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.
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!
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!
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!
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.