Composed and shared by Ceduna Old Photos, Sue Trewartha and Erica Bodger.
WCS. 7 March 1911. From James Hiern, Murat Bay. “The last winter in this district was one of the best on record. There were no frosts or hot winds to do any serious damage. The yield of wheat was good and I have not heard any farmer grumble. As a whole they seem happy and cheerful. The town of Murat Bay is growing extensively. We have some costly buildings. Mr WH Betts’ new store will soon be open. It is a large, spacious place and should meet all requirements.”
First hut in the town was Mr Jimmy Hiers, pronounced Hine, lived alone in a hut near where the Council car park is now. It was described as a “wine shanty” in the last few years before a hotel license was granted in Ceduna and many tales are told of its wild history. Jimmy was a kangaroo hunter and well sinker, he sank the Merghiny Well.
James Hiern sitting in front of his ‘house’ which was situated near the present Council Chambers.
Information from the back of this photo belonging to Mrs Lorna Schwarz says – James Hiern was company representative for the Wilgena Pastoral Company at Ceduna until 1900. He is pictured sitting in front of his ‘house’ which was situated near the present Council Chambers. Camel trains brought wool from the Tarcoola area to Murat Bay to be shipped to Adelaide and stores were loaded to be taken back to Tarcoola. Supplies for the building of the overland telegraph line were also unloaded at Murat Bay before the jetty was built.
In May 1900, N Pethick surveyed a town with 96 blocks further north, but this plan was not used. On that plan it showed the location of a couple of places which influenced the eventual choice of the site for the town. Hiern’s store was already there before the town was gazetted, along with a shed for the Wilgena Woolstore, which was used by the company to store wool brought down from the Tarcoola area. These two establishments were located near where the proposed jetty was to be later built, and consequently, the town was built around that.
Original Betts Store in front of the jetty.
The Betts store was built on the site of the Wilgena Woolshed.
WCS. 23 Aug 1913. MURAT BAY, August 12. A large number of pioneer settlers assembled in the Ceduna Hall last night to honor Mr James Hiern, who is the oldest resident of the township. A banquet was provided by the ladies. ‘The King’ was proposed by Mr F Edson, and Mr A Tainsh submitted ‘The guest of the evening.’ Mr J Feltus, of Streaky Bay and Mr G A Tonkin supported.
Mr Hiern claimed to be the oldest resident of the township, and also the oldest surviving pioneer of the district. He was born in Devonshire, England and arrived in South Australia when 12 years of age. He first came to the West Coast in 1860 and was a station hand. He spent three years on the station belonging to his brother-in-law, M Thompson, of Whiters, Chandada and Wallpuppy stations. In later years Mr Hiern engaged in pastoral pursuits and was part owner of Hiltaba and Kokatha. Later he went beyond Tarcoola and held some Crown lands and one of the wells still in use there, is still known as Hiern’s well. Later Mr Hiern held what is now known as the Hundred of Goode and the Hundred of Wandana on pastoral lease. He tried hard to find permanent water and sunk 13 wells, but only got brackish water. Shortage of stock water compelled him to give up pastoral work, and he became a shipping agent at Murat for Messrs Main & Sells, of the Wilgena Pastoral Company. Mr Hiern remembers that there were at one time on the Fowler’s Bay station 100,000 sheep, and the kangaroos were as numerous as the sheep. Now, he regretted to say, they were almost extinct. Mr Hiern had resided in that township 16 years. He was 74 years of age, and although crippled some what, he retained all his faculties to a marked degree. On behalf of the residents and pioneers and ladies, Mr Hiern was presented with a Morris chair.
Mr Hiern presented the Institute committee with an enlarged portrait of himself, his favorite horse (Ivanhoe), and his dog (Pompy), to be hung in the hall. The following contributed to the evening’s entertainment: — Miss D, Watson, song; and Mrs. Pengelly, recitation.
WCS. 18 March 1948. By AB John. I knew Jimmy Hierns quite well back in 1890 when he very occasionally came into Streaky Bay from his camp in the far back country. He eventually settled at Chinta, some distance back from Murat Bay, now Ceduna, and later came and settled in Ceduna, where I think Harold Betts saw he wanted for nothing in the evening of his days.