History of Loxton

History and Warwick Hack’s Memories of Loxton Town Ag Office and Wanbi Research Centre
1964 & 1970 - 1976

I first had contact with Loxton and Wanbi Research Centre in 1964 when I worked in the Wheat research Unit operating out of Gawler Place, Adelaide. This was also the year we shifted to Northfield Laboratories. Reg French, Senior Research Officer Soils, was Officer in Charge of the move and the inaugural manager of the Northfield  Laboratories  The Wheat Research Unit  had both wheat and barley varietals trials in the Loxton area and on Wanbi Research Centre. Peter Mowett was the agronomist at Loxton and Paul Guerin was the Manager at Wanbi Research Centre. During this year the Horticulture Research Farm at Berri was being wound down and all the operations were being transferred to Loxton.

The Loxton Town Office was upstairs in the building next to the old Police Station and this is where I was located when I arrived at Loxton in Jan 1970. My title was Animal Health Advisor employed with the use of funds from the Commonwealth Extension Services Grant (CESG). The Northern Mallee and the Pinnaroo – Lameroo area had previously been serviced by Stock Inspector, Jack Barbary, from the Murray Bridge Office. I understand that the only other animal health person to be stationed at Loxton was a Stock Inspector, Rhys Roberts, who had been stationed at Loxton some years (13?) before that to assist with the Pleura-Pneumonia Eradication Program in cattle.

My role was to carry out animal health programs ranging from control of sheep lice to eradication of tuberculosis in pigs. I also diagnosed and recommended treatments for diseases in sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry. The only other veterinary service for this area was provided by Rick Humphris who opened up a veterinarian practice at Loxton at the same time as I arrived in Loxton. Rick and I worked very closely together on diagnosing and controlling farm animal diseases in this area.

Extension was carried out by regular newspaper and radio items and as a guest speaker at Agricultural Bureaux, Rural Youth and United Farmers and Stockowners meetings. The ABC reporter at Renmark was Jon Lamb and I made and gave many radio talks with him.

I initiated and commenced a trial for copper and cobalt deficiency in merino lambs in conjunction with Trevor Dillon, Agronomist at Lameroo, and Research Officers from Northfield. Severe copper deficiency in sheep in the Jabuk region was discovered during this trial. Also as a result of this trial I produced a fact sheet on Cobalt deficiency in merino sheep.

The staff at Loxton Town Office in1970s were Ken Wetherby and Andy McCord, Soil Officers; Roger Inglis, Economist; Alan Hincks, Agronomist; Tom Simes, Horticulturist;  Bill Goodes, Horticulture Inspector; Temp Horticulture Inspectors Jim Simpson, Ginty Thom, Brian Weatherall and Pat West the Office Assistant. Other staffs that came and went at the Town Office during this period were David Crawford and Barry Bull – Agronomists, Richard Wood – Soils and Phil Cole - Horticulture Research Officer. David Yeo a Livestock Advisor had an office here for a short period of time.

Ian Bond was the manager at the Loxton Research Centre and operated out of a little tin shed on the end of the implement shed. Keith Watson, Irrigation Research officer, operated out of Glatz’s (?) Cottage which the Department leased.

The manager at Wanbi Research Centre was Gerry Woodroofe. One of the things Gerry did at Wanbi was to dig and use underground bunkers to store grain. Unfortunately when I had to close and sell Wanbi in the 1990s we were never sure that we had recovered all this grain as all those that had been involved in this exercise had left the Department. Wanbi Research Centre was set up in the 1950s?  to develop techniques to stabilize sand hills. An area, containing one of the largest sand hills in the Mallee, was given to the Department and made up approx one third of Wanbi Research Centre. The first trials to take place to stabilize the sand hill were the planting of pyp grass by hand. Cereal rye together with large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous was found to be the answer and this was adopted throughout the state, stabilizing sand hills in both the Mallee and West Coast.

I left Loxton in 1976 to take up a similar position at the Jamestown Office.

During the time I spent at Pt Augusta, 1979-1983, working in the eradication of TB and Brucellosis in the Northern Cattle stations I put together an audio-visual display, containing many slides, of the testing of cattle on these stations. I hope this is still in the archives somewhere and can be used in your project.