Mar 2018, Kapunda, SA
Kapunda, home to Woody’s Great Great Grandfather for 30 years in the 1800’s is looking neglected and run down. When copper was discovered here it saved the fledgling colony of South Australia from bankruptcy. Now Kapunda appears to be struggling to survive. The Main Street still has a lot of original buildings but not many bustling businesses.
I visit the Info Centre and their resident historian whisks me upstairs and helps me locate on town maps where the family owned sections of land. Once we are back in the car and drive along the Main Street (the road to Adelaide) it is obvious that Francis and his wife owned what appears to be a quarter of the original town. It is impossible to locate where their house once stood but then a railway line now bisects the land. A much newer Francis Street may be a clue and could have been within their property. The Prince of Wales Hotel where their coaching business picked up passengers is run down and now little more than a Sip n Save bottle shop. On a positive note we did manage to find the Wesleyan Church where the family worshipped. Gosh, I wonder if they knew that one of their sons converted to Catholicism.
Worn out from history we wander into the Kapunda North Hotel (we had to go in as it was impossible to read the menu through the stippled glass window) and what a pleasant surprise. It is a friendly old pub with a cheery publican. A large Sidney Kidman mural dominates the wall above the bar. Sir Sidney Kidman used to conduct horse sales in Kapunda in Francis’ time and we wonder if they were known to each other. While Woody enjoys a beer and chats to the publican I race up the street to the museum and wish that I hadn’t bothered. It’s one of those that Woody refers to as a ‘teacup museum’. The lady on duty is helpful but says that they have nothing on the coaching era and hasn’t even heard of our mob, but then I shouldn’t be surprised, after all Woody and his brothers had no idea that a branch of their family was from South Australia or indeed Wesleyan until I spent a few years digging through dusty records.