Etadunna Station

Return to History

Today's sprawling cattle station managed by Jason Dunn and his wife Patsy, is a far cry from its beginnings as an outstation of the Lake Hope lease taken up by German missionaries in the late 1800's.

On 2 April 1862 Thomas Elder also acquired the Beltana run and established Lake Hope Station.

On 1 July 1866 Thomas gained the mail contract between Blanchewater and Lake Hope for £150 per annum. That same year Stuckey had bought 107 camels in India and brought them out to Port Augusta with 31 Afghan cameleers.

Just when Etadunna began as a station in its own right is unsure however several records from the Lutheran Missions indicate on 31 January 1867 with the arrival of missionaries J.F. Gossling and E. Homann, Brother Johann Ernst Jacob and lay-helper Hermann Heinrich Vogelsang at Killalpaninna.

When the Bethesda Mission was firmly established at Lake Killalpaninna it was extended to include two out-stations, Kopperamanna, on the shore of Lake Kopperamanna, and Etadunna nearly twenty kilometres to the east of Bethesda.

The name Etadunna is actually of Bengali derivation meaning "in so many days" and was most likely given by the Afghan cameleers of the region.

One of the first mail runs was established in early 1866. That same year a post office was also opened at Lake Hope with Henry Dean taking care of the services. Thomas Elder would be paid 150 pounds a year to carry the mail between Blanchewater and Lake Hope once a fortnight. A year later the contract was awarded to H.D. Ryan who was paid 128 pounds.

In 1872 Kopperamanna was listed as a postal town and remained so for many years. However in July the Police Station was closed and troopers transferred to other postings.

During 1879, a Post Office was opened at Kopperamanna and John Neaylon called in delivering the mail and supplies on his way from Marree to Birdsville.

In 1885 a shearing shed was built at Etadunna and five years later an artesian bore was sunk at Kopperamanna and the mission was able to collect fees from passing drovers, adding to the missionaries' income which came mainly from donations and the sale of wool.

During the 1897 season more than 28,000 sheep were shorn at the Etadunna shed which had sixteen stands, eight for native shearers and eight for the whites. More than 22.000 sheep died soon after because of a severe drought.

During the time of the first world war life began to turn as there was much distrust and so the mission was closed.

Eric Oldfield, whose family were by now well established along the track bought up the lease of 6216 sq km now called Etadunna Station in 1945. Eric's son Bryan and his wife Kath took over Etadunna when Eric decided to take up Mungerannie Station further up the track.

For interest included here is a little about one of the early settlers, Johann Ernst Jacob.

Born on 9 March 1835 in Silesia, arrived in South Australia in 1860, having paid his own fare, hoping to work on an Aboriginal mission. While living at Mount Torrens he got his chance when on 9 October 1866, together with missionaries Gossling and Homann and Lay-helper Vogelsang, he set out for the far north of South Australia to establish a Lutheran mission among the Dieri Aborigines.

For a number of years it was his job to keep up the supplies needed by the missionaries, their family and others who lived at the new mission called Bethesda. These long trips, across sandhills and gibber plains taking up to three months to complete, were made during scorching heat, dust storms and floods.

On 4 September 1878 Jacob married Maria Elisabeth Auricht, born 10 May 1841 at Klemzig. Maria already had five children, from a previous marriage to Wilhelm Gustav Irrgang, and only took her youngest child to Killalpaninna. The Jacobs had one son and were married for twenty-nine years. After many years on the road Jacob was placed in charge of the sheep at Etadunna, while younger men now made the trip to the Marree railway station.

To find work for many of the Aborigines who had settled semi-permanently at the Mission the Lutherans opened several out stations with flocks of sheep cared for by the natives under the supervision of Jacob who went to live with his family at Etadunna. The Jacobs were well known and liked for their excellent fruit and vegetable garden at Etadunna. Both Jacob and Vogelsang were paid $40 per year plus their keep and clothing for their work of love and service.

After having lived in a tent and outdoors for most of the time Jacob now started with the building of a substantial home. It was later enlarged and modernised when taken over by the Oldfield Family when the mission closed. Jacob also built the large woolshed. To ensure a reliable water supply for their garden and the house he sank two wells.

Both Maria Jacob and her sister, Mrs Vogelsang, lived a life of service to their religious beliefs and the Aborigines. She remained at the mission for more than two years after her husband died in 1907. After Johann Ernst Jacob's death, his work was continued by his step-son Jack Irrgang until 1915. After thirty-one years service at the mission Maria was offered a pension but declined. Maria died 13 October 1924 leaving a portion of her small estate for mission purposes.

Return to History

Phil G. | Mungerannie Hotel