Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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11 July 2012 - Bordertown
The area around Bordertown was first settled by Europeans when grazing leases were taken out in 1846. The first settlement in the town area was in 1852 as part of the Gold Escort project.

In the early 1850s the discovery of gold in Victoria prompted a mass exodus of able-bodied males from Adelaide to the goldfields. So many workers left Adelaide that the South Australian government was concerned about the colony becoming bankrupt and a plan was devised to send a police party to the Victorian goldfields to collect gold from South Australians on the diggings and bring this gold back to Adelaide.

There was no recognised route across the generally unknown land between the Murray River crossing at Wellington and the Victorian goldfields so a route had to be devised before the first Gold Escort made the return journey from Adelaide to the goldfield returning to Adelaide on 18 March 1852 after a 14 day return trip with 18,456 pounds worth of gold from Australian diggers. Eighteen return gold escort trips were made in 1852 and 1853 to rescue the colony of South Australia from impending bankruptcy. A Gold Escort base camp was established at present-day Bordertown, around Scott's Woolshed, where the escort could rest on their journey.

White Kangaroo Bordertown Wildlife Park hosts a mob of white kangaroos descendant from a single white male captured in 1980. The white kangaroo is used as the emblem of Tatiara District around Bordertown.

In 1852, 120 quarter-acre building allotments were sold as a stage in developing a town but progress was slow. In 1872 the area around Bordertown was designated as an Agricultural Area and land made available on credit; wheat farmers moved into the area then but poor soil hindered development until the 1930s when super-phosphate and trace element application made growing wheat profitable. Initial development was also hindered by lack of transport to carry any crops; initially all crops had to be carried by waggon through swamp and sandhill to Kingston. A narrow-gauge railway line built from Kingston to Custon in 1881 partly solved the problem. The line was extended to Bordertown and Wolseley in 1883 and Custon declined to the point that it has now disappeared.

The broad gauge railway line from Adelaide to Bordertown was opened in 1 May 1886. Wolseley became the transfer site between broad and narrow gauge lines with freight being transferred across the platform. The Duke Highway to Adelaide was not opened until 1937.

Shopping Street One of several streets in the shopping and business district in Bordertown. The overpass in the far background is the Dukes Highway bypassing the town.

From the earliest days Bordertown sought to be a service centre for surrounding agricultural properties and maintains that role. The town has a range of shops and businesses in excess of those needed (or profitable) in a town of 2792 population (2011 census) but which are ideal to serve properties for 50 to 100 kilometres around. The extent and range of shops and business is not at first apparent because the business district and shopping area is dispersed over several town blocks.

Bordertown is now the centre of an agricultural and pastoral area. Grains grown include barley, oats and wheat. Stock include sheep, cattle and pigs; a meat works just outside Bordertown concentrates on prime lambs for export processing up to 5,000 animals a day. Extensive underground water supplies are used for growing small seeds, flowers, vegetables (onions and potatoes) and olives. Between Bordertown and the village of Mundulla extensive areas of grape vines use underground water. The first vines were planted in 1989 by Penfolds with major expansion between 1990 and 2000; by 2010 more than 1000 hectares of vines produced 30,000 tonnes of grapes.

All this agricultural and pastoral activity takes place against a background of river red gums. Bordertown is in a region extending from Mount Gambier in the south which is dominated by river red gums scattered over the paddocks and along the roads.

Red Gums River red gums are widely scattered over paddocks and along roads around Bordertown.

White wing coughs Part of a group of white-wing coughs foraging across a paddock.

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