In 1842 Surveyor General Captain Frome passed through the area of Yatina on his way to surveying the Northern Area. Twenty-two years later the town of Yatina, in the Hundred of Black Rock Plain, was proclaimed on 16 July 1874. On 10 September the first town lots were sold realising more than £2,000 for the government. The highest price paid for 1 acre was £70. Among some of the first buyers were Johann Carl Gottlieb Haebich, Henry Jolly, Louis Levine and Rowland Nutt.
Rowland Nutt came out from England to try his luck on the Victorian Goldfields. He did well. Later he settled in Yatina where he built the Yatina Hotel in 1874, a well known landmark on the Jamestown Orroroo road. He also built stockyards where regular sales were held, increasing the number of customers for his hotel at the same time. His stock yards could hold as many as 20,000 sheep.
The town of Yatina was laid out on a grand scale with 1400 acres of parklands. Suburban land even extended into the Hundred of Mannanarie. As it was set on an open stretch of country it was subjected to the hot northern winds and flooding after heavy rains. James Pearce took up land to farm but in 1910 he retired to Nailsworth and died in 1928 age 88.
Ploughing matches were held regularly and in 1875 attracted nearly 500 people. Rowland Nutt who had a booth did a brisk trade. It was planned to have another full show next year. As was normal in those early days, child mortality was very high and evidence of this can clearly be seen at the Yatina cemetery. One of the first ones to die was Mary Jane Thomas Symons, aged 3 years. She was buried at Jamestown on 22 October 1875.
Rowland Nutt bought several blocks in the newly surveyed township of Orroroo and others on the Walloway plain in 1876. His three sons George, John and Lloyd all settled in the Orroroo district. The firm of H.L. Nutt & Son became one of the large pastoralist firms in South Australia.
On 12 June foundation stones for Methodist church laid by Mrs Clode, James and Misses Gartrell and Nutt. The estimated cost of building was about £ 350. The Primitive Methodist Church opened on 24 December 1876. Rev S. Gray preached first sermon. In the evening Rev. S.J. Nicholls was the preacher. Total cost of building and furniture amounted to £462.10 of which £250 still had to be paid. The church dimensions were 35x25 feet and 16 feet high. It could seat about 200 people in comfort.
At the land auction in Adelaide on 11 May at 11 am land was put up at Yatina. Among the large number of lots were 16 in the Hundred of Mannanarie, but suburban to Yatina and 23 Lots in the Hundred of Black Rock Plain.
Business ventures were started up as soon as the town had been laid out. James Brothers of Yatina were granted a storekeeper’s licence in March. Railways were seen as a means of attracting business and easing the transport problems. It was hoped in 1877 that the northern extension of the railway from Jamestown would go via Yatina. Unfortunately for the people of Yatina it did not. In February 1878 it was reported that Yatina consists of a large public-house, a store, saddler's shop, two blacksmiths, a large Catholic Chapel, and several cottages, but for some reason does not seem to be a busy place. Possibly its time has not yet come.
In June 1878 meetings at Yongala and Yatina were attended by Rounsevell, member for the district. After listening sympathetically he left them with the promise to return in a few months. But the newspapers of September said that the Jamestown extension would meet the Terowie line at an obscure part in the Hundred of Yongala at Section 216. This gave rise to the township of Dalton, later renamed Black Rock.
Great disappointment was felt all over. Contractors now had to cart the wheat to the coast, adding much expense to the product. The nearest railway station was 9 kilometres away. After the establishment of rail links through Yongala, Petersburg and Terowie, new mail routes for the smaller towns of Tarcowie, Hornsdale, Appila, Yatina and Mannanarie were soon started.
Yatina people were very delighted when their first teacher, John Griffiths arrived in 1879. They organised a picnic for 200 parents and children. Later Yatina, Yongala and Mannanarie held combined school picnics in the Narien Range. Griffiths was replaced in 1880 by Edward White, who stayed until 1881 when John Tamblyn took over until 1884. In 1885 Alice Louise Carr taught for a few months until Tamblyn was back again. The next year John and his wife Sarah Annie were back again for a short time. However Tamblyn returned in 1887 and this time stayed until 1896 when Edward Redford took his place.
Regardless of the continuous changes many of the students did well in later life. Among them was Edmund Albert Colson, born on 3 June 1881. He was a wanderer and worked all over Australia. In 1927 he was employed on the Oodnadatta-Alice Springs extension of the northern railway. He must have enjoyed the arid north as he leased Blood Creek Station in 1931. He now spent much time exploring far and wide but his major achievement was to cross the Simpson Desert, with his Aboriginal helper, Eringa Peter in 1936 finding their way to the Birdsville Pub on 11 June. After a rest of three days they just walked back again.
From 1879 onwards Yatina people went to the Jamestown Hospital after that opened. On 31 July of that year a meeting held to form a Farmers’ Association in an effort to protect themselves and lower the many taxes they had to pay. Land was still available and Crown land section 109 of 16 acres, suburban to Yatina was auctioned by Government. The upset price would be £2 per acre.
On 24 May 1880 an Athletic Sport meeting was held. Later that year the Yatina Agricultural, Horticultural and Floricultural Society held its first, and very successful, show on 13 October. R. Nutt was the largest prize taker. About 700 visitors attended. The second show, organised in 1881 was also a great success, about £110 was paid in prize money which was only £10 less than in 1880.
Fine steady rain was reported in May 1884. They had had more than 15 centimetres so far for the year. It was needed very much as the seed sown a few weeks previously could not hold out any longer. With the rain farmers were once more busy ploughing and sowing. The next year there was some rain again especially during October when farmers expected a fair crop.
But not everyone was pleased. Nothing had been done yet towards covering a trial pit sunk some time ago by the government for the constructing a dam for travelling stock. It was some four metres deep and not protected in any way.
In 1886 the population of Yatina was 80, 43 males and 37 females in 15 houses. The next year it had increased to about 100. The Postmaster and Resident Justice was John Bonney Carr. Primitive Methodist and Catholic services were held and Robert Nutt ran the Yatina Hotel.
In 1888 the South Australian Farmers’ Co-Operative Union Ltd was formed. Provisional directors came from Jamestown, Hornsdale and Caltowie. Original shareholders came from many places such as Mannanarie, Hornsdale and Appila but none from Yatina.
Sport was played by many of the young, and not so young, people of Yatina and in 1892 coursing had a retinue of ardent supporters for many years. A clubs was also established at Black Rock.
In 1892 William Stanley Ballantyne was born. At the age of 24 he volunteered for service at the front and enlisted on 18 February 1916. On 11 April 1916 he sailed on the Aeneas and returned to Australia 27 August 1917. His brother, Robert Sydney, born at Black Rock, enlisted on 22 February 1916 and sailed on the same ship. He returned to Australia on 2 June 1919.
Robert was awarded the Military Medal for ‘great gallantry and consistency on all occasions that he went into the line especially on the August 8 advance on Proyart and during the tour in the line at Lihons. Lance Corporal Ballantyne was a most aggressive fighter, he repeatedly led fighting patrols out into no-mans-land and located enemy posts; again at Lihons when German Storm troops were opposite the Battalion, Lance Corporal Ballantyne by his aggressive patrolling completely denied no-mans-land to the enemy. This N.C.O. has been noted by all for his consistency, gallantry and devotion to duty.'
They were among the lucky ones. Many of the men who had left Australia never came back as they were killed and buried on the Western Front. Clarence Jeffs was among them. He sailed on the same ship as the Ballantyne brothers but he died whilst a Prisoner of War on 13 April 1917 and was buried the Vis-En-Artois British Cemetery Harcourt, France.
The hotel, originally built in 1874, had many publicans as some of them only stayed for a short time. During 1890 it was Mary Ann Somer. In 1893 the Yatina Hotel was owned by Jacka Brothers of Melrose. It was let at one shilling a week during the 1890s depression. In 1893 John Kannane (sometimes written as Kinnane) was the publican. A year later Mrs Kannane had taken over but in 1895 J. B. Kannane was back again. In 1897 it was Thomas Kannane.
It was no different in the 1900s. In 1904 it was J.R. Buller. Three years later Mrs C. Driscoll was running the show. In 1909 John Lambert was the publican to be replaced by Thomas Wallace in 1910. He too stayed only for a short time until 1911 when V.L. Hinton became the next publican until 1914. From 1919 to 1924 J.L. Knopka was the publican and mail contractor. From 1928 until 1937 the hotel was run by J.W and later Thomas O. Martin.
The Post Office had similar problems. It too had many occupants. In 1887 J.B. Carr was both Postmaster and Resident Justice. A year later it was E.E. Evans who stayed for three years. In 1893 F.W. Rainsford was Postmaster. From 1895 until 1898 it was Fred Jas Hodby. After that matters improved enormously. In 1899 W.A. Giles became Postmaster until 1903 when J. Marron took over for a year. However, in 1904 W.A. Giles was back again and stayed for the next twenty years. In 1924 he was replaced by A.M. Giles who stayed at his post for thirty two years.
At the Yatina School it was much the same picture. Few teachers remained for longer than a year or two. Exceptions to the rule were Alice Nairn who stayed from 1902 until 1907, Elisha Williams 1908-1917, Mary Eva Ahle 1918-1920 and Flora Matilda Turnley from 1925-1929. Even so, when inspector Charlesworth visited the school in August 1910 he reported very satisfactory results despite the irregular attandances of several students. That same year a Bird Protection Club was formed at the school with the teacher as president and Master Travers as secretary.
Sport did much better. Many of the locals were involved in clubs and played among themselves or against teams in the neighbourhood. In 1897 the Yatina Club held its annual meeting at the Yatina Hotel on 24 September. There was a fair attendance, Joseph Cochrane presided. New officers elected were; E.W. Radford, J.W. Burton, John Burton, F. Burton and T. Kinanne.
A year later, in 1898 the annual race meeting was held on 19 January. About 300 persons attended. It was a well organised first class event thanks to the energetic committee consisting of J. Cochrane, T.P. Travers, J, M, and T. Kinanne, G.J.M. Tohl, R.C. Nutt, P. Connolly, John and N. Travers, M. Conlin, James Clark and M. Kelcher. By 1900 Yatina had its own cricket club. In 1924 the Peterborough Tennis Association was formed on 17 October with Yatina Tennis Club becoming a member.
Religion was not forgotten either. They build their churches and regularly attended services. On 16 November 1903 Father James Bieroski conducted a special service at Petersburg for the Polish settlers from Yatina and Petersburg on the Feast Day of St Stanislaus Kotzka, preaching his sermon in Polish.
Although many settlers stayed only for a short time there were those who remained for a long time and some all their life. In 1894 John Bracken, born in 1856, died in April and was buried at Yatina. He had married Julia Ann on 11 June 1885. She died on 29 December 1931.
Michael Doyle died in 1906 age 79. He arrived in South Australia from Ireland in 1852. In 1851 he married Martha Jane Channey. They had 6 children, two of whom still lived at Yatina with their mother at the time of his death. Mrs Christian Doyle died on 25 July 1916 age 89. Born in Ireland she arrived in South Australia in 1846. She moved to Yatina after having lived at Woodville and South Rhine.
The Ballantyne family also were long time residents. Kathleen Margaret Ballantyne, daughter of Edgar and Eliza died on 1May 1923, aged 16 months. Edgar was a brother of William Stanley and Robert Sydney. Two years later, on 4 August 1925 Allan Leith died, aged 9 years. A. Ballantyne died on 8 February 1938, aged 59 years. Horace Richard Ballantyne died 20 April 1939, aged 54 years. He was married to Annie who died 13 May 1940 aged 54 years. Their children were Bob, Ollie, Glad, Claudie and Les.
In 1928 George Dawes died. He had worked as a blacksmith on Mannanarie and Canowie stations. Dawes was born on 1 July 1850 died 17 December in Adelaide. He had arrived from England on the William Stewart in 1853 and married on 24 April 1875.