Koppio, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia


In 1859 James Telfer was appointed manager of Koppio Station owned at that time by Dr John Harris Browne. Telfer, who remained at Koppio until his retirement in 1900 was born at Hermitage Castle, Liddesdale, Roxburghshire in Scotland on 12 August 1829.

He arrived in Australia in September 1854 and was employed by A.B. Murray and Angas for five years. Telfer also looked after several other stations owned by Dr Browne. During his time at Koppio the station became a showplace and had one of the first Olive Oil plants established in South Australia. The machinery had been imported from France.

At first Koppio Station had 1200 head of cattle but it later changed to sheep and had some 25,000 of them for most of the time. Telfer was a veteran member and trustee of the Manchester Unity Oddfellows Lodge and for many years a member of the local District Council and the Licensing Bench. He had 2 sons and 3 daughters, one of whom married E.J. Barraud and lived at Lipson. James Telfer died on 6 July 1913. His wife had passed away 28 years earlier.

With settlement slowly increasing on Eyre Peninsula, the Hundred of Koppio in County Flinders was proclaimed on 24 October 1867. This was more than twenty years after Henry Price had first taken up land in the area, under an occupation licence on 12 March 1846. It was not until after 1900 that the government decided to cut up some of the pastoral properties on the Peninsula and make the land available for closer settlement. In November 1902 the Commissioner of Crown Lands left Adelaide to inspect the Koppio Estate of 19,000 acres, which it had recently bought from Thomas Lansdown Browne, for that purpose.

Although impressed by what he saw, the Commissioner did say that ‘years of labour will be required before full development will be reached’. He went on to say that wire netting would be an absolute necessity as rabbits were very numerous. He thought that the country was splendidly adapted for orchards and vineyards.

The estate, situated for kilometres on each side of the Tod River contained mainly undulating country with nice flats. It would be divided into 22 blocks varying from 400 to 2000 acres. Interest in the blocks was high and during December 1902 a party of 6 practical farmers from the Port Pirie area went to have a look for themselves. J. Ward of Nelshaby, who was among them, stated that ‘a man that tackles it must have youth, energy, and capital combined and in the sweet by and by he may be able to leave his descendants a valuable inheritance’.

By the end of 1902 as many as 414 applications had been received for the 22 blocks. When finally granted in February 1903, A.E. Swinburne, J.D. Jacobs, G.B. Gardner, T. Brennand, A. Howard, N.J. and J.J. Liddy, W.P. Cabot and C.W.P. Walsh were among the successful applicants. They would have thirty years to pay off the purchase price and interest. All were leased under covenant to purchase, the applicant having to pay the purchase money for the land and improvements in six half-yearly instalments, including interest. They would then have the right to buy the land if the covenants had been fulfilled.

On 13 August 1908 James Brennand and his wife celebrated their Golden Wedding at Koppio. James arrived from England on the Caucasian in 1852 while his future wife arrived from Scotland on the Switzerland in 1855. They were married in 1858 at St Luke's Church in Adelaide by the Rev. J. Pollitt and were to have seven sons and eight daughters. The family settled at Port Wakefield and later at Lochiel where James Brennand already operated a blacksmith shop.

Unfortunately things did not work out for James as he had to convey and assign all his estate and effects to Samuel Crawford Pearson from Adelaide on 1 February 1882 for the benefit of his creditors. Pearson lost no time advertising the estate which included Plant, Stock-in-trade and Real Property made up of a good dwelling house and a ten acre paddock. In September the creditors were paid five shillings in the Pound.

Meanwhile James Brennand's son Thomas, born in Kent Town on 14 June 1860, had married Adelina Maddigan at Kadina on 24 April 1888. They were to have two sons and one daughter. Also a blacksmith and wheelwright by trade Thomas was soon working at Lochiel. During 1902 Thomas joined many of the prospective farmers and also went to Koppio to have a look at the land and selected section 71 of 399 acres. In 1903 Thomas and his family moved to Koppio where he established his blacksmith business. They lived in a tent until Thomas was able to build a three-roomed cottage behind his blacksmith shop.

The old blacksmith business now part of the museum.

Pear and peach trees planted by JFW Jericho in 1908 looking well after 15 years.

W.T. Roberts had been lucky to get the woolshed block of 2000 acres which contained 2 cottages and the large woolshed. He concentrated on wheat growing and averaged 12 bushels an acre from 240 acres in 1904.

However the top price went to William Brutton Richardson who had secured the 2088 acre block 72, for which there had been 19 applicants, containing the homestead buildings. He, and his two sons who would later own the block, were soon running a few sheep, cattle and pigs but the olive plantation was their gold mine. In 1905 he had 160 acres under wheat, reaping 11 bushels to the acre.

However most of the early settlers who had taken up land had to clear it first before it could be farmed. Most used the old method of logging, or mullenising, burning and finally the axe and saw. It would take many years for the job to be completed even though some farmers were now using tractors pulling scrub rollers or chains.

With an increase in the number of settlers, many of them who had small children, a school was soon needed. The Koppio school was opened in rented premises on section 49 in 1905. A year later the name was changed to Yallunda Flat and was closed on 19 May 1951. From then on children went to the Cummins Area School.

A Post Office was opened in 1886 and was later operated on and off by members of the Brennand family for more than 30 years. On 6 April 1916 Mrs L.E. Roberts became Post Mistress, a job she held until March 1922 when her son Hurtle took over. However on 10 March 1922 Bradshaw Gordon Low was appointed. From May 1926 the Office was once more run by a member of the Brennand family. Harriet May Brennand remained until 1952, while her husband Ronald did the mail run to Port Lincoln. Harriet was often assisted by Myrtle Brennand, daughter of Thomas. During Harriet's time the office had to be closed a few times due to her illness and Esme Veronica Howard finally took over from her in March 1952.

No matter how busy the people of Koppio were, sport was not forgotten. They played football, cricket, and other team sports. In August 1908 Mr and Mrs Price gave a social to the local cricket club at their home. The secretary, H. Roberts read his annual report, which showed the club in a prosperous condition. Prices were distributed to E. and N. Price and H. Roberts. The Bat and Ball were presented by W.B. Richardson. After these formalities furniture were put aside and over 50 guests assembled, had supper and danced till 3 in the morning.

In 1968 Ronald and Frank Brennand, both extremely keen on preserving Koppio's history, donated some of the land on which the house and shop buildings are located to the National Trust. Members of the Port Lincoln Branch worked hard in restoring the buildings and adding to the collection to what is now known as the Koppio Museum.



Koppio Cemetery

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