Sunday History Photo / SA

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:07
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Blinman is a town deep in the Flinders Ranges, in the mid north of South Australia. It is very small but has the claim of being the highest surveyed town in South Australia. It serves as a base for large acre pastoralists and tourism. The town is just north of the Flinders Ranges National Park, is 60 kilometres north of Wilpena Pound and 485 km north of Adelaide.
On a hot December day in 1859 Robert Blinman, a shepherd employed at H.C. Swan's Angorichina station observed a great mineral outcrop on top of a hill, about thirty metres above a creek. To him it looked not only big, but also promising enough to gamble a few weeks' wages on. He needed at least $10 to make a mineral application to secure the outcrop and the area around it. Blinman's application was approved on 9 February 1860 and surveyed on 10 May 1860.





Like most other shepherds, Robert Blinman would not have had too many $10 notes to gamble with, but he was able to convince others of the richness of the copper outcrop. When the lease was issued on 1 January 1861 it was made out in the names of Robert Blinman, Alfred Frost, Joe Mole and Henry Alford. They all contributed to the $80 needed for the first year's rent. Their lease was one of 116 others taken out that year in South Australia and eventually became the largest and most productive copper mine in the Flinders Ranges.
As was usually the case, no sooner had Blinman been granted his mineral application, than numerous other applications were made for sections around Blinman's original lease. As early as 25 February 1862 Robert Blinman and the other leaseholders sold their mine, known as the Wheal Blinman, to the Yudanamutana Copper Mining Company of South Australia, for $12,000. This English company hired Captain Thomas Anthony and work was started in earnest.





Work at the mine was started by stoping away the top of the deposit on the hill, which was a 'splendid' ore body, nearly two and a half metres wide. By the end of 1862 five shafts had been sunk into the deposit, the main shaft reaching a depth of eighteen metres. More that six hundred tons of ore were recovered, four hundred of which were estimated to yield about forty percent copper.
Mining the copper ore, although certainly not a simple process, was at times the easiest part of the total production process. One of the most troublesome parts was transporting the ore to the smelters. With no smelters available at the mine yet, the copper ore was taken along a worse than torturous track via Wilpena and Arkaba stations to Port Augusta. This route was later changed and went through Brachina Gorge.
This land belonged to the Adnyamathanha tribe, of Indigenous Australians prior to Europeans. They were stone age hunter-gatherers and inhabited much of the area (including Wilpena Pound to the south and other areas to the north). One of their unique customs was burn offs to promote plant growth in the future seasons.
The first European settlement around the current Blinman, was firstly of Angorichina Station. This land was taken up for sheep farming in the 1850s. A shepherd employed by the station, Robert Blinman, discovered a copper outcrop on a hot December day in 1859. Blinman gambled some of his money on the presence of more underground copper and received a mineral application in 1860. On 1 January 1861, Blinman and three friends, Alfred Frost, Joe Mole and Henry Alfred, received the lease for the land that became Blinman





Mining was successful in the first year and the mine became known as Wheal Blinman. The original four leaseholders sold their mine in February 1862, for about 150 times the purchase price. The new owners were the Yudnamutana Copper Mining Company of South Australia, who also owned a rich deposit north of Blinman. The mine was very successful during the 1860s and the site became permanent, with buildings being constructed and more miners moving to the area, some from the Burra mine. The hardest problems at the time were the transport of Ore and the finding of water. Over the next 20 years, railways were developed and wells were sunk at regular intervals making life easier for all.
Family life was hard in the early days. Both water and firewood had to be brought from long distances from the mine. This job was left to the women and their elder children while the men were working. Many pregnancies failed in the early years and there were several deaths reported from inflammation of the lungs. With the original tent settlement being very close to the mine, it was very hard to escape the fine dust generated. A hotel and post office were first opened in Blinman in 1863. In 1864, a government surveyor laid out 162 allotments about three km from the mine. This was named Blinman. The population was about 1,500 by 1868 and the first school opened that year. Decent shops in the main street developed in 1869. The striking of regular water in the mine the same year secured a regular water supply for the town.
Mining continued until 1918 when the ore ran out. The busiest time for the mine was 1913-1918 with a town population of 2,000. The total ore removed was about 10,000 tonnes.



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Reply By: Member Bushy 04(VIC) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:32

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:32
Good story Doug, but the photos were just a bilack square?
Bushy
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:37

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:37
3rd Sunday in a row the photo uploading has been a problem, All photo's on this website are not showing at this time, I guess David will fix it again later ,

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Follow Up By: Member - Fab72 (Paradise SA) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:49

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:49
Bushy...even your profile pic is a blank square. Obviously a site issue.

Doug ....loved it. Thanks mate. I knew a bit about the town that I frequently visit but with this extra info, I'll see the town in an even more in depth way.
Cheers....Fab.
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Follow Up By: baznpud (tassie) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 09:55

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 09:55
Strange, all ok down this neck of the woods.
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 13:06

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 13:06
working for me now too
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 09:53

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 09:53
See you beat the Sunday morning "blackout" today, Doug. :-)

Interesting read as well. Wonder what Robert Blinman & Co did with the $12K?

Mining back then would have been a hard slog, with the primitive tools available to them. These days a 992 loader, and a fleet of triple side tippers would transport that 10,000 tons in a few months.

Thanks Doug,
Bob

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 10:00

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 10:00
Hi Bob
No the Black out was on when I uploaded the photo's ,

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Follow Up By: Member - Sanantone - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 11:19

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 11:19
Very interesting.

I wonder what 12,000 pound in 1862 is worth in todays $'s?
Tony
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Follow Up By: Member - Silverchrome - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 12:55

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 12:55
About $550,000 adjusted for inflation..
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Reply By: Crusier 91 - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 10:47

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 10:47
A bit of perspective...................

What took them 40 years to dig out.......today only takes 4 weeks
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Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 14:06

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 14:06
Thanks (once :)) Doug, great to learn a bit more about this little community.
Always nice to drop in there in the way home for a nice pie and coffee at the general store..
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Reply By: passionfruit - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 15:01

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 15:01
Was there 5 weeks ago,the grave yard (out of town about 2km) was pretty interesting to get a feel of the place and how it once was.Glenn.
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Reply By: Member Bushy 04(VIC) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 15:06

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 15:06
Just came back online and all works now?
No idear why it did'nt work this morning.
Thanks Doug good yarn as always.
Bushy.
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Reply By: Member - Peter (1) - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 12:07

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 12:07
Great story Doug, the Blinman Pub make a great steak sandwich, possibly the best in SA, if not Australia. Whenever I'm in Port Augusta, my home town, I always try to get up there just for a steak sandwich lunch, washed down of course with a coldie.

Peter (1)
It doesn't get any better than this!!!
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 14:48

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 14:48
Southark or West End...?? I think one has closed years ago... you should know.


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Reply By: Member - blackbird1937 - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 16:49

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 16:49
Hi Doug. Another interesting Sunday history lesson. We were there November 2013. Typical country people, very friendly and helpful. The Quandong pies made by Pud Reske at the general store, cafe were very tasty. We went back a few times to Blinman sightseeing and to sample and buy Quandong pies to put in the freezer. In the cemetery is the grave of William Darton Kekwick who died at age 50, 20 miles north of Bliman when he was 3rd in command to Gosse on his trip to the West McDonnells, and was also 2nd in command to John MacDowall Stuart on all his Explorations North to Port Keats. All he ever had named after him was the cairn near his grave. In 1957 Alice Springs council named an Avenue after him.
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Follow Up By: Rick (S.A.) - Thursday, Jul 03, 2014 at 16:24

Thursday, Jul 03, 2014 at 16:24
Just a quick & minor update to the Kekwick info:

John McDouall Stuart never went to Port Keats (but this was, for a long time, his approximate bearing - 354° being the Victoria River region).
But he did finally strike the north coast of Australia, east of Darwin, at Chambers Bay on July 25th 1862, becoming the first European to traverse the continent from south to north, passing through the centre and returning without loss of life.

Kekwick Springs, a mound spring west of Lake Eyre, was named after WD Kekwick. It was later renamed Brinkley Spring. Another mound spring was also named after WDK; it is west of today's Oodnadatta Track and has no access. A lagoon/swamp near Attack Creek, NT was also named after WDK - as was the street in Alice Springs.

Cheers

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