 80,000 acres (125 square miles) when the land later became available for sale.
There George C. Hawker established the well-known Bungaree Sheep Stud. By 1869 at Bungaree, upwards of 100.000 sheep were shorn there.
Here was also the first Police Station and Post Office in the valley. The traditional owners were the Ngadjuri, who fiercely resisted the Hawkers.
In 1856 work started on building the permanent stone Bungaree homestead, and with 160 employees, the station also began building (another) St. Michael's Anglican church at Bungaree in 1864.
St Michael's, Bungaree
Bungaree in 1881
Bungaree in 1881
Bungaree station, Clare, South Australia, was the original holding of the late Hon. G. C. Hawker, and then became the property of H. C. and M. Hawker, and is the home of a very impressive Bungaree merino sheep stud. Since Geo. Hawker was a parliamentarian, Bungaree was run by a manager, Mr. William Beare, one of South Australia's original colonists.
Hill River Estate
Hill River Estate
Hill River Estate was built up just east of Clare by pastoralist C.B. Fisher, (below) who leased parts of Bundaleer, the Camel Humps (towards Burra)
as well as Hill River Station
(where the Burra Road corkscrews, just east of Clare) and where the roadway is bordered by tall trees.
Fisher also fattened sheep (and later, cattle) at the rich Torrens flats at Lockleys, and on the little Para river, north of Adelaide.
Fisher was an excellent horseman and jockey, Fisher had ridden at the first race meeting in Adelaide in 1838 and helped to organize the first steeplechase over four miles (6.4 km) of stiff country.
Well known at Flemington for his courtly manner and English dress, he was vice-president of the Victorian Racing Club.
He spent most of his time in the saddle in the 1840's, making many lucrative, long and rapid journeys from Adelaide to Victoria, to keep up the well-paying supply of sheep and cattle to feed Victorian settlers and miners.
Fisher began dealing in cattle in 1851, which proved to be the most lucrative business he could have chosen, as it was just before the Victorian gold rush.
Hil River view
In 1855 Fisher bought the lease of Hill River, near Clare, from Mr William Robinson for £42,000;
Robinson had established Hill River in 1844, comprising over 100 square miles watered by the Hill River.
Great Stone Wall
Fisher built the Great Stone Wall, about 40 miles long, from Hill River, north to Bundaleer, which was a colossal feat in our early pioneering days,
used for keeping straying sheep within the valley.
Hill River large scale farming
It is still there, known now as the Camel Hump wall.
It crosses the Clare-Burra Road in a valley near the quarry.
Illustrated: Large-scale reaping operations using horse drawn machinery on C.B. Fisher's farm at Hill River Station. The number of men employed and horses were each in the hundreds.
Hill River Shearing Shed
Hill River was the largest farm in (South) Australia, and valuer Mr Goyder understood that Hill River was one of the best runs in the country.
Fisher then went on to became one of the biggest pastoralists in Australia.
At Hill River the days of "the greatest farm in Australia" have passed, but the tree-lined roads, sturdy wide-spread oak trees and the massive colonial buildings still remain, to remind us of the times when the vast holding was a great hive of industry.
In 1875, 50,000 sheep were shorn, while 4,250 acres were sown to wheat - one wheat field was three miles long.
Altogether the Hill River Station was sold in 1876 by C.B. Fisher to the Angas family for about £220,000.
Hughes Park Estate
Hughes Park Estate
The very large Hughes Park sheep estate was established in 1845, south of Clare, and west of Watervale.
This grand house was built for Adelaide Uni. founder Sir Walter Watson Hughes in 1862.
The large 7,000 acre Hughes Park estate also includes Gum Creek pastoral estate, towards Burra, and is still owned by Hugh's heirs, the Duncan family, famous for running the Royal Show, and is available for weddings and other events, and has two B&B cottages.
Clare 'Enterprise' Brewery
The original Clare Brewery was on a hill near the old Presbyterian Church. Clare's third brewery was in a two-storey stone building in Main Street, opposite the old National Bank, and District Council records Charles Fenton as the first owner and occupier, now the old Clare Bakery.
By 1869, fifty new buildings had been erected in Clare, and in 1878, work started to build a fourth brewery in the northern area of the town, now serving as the Knappstein Enterprise Winery. The new Clare Enterprise Brewery was situated by the main street of Clare, and is a two-storey building with an excellent cellar, erected by Mrs Filgate (Paddy Gleeson's daughter) in 1878 and later owned by Mr. John Christison.
By 1912, when he died, Mr. Christison owned not only the three Clare Hotels but also another dozen in surrounding townships, from Riverton to Koolunga, and Lochiel to Red Hill. The ownership then passed to Mrs Christison.
The brewery operated for forty years, and after the early death of Mr. John Christison in 1912, was run by his widely admired wife, until closed in 1917 when the Temperance movement achieved 6 o'clock closing.
Martindale Hall, Mintaro
To attract Frances Hasell, from the Dalemain estate in Cumbria England, young heir Edward Bowman built the beautiful, large heritage-listed Martindale Hall just outside Mintaro, south east of Clare, in 1880.
Martindale Hall was built on the Wakefield river, a Bowman sheep run, and was on a piece of land of such beauty that his father had held it up as one of many ‘grand inducements for people to come to this new country.’
Wolta Wolta homestead was built on 32 acres on the western hills by wealthy Pastoralist and Clare magistrate John Hope in 1846.
This is Mr Hope's grand home in 1880.
The estate is at the western end of Victoria Road, Clare.
Mrs. Hope for several years conducted a Sunday school in a room at her home at Wolta Wolta.
Her daughter Dianne Hope lived here before her late marriage to brewer John Christison.
Mrs. Christison became Clare's greatest citizen.
Wolta Wolta damaged
1983 -- Most of Hope's Wolta Wolta Homestead (LHS) was destroyed by the Ash Wednesday Bushfire.
The Hope family began to rebuild the homestead, but Mr Hope died after two years of work. Notice the early homestead (RHS) survived.
In 2007, ex-florist Robert Parker purchased the acreage of Wolta Wolta and finished restoration.
It now has a B&B cottage behind the house, and a large new barn for big events and parties.
When married the Christisons moved to Clare's 'Bleak House', built in 1878, and overlooking Clare from the western hill-side. Bleak House had a long tradition of 'Continental' evenings,
with stalls and entertainment.
The large garden could hold 400 guests.
For 100 years, 'long trains of vehicles ' passed through Clare, since the town was on the great highway to the far north, now Horrocks Highway.
The long trains of vehicles that passed through Clare carried the material for building the overland telegraph to Darwin, which opened on January 20, 1860, and allowed almost instant world news by telegram.
Reverend Kelly wrote in 1928: "It was a memorable day when Mr. J. M. Belcher, of Burra, came over to introduce this new invention to the Clare residents and these "marvellous" instruments were fixed in a room at the old Shamrock and Thistle Hotel."
"In those days we depended for news of the outside world on a monthly mail. To send a letter to England cost sixpence, and the weekly newspaper from the city was a literary luxury."
The Clare Mechanics' Institute
In 1867, there was formed in Clare a
'Mutual Improvement Society' with some 60 members, which then met at the new Mechanics’ Institute erected in 1872, with Mrs. Chandler as librarian and teacher, educating townsfolk about new technologies.
This Institute building (RHS) provided a venue for leisure and education activities as an alternative to local hotels.
"In July 1922 Mrs. Christison (above) organised an evening about 'Notable Women of the British Empire' at the Institute Hall, where there was a large attendance."
Two new 2-storey Hotels were built at Clare in the early 1870's, the Clare Hotel, and the Globe Hotel, numbering six hotels in all. The Northern Hotel added a second floor to compete.
Hill & Co. ran coaches near the Stanley Hotel.
Ford's Hotel (LHS) was first established in the 1860's, then known as the Shamrock and Thistle. Two other early hotels were the Travellers' Rest, and the Stanley and Clare Inn, both now gone.
Ford's Hotel (LHS) had space for meetings for most purposes, usually chaired by (jovial) Paddy Gleeson, who (apparently) drank a bottle of port every day.
Sevenhill College and St Aloysius Church, south of Clare, operate a famous church winery.
The college was started in 1854 and completed in 1868. The church was dedicated in 1875.
The Northern Argus
Wine-making commenced in 1856, using Bungaree grape transplants for making altar wine.
About 1860 Messrs. Clode & Tilbrook published
'The Northern Argus', a weekly broadsheet, and became Clare's oldest business, and uniquely, always family-owned.
The Tilbrooks stayed as owners and editors until the newspaper was sold in 1996, and then, lacking advertising due to COVID, it finally was closed in 2020.
By 1850 the town of Clare boasted a police station, bakery, chaff mill, two hotels and numerous retail businesses.
Clare Flour Mills
Clare Flour Mill
The site chosen for the first flour mill in 1854 was in the centre of the township (now Ennis Park) and contained about an acre, which was the gift of the Catholic Bishop of Adelaide to Mr. O'Leary, and worth from £120 to £150.
Northern Argus: Tue 11 Jan 1876:
'The thanks of the public are due to Mr. D. O'Leary, who now keeps the Globe Hotel, for the Clare mill.
The completion of that structure was a red-letter day in the district, as it was considered a great work, and it was much wanted.
The original proprietor (O'Leary) has had his ups and downs like many of us early fellow colonists, but he still amongst us hale and healthy.'
The Clare Show
The big day of the year in Clare is its nationally famous Show Day.
The first show of the Clare Agricultural and Horticultural Society was held in October, 1865. The show continued to be held for some years under the same name, and then went out of existence.
What a pity our (Clare) Agricultural Society is in such a bad state
with regard to funds !
At a meeting held on Wednesday last at Lawson's Hotel, on a statement of accounts being presented, it was shown that the Society had not enough funds to pay off the prizes won at the Iast show.
The general excuse is that it is no use competing against Messrs. Fisher and Gleeson. However, as the Hill River Estate is to be sold, there will not be so much competition from that quarter for the future.
The society was resuscitated several years later under the name of the Stanley Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Shows were held continuously from then up to the present
Soon after the Jesuits started making wine at Sevenhill, grapes were planted in Watervale, by Rosenburg Cellars, and by Cornishman Francis Treloar who founded Springvale in 1853.
In the 1860’s Carl Sobels was appointed winemaker, then bought the Springvale property with his brother-in -law Hermann Buring, and renamed it Quelltaler.
Treloar sold out to Captain Walter Watson Hughes, in 1862, but stayed on as manager.
Walter Hughes, who made his fortune in copper mining, established Hughes Park estate which occupies the whole Skillogalee valley.
The copper mining boom in Burra from 1845, had a huge impact on the Clare Valley which became a residence for Cornish and Irish mining families, and an important staging post for bullocks and later copper carting trains using the Gulf Roads.
The 'Gulf Road' routes for carting copper ore to the ports by-passed Clare, using flatter areas in the east via Farrell's Flat and Mintaro, now a heritage town.
Clare a Municipality
The District Council of Clare (first chairman Paddy Gleeson) was formed in 1852. It then embraced an area reaching for five miles north of Clare
to one mile south of Penwortham;
from five miles to the west to Armagh,
and for eight miles towards Farrell's Flat in the east.
Clare township was proclaimed a municipality in the year 1868, the first Mayor being the late magistrate Mr. E. B. Gleeson. He died in 1870.
Historic Clare Map
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