Tinga Tingana

Tinga Tingana Station

The Tinga Tingana run was worked from 1864 to 1867 by Gilbert Richardson who later worked for nearly 40 years as a boundary rider on Leigh Creek Station. On 28 January 1875 the Tinga Tingana run was advertised for sale as 592 square miles of well-watered country on the Strzelecki Creek, 48 miles South-East from Lake Hope, and about 60 miles North of Mount Hopeless.

It was also stated to be good salt and cotton bush country, and well grassed. The creek, which ran through it, was supposed to supply three large, permanent waterholes, capable of watering 20,000 sheep or 5,060 head of cattle. They were never dry, and there were several smaller ones. Water could also be obtained almost anywhere for 10 miles along this creek at a foot from the surface.

Burkitt Family 1879 at Tinga Tingana (SLSA)

During the next few years more leases were added, and in 1877 the total of some 4,000 square miles were taken up by William Christopher Burkitt. Although it had been said to be well-watered, several people died from the lack of it, especially during summer or drought times. Among them was William Garrett who died of thirst in December 1878 on his way from the station to Innamincka.

In April 1877 the Tinga Tingana runs had been advertised as 'excellent pastoral country, with the creek through the centre of the run. These runs are now so full of feed as to be capable of fattening more than 200,000 sheep. They offer great scope for development, and can be improved to carry permanently an immense number of stock'.

As there were plans for a railway to be build through it to Queensland, it was stated that this 'would render them easy of access, and without doubt during the next few years they will greatly advance in value'. Was it all wishful thinking or false advertising? The following years would reveal a far different kind of story.

In 1878 an Aboriginal man, named Logic, murdered the head stockman of Tinga Tingana after he had been whipped by him. Logic, was sentenced to 14 years hard labour in February, 1881. He escaped several times and was on the run for most of these 14 years. On Monday 4 September 1882, John Napier was charged with sly grog-selling on Tinga Tingana Station on 23 July and fined more than twenty pounds.

According to the Express and Telegraph of Monday 16 July 1883, 'The highest register of the thermometer for the fortnight has been 100 degrees in the shade with sultry weather. The country about here and up to Innamincka is in a very bad state. Teams have great difficulty in getting through for want of feed and water. If rain does not fall shortly stockholders will have enormous losses.

At Tinga Tingana cattle are dying in the waterholes, and men and horses are employed dragging the dying and dead out to save the little water left from being spoiled. The heat has been very oppressive for the past fortnight, registering 115 in the shade at 2 p.m'. In the year 1888 less than two inches of rain fell. 'There is very little bush, and when there is no grass there in nothing at all.

Mount Freeling (SLSA)

The Mount Freeling Police Station is at present the great rendezvous for teamsters, being the only place for a long distance both up and down the track where there is any feed, and it is becoming very scarce. The water at that place is good, but the supply is limited, but with a very small expenditure it might be very greatly increased. So far, the mail has been carried satisfactorily, but unless rain falls shortly the contractor will have a difficulty in keeping to time.

Things have been very dull in this part. During the past two months it has at time threatened for rain, but only a few drops, and then cleared away. Rain is badly wanted now to keep the roads open for traffic. Feed is very scarce near all waterholes. The past year has been the driest in these parts for some time, although most of the old hands predict a general breaking up of the dry weather in January. Nothing is doing in stock passing now, and the road from here to Farina is now closed until we get rain'.

Tinga Tingana leases. (SLSA)

When the Tinga Tingana lease expired in 1889 the place was abandoned. The Adelaide Observer, gave this report on 3 May 1890; 'The Strzelecki Creek extends from below Monte Collina to Innamincka, and at the present time is in flood. Monte Collina was taken up in 1882 by FA Grant and carried 15,000 sheep by 1890. Grass was springing nicely as we passed owing to the recent showers. The rainfall is very uncertain'.

Port Augusta Dispatch 1884

The paper continued; 'Taking one year with another from twenty to twenty-five sheep per mile is all that can be grazed. On account of the Tinga Tingana Run being unleased and the Innamincka country being used for cattle, the wild dogs roam at pleasure, and at times work mischief among the flocks.

Dingoes, often called wild dogs

There are no natural springs, although nearly all the year around limited soakage can be obtained by shallow sinking in the creeks. The road to Caraweena is very heavy all the way, and one place over the creek is called the 'bad crossing'.

'One gentleman told me he had known two or three wagons taking a whole day to get from one side of the creek to the other, and after going over it I can imagine that a good imperial quart of wrath would not adequately represent the amount expended by those in charge of the teams. All the stores are brought by teams from Farina, and the wool is carted to the same station. The price paid per ton is 4 pounds.

There is a good deal of last year's wool still at Monte Collina waiting for teams. The surveyed railway route now left the Strzelecki, and as it could only be followed on horseback the Chairman Mr Hancock accepted the offer of Mr Sells, and remained behind for the purpose of riding over it the next day. We were warned against 'barcoo', an epidemic which is very prevalent when the Cooper is in flood.

There are several high sand ridges running north and south. Mr Prior is at present in charge looking after the improvements for the Government. He extended the utmost amount of courtesy, and with Mrs Prior and family, the first lady and children we have seen, a very pleasant hour or so was spent. Here we found M Hancock, who had reached the station the previous evening. His ride of thirty-five miles did not seem to have affected him, although the day had been very hot'.

In 1892 the Tinga Tingana run was taken up by the Warren family who already had the Anna Creek run. They stocked Tinga Tingana with 500 heads of cattle. Unfortunately for them, they in turn were forced to abandon it in 1894 due to the drought and the millions of rabbits.

The government now stopped the issue of rations to the Aboriginal workers which resulted in the death of Maggie, an old blind Aboriginal woman, who had looked after King, of the Burke and Wills disastrous expedition in 1861. The last full-blood Yantruwanta man, Johnnie Merty, born at Tinga Tingana, died in 1976, aged well over 100 years and was buried at Lyndhurst.

Part 2

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