History of Spalding

Includes the towns of Spalding and Andrews

Edward John Eyre reached what was later to become known as the Spalding District during his journey of exploration in 1839. According to his diary, he was favourably impressed with what he saw: '…the country assumed a more open character, presenting to us a considerable extent of high open downs, well adapted for sheep, abundantly watered by chains of ponds, to the eastward and north east of the Hutt. The…watercourse we traced in the northerly direction towards a junction with the longer watercourse which I named "Broughton"…here I found very extensive reaches of water connected by a strongly running stream'.

The earliest European settlers arrived in 1841 and selected north and south of what is now the township of Spalding. The District's first pastoral pioneers were the Hawker brothers, who settled south of Spalding on a property they called Bungaree. Another major early landholder was John Bristow Hughes, who settled north of Spalding and named his property Bundaleer. Both Bungaree and Bundaleer are words of Aboriginal derivation: the accepted meaning of the former is "my country" while the latter means "among the hills".

In the mid 1860s many requests were made to the Government to make more land available for both Agricultural and Pastoral pursuits. The Government acceded to these requests, and from then on many settlers took the opportunity to purchase land for these purposes. Agriculture began in 1870 when 26 hectares were sown to wheat, yielding around 1.4 tonnes per hectare. Wheat growing proved to be very successful, and many outstanding yields were recorded.

The township of Spalding came into prominence in 1875 when the Post Office, owned by Mr WE Lunn of Clare, was opened and officially listed in March 1875. Mr Lunn, who emigrated with his parents from England in 1842, is credited with having named the town after the parish of Spalding in Lincolnshire, where he was born. A licensed surveyor from Saddleworth surveyed the 2 hectare allotment on behalf of Mr Lunn after the erection of the first store and Post Office.

Residents' concerned at the lack of facilities for educating their children became evident in the early 1880s, and as a result the first school was built in 1883 and opened in 1884. The building still stands today, and has been used by the Rural Youth. Lack of police protection was also a worry for there were many reports of houses being ransacked.

Those living in the area expressed an early interest in forming their own Local Government group, and sufficient support was evident for a formal move to be made towards the formation of a District Council of Spalding. On 30 July 1885 the Governor, Sir William Robinson, proclaimed the District Council of Spalding, to include Hundreds of Reynolds and Andrews as far south as the northern boundary of Euromina. Fifty years later, by proclamation in the Government Gazette of 21 March 1935, the boundaries were altered to include all the Hundred of Andrews (11,137 hectares): 'All that part that had been previously part of Hutt and Hill River Council to become part of Spalding Council'. The Council was divided into four Wards: Central, North and South, each represented by two Councillors, and Spalding Ward, represented by one.

The pioneers of the District had many difficulties to contend with, and one that proved most troublesome was the frequent interruption of communications and supplies by swollen rivers. A special meeting was called to discuss the problem, and the Council was requested to construct a bridge or crossing over Broughton River. Eventually, in the early 1920s, the Council built a reinforced concrete bridge measuring 40 metres by 5 metres, and 9 metres high. This proved quite satisfactory for the requirements of the District at that time. Unfortunately, it was badly damaged in February 1941 by a flood which went over the top and almost destroyed it. This bridge was totally financed by the Council. At present there are ten bridges in daily use in the area, as well as many minor crossing consisting of box culverts, pipes and concrete surfaces.

Major benefits to Spalding and its District were obtained with the arrival of ETSA power in 1951, and with the connection of the area to mains water in 1944 following construction of the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline.

The Council has always concentrated on improving road surfaces and providing landowners with the best possible all-weather roads leading to their properties. However, considering the undulating nature of the area, and the presence of the Hutt, Hill and Broughton rivers and Deep and Freshwater creeks, maintaining all-weather roads throughout the area has its problems. The absence of suitable local material for maintaining a satisfactory road surface was a constant cause for concern, and as a result material must be transported great distances.

Spalding is fortunate in having sealed roads to Clare, Jamestown, Burra and Gulnare. The closing of the railway in 1974 has meant that grain formerly delivered to the railway depot at Andrews is now transported by road hauliers to Port Pirie. This increase in fast, heavy traffic has had a devastating effect on unsealed sections of the road.

The Council has provided excellent amenities for Spalding residents. For many years it has screened films regularly on Saturday nights, and the halls and lounge room have been well maintained and are a credit to the District. Two excellent fire units are housed at the Fire Station, as well as an SES unit with rescue and emergency equipment. A radio room has been installed at the rear of the building.

Sporting bodies have benefited from having the recreation ground levelled and grassed and kept in excellent condition all year round. The netball and tennis courts are also maintained to a very high standard, and for this, too, the Council is largely responsible.

Spalding has had for many years, an Olympic sized swimming pool which is a credit to the District.

The Soldiers' War Memorial Building, which was opened in 1955, and the Bowling Club rooms and greens were all made possible by Council contribution.

The mobile Library, which was established in 1984 to replace the Institute Library, and is partly funded by the Council.

With the aid of a Centenary Committee, the Council was responsible for the celebrations held in 1969 to commemorate 100 years of closer settlement in the Spalding area. On 4 October 1969 the then Premier of South Australia, Mr R Steele Hall, unveiled the commemorative plaque on a stone pedestal set near the old Institute building. Among the guests in attendance were WE Lunn and Mrs IE Clark, a grandson and granddaughter of the founder of the town of Spalding.

(Source: "South Australia, the civic record 1836 to 1986")

Local government consolidation during 1996/7 saw the Spalding Council amalgamate with the District Councils of Rocky River and Jamestown to form the Northern Areas Council, which was effected on 3rd May 1997.