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Peake historic settlement in South Australia's mallee

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The town of Peake is named after Archibald Henry Peake (1859-1920), who entered politics in 1897. After a stint as Treasurer, during which several years of good harvests enabled him to bring in a budget surplus and reduce public debt, he bacame Premier of South Australia in 1909.

Just west of the silos is 'Polly's Well', which was sunk by John Whyte, and was an important watering point for Moorlands Station. Early farming settlers in the 1900s depended upon this well, as it would take eight days to travel between Tailem Bend and Pinnaroo by bullock wagon. Water was taken on here for the engines when the steam trains came through.

The District Council of Peake was proclaimed in 1911, and properties were assessed and rates levied from 1912. The task that consumed all local councils at that time was the construction of servicable roads. Local farmers quickly found a way to pay off their council rates by working with teams building roads. Farmers could also make extra income by picking limestone from their paddocks and selling it.

There was very little stone to be found around Lameroo and Pinnaroo, and the Pinnaroo District Council contracted to buy stone from the area between Sherlock and Jabuk. Stone-pickers could earn six shillings per ton. In the 1930s a stone crushing plant was set up at the Peake Railway Station to crush rubble, which was loaded onto eastward-bound trucks. Stone-crushers at Sherlock and Jabuk provided the rubble needed to construct the highway.

A bitumen road was laid between Tailem Bend and Peake, but continued no further because the outbreak of WWII brought roadworks to a halt. Peake has a tavern and public toilets behind the hall.

A brochure for the Peake Historical Walk is available at the shelter near Polly's Well.

Peake Historical Walk

A relatively short walk or drive if you're inclinded allows visitors to see the historic landmarks of Peake. The first is Polly's Well located next to the rest stop, opposite the town oval. Sunk in 1877, the well supplied the town's water. Also you'll find the old Station Masters house (built 1912), the Peake store (built 1937) now the Tavern, the Post Office (1912) and the Bakehouse/Church (1908). The Peake School (1929), Butcher Shop (1900s), Saddlery (1912) and the town Garage which was used from 1956 to 1974.

Mallee Highway Touring Route

Text by Mallee Tracks

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