The history of settlement of the outback, South Australia, particularly around the Flinders Ranges, is intriguing, especially if you have travelled north of Quorn or Hawker and noted the many abandoned stone cottages. Idealistic farmers, many with German background, hoping to make their fortune in wheat growing, took up large tracts of land in this semi desert area, believing that ‘the rain would follow the plough’.
The basic premise of this theory was that increased human settlement in the region and cultivation of soil would result in an increased rainfall over time, rendering the land more fertile and lush as the population increased. The theory was widely promoted in the 1870s as a justification for settlement in the Great Plains of America and was also used to justify the expansion of wheat growing on marginal land in South Australia during that period.¹ Despite the warnings of climatologist, George Goyder² in 1865, farmers continued to believe this fallacy and took up land north of Quorn, near the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
Today we can witness hundreds of ruins and shattered dreams along the highways and small tracks in this area, as recurring droughts eventually drove these settlers away. Their abandoned hand-built stone houses are hauntingly beautiful, set amidst plains of grey-green saltbush, red sandy earth, with a backdrop of purple escarpments and ranges. Thanks Ed,of Sunday Stills, for this week’s prompt. ¹.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_follows_the_plow 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goyder%27s_Line http://ashadocs.org/aha/03/03_04_Young.pdf