Title: Report of Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Subject of Railway Construction; together with Minutes of Evidence and Appendix. Ordered by the House of Assembly to be printed, 3rd August, 1875, 1875, Adelaide, 145
Date: 5 May 1875
Place: Laura, South Australia
Mr. E. A. Pluckrose called in and examined:
4101.1 (By the Chairman.) — Can you give the Commission any information as to the best direction for a line of railway to Port Pirie, to meet the requirements of the district, and to secure the greatest amount of traffic? — If a line was adopted, it would be best adopted from the brook, where the station used to be.
4102. Don’t you think the simplest way is to take it from Gladstone? — It would be the shortest line.
4103. What is the distance from here to Crystal Brook? — Twelve miles.
4104. Would it answer all the requirements of the district if it went to Gladstone? — No; the farmers would prefer taking their wheat direct to Port Pirie.
4105. Would it be sufficient to meet the requirements of Appila and Wirrabara if it was extended as far as Laura? — That would do for the time being.
4106. Would it not be better to have it extended there? — I have heard the opinions of people at Pekin and Wirrabara, and they say if they got a line to Laura it would be sufficient, as they have a splendid road; better than to Gladstone.
4107. Would it do any injury to extend it beyond Laura? — Not much, as there is a great deal of manufacturing going on here.
4108. Of what description? — Reapers, harrows, and ploughs, tip-drays, &c., flour, and beer.
4109. Is there a good road there? — A little rough. There is a pine creek.
4110. How far is it to Caltowie? — About ten miles.
4111. And from Caltowie to Gladstone? — I can’t say.
4112. Are you contented with this extension? — Yes; to Laura.
4113. And if it is the same distance from Gladstone to Caltowie as from Gladstone to Laura, would it not be a benefit if a line went from Gladstone to Laura? — I don’t know.
4114. Would it injure this place? — To a certain extent it would.
4115. Is there not likely to be a large farming district at Appila? — Yes.
4116. They have a splendid road? — Yes.
4117. They have two or three times asked for a railway to Appila instead of Laura; did you hear that? — No, decidedly not. Those farmers would be satisfied if they had a railway to here. If there was a tramway extending through Laura it would be no harm to us.
4118. Are you aware of what quantity of wheat was grown in this locality this year? — I can’t say.
4119. Do you know the average yourself? — Booyoolee, about fourteen bushels.
4120. Not more? — That was about the average.
4121. Is there much land being broken up? — Yes; it is being broken up every day, and the farmers are going away every day.
4122. Up north? — Yes.
4123. To what part? — To Wirrabara and the Appila Extension, and the large farmers are going heavily into fallowing.
4124. How far are they extending? — I could not say.
4125. Do you hear of other land likely to be settled by farmers? — Not lately.
4126. How far north are the farmers going from Port Augusta? — Eight or ten miles from Melrose; within five miles of Melrose would come this way.
4127. Where would the timber come from? — About ten miles north from Laura.
4128. And if a railway would take that traffic, would it not be better to end it there than to make the Caltowie Extension? — They have a good road to Laura, but if they go by the back road it is a bad road.
4129. But if they extend the line to Wirrabara, would it not be better than to stop it at Laura? — No doubt about it.
4130. Then it would be a line to Laura? — No doubt about it. I may state that I don’t think there is another township in the Northern Areas where they can get what they can get at Laura. There is a lot of raw material — bricks, lime, firewood, &c.; they come for that from the Caltowie extensions.
4131. I gather from your remarks that you consider it sufficient to extend the line to Laura, because the people have got good roads? — Yes.
4132. But would not that apply to the other places? — No.
4133. But there might be double that distance? — The farmers say they would be satisfied if they got a railway to Laura.
4134. Even the people at Caltowie? — Yes, and Pekina.
4135. Have you been to Port Pirie? — Yes.
4136. Is there not a track by Beetaloo? — They can’t get timber up that track.
4137. Is there any other track in that direction? — Only a horse-track.
4138. I have driven there with a buggy? — I have heard that Mr. Reid did so, but I have not seen it.
4139. I have seen seven tons taken from Wirrabara Forest by Beetaloo? — I can only say what I have seen and heard, and I have been told that it could not be taken there.
4140. Is there any information that you can give that we have not got from your answers? — No.
NOTE.— “I may state that a line to Laura would be a great benefit as regards the cartage of goods. I, myself, pay something like £40 per month, and there are others pay perhaps more. There are goods now on the road that should have been here five weeks ago, but are stuck up somewhere between here and Port Pirie. And as Laura is a large manufacturing town, it would be a great boon, not so much as regards the price of cartage, but the difference in time it takes in transit from Adelaide here, as the interest is something considerable in twelve months when you have to wait eight or nine weeks for goods that are on the road, whereas if we had a line we could get them in about six or seven days the outside.”
1 sequential number of question and answer in the printed minutes