Composed and shared by Ceduna Old Photos, Sue Trewartha and Erica Bodger..
4 December 1957. Penong. A loss estimated at £8000 occurred in the far western town of Penong last Friday when Kelly Brothers Garage was completely gutted by fire. The proprietor of the business, Mr Fred Kelly, who noticed the fire soon after it started near a lighting plant at the rear of the building made a supreme but unsuccessful attempt to quell it before it spread. A fire extinguisher he was using was emptied before the flames could be controlled. In a matter of minutes the premises were a blazing inferno. Mr Kelly managed to push his Wackett aeroplane, which was housed in the rear of the building to the safety of the street before the flames enveloped it. Although the machine was saved, damage to it has been estimated at £500. A new utility in the garage was also saved, but not before its paintwork had been severely scorched. The vehicle, which had one wheel off at the time was literally carried out of the burning building by local townsmen who rushed to the scene as soon as the alarm was raised. The aircraft and utility were the only things to be saved. The concrete and wood and iron building and all its contents were completely destroyed. Despite the large crowd of volunteer firefighters who quickly assembled, the fire burnt with such intensity that nothing could be done to extinguish it. It burnt from mid morning until after 1pm. Among the volunteers were many women, some of whom rolled a number of drums of petrol out of the danger area. Farmers with firefighting equipment came from as far as 20 miles away to give their assistance. The firefighters managed to prevent the flames from spreading to the petrol bowsers located outside the front of the building and several gas cylinders were rolled to safety. The garage itself contained considerable equipment and spare parts. Practically all of the office records are believed to have been lost. At the time of the outbreak a north westerly breeze was blowing. Shortly afterwards the wind changed and swirled the flames up through the roof of the building eliminating any chance there might have been of bringing the fire under control. An insurance assessor arrived from Adelaide on yesterday’s plane.
11 Dec 1957. Monday when it lost a propeller blade on its way from the slips to the Thevenard jetty. The stuffing box broke away and the water rushed in swamping the boat and engine. Using underwater gear, Mr John Nielsen dived again and again, packing fat into the cavity in an effort to check the inrush of water. The craft was towed to the jetty where it was pumped out at low tide. After temporary repairs had been effected the cutter was floated off at high tide and taken back to the slips.
19 July 1958. Ceduna. A fire which occurred on 6 July, in the new Ceduna Mens Wear store owned by Mr Vin Herreen, caused damage estimated at from £600 to £700. An Adelaide insurance representative assessed the damage last weekend. The fire which was discovered about 4.30pm, started in the fitting room. Although it did not burst into flame, it is believed the fire had been smoldering for many hours. Equipment in the changing room was damaged or destroyed and a quantity of stock was ruined by soot and water from the fire extinguishers. The walls and glass windows of the building were blackened.
1 April 1959. Penong. The following article by Mrs WA Silvy, is compiled from the memoirs of her father, the late Jeffery John Miller, who died at Penong in May 1948. Mrs Silvy’s brother still lives on some of the land opened up by their grandfather in the late 1850s. “My father, the late Jeffry Thurgood Miller arrived in the Penong district in the late 1850s,taking up land in partnership with the late John Marabel, said to have been the one time owner of the Beehive Corner, Adelaide. The late Jeffery Miller and the late William Dutton, were the first two white men to follow Edward John Eyre though to the Nullarbor Plain when the explorers tracks were still quite fresh. In the spring of 1864, a small cutter of about 20 tons named the Firefly sailed from Port Adelaide carrying four passengers, a Mrs Dowling and her three daughters, Julia, my mother, Kate and Rose. Mrs Dowling was going to join her husband who was employed on the newly formed station of Marabel and Miller at Pt Bell. Mrs Dowling had written to her husband saying that she would be leaving early in September, but a lot depended on luck in the delivery of mail in those days and her letter had not reached her husband when the Firefly dropped anchor at Davenport Creek, about 10 days after leaving Port Adelaide. Consequently there was no-one to meet the family. The creek was a desolate place for anyone to land in those days. It was thickly lined with mangroves and infested with mosquitoes. The captain was in a dilemma, as also were Mrs Dowling and the girls. There was no habitation and no telegraph station, telephones in those days were unknown. The nearest station home was that of Mr William Dutton, at Charra about 12 to 15 miles from the landing with only a bullock track leading to it. Following a ship board conference, it was decided that Julia and Kate should walk to the Charra Homestead. Mrs Dowling was naturally reluctant, fearing the girls might be molested by wild blacks or bushranger, but on the captain’s assurance that it was the only way out of the difficulty, she agreed Next morning the captain accompanied the two girls over the sandhills following the newly made track to the swamps. He warned them that on no account must they leave the track, then bidding them God’s speed, he returned to his ship. With a bottle of water each and a few ship’s biscuits the girls started on their long walk. Faithful to their promise they kept on the track and after walking for a considerable time, suddenly heard horse’s hoof beats. Fearing bushrangers, they hid in some ti tree and saw a horseman approaching, leading pack horse. He promptly observed the girls tracks and stopped and turned his horse. He was naturally amazed to see the two girls and said “what on earth are you doing here?”. They explained their predicament and he told them he was Trooper Morris, of Fowlers Bay Police Station and promised to ride to Point Bell and advise their father of their arrival. He bid them goodbye and the girls continued their walk towards Charra. They were within six miles of the station. Soon after they came in sight of the homestead, a woman came running towards them. It was Mrs Dutton, the only white woman in the district who gave them a marvelous welcome. Trooper Morris successfully carried the news to Point Bell and through the night Pat Dowling and the bullock dray travelled at top speed for Davenport Creek to meet his family. That is how my mother landed on the West Coast in September 1864. Early in 1865, Julia Dowling married Jeffery Thurgood Miller one of the men for whom her father was working. They moved from the Point Bell headquarters to Nunong, 3 miles south of Penong and on 5 November 1865, Jeffery John Miller was born at the homestead. While he was still a small boy, his father gave up his partnership with john Marrabel and went to Burrumbeet in Victoria where he opened a general store. The boy Jeffery was educated there and ten years later returned to Penong, where he took up more land, remaining in the district until his death in June 1910. His widow Julia Miller carried on their sheep property until her death in December 1928. Jeffery Miller was the second white child born in these parts, the first being his cousin William Roberts. Jeffery Miller lived at one time kangarooing on the Coast. Kangaroo catching yards were erected on the station alongside division fences with wings about two miles on each side. The roos would be herded down these lanes into the big log yards and as many as 800 to 900 were often yarded in one hunt. Jeffery Miller travelled to Adelaide by many means of transport. Once he rode a horse into the Plough and Harrow Hotel stables in Rundle Street after having helped deliver 7000 young ewes and 10,000 whethers to Burra from the Far West Coast. Sir Thomas Playford’s father and Jeffery Miller were boys together on Fowlers Bay Station. Sir Thomas’s grandfather was Minister of Lands at that time and sent his son to the Far West for pastoral experience. He and Jeffery Miller took a flock of sheep to the mainland on one occasion. They had not seen each other for 60 years when they met in Adelaide for the opening of Parliament House when it was rebuilt some years ago. Another interesting chapter in Jeffery Miller’s life was his friendship with the explorer the late W Maurice, whose grave is at the old Yalata a Homestead. Jeffery Miller well remembered the gold rush when men and women made their way towards the golden west, mostly by hob nail express as he termed it. Just prior to that period the late Jim Riddle opened the Globe hotel at Fowlers Bay, a tremendous event at that time. Jeffery Miller also remembered the days when Capt W Tullock and his offsider Charlie Neilson sailed the Woolami, also Capt Hans Schmidt, who skippered the Grace Darling. Those were the days when the rough and suntanned kangaroo hunters used to wait for the ships to arrived with their cargoes of good cheer. Besides the usual merchandise there would be two 18 gallon kegs of beer for one man, one case of whiskey for another, two cases of ale for another and various smaller parcels of similar content for others. One man used to buy what is known today as “plonk”, in 100 gallon kegs. He got it in 100 gallon tanks to save freight and the tanks were handy things in those days. Today the Globe Hotel is little more than a memory. Its ruins are almost covered in sand. Jeffery Miller died at Penong on 26 May 1948. He was 83 years of age.