The Hope family of "Wolta Wolta"

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

From: Northern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954) Fri 30 Apr 1937 Page 5


Short Biography -- Penwortham -- Clare Presbyterian Church -- Ash Wednesday Bushfire -- Settler John Hope -- Hope's Diaries -- Wolta Wolta -- Obituary

The Hope family came from Londonderry in Ireland and they arrived with little else but hope as their ship was wrecked near Cape Horn in South America, and so the family arrived in 1837 with no personal belongings at all.

  • They moved to SA in 1839 from Western Australia.


A Scots-Irishman, John Hope (1805 –1880), reached the infant colony of South Australia in 1839. The second son of a 'grocer, haberdasher and sub-distributor of postal stamps' from Maghera in County Londonderry, he established himself in the colony's mid-north.

  • Despite arriving with limited financial resources and only modest social capital, Hope's eventual acquisition of extensive property - and possibly his Protestant background - enabled him to form close ties with prominent figures such as members of the Hawker and Hughes families.

  • An 1880 obituary stated that Hope 'never came forward as a public man'. While this may have been accurate in terms of colonial politics, Hope was a magistrate, local councillor, generous supporter of a number of community activities, and closely involved with the Presbyterian and Anglican Churches.

  • His diaries and letters reveal the extent of his interaction with local pastoralists and his lengthy overseas and overland trips. - Rory Hope (See References)

John Hope of Clare established one of the early pastoral leasehold runs at Koolunga which he called Koolunga in 1841. Hope soon had almost 20,000 sheep on his run on the banks of the Broughton River and the edge of the Clare Valley.

  • Koolunga station occupied 95 square miles.

  • Goyder’s re-evaluation of the leasehold charge in 1864 rose the annual rent from £197 to £1,140.

  • Hope then built Wolta Wolta in Clare

Wolta Wolta, Clare, around 1860 from Robert Noye, "Clare A District History"
Wolta Wolta Heritage Accomodation in Clare SA

Mr. Hope purchased the property known as 'Wolta Wolta', in the Clare district on a (relatively) small acreage of 5,500 acres in 1869, which he made his principal home.

John Hope, pioneer pastoralist of Wolta Wolta Clare SA

  • He built the original homestead, to which extensive additions were made in 1869, and the estate itself was also enlarged by the purchase of adjacent land.

  • Three hills in the immediate locality were practically bare of timber, but Mr. Hope completely changed the character of the landscape by a wise and successful policy of arboriculture.

  • In the early days, the Clare property carried only horses and a few cattle.

Then the Wolta Wolta sheep won many successes in the show ring, and many of the best rams were sent to the River Darling country, where his son, Mr. R. E. H. Hope still has extensive interests.

  • John Hope settled in the Clare district at the same time that Messrs Hawker and Horrocks went there; in fact, Mr. Hope and Mr. Horrocks travelled to that part in company.

  • The subject of this sketch used to point out a spot where the pair of them once camped and had some trouble with the blacks.

  • They had only skilly (a thin porridge) to eat, and that circumstance gave the name to the Skillogolee Creek, a fresh water stream flowing through the township of Penwortham.

Old settler house, Skilly Hills, Watervale SA
Skilly Hills above Skillogalee Creek, Penwortham SA

Penwortham village, Stanley County

This (above) article on John Hope concludes with a copy of a circular issued in the early (eighteen) forties: — 'Stanley County, Penwortham village, 85 miles from Adelaide; Population: —

  • Manor (John A. Horrocks, Esq.), 10 persons; dairy station, 9; shepherd and hut keepers, 3; blacksmith, assistant and wife, 3; innkeeper, wife and servant, 3; police, 2; carrier and mate, 2; shoemaker and wife, 3

— 34 persons. Ten miles northwards —

  • Mr. and Mrs. Gleeson and family, 9 persons; servants, 10; Mr. Hughes and servants, 9; Messrs. Fletcher, 6; Messrs. Hawker and servants, 7; shepherds and hutkeepers, 8; total, -- 40 persons. Altogether a population of 83 souls within a diameter of 14 miles.

The principal subscribers for the maintenance of a clergyman consist of five at £10 each year and four persons in the village each at £2 per year.