On 18 December 1851 a Roads Act was passed declaring, amongst others, the following road to be a main line of road of the Province:

The north road, by Gawler town to Burra; with North-eastern branch from Gawler Town to Moorundee; and North-western Branch to Clare

On 25 November 1852 a Roads Act was passed dividing roads into Main and District roads and creating Road Boards for their management.

As South Australia was surveyed provision was made for 'chain' width roads (a chain also being the length of a cricket pitch, or 20.12m) giving access to each section, and wider Main or District roads linking towns. Many of the chain roads were never used but can still be seen as a fenced-off strip of land enclosed with a cocky gate. These are still, technically, public roads for which an adjacent farmer may pay a minimal grazing rent to the local council.

On 9 December 1864 an Act was passed authorizing the raising of money by the issue of bonds in order to pay for the roads.

19 May 1879

NORTH MIDLAND ROAD BOARD.

CLARE - THURSDAY, MAY 15.

...Messrs. Fry Brothers wrote offering for sale one of H. D. Hawke's road rollers (Road Board pattern), only been used for rolling the earth portions of Nelshaby Reservoir; price, £50.

Declined, a roller not being required at present.

The Caltowie District Council asked permission to make a footpath across the sides of the three-chain road running through township of Caltowie.

Permission granted, work to be done under Surveyor's inspection.

Tenders for various works were accepted.

The Surveyor's monthly report to May 12 was as follows :- Two contracts completed satisfactorily ; three nearly finished; nine in hand; three works for which contracts had not been signed were in hand, and one was nearly finished.

The Secretary reported that J. Bannon declined to sign the contract for making 40 chains of road between Caltowie and Stone Hut. Bannon's deposit to be forfeited, and his name to be placed on the black-list. Payments were authorised to the amount of £3,195 5s. Od.

24 May 1864

OLD NORTH-ROAD MEETING

A large and influential meeting of settlers and others was held at Templar's Hotel, on Thursday evening, for the purpose of forwarding the movement now on foot for restoring the above road to the schedule of main lines..... Mr. John Barrow (farmer). Ashwell, .... would further recommend to the Managing Committee to Introduce into the proposed memorial reference to the injury sustained by the trading portion of the community by the North-road being reduced to an impassable condition during a considerable portion of the year.

Bad roads, it was sometimes said, were good for some people; but dray menders, wheelwrights, and blacksmiths' interests formed but a very small portion compared with the interests represented by so large a meeting.

There were very many interests besides farming settlers to be considered, who were not perhaps represented on the present occasion, to whom passable roads were all-important.

There were the country storekeepers, who supplied the rural population - (hear) - the innkeepers, so important to travellers ; the public carriers conveying stores to them; and the builders, so Important to the settlement, and he might say, civilization of a country. (Hear, hear.)

All these required safe and proper means of transit for the materials of their several trades, the bulk of which had to come from the Port, and the blacksmith was therefore equally in want of good roads as his customers. (Hear, and laughter.)

The stage waggons had become an important feature in the interests of the interior; but of how great importance was the transit of stores to the stock stations beyond the settled districts, and the bringing down then produce? They had argued strongly for the corngrower, but here was another end of the staff of life - animal food, and it was as undesirable for the producer as for the consumer that it should come into the market all bones - (great laughter) - and he might add without a tolerable average of fat.

While upon that point he would remark that with an unmade line a flock of sheep was more difficult to drive than if the track was in its centre, and properly defined; hence without the greatest care on the part of the drover the sheep spread, and often did considerable damage to the crops, as well as propagating in their fields the Batthurst burr. (Hear.)

In attempting to bring them along their road in such winters as they now had, they could not be got along in a body, but had to be divided into small detachments, and the cost of tending them was of course increased.

The squatters were therefore much interested in the question before them, for however good the travelling might be along the open country, it could not compensate the owner for having to encounter bog after bog as they came nearer the market. (Hear.)

There was another serious matter to country settlers. The medical men of Gawler and elsewhere had declared that with the North-road in such a condition as during last winter, they could not continue to risk their own lives by attempting in the night time to pass along it.

Here there was another serious ill which residents in the country were exposed to. (Hear, and applause.)

With all these interests to consider, as well as that of the corngrower, who had paid so vast an amount into the Treasury, he trusted the Government would now apply the remedy which they were so justly entitled to claim at their hands. (Applause.)

Mr Green (farmer, Mudla Wirra) in seconding the proposed resolution, said that the interest was spread over all trades and occupations from importer to consumer. It would have to be a matter tor consideration how the road when made was to be maintained. They would all doubtless be willing to fall in with any equitable arrangement, but as that question was not before the meeting -he would waive it.

In the present state of the road in winter teamsters anxious to pick the practicable spots for their teams were continually running foul of their fences, damaging them and causing cattle to get astray to an extent of loss and annoyance that only the unfortunate holders of lands so circumstanced could imagine. (Hear.) The destruction of an entire crop (the husbandman's [?]) was in this way frequently the remit.

His experience in connection with the Government bogs was as disastrous as most of his hearers. He had had a pair of good bullocks smothered to death in Government mud - (laughter) - his land had been bought on the faith of being able to get to and from it when he required; and he had been compelled to cart his produce to market under a loss, when, had their highway been passable all the year, he could have held to advantage instead of contributing to enrich others only. He, and many like him, had been compelled to do their business on the principle that the half loaf was better than no loaf.

It was evident that the bye roads of the country would be better preserved if a well metalled main road was maintained through the district. In thus abandoning it he felt that while, as the resolution stated, every interest in the colony suffered, the purchasers of land in particular had been unjustifiably wronged. (Hear, and approbation.)

The CHAIRMAN, in putting the resolution to the meeting, expressed his strong approval of it, as it showed liberality and disinterestness, and that the present movement was not wholly self-interested, and merely wheat, wheat. The profitable and wholesome condition of cattle intended for human food was a great consideration, and it was to be remembered that when bad roads increased the cost of goods to the up country storekeeper, he most either suffer, or the cost of his commodities must be increased to his customers. (Hear.)

The resolution was then passed with acclamation. Mr. W. Delaney. farmer, Templer's, proposed the following resolution:- "That, in addition to the foregoing and previous resolution, this meeting deems

it desirable that reference should be made in the memorial to the loss and hazard to which Northern corn growers are exposed, from having through the want of roads passable in winter to store their produce early in the year in the hands of other parties - a system fraught with great pecuniary danger in times of speculative excitement".

In proposing the resolution, he would state that, along with some of his neighbours, he had paid dearly tor his experience of Government roads. They had compelled him and them to place their hard-earned property in the hands of others; and when in excitable times unfavorable rumours were afloat they precipitated sales greatly to their disadvantage.

One gentleman present had this season been so circumstanced, because he dare not trust to getting his crop to a market in the winter, and be had in consequence submitted to most serious sacrifice.

In fact, the producers of the district were in this way taxed for the advantage of factors and speculators to an amount greater than would support the best road that could be made. (Great applause.)

If the wrong that Government was inflicting upon them was sought to be justified by the argument that a cheap conveyance existed in the Railway, the excuse was altogether erroneous. (Hear.)

Give them their road, and they would carry cheaper and speedier than the railway. (" True to the letter.")

He showed the previous evening that carriage from Roseworthy to Gawler, some six miles, cost him sixpence a bag, and that drays took it to the mill door for sixpence; but he quite forgot to state that in sending it by steam it took six weeks to get it to the mill. (Roars of laughter.) The speaker proceeded to show that with a road in condition it would in the long run be more advantageous for the miller and factor.

The Manager of the Railway said that it would not pay to construct more tracks to be idle the great part of the year; but if farmers could get to Roseworthy and Gawler stations any time in the year, they would go uniformly all the year round, and his present supply of tracks would be quite ample, and the stations also, instead of Roseworthy being choked up as it was this harvest with a thousand bags stationary for weeks. ("To be sure," and general approbation.)

The culpable conduct of Government, while it was a robbery of the farmers, kept their railway from paying, if ever it would pay. (Several voices - " It never will")

It was said in one of their previous resolutions that the traffic had increased tenfold, but farther calculation satisfied him it was nearer twentyfold.

But a few years ago Pinkstone's Plains and the Alma Plains, like much of their own neighborhood, were all open country; now hardly a farmable section was left on them. With a good main road factors would come up the country at all times, and could contract for delivery all the year, in place of the unsound overwhelming rush that followed the harvest. (Hear, hear.)

Reference had been made to the calamitous fact that medical men had resolved not to face their roads in the winter evenings. That statement he could confirm. He had that morning been in company with two of them, and when it was known that it took them four hours last winter to get over the nine miles from Gawler to Templars by daylight, it might well be asked, how could they be fairly compensated for so great a sacrifice of time and injury to patients in parts more accessible.

Last winter one of them met with a serious accident on their road by night, and he was certainly justified in not again risking his life.

There was another argument which a paternal and thoughtful Government ought not to forget, that some years ago this very road, on the discovery of the Burra Mine, kept the colony from insolvency, and it was hardly honorable to turn the cold shoulder to old friends. (Great laughter.)

While the land along it was in the market it was designated a main line; but when the land was sold off it was coolly shelved, and new roads laid out and money expended where fresh lands were for sale.

But when things come to the worst they are said to mend, and he sincerely trusted they were about to verify the proverb. Apologising for occupying so much of the time of this and the former meeting, the speaker resumed his seat, amid loud approbation. Mr. W. Howard, farmer, as an occupant of lands on the Alma Plains, could testify to the importance of the North-road to himself and fellow settlers. To extricate themselves from a local difficulty they had gone to the expense of cutting two drains; but this accommodation was lost to them when they found that they could not get along the North-road past Templers; he therefore cordially supported the present and previous resolutions.

Mr. Phelps, farmer. Templers, in supporting the resolution, gave some humorous sketches of disasters along the road; as a spring-cart with a loading of a score chickens stuck fast until more draught power could be got to extricate the poultry, and of his taking four bullocks to liberate another spring-cart drawn by two horses having a three cwt. load.

Mr. Woods, farmer, Templers, followed with a lively statement of his 12 bullocks accomplishing 10 miles in two days with 12 bags of wheat, which produced great merriment.

Mr. Symmons, farmer, Templers, was one of the un fortunates who, having stored his wheat, received one day an ominous letter that led him to sell off at 6s. when he might as well have had 12s.

Mr. Hills, farmer. Templers, could not be expected to esteem railways very highly, for his wheat was three weeks going by steam from Freeling to Gawler. (Great laughter.)

Mr. Newman, farmer. Templers, had travelled along their wretched line wet and dry a great deal, and got home at times as late as any of them. (Roars of laughter.) On one occasion he got into a bog on the Saturday, and it took 20 bullocks and a great part of Sunday to get him out of it (Renewed laughter.)

Once his loading of flour got capsized in one of the main line water-holes, and a precious piece of pastry was cooked on the occasion. A loading of beer and wine bottles got drowned at the same time, and after fishing for his bottles half a day he came home with a new top-coat of mud, and a cold in his boots. (Immense laughter.)

He considered their lands were fast diminishing in rains for want of a road.

A Speaker said it cost him some days In the year to re pair his fences, broken by the unfortunate teams drawing alongside them.

Mr. Green said the damage was often done through the carelessness of stranger teamsters, and instead of redress the loss fell on the roadside farmer. On one occasion, when he was knocked up with repairing his fence, broken by a driver bogged at the spot, the reply to an application for damages was a threat to knock him down.

These were some of the special privileges attached to a farm on a Government road. (Great laughter.)

Mr. Harvey, farmer, Templers, had had to pay wheel wrights' bills for broken poles; had had his bollocks' necks broke, and nearly his own - matters of no consequence to Government, but of great consequence to him.

On one occasion he had to take a team of six horses and ten bollocks to draw two and a-half tons; another time his horses were stuck fast, and it took a team of bullocks to get them on to dry land.

... Prior to the chair being vacated, a conversation took place on the subject of maintaining the road, when the adoption of a toll, or equitable rate, or the formation of a District Council, seemed to meet approval; but it was generally considered advisable that that part of the subject should be left to the wisdom of Parliament. A spirited subscription to meet expenses Closed the proceedings.

In order to make this easier to read a few changes have been made to the original paragraphs.

Aboriginal Fire Trees
West of Middle Road
North of Port Germein Gorge Road