Restoration & Display of Old Dray
Port Vincent Progress is looking into restoring a Old Horse Drawn Dray
as part of the Town Attractions.
Here is some of the story ( or as much as the author is aware).
Some years ago descendants of the Grundy family donated a timber horse drawn dray, once used by to cart grain, wool and other goods, to Port Vincent.
It is probable that this very dray was used for loading ketches and steamers which regularly called into the port and as such forms an important part of our township history.
The partially restored wagon has been preserved under cover for many years awaiting a full restoration and a suitable location for public display.
Port Vincent a Progress Association has decided to fully restore and then present the dray as part of a town attraction.
Currently, we are looking at raising funds to fully restore the dray, construct a suitable enclosure for it and establish an interpretive display to highlight the significance of Port Vincent as a historical shipping port.
Support from the public and the Australian National Maritime Museum is being sought.
A little history
Port Vincent was established in the mid to late 1800s as a commercial port for shipping of farm produce such as grain,wool and livestock primarily to Port Adelaide and for the supply of various items to the growing township and surrounds. From the start the town and its port was not Government sponsored or planned. Private enterprise alone was instrumental in getting us on the map.
Because of distances and a lack of suitable roads on Yorke Peninsular in those days, the Port and its shipping was needed as a lifeline to this part of the Peninsular. Not only grain and wool were shipped but also cattle, live sheep, fish and horses as well as passengers and general cargo. Firewood in the form of Malley stumps was also an important cargo.
Originally the town, jetty and (later) the wharf were privately owned and operated. Those using the facilities were charged a fee to cover costs and the capital outlay. The town was not formally laid out and simply grew around the port. This is obvious today and as a result many of the streets and the foreshore are narrow and more restricted than some other towns.
The original Port Vincent jetty handling fee was higher than at State owned and subsidised ports. Our farmers and other users were at a disadvantage to those with access to Government ports and many objected to these higher costs and to the monopoly held by the local grain handling company.
Ever resourceful locals sometimes took to loading their produce on ships moored off the beach to avoid wharf fees. In order to avoid using the Port, horse drawn drays were driven onto the sand at low tide and ships were loaded directly by hand. An alternative loading point was established at Dowcer’s Bluff (about 3 km north of the town).
The local grain company and wharf owners didn’t appreciate this and took steps to ban beach side loading. Disputes carried on for several years with various attempts to settle the matter never really reaching a satisfactory conclusion.
Eventually a compromise was reached and common sense prevailed and in 1898 the port and facilities were taken over by the Minlaton Council. The town facilities were then fully utilised and Port Vincent re-assumed its principal function as a major port.
The original jetty and wharf have changed substantially over the years although traces remain. Throughout our history the drays, like the coastal ships themselves, continued to play a vital role in servicing farmers and the port until 1970.
Horses, and occasionally bullocks, were used to pull drays and wagons until mechanised transport took over. It is interesting to note the Peninsular once raised and exported horses, especially the gentle giant Clydesdale breed to other places in the state. Yorke Peninsular draft horses were once quite in demand. The contribution horses made to the progress and wealth of the Peninsular should never be forgotten.
Port Vincent continued to operate as a shipping port up to 1970 when bulk handling of grain at Port Giles took over.
By this time motor vehicles had replaced horse drawn transport. Our particular dray was itself converted to be pulled behind a motorised vehicle but by then the days of the Clydesdale and Port Vincent’s role as a grain port were consigned to history.
The dray will be displayed in a secure shelter near the old wharf together with an interpretive display. If you wish to support this project in any way or have more facts or memorabilia please contact Port Vincent Progress Association.