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Poonindie. This was the boys' accommodation building built in the mid 1850s for the Anglican Poonindie Aboriginal Mission. The Mission closed in 1894. | by denisbin
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Poonindie. This was the boys' accommodation building built in the mid 1850s for the Anglican Poonindie Aboriginal Mission. The Mission closed in 1894.

Poonindie Mission. Henry Hawson’s friend Matthew Smith who bought land in the original Boston Bay Special Survey of 1839 also became the first magistrate of Port Lincoln in 1839. He was the first white man to take out a leasehold estate on Eyre Peninsula which he did in 1842 and he called his run Poonindie Station. Matthew Smith quit the station in the late 1840s and it was then that Archdeacon Matthew Hale and Bishop Short of Adelaide established an Aboriginal Mission at Poonindie in September 1850. When Matthew Smith got rid of Poonindie station he established a cattle run near Coffin Bay.


The Mission got a government grant of land to found the mission to Christianise the local Aboriginal people. Hale had several buildings erected for accommodation and farm purposes with the beautiful stone and brick school room being finally built with a warming fireplace in 1854. When the school room was finished it was so beautiful that Bishop Short decided it would become the church for the mission rather than the school with the first church service being conducted in it in 1855. In the early days Hale only took Aboriginal teenagers from the Adelaide Boarding School for Aborigines. In 1852 that institution had no teenagers available so Hale was compelled by the government become a ration distribution centre for Aborigines and to take any Aboriginal person sent to him by the Sub Protector of Aborigines including adults. Hale set up a small but thriving Aboriginal mission along these lines with families rather than teenagers but in 1856 he moved to Perth to become the Anglican Bishop of Perth. A doctor and surgeon Reverend Hammond took over Poonindie as Superintendent. Hammond stayed at Poonindie mission until 1868 when he moved into Port Lincoln as the Rector of St Thomas’ Anglican Church there. He was then followed by several other Superintendents at Poonindie until Superintendent Bruce arrived in 1882.


The Aboriginal community ran the mission as a 15,000 acre mixed wheat and sheep farm and in some years they sheared 10,000 sheep. The mission was watered by the Tod River. By the 1880s local residents were clamouring for the mission to be closed so that the government could resume the land and put it up for sale. At that time the mission had about 40 Aboriginal people living on it. Closure finally happened in 1894 when Superintendent Bruce who had been there for 12 years. None of the land was sold to Aboriginal people but 300 acres were reserved by the Crown as an Aboriginal Reserve. When Poonindie mission closed the government relocated Aboriginal families, undoubtedly against their wishes, to other missions- Point Pearce mission on Yorke Peninsula with the Narrunga people and Point McLeay mission on the Coorong with the Ngarrindjeri people. In 1896 the Church at Poonindie was re-consecrated as St Matthew’s Anglican Church Poonindie. It is still surrounded by ruins from the days of the mission with barns, cottages and the like. Church services are still regularly held in the Poonindie Church.


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Taken on September 9, 2019