OZ Top Spot #5 – Kanyaka Ruins, Flinders Ranges, SA

Last Updated on August 18, 2019 by Red Nomad OZ

Kanyaka Homestead Ruins, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Kanyaka Homestead Ruins, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

What happens in a world where resources are divided equally, with equal opportunity for developing and managing them through good times and bad, and with an equal chance of success or failure?

No, I’m not paraphrasing ‘Imagine’, writing the manifesto for a great big new mining tax or plotting a new version of ‘Monopoly’!

Window View, Kanyaka Homestead Ruins, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Window View, Kanyaka Homestead Ruins, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

But visit the Kanyaka Station ruins in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges – and instead of a utopia of natural justice, you’ll see the tyranny of equality first hand!

On the sometimes dry, desolate wasteland of the Willochra Plain, the ruins are what’s left of a station that in its heyday covered 365 miles² and ran 41,000 sheep.

A popular rest stop between Quorn and Hawker on the Blinman mines route, the owners even built the ‘Black Jack’ hotel nearby to cater for the many travellers demanding hospitality.

So how did this large, magnificent station become a large, magnificent ruin?

The risk settlers took in the marginal country way beyond the Goyder line – named for the Surveyor General who surveyed the line beyond which farming was generally not viable – paid off when times were good.
But the many ruins that make this area so photogenic also show how often the risk failed. However, despite many threats to viability – lengthy droughts, labour availability and poor government advice (yes, difficult to believe, isn’t it?!) – fortunes were made! Kanyaka station rode out the killer drought of the 1860’s, even increasing in size.
Kanyaka Ruins, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Kanyaka Ruins, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

What could possibly go wrong now?

Remember, this is marginal country. The Surveyor General has indicated land above the Goyder line unsuitable for wheat farming. Kanyaka is prospering – and an increase in size means an increase in employment. Size is strength in this arid land – the dry sheep equivalent means carrying capacity is pretty low out here!
Kanyaka Ruins, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

You are the government. What do you do? Well, the solution is obvious, isn’t it?? You resume the Kanyaka pastoral leases for subdivision into much smaller wheat farms, of course!

No, seriously!

This ‘policy’ offered a ‘solution’ to a growing demand for farming land, allowing more settlers a slice of the pastoral action and satisfying critics of a leasehold system that favoured the ‘rich’. In short, a mighty victory for equality!

What's left at Kanyaka Historic Site, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
What’s left at Kanyaka Historic Site, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Well, you know the outcome – the ruins speak for themselves. Kanyaka’s cut-down acreage allowed both pastoralism AND wheat farming to fail in equal measure – as they also did on the remaining subdivisions, all now unable to benefit from economies of scale.

And thus was equality finally achieved!

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  1. @Wickless in Seattle – Welcome and thanx for following! Not only is Australia spectacularly beautiful, but it’s the land of opportunity!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog. No Scentsy isn’t in Australia yet, but it won’t be long. I’m predicting that your wonderful country will be next on Scentsy’s list. I love your blog and your travels.

  3. @Betty – Thanx, always a pleasure when you drop by!
    @Draft Queen – Welcome! Plenty more where that came from!! Look forward to hearing about Belize from you!

  4. I love stuff like this! My fiance and I are planning a trip to Belize to visit the Mayan ruins there.

    Great stuff here! Look forward to seeing more about your country!

  5. I really enjoyed hearing about some of the historical elements of your country.
    Great article as usual, my friend!

    B xx

  6. @Cate – thanx for dropping by – come back anytime!!
    @Glen – you mean you detected some thought in that decision? Now THAT’S scary!!
    @Katie – thanx girlfriend! If they inspire a visit, then my work is done!
    @LV – well come on down!
    @Marshall Stacks – Yeah, but sadly only 10,000 or so sheep post-drought. AND as a bakery slut, I SO appreciated the words of wisdom at the other end of your link! Thanx so much!

  7. I just feel really sad for the 41,000 sheep on stinking hot days with only warm bore water to drink.
    A link to something which might make you laugh – Tips for solo woman road warriors.

  8. I must say that the pictures you have posted are very beautiful. Each one left me aching for a visit to Australia. 🙂 i
    Do not know much of the history of these places so reading through your posts will be very enlighting!

  9. An interesting put history – nice photos too. It is amazing how crap, poorly thought through decisions can have such devastating effect – and scary how lessons never seem to be learned

  10. Wow – fascinating reading! Will certainly be back to read more of your blog.

    Thanks for visiting mine earlier too 🙂

  11. @Andrew – The weird part? Nothing has changed in terms of state government (centralised in an urban area) making decisions about rural areas without listening to those they pay to give good advice! Hang on – no, that’s not ‘weird’, it’s SAD!!

  12. You always worry me. I thought you were going to say it was handed over to Aborigines. Perhaps you are saving a post like that for the future. I’m sure there are examples. Only last year did I learn about the Goyder Line. Fascinating. Anyone who is interested, hunt out the ABC Radio National podcast. Similar was done in Victoria’s Mallee district for returned soldiers from WWI, but it already was not viable or successful land and not privately owned. It was government cruelty beyond the pale.

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