Booborowie Experimental Farm

To promote and enable closer settlement, in 1909 the government resumed around 32,500 acres of the Booborowie Run, north west of Burra, at a cost of about £6 an acre. The land was generally suitable for cereal growing, dryland lucerne and grazing. Following subdivision, the government in 1911 sold, at auction, eighty nine blocks at an average cost of £5 12s an acre while two blocks were retained and transferred to the Department of Agriculture to establish the Booborowie Experimental Farm. These blocks were Sec. 468 (the old North Booborowie homestead,1046 acres) and Sec. 478, (298 acres, around two miles from the homestead), Hundred of Anne).

It was intended that the experimental farm would be used to produce lucerne and wheat seed for the northern farms and for growing lucerne, and to create a training farm for boys, this being a project of interest to the Director of Agriculture, William Lowrie. The buildings of the former North Booborowie homestead were used for the training farm and could be made suitable for a low cost, thus negating a high capital cost of the respective boys establishing a training farm on a vacant site. The press said: 'There will be room for 20 boys and, £2.10s. will be paid each half year into a Savings Bank account to the credit...'

The following has been extracted from the 1911/12 Annual Report, prepared by EH Medlan, Superintendent, in relation to the Booborowie Boys' Training Farm:

"The farm was opened for training with 10 lads of 14 and 15 years of age on March 21st. In a few days one lad was found to be quite unsuitable and dismissed, and two other boys left on their own account. On March 28th four more lads were admitted, bringing the total up to 11.

Classes have been held in the endeavor to keep the lads proficient in ordinary school subjects. This the lads do not take kindly to, and I find it more difficult to keep them at their books than outside work.

During the first month the general health was far from satisfactory, one boy being too delicate for farm work was taken away. A marked improvement soon set in, and I am pleased to report that now the lads have all gained considerable in weight, and look very well and happy...."

It does appear however that the role of the Booborowie Experimental Farm as a boys training centre did not persist for more than a couple of years. Between 1912 and 1930 the farm conducted an experimental program, the results of which were published in Annual Reports and when established the Journal of Agriculture.

The 1930/31 Annual Report provided the following statement regarding the closure of the Booborowie Experimental Farm:

"The department has hitherto had under its control four experimental farms, situated respectively at Booborowie, Kybybolite, Veitch, and Minnipa. The difficulties of the financial position have led to the closing of the Booborowie and Veitch farms, whilst the Minnipa Farm has been let on a share-farming agreement until such time as conditions improve. Hence, departmentally, we are now responsible for one farm only, situated at Kybybolite."

It is evident that the role of the Booborowie Experimental Farm was considerably influenced by funding and progressively took on the key role of a seed production facility to offset the cost of operating the centre and to provide a good supply of seed for planting.

It should be noted that Turretfield had been placed on a full cost recovery basis some years earlier.

The Booborowie Experimental Farm was sold after 1930 and now has the property name of Lorraine.

Further information about the Booborowie Experimental Farm can be sourced from the SA Government Archives and Annual Reports and the SA Journal of Agriculture.

Prepared by Don Plowman with contributions from Phil Cole and Peter Smith.
June 2020

Attachments and further information

  1. Map of the North Booborowie Estate showing the location of Sections 468 and 478, Hundred of Anne (JPG 1.1 MB)
  2. Booborowie Station shearing shed. South Australia (and includes historical notes)
  3. DWLBC REPORTBooborowie Valley Groundwater Monitoring Status Report 2005 (2005/31) (and includes historical notes)
Page Last Reviewed: 20 Nov 2017
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