Chowilla Station 150th Celebration

Chowilla Station 150th Celebrations

You don’t take a photograph, you make it

Ansel Adams

Historic Chowilla Station (located above Renmark, South Australia) celebrated their 150th birthday on Sunday 21st of September, 2014 with an Open Day and everyone was invited. The day included Station Tours, Sheep Shearing, Wooden Boats, Paddle Steamers and cruises on the PS Marion from Mannum, PS Industry from Renmark and the PS Oscar W from Goolwa. 

I find it truly rewarding photographing events, particularly with such cultural value as these. The combination of paddle steamers, heritage sheep station and much more was not to be missed. Enjoy the images of the event…a look back at a wonderful time!

Chowilla Station History

In 1864 Richard Holland obtained the Bookmark Station lease for his stepsons: John, William and Robert Robertson. Bookmark extended from Spring Car Gully near Berri and extended through to the NSW border. This was before any white settlement in the area and it was from that the Bookmark lease that the South Australian Government granted the Chaffey Brothers 30,000 acres to begin Renmark, the first irrigation colony in Australia in 1887.

In 1896 Bookmark was divided up into the Calperum and Chowilla Stations with Robert taking Chowilla and John, Calperum. Chowilla is still owned by Roberston-Chowilla Pty Ltd and operated by Jock and Lis Robertson, being the principal shareholders.

The current lease for Chowilla is a regional reserve Crown Lease administered by the Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs under the National Parks and Wildlife act. This allows for multiple use of the area.

The Chowilla region has a rich history, both in terms of its occupation by Aboriginal man which goes back some 12,000 years and its relatively recent exploration and occupation by European settlers some 135 years ago. The Aboriginal word Chowilla (or ‘Tjowilla’) is reported by Tindale (1974) to mean “place of spirits and ghosts”, although the Robertson family record an interpretation as “good camping place”.

The shearing shed was constructed in the 1870’s of timber (local pine) and iron. In 1881, 70250 sheep were shorn. This included sheep from Calperum and Boundary Run. The tally was achieved in a climate where there were no rabbits, few kangaroos and no goats. The shearing shed is still in use for some shearing and crutching. The quarters were updated in the 1930’s and are available for hire.

Chowilla Station today occupies approx 94,000 hectares. The Roberson family’s objective is to run the property on a sustainable basis whilst conserving its natural, historic and cultural values. Chowilla Station is a sheep station primarily, but from time to time a few cattle are run. It is very much an entity in its own right, as it always has been, and is proud to be a land partner in the Bookmark Biosphere Reserve. The aims and objectives of the Biosphere are compatible with the Regional Reserve objectives and structure and this also fits well with the objectives of Roberston Chowilla Pty Ltd.

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