Simmonston South Australian


The town that never was.

The splendidly situated town of Simmonston

Simmonston, in the Hundred of Kanyaka, was surveyed in 1872 on part of Section 506, close to one of six major proposed railway routes. Six routes in all were surveyed and it was on route E that Simmonston was located. It was hoped, and expected, that the Great Northern Railway from Port Augusta, via Pichi Richi, Quorn and Willochra and on to the far north would come past the town.

An early notice stated that ‘there are a few allotments in this splendidly situated town for sale. I would advise intending buyers to make their bargains at once, or they will lose the opportunity of getting an allotment in the healthiest town in the Colony’. Section 48 was reserved as Church Land.

The first land sales for Simmonston at the Dyke in the Hundred of Kanyaka were advertised in Adelaide in April 1880. Among those who bought one or more allotments were: M Nutt, JM Litchfield, Thomas Roberts, GN Twopeny, M Kingsborough, Robert Cameron, William Litchfield, JJ Nichols, W Forsyth and T Bruce. The lowest price paid was two pounds and fifteen shillings. The highest price paid was eighteen pounds. The town was proclaimed on 15 April 1880 and named by Governor Jervois after Sir John LA Simmons.

Cellar of the Simmonston Hotel

On 29 April 1880 D McFie, Junior made it known that he had; ‘Pursuant to Clause 8 of the Licensed Victuallers Act 68 of 1877 deposited with the Clerk of the Northern District Licensing Bench at Clare, a plan of a hotel to be erected by him at Simmonston, for which he intended in due course to apply for a Publican’s Licence.

McFie certainly meant business. As early as 20 May 1880 he advertised for tenders to build his hotel. On 2 June 1880 he again submitted his plans and on 1 September they were approved with the rider that the building had to be completed within 6 months.

Meanwhile C Schunke also had submitted plans to erect a hotel which were approved in December under condition that it would be completed in 3 months. In March 1881 he applied for a publican’s licence which was refused but was told that he could apply again in the next quarter. He did, but again it was refused on the grounds of not having completed the hotel for which he had had plenty of time, according to the powers to be.

Inspector of Police, Beasley, informed the Bench that no one had been working on the building for 3 months and that it remained in an unfinished state. None of the wall had been completed. At the June meeting of the Bench Schunke’s application for a licence was again refused and he withdrew his application and plans.

With the benefit of hindsight he had done the right thing as by now it was found that the important Northern Railway would not come anywhere near Simmonston. Naturally there were many disappointed people and by 1882 several tried to sell their town allotments. Allotments 126 and 142 were the first to be offered for sale.

All that remains of the proposed general store

On 28 October 1882 it was reported that, at the Dyke ‘over a hundred acres had been surveyed and sold as the useless township of Simmonston. Not only that, about 5000 acres around it had been surveyed as suburban land’. Who would buy a town site now? In May 1888 allotments 137, 138 and 139 were offered for sale. In its ultimate wisdom the government made a land grant in April 1889 of sections 555 and 556 for a cemetery. Needless to say that it was never used.

The never completed two storey Simmonston Hotel

Only two buildings were ever started, the two-storey hotel and a general store, but never completed. Simmonston had died even before it had lived.


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