Arno Bay

A large sandy bay, ideal for swimming, windsurfing and sailing, Arno Bay was known as Salt Creek Cove in the early 1880's.  It was an essential landing for sea transport on which the early settlers of Cleve and surrounding inland areas were reliant. The town of Bligh was surveyed and proclaimed by his excellency Samuel J. Way on 18.1.1883. The town was officially renamed Arno Bay in 1940.

The jetty was originally built in 1882 at a cost of L8 424-13-7 ($16,849.36), after much disagreement between the early settlers over the location of a jetty within the region.

In 1905 the jetty was extended by 500 feet (150 metres) to cater for larger vessels and in 1912 it was extended once again to its final length of 1230 ft (370 metres). In later years, due to the port ceasing operations on a commercial basis, the jetty was shortened in 1971 to 695 feet (210 metres) and is now used for recreational purposes.

In the early days, ketches would come to Arno Bay bringing food and goods for settlers of the district. They also picked up grain from Arno Bay to be shipped away. Some names of the various ketches that called; Investigator, Ready, Herbert, Albatross, Victor, Rupara, Morialta, Kapoola, Quorna.


"The locality hereabouts was first settled in 1853 by Dr James McKechnie, who with his two brothers, Donald and Peter, established a sheep run at Wangaraleednie, an aboriginal name said to mean 'hill of the west wind'. The brothers lived in the area until 1869 when James and Donald died and were buried on the property. Peter returned to Scotland, and in 1873 the run was sold to George Melrose, who in his first year shore 30,000 sheep. By 1897 the dingoes had reduced his flock to a mere 1300 and Melrose sold out to a man who subdivided the property into farming blocks. Melrose incidentally is reported to be the first man to release rabbits on Eyre Peninsula; other authorities state Peter McKechnie was responsible.

The township was proclaimed on 6th March 1879, and was named Cleve by Governor Sir William Drummond Jervois, after the family seat in Devon, England, of his aide-de-camp and cousin, Thomas Snow. Cleve in old English means 'cliff' or 'hill'. The plan of the town, like many other country towns, followed the layout of Adelaide with the streets set out in the form of a grid and surrounded by parklands.

The Sims Farm 'Dingle Dell' was a property of 405 hectares which was bequeathed by Mr Gordon Sims to the SA Government in 1960 for research and educational purposes. Miss Audrey Sims, sister of Gordon, was given a life tenure of the property. 109 hectares of the farm was used by the Cleve Area School to train students in agricultural courses which has proved very successful. After her death the SA Government, in 1985, announced it did not propose to establish an agricultural college but would sell the property and use the money for research elsewhere. People of the District and Eyre Peninsula objected strongly and argued it was against the legal and moral terms of the will and that the property should be used to train young farmers. After a great deal of debate the farm was handed over to the Sims Farm Operations Ass Inc in conjunction with the Cleve Area School.

Although Eyre Peninsula contains only 9% of the state's farmers it produces 40% of South Australia's grain harvest, and obviously the average acreage of each farm is much larger than those in other parts of the state. A 1939 report stated farmers on the Peninsula should have a minimum 3000-5000 acre. To farm the land requires large, fast and efficient equipment and the Eyre Peninsula Field Days, held at Cleve, are designed to give both the farming community and general public the opportunity to see and assess the latest machinery, equipment and techniques available. Held every two years, in August, the three day event usually attracts about 25,000 visitors who come to see the millions of dollars worth of machinery, numerous demonstrations and displays".

To and About Eyre Peninsula, Harold Normandale 1986

Darke Peak

"The township takes its name from the nearby hill, Darke Peak, which was named in honour of the explorer, John Charles Darke, whose grave lies on a small plain on the western side of the hill. Darke was buried on 25th October 1844 and the following month Governor Grey expressed a wish that some eminence in the region of the grave would be named to honour him. In 1865 surveyor Thomas Evans who was performing a trigonometrical survey of the Gawler Ranges, in this part of Eyre Peninsula, named the 1564 ft high eminence, Darke Peak.

In 1909, William Greig Evans, son of Thomas Evans, was conducting a survey of the area for the land to be used for agricultural purposes; at the same time a committee enquiring into the necessity of extending the railway north from its terminus at Yeelanna, had caused to camp at Carrapee where William Evan had camp.  The Commission of Crown Lands, who was also Chairman for the Committee, the Hon. L O'loughlin, asked Evans how the name Darke Peak originated. When told, he stated that if the grave could be found he would see the government erected a monument.  Mr William Evans could not help with the grave but he initiated enquiries and subsequently an old settler, Mr Alfred King, revealed that the grave had been pointed out to him by an old blackfellow about 50 years before, and he was able to give a description of where it lay.

The survey party, with other old identities George Standley, C Bull and JT Whyte, attended at the locality, described by Mr King, and found wheel tracks crossing the plain. In some places quite large pines had grown between the wheel tracks. A member of the survey party, Alfred Bristow Oswald, tracked the wheel marks and eventually, by joint effort, the party discovered the presumed site of the grave. To prove whether it was the grave, surveyor Evans was given permission to have the site opened. He did so and human bones were found at a depth of about 4 feet. The authorities, satisfied that the grave had been located, had Evans fence it off and inn 1910 a ten foot high marble obelisk was erected over the grave. It is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and is contained in a small government reserve.

The inscription reads: Sacred to the memory of John Charles Darke Surveyor who was mortally wounded by natives when exploring this locality on October 23rd 1844 and died the following day. Erected by the South Australian Government 1910. The Darke Peak range is about 4 miles long, contains 8 peaks and is composed basically by quartzite. In 1895 it was reported that George Standley was prospecting in the area and in a trial hole, near Darke Peak, had mined ore which assayed 33 ounces of silver to the ton. On the eastern slopes of the range is a quarry from where quartzite is taken for use as road building material, railway and concrete aggregate.

On the southern end of the range can be seen the 2 million gallon service tank to which water from Lock is pumped to supply the town and surrounding farms".

To and About Eyre Peninsula, Harold Normandale 1986


"The location takes its name from the Hundred of Rudall which was named in honour of Samuel Bruce Rudall, a member of parliament".

To and About Eyre Peninsula, Harold Normandale 1986


"This is a native word said to mean 'a range of hills'. At the foot of the hills a short distance from the town, was a fresh water soak, and, in the hills, caves in which aborigines are said to have dwelt. The settlement is comprised of a primary school, CFS depot, district hall, tennis courts; also of interest is the old standpipe which is now a memorial to the early pioneers. It was from such standpipes that farmers filled their tanks with water and carted it back to their farms in the days before water was reticulated to their properties".

To and About Eyre Peninsula, Harold Normandale, 1986


"This was a small settlement which took its name from the Hundred of Verran which was named in honour of John Verran, a Moonta miner who later became Premier of South Australia, 1910 - 1912. There is a modern church - Driver River Uniting Church, recreation reserve and a small Telstra repeating station, also a memorial stone to mark the site of the Verran Siding School which existed 1913 - 1941. There is also a standpipe where farmers, who are not connected to other water reticulation system, can fill their tanks".

To and About Eyre Peninsula, Harold Normandale, 1986