Hynam, South Australia


Hynam House 2008.

The Hynam run was taken up on 22 July 1847 on lease number 166 in the Hundred of Jessie and issued to John Oliver and Adam Smith on 1 July 1851. Smith migrated from Scotland at the age of 23 with his wife Jane and son and arrived at Sydney in 1839. While working in Melbourne he went into partnership with John Oliver and William Brown to select land in South Australia for pastoral occupation. Oliver and Brown went first while Smith stayed in Melbourne with his family.

After selecting more than 60 square miles of grazing land at Broadmeadows they tried to create a station in a large and isolated part of the South East. Relations with the local Aborigines were good for most of the time but on 1 July 1845 Brown was clubbed to death by some of the natives and buried near the homestead. This was the beginning of the Hynam private cemetery.

The cemetery is located centrally between the town of Hynam, which was started many years later, the Hynam House and the woolshed. The woolshed with 15 stands was built of local limestone by the Boddington Brothers in 1850 when the property was 37,000 acres in size. For several years as many as 30,000 sheep would be shorn each season.

Woolshed, 2008.

Adam Smith and his family finally settled at Hynam in 1846. With no facilities of any kind at all within a reasonable distance, it was Jane Smith’s job to do most of the house and book work and educate her children as well. The partnership with Oliver lasted until 1850 and five years later Smith became the sole owner. He is now credited with having established one of the most famous Merino studs in Australia.

When George Woodroffe Goyder did his valuation of the run he stated that it had a grazing capacity for 16,000 sheep, or 235 per square mile with an annual income of £872. Smith also owned Tallageira Station from 1868 until 1873.

Smith was one of the founders of the Naracoorte Presbyterian Church and was a magistrate for many years. He had a street named after him in Naracoorte, as had Oliver. The Naracoorte Herald later wrote, Smith ‘had no equal in the district for sound commonsense and his judgement was always looked upon with respect’.

Adam Smith died 17 March 1876, aged 60 years and his wife died on 10 June 1875, aged 58. The property was auctioned and bought by their six sons. In 1880 Hynam Station, which had been much reduced in size, was still 37,000 acres of freehold land, owned by William Smith & Co and carried 20,000 sheep. The property also included 600,000 acres of lease hold and a further 130,000 sheep on the Lachlan River in New South Wales.

William Smith married Janet Black, nee Lawson. She was born at Mount Barker on 2 February 1852, daughter of Robert Lawson. Janet died at Hynam House on 17 July 1921. William’s brother Gedeon, third son of Adam had 15,000 acres of freehold land at Binnum and another 40,000 acres of leasehold. He also had 22,000 sheep.

Gedeon Smith employed Daniel Barrett as his overseer. Barrett was born at Suffolk, England on 15 March 1857 and had worked on many stations before. When Binnum was sold to the Laidlaw brothers Barrett remained as manager. When that station was resumed by the government Barrett took up land at Hynam North and started sheep grazing on his own account for ten years. He died 26 March 1927. Gedeon Smith died 26 October 1928 at Dubbo, New South Wales on 26 October 1928.

Slowly a small group of settlers made a permanent residence around the station and in 1888 Hynam came under the jurisdiction of the Naracoorte District council. Among them were Charles Blacksell, born in 1814 in Sydney and his wife, nee Elizabeth Jane Anne Muirhead who was born on 4 April 1835 in Scotland. Charles became a carrier and his family would be enlarged by six sons and 5 daughters.

Charles died 22 July 1893 and Elizabeth on 24 January 1919. Both are buried at the Naracoorte cemetery. Members of the Blacksell family would remain at Hynam for a long time. Most of them were listed as Blockers but changed that later to farmer. There was a John in the 1930s, William during the 1930s and 1940s. A and R Blacksell were farming during the 1950s and 1960s.

Another settler was John Poole Spence. He did not stay very long as he went to Western Australia to be part of the gold rushes. He did well but lost most of the gains in litigation proceedings. After ten years in the West he returned to Hynam and started sheep farming. He died a bachelor in June 1924, aged 80 years. A later addition to the town’s population was Alexander Gibbs. He was born in Gumeracha in 1842 and selected land at Hynam in 1903. In 1879 he had married Hannah Maria Duffield and they were to have six sons and four daughters. He died in July 1926.

One of the employment opportunities at that time was the cutting of railway sleepers. In 1886 it was reported that ‘Arrived at Hynam we were met by a buggy and at once started for the sawmills. The nearest is about 10 miles from the Hynam Station and although about 180,000 sleepers have been cut and removed, there are still large tracks where there is no appearance of work having been done. There is probably enough good timber still existing for the construction of five or six similar railways’.

As many as 40 bullock teams were engaged in carting the sleepers to the Hynam railway station. However the saw mill would close by the end of the year and storekeepers would suffer a sudden decline in income as well. Some 32,000 tons of waste remained which it was hoped could be sold as fire wood.

A school was opened in 1894 and called Hynam South.The ½ acre of land was given by C. Howell who worked on the railway. Residents had paid £100 needed to finance the project. Trustees elected for the school were J. Hoggarth, A.H. Peake and Angas McLeod. At the annual breakup in December 1899 a concert was given followed by gifts distributed from under the Christmas tree by teacher Miss Carrack. One of its longest serving teachers was Miss Helen G. McKay. She stayed for 23 years. After 1909 the building was also used as a Hall and for Sunday School.

The Hynam run was broken up for closer settlement but part of the run, including the homestead, remained in the Smith family. Hynam House, the original homestead, has remained in the family ever since, although it was on the market in 2008. The town of Hynam was officially proclaimed by Governor Bosanquet on 10 June 1909 as East Hynam but was changed to Hynam on 20 April 1941.

At the turn of the century Hynam had its largest population. In 1914 there were 321 people residing in the town. During that year the Postmistress was Mrs M.E. McLean She held that position for more than 40 years! The town also had a blacksmith. He was William J. Rochow. Members of this family, such as Herman, W.J., Frederick and A. Rochow, all farmers, would remain until the 1940s. William provided his much needed services for more than 30 years. Frederick W.J. Rochow and his wife Johanna were farmers. Their son Frederick August, when 23 years old, enlisted for the army on 7 September 1915 but was killed in action on 5 April 1918 at the Western Front. Alwine Rochow later married Peter McBain, a returned soldier from Victoria.

He was not the only one. Several other young men had joined up. Among them were Roy Jenkins, John Mark Munn and his cousins W. and J.A. Blacksell. They were all killed in action. Members of the Munn family, most of them listed as farmers, were around until the 1950s. In February 1918 the school building was moved some six kilometres down the road by a team of 26 Bullocks. It would serve the children for another 18 years. At the beginning of the 1936 school year a new building was opened by the Minister of Education.

A school on the move, 1918.

By 1924 the town’s population had declined to 280. Its station master was now M. Sexton, Resident Justice was Adam Smith, the teacher Miss Ivy M. Beaton and store keeper Miss C.G. McKay. Slowly the population became smaller and smaller. When people moved out shop keepers followed them and with the improvements in transport most people went to Naracoorte for all their needs.

The cemetery has very few, no more than a dozen, graves and even fewer headstones. The headstone of William Brown reads, Sacred to the memory of William Brown, late of Nesbit, Roxburg, Scotland, 1 July 1845, aged 30 years. Others who found their final resting place at the Hynam cemetery were Thomas Hope, who died on 29 January 1876, aged 70 and John Hope who died on 15 September 1886, aged 33. The last person to be interred was Alice Armstrong, wife of Thomas Hope. She died on 8 August 1890, aged 78 years. After the founding of Naracoorte most people who died at Hynam were buried at that cemetery.


Hynam Cemetery

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