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Colmar and the Railway

The Colmar Mine is the name given in the novel to the Alma and Victoria gold mine (where Frederick Martin was employed as mine accountant in 1890), whose workings, with those of several other mines, were scattered along a reef rising up to 30 m above the and saltbush plain on Melton Station, s. of Lake Frome in e. SA. These mines were known collectively as the Waukaringa goldfield. The Waukaringa township was situated c. 1 km s. of the mine site.

Although "Colmar" is in the "Hundred of Colmar" (111:3), Waukaringa, in Lytton County, was in fact outside the area of SA in which county administrative divisions were designated, on a historical English model, as Hundreds. In other respects the geography of the Colmar mine site corresponds to that of the Waukaringa goldfield,


  ― 493 ―
which was located c. 40 kms n.n.w. of Yunta railway station. Yunta ("Nilpeena" in the novel),note which is a small town on the Barrier Highway, about 325 kms n.e. of Adelaide, had a population of 58 in 1891. The novel's "Euckalowie Ranges" (125:20) derive from Buckalowie Hill, part of a range lying w. and s.w. of Waukaringa. "Yarranalla", "twelve miles further off than Nilpeena" (342:19) probably represents Mannahill, the next station on the railway line to Broken Hill, 43 kms e. of Yunta, and itself a productive goldfield (1885-90). The alluvial goldfield of Teetulpa, about 26 kms e. of Waukaringa, may have served as the model for the "Broombush Creek" diggings (although in the novel these are n.w. of Colmar, 166:5).

"Malowie", the "change-o'-gauge" station (229:34) on the Great Northern Railway line in the novel, represents Terowie: in 1887 the broad-gauge SA railway line was extended beyond Terowie to Cockburn, on the NSW border near Broken Hill, on a narrow-gauge light rail line. Terowie was advertised in the Terowie Enterprise and North-Eastern Advertiser as "the Break-of-Gauge Station" at which "the through train to the Barrier remains thirty minutes" (cf. 229:32) (31 January 1890, p. 4). According to the timetable, the Adelaide train left Terowie at 8.18 a.m. (Terowie and North-Eastern Advertiser, 24 January 1890, p. 2) and, according to the novel, it passed through "Kilmeny" at 8.30 a.m. (238:2). Kilmeny is identified as "the second railway-station beyond Malowie, and twelve miles distant therefrom"; it is "a straggling little township, its chief features being a big flour-mill and two public-houses" (232:5-7). The second station from Terowie (C. 22 kms) was Ulooloo, which is not recorded as having a flour mill or a hotel at that period; however, the intervening station (c. 9 kms from Terowie), Yarcowie (also called Whyte-Yarcowie, later its official name), did have two hotels and a flour mill. In 1891 it had 29 houses and a population of 158. Martin may have intended to create an entirely fictitious "Kilmeny" by combining aspects of the two stations, or she may simply have confused them. Further afield, the rail junction at "OswaId township" in the novel (345:11) represents the junction at Petersburg (changed to Peterborough in 1918), and the instructions given by Trevaskis to Dick for the train journey to "Port Pellew" (345: 11) make it clear that this is Port Pirie. Port Pirie at this date had six hotels, but no Kangaroo Inn (345: 13).

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