It quickly became obvious that the shearing shed and its stock yards were the centre of the group of buildings of the old Balcanoona pastoral Station. The Balcanoona Station pastoral lease was taken up in 1856 on the traditional land of the Adnhamathanha people. The station was acquired by the National Park in 1982.

wool press, Balcanoona shearing shed

The pastoral occupation of the northern arid lands (described by early administrators as the ‘waste lands’) followed fairly closely on the heels of explorers looking for gold. instead found only limited supplies of copper. Numerous small mines opened, proved unprofitable and closed again. The ruins at Bolla Bollana and Yudnamutana are evidence of the optimism of the early miners.

The colonial government was ignorant of the capacity of the northern country to carry stock at sustainable levels and great harm to the country resulted from the high stocking rates and prolonged drought starting from the 1860s. The initial colonial view was that pastoralism would be a sunset industry in what was to be an agricultural society. That South Australia was to be a society of small farmers was a basic tenet of the Wakefield system. The early impact of overstocking on native vegetation was seen as a tolerable precursor to clearing the land for agricultural production in the future.

Balcanoona shearing shed

The country once occupied by Arkaroola Station was not gazetted as open for allotment as a pastoral lease until 1937, as the land had been considered too rough to develop when leases in the area were being vermin fenced to protect the sheep from rabbits, wild dogs and foxes. Arkaroola was only marginal sheep country because of its rugged terrain. Mustering was almost impossible.

In 1967 the property came up for sale, the Sprigg family purchased the property gained permission to start removing livestock, and in 1968 established, the new Arkaroola Village 5km west of the original Station Homestead. the Sprigg family succeeded in having Arkaroola gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary (1969) and a historic reserve (1970). 

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