Datatine and Boongadoo

datatine and boongadoo

Datatine and Boongadoo

At the turn of last century, various local community halls around the Katanning area were constructed to serve communities within close proximity of them. Funds for their construction were raised by the local community (no grants in those days) through sporting and social events.

Besides being the social centre of the area these halls, including Datatine, Boongadoo, Kwobrup and Badgebup, were used for religious meetings, sporting events, schools, and as polling booths in Federal and State Government elections.

Datatine, which is between Dumbleyung and Nyabing, even had silent films screened at the Datatine Hall irregularly (about every three months), in the twenties. The operator brought a generator with him in his bus.

From the “Inherit” website:…

Datatine Hall

The Datatine Hall site has heritage significance as a historical site of a once valuable community building. The hall was a central community focus for sport, religion, education and social meetings. Despite the demolition of the hall, which had fallen into disrepair during the 1990s, the site needs to be recognised so that Datatine as an area and small community is not get forgotten. (A School site plaque is situated on the location.)

Datatine’s history began in 1907 when it was first settled by farming families. The hall site and reserve was one of the identifying features of Datatine. The hall was erected by the Watson Bros of Pingrup, it was opened in June 1913. School classes were held in the hall from 1916 until 1943 when it was closed owing to the introduction of the School buses (a state wide program which led to the closure of many one teacher schools). Datatine was the first school to close in the Dumbleyung outer district owing to the school bus programme. However, the commemorative school plaque, placed in 1984, only tells one part of the story, as the hall was used for many functions over the years.

Other than for school it was also used for Presbyterian and Church of England services as well as being the ‘club house’ for sports such as polo, cricket, boxing, golf and tennis. Social gatherings included Christmas parties, dances, district farewells and annual picnic days. In 1925 the hall was lined and extended. A supper room, back room and stage were added later (approximately 1930).

Datatine Hall was still being used until the mid-1990s despite its deteriorating condition but was closed in 1998 and subsequently partly dismantled. Only remnants now exist. The building was demolished owing to its poor state of repair and the Shire’s concern for public liability if someone was injured by virtue of its condition.

Though there is no geological feature with the name Datatine, Datatine Wheat was released in 1994 thus becoming a name known in wider agricultural circles.

From Katanning Historical Society:…

In 1913 the Datatine Hall was built at a total cost of about- £46 ($78) and it was then the only hall for many miles around. People would drive distances up to 20 miles (30km) to attend dances held once a fortnight.

The hall was officially opened by Mr Sydney Stubbs, M.L.A., the first official M.C. was Mr S. F. Price, and music was ably rendered on the accordion by Castelloe and Sons, George Sumner, James Marquis, C. Johnson and others.

Mr George Cheetham was honorary secretary, president was Mr A. McDougall Sergeant and dancing Instructor was Mr John Robson. Among the ladies who worked so well were Mrs Cheetham, Mrs Sumner and her daughters, Mrs Robson, Mrs Marquis and many others.

The usual way the younger set came to the hall was through the bush on horseback.

Boongadoo Hall

datatine and boongadoo

In 1918, Mr A McDougall Sergeant purchased the old Boongadoo Estate and moved from Datatine to what is now known as the Boongadoo district.

As further settlers, including the Warrens, moved into the Boongadoo area they soon began to feel the want of a hall, school and church and, in February, 1925, the Boongadoo Hall was opened by Mr A. Thomson.

Mr Stan Thompson was the first honorary secretary and Mr A McDougall Sergeant was again the first president.
The Rev. J. R. Thrum, again of the Presbyterian Church, Katanning was the first Minister to hold service in the new hall.

In the 24 September, 1924 edition of the Great Southern Herald there was a sports day at “Boongadoo Hall, Dumbleyung Road, near 141 Gate, Rabbit Proof Fence” advertised. Included in the events was “Old Buffer’s” races amongst others. And they were going to have a new-fangled invention for the area, the wireless, broadcasting the music for the dance in the evening.

datatine and boongadoo
Pioneer Wall – Katanning

HISTORY OF THE PIONEERS

A paper presented by Mr A McDougall Sergeant to the Katanning Historical Society in October, 1949. The first part of the paper was reproduced in the Great Southern Herald’s 21 October, 1949, edition:…

At the September meeting of the Katanning Branch, W.A. Historical Society, Mr A. McDougall Sargent presented a most interesting paper on the early history of his family, who were pioneers, both in the Katanning district and in the Eastern States.

The principal section of Mr Sargent’s paper is published herewith, and other data placed before the meeting will be published at a later date.

In introducing his paper, Mr Sargent said the details referred to three great women pioneers of Australia. They were Alice Sargent, Jane McDougall and Jane’s daughter, Elizabeth, who was his mother.

Alice Sergeant, said Mr. McDougall Sergeant, migrated to New South Wales about the year 1840 being then a widow. Her six children, whose ages were from two to twelve, joined up with her in what is believed to be the first mob of breeding cattle driven from New South Wales to South Australia; a total distance of nearly two thousand miles (about 3,200km), passing through hundreds of miles of country which white men had never previously trod. During the trip, two of the eldest boys returned to New South Wales and were never again seen by their mother.

On most of the journey, which took a total of three years to accomplish, the family lived on the produce of the cattle. The second child, whose name was Henry, was then four years old. Alice and her four children all arrived in Adelaide in healthy condition, and took up farming in South Australia, with some success.

Henry and his brothers did much carting with bullock teams, and he (Henry) actually became owner of four bullocks and a bullock dray.

Jane McDougall was married in Scotland and migrated to South Australia in the early months of I836 and was on the first ship which brought women and children to that colony. Previous to that date only a few soldiers had landed, and Jane even could have been the first white woman to land there. She certainly was among the first few.

On the 28th of December, 1836, when Captain Hindmarsh landed to proclaim the colony as part of the British Empire, Jane took a very active part in preparing for, and entertaining at, the banquet at the time of the proclamation under the oft spoken of, and written about, Red Gum Tree. Her husband, at that date, was exploring with others. Jane was employed at Government House until her first son was born.

A few years later copper was found at Burra and Jane, her husband, and two children, tried their luck at the copper fields, where Elizabeth was born. Jane’s husband then tried his luck with his eldest son, then only twelve years of age, at the Victorian diggings. He returned with a considerable sum of money and purchased land.

Unfortunately, he suffered with a Scotsman’s weakness – whiskey – we could go on to say that the distilling of liquors in those days was under no Government control and much of it was rank poison and drugs. In one of his drinking bouts, he signed away his inheritance, undoubtedly drugged for the purpose.

He died shortly afterwards leaving Jane a widow with eight children and almost penniless. The eldest child was only about fourteen years of age at the time.

Not despairing, she acquired land in her own name. She and her children actually dug the soil with spades, broadcast the wheat by hand and the crop, when ripe, was pulled out of the ground. With the heads thrashed, the wheat was winnowed by allowing it to fall from a height through the air and the chaff was blown away with the wind. Jane then loaded the wheat on a bullock dray, carted it to Adelaide and received one pound (£1) ($1.69) a bushel; this is said to be some of the first wheat grown in the Colony.

In those early days, horses were almost unknown and all hauling was done with bullocks with the girls and the boys alike taking their turn at bullock driving.

These early settlers were very sincere in their religious practices and never missed church if it was possible to go and, of course, the only transport was per bullock dray of foot.

Jane became quite prosperous and, at a later date, was the first in her district to own a horse and cart.

Elizabeth McDougall, Jane’s daughter,had now grown into womanhood but still quite a lot of her time was taken up attending to and driving the bullocks. Early one morning, when out looking for bullocks, she met a young man who said he also was looking for bullocks and that, his name was Henry.

So began the courting of Henry Sergeant and Elizabeth. Old records show that Henry Sargent and Elizabeth McDougall were married at Riverton, S.A., in the Church of England by the Rev. J. B. Fetherstir on Monday the 31st March, 1862. Henry’s only worldly possession then was four bullocks and a dray.

The young couple lived for a time on his mother’s farm but later acquired a farm of their own  near Saddleworth, SA, and were moderately prosperous.

It was then believed this land was ‘worn out’ so they then purchased land in the ‘Hundred of Appila’ with the family travelling north per horse wagon, a distance of more than 100 miles (160km). Their first house in the new selection was a shepherd’s hut, and all cooking was done in a camp oven. On one occasion one of the children was accidentally killed and, not owning any light vehicles, Henry had to walk twelve miles through the bush to obtain a coffin which he carried back on his shoulder.

Here again, the people were very chapel-minded and built their own little meeting house and school. All the people in the district were like one family; always helping each other when in distress.

In 1880 a new stone house was built on the property and that was where Arthur was born two years later. Henry died at the age of 42 leaving a widow and ten children.

Wheal growing was almost the only return from the land, and farmers began to complain that the ground was worn out as only very light crops were obtained. However, in the late 90’s, a few farmers used some artificial manures but the general belief however, was that those manures were only drugs to the soil and would leave the land more exhausted than ever.

Quite a number of farmers and their sons began to look to other colonies for land that had never previously grown wheat. Many came to Western Australia including the writer and his brother William and, on August 10, 1901, they arrived at Albany. The fare from Adelaide to Albany was then £2/10/- ($3.55) each.

They proceeded at once to Wagin and the first job, lasting several months, gave each the wonderful living of two shillings and sixpence (2/6) (.25c) per week and keep. The brothers then decided to walk through the bush to a place called Collie, where coal had been discovered. With all their worldly possessions on their backs, they plodded along for two days and, after covering a distance of forty miles (65km) arrived at Darkan where they were offered a job fencing at £1 ($1.69) per week plus and tucker – very good wages in those days.

But the grandsons of Alice and Jane would only work on wages as a means to an end, and wherever you go in Australia, the descendants of those two pioneer ladies are nearly always found on the land. When the brothers had saved a few pounds the calling of the land was too great and, after inspection down on the Blackwood River near Tambellup and other places, including a small farming property at Bullock Hills, they finally selected land where Datatine is today. This was in the year 1905.

Shortly after the brothers selected the land Mr W. P. Sumner and his son George also selected land and settled before it was surveyed. They were actually the first settlers in the area.

Later arrivals were the Kenward Brothers, Mr and Mrs Cheetham and two children, Mr and Mrs Robson and two children, Mr and Mrs Marquis and family, followed by Mr Walter Filmer (now of Filmer & Forbes), Mr George Patterson, Mr Tom Houston and others.

The first entertainments were held in George Sumner’s house, consisting of one large room. A stage was erected at one end and decorated with shrubs and some very nice plays were enjoyed by the audience. Many English migrants were employed clearing the land and were of great assistance at those gatherings.

In 1913 the Datatine Hall was built at a total cost of about- £46 ($78) and it was then the only hall for many miles around. People used to drive distances up to 20 miles (30km) to attend dances held once a fortnight.

The hall was officially opened by Mr Sydney Stubbs, M.L.A., the first official M.C. was Mr S. F. Price, and music was ably rendered on the accordion by Castelloe and Sons, George Sumner, James Marquis, C. Johnson and others.

Mr George Cheetham was honorary secretary, president was Mr A. McDougall Sargent and dancing Instructor was Mr John Robson. Among the ladies who worked so well were Mrs Cheetham, Mrs Sumner and her daughters, Mrs Robson, Mrs Marquis and many others.

The usual way the younger set came to the hall was through the bush on horse back. This, of course, includes the young ladies, who could ride harder and faster than the young men – particularly after kangaroos.

Naturally it wasn’t only dancing that took place on these evenings and, on 29th April, 1914, Mr A. McDougall Sergeant was married to Miss Cecilia Sumner which was the union of the first two settlers’ families. They were married by the Rev. Monkham in the Datatine Hall.

Although the people were so keen in dancing, they still took great interest in their church services which were being held in the hall once a fortnight. Mr Monkham, of the Presbyterian Church in Katanning, was the first preacher to hold service in the hall followed shortly afterwards by Mr J. C. Warren, lay reader in the Church of England.

A school was later opened in October, 1916 and the first teacher was Miss H. Poigand who became the wife of Mr George Sumner of Blackwood River.

The writer became the owner of the first motor car in the district, in 1914. It then became the unwritten law that he should drive all expectant mothers to hospital.On several occasions he had a hard race with the stork but is pleased to say always reached the winning post first.  “Old Liz” never once let him down (Even to this day I cannot help, when meeting some of the people between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, having a little smile to myself and saying, “I did have some part in bringing you into this world”.

In 1918, the writer purchased the old Boongadoo Estate and moved to what is now known as the Boongadoo district. The settlers soon began to feel the want of a hall, school and church and, in February, 1925, the Boongadoo Hall was opened by Mr A. Thomson.

Mr Stan Thompson being the first honorary secretary and the writer was again the first president. The Rev. J. R. Thrum, again of the Presbyterian Church, Katanning was the first Minister to hold service in the new hall.

At the outbreak of World War 1, almost every fit young man residing in the Datatine district had enlisted. On one occasion we gave a send-off to thirteen boys including two great grandsons of Alice and Jane. It is sad to say that only a few of these lads returned.

In World War 11, a number of great-great-grandchildren of those two wonderful pioneers enlisted from those two centres and it is pleasing to know that they all returned safely.

This concludes the section printed in the Great Southern Herald of October 21, 1949.
The following section is from typed notes found in the Historical Society collection:…

The principal food in the early days consisted chiefly of beef (salted and fresh), porridge made of skim milk and flour, bread and milk, black treacle, brown sugar, bread and eggs. Vegetables and fruit were never heard of, jam did not become common in the diet before the year 1890, and white sugar was only then beginning to appear on the table.

In the very early days in South Australia bush public houses, about ten miles apart along the main roads, consisted chiefly of the following rooms; one bar, kitchen, and one very large dining room which was converted into a ballroom for dancing, etc. The staff chiefly consisted of a number of young women, whose chief duty was to dance and amuse the travelers and encourage them to remain at the pub until their cheque was spent.

The elderly people did not believe in dancing anywhere because it was thought that any of the young ones that attended a dancing lost prestige in the community. Those old settlers were very sincere in their religious belief and their Ten Commandments and Grace was always said before meals.

The bullock – “Old Redmond”
This bullock was born about the year 1877 on the old Appila homestead, South Australia, and was reared and hand fed by Elizabeth Sargent. He grew to be one of the largest and staunchest bullocks in the north of South Australia. With a magnificent set of horns measuring thirty-four (34) inches (86cm) from tip to tip and with a tot al length to sixty-nine (69) inches (1.75m), he worked as a near side leader in a team of fourteen bullocks. Yoke marks are noticeable under the right horn from the effect of his willingness to work. He was always worked by my brother. The writer can remember, when only a boy of about six years of age, walking alongside the bullock team proudly carrying the whip. Old Redman died in the year 1891 and, being the last of the bullocks, the writer with the help of his Mother detached the horns from the head was proud to be in possession of them today. ** The average pace of a bullock team would be approximately one and a half miles an hour (about 2.5km) and twelve miles was considered a good day’s work. Eight iron plates were placed on the hoof of a bullock to prevent the hoof from wearing down.

Datatine and Boongadoo
The early settlers of Datatine and Boongadoo districts were very keen sportsmen and held many events in aid of patriotic and local hall funds.

On one occasion, a horse race was run, and that race is not yet officially finished.  It was called the donkey race with the last horse past the post being the winner and the riders did not ride their own horses. During this particular race a horse owned by E J W Slee, and ridden by A K Brown, dropped dead before he finished the race.

On another occasion we ran a 100 yard (91 metre) race for all men of 50 with a bottle of whisky being the prize and yard start was given for every year over that age. Old John, with 15 yards (14.5 m) start, was determined to at least have some of that whisky and looked a certain winner but was beaten a few feet from home. He then fainted and a considerable quantity of the whisky was used to bring John around.

Fresh meat in those early days was very scarce and new beginners usually had meat straight from the tin and kangaroo when they could get it. One lad went forth one bright moonlight night armed with a shot gun and hid on the edge of his father’s crop to wait for Kangaroos. He saw a number of the creatures coming towards him, one behind the other (kangaroos always run like this) so he took steady and straight aim and, to his joy, brought down the whole mob. But what horror when he reached the game to discover he had shot four of his mother’s turkeys.

Agents in those days drove out in sulky’s and we welcomed them because they did bring news of the world. At that time, we were collecting money for the Datatine Hall and boxing was one of our chief amusements. I always had a pair of boxing gloves hanging behind my hut door and, during my bachelor days, would not talk business unless they gave a donation to our hail fund for a few rounds with the gloves. Strange to say they stopped coming.

In concluding this story you will notice I had gone back 130 years ago and wrote first of Alice and Jane and Jane’s daughter Elizabeth. Do we realise how much we owe today to those three, and other, pioneer women of those early days. It is only because of their pioneer spirit and hard work that we hve a land today that we are justly proud of –  this great Australia of ours. God Bless their memory.

** The horns of the Old Redman bullock are part of the collection of the Katanning Historical Society (2007)

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