Brief history of Meadows
Meadows - Named For The Meadows Special Survey.
On 31st January 1839 Charles Flaxman applied for 4,000 acres of land in The Meadows Special Survey and was granted Sections 3486 and 3491. Section 3487 was granted to Edward Little and 3490 to Thomas Stamford. By 1842 there was a weekly mail service between Adelaide and The Meadows and early almanacks record that there were many well-established settlers.
Allen’s Almanack of 1844 recorded that one of the most established holdings in the area was that belonging to T.H. Stamford and Robert Burley with 43 acres of wheat, 4 acres of barley, 1 acre of oats, 1 acre of potatoes, 1 acre of peas, ½ acre garden, 100 cattle, 2 horses and 40 pits. Robert Burley also established a mill which was later converted to a saw mill.
Township development began with further land subdivision in 1859 and by early 1868 the township included an inn, two stores, a blacksmith, butcher, tan yard, three shoemakers, a carpenter, a flour mill, a licensed surveyor, a school house and two places of worship - Primitive and Methodist.
St Georges’ Anglican Church opened for services in 1870, a schoolhouse was completed in 1872 and in 1884 the Post Office removed from a store to its present site.
A new school was begun in 1910, an Institute constructed in 1914 and in1938 a cheese factory, the Kondoparinga Dairyman’s Co-operative Association, was erected.
The Timber Mills
Due to the plentiful supply of red gum in the area, timber milling was another early industry. By 1870 a saw mill was operating in the area and in 1899 William Durward established the first commercial forest plantation. In 1917 a small mill opened behind the present Kuitpo Forest Headquarters. The timber milled here was for use in the Broken Hill mines.
Sir Douglas Mawson – Explorer and Forester
Known mainly for his exploration feats, Sir Douglas Mawson was also a scientist, university lecturer, farmer and forester.
In 1920 Mawson founded South Australian Hardwoods Ltd. and established a mill adjacent to the Kuitpo Forest. He also owned a 1,200 acre property near Meadows. This property, known as Harewood, was his retreat from city life.
The Dairying Industry
Though early agricultural pursuits were varied, the “fine meadow flats” in the area were ideal for dairying. In 1846, author F. Dutton wrote, “Messrs. Stamford have a large farm and dairy ...I have seen tons of cheese on their premises.”
Until the 1880s, dairy products were mainly sold at local markets, however, improved road and rail systems widened distribution of products.
The introduction of refrigeration and centrifugal cream separators brought more changes to the industry. Early cream separators were expensive so dairy farmers often pooled their resources to purchase one. The establishment of butter and cheese factories was the result of these co-operative ventures.
In 1889 the Kondoparinga Butter Factory commenced operations and in 1935, Farmers’ Union opened their cheese factory. This factory produced mainly 36kg rinded cheddars for export.
The onset of tanker transport made it uneconomical to operate small factories and the Meadows’ factories eventually closed.
Though much of the town and district were destroyed during the 1939 bushfires, Meadows has recovered well. Today, the magnificent countryside makes it a popular destination for day-trippers.