We recently stayed at a delightful camping area known as Worlds End near Burra in South Australia.

Worlds End camping area

A place with a name like that deserves more investigation.

Originally this area would have been named World’s End Reserve, then some years ago the government decided that all apostrophes were to be dropped from place names. A further directive was that any ‘s’ at the end of a word was also to be deleted but somehow Worlds End seems to have been spared.

Information is from the Information boards at Worlds End Reserve, Manning’s Place Names of South Australia (1990 edition) and Westprint. In the research notes the creek running through the reserve is referred to both as Worlds End Creek and Burra Creek. I do not know which is correct.

The World’s End Reserve is also known as The Gorge or Burra Creek Gorge Reserve and is a reserve of some 46 hectares (100 acres) along the World’s End Creek, approximately 25 kilometres southeast of Burra. The reserve is crossed by the Heysen Trail and would be a fine place to take a rest from hiking.

In 1851 Mr D McDonald was granted a lease for 34 square miles (88 square km) of land that became known as the Worlds End run. The run lies on the edge of Goyder’s Line. The generally semi-arid condition of the country, no doubt suggested to early pastoralists that to venture beyond this place was to court disaster and this is probably the origin of the name. McDonald took advantage of the permanent water by placing the head station on the north bank near the gorge. As more holdings were taken up the population of Worlds End increased considerably. Many ruins remain today from the settlement that included numerous residence as well as a post office and telephone exchange, school, hotel, Creamery and Lutheran Church. The Worlds End Wesleyan/Methodist church is still standing today and is located 3.5km north of Worlds End on the Worlds End Highway. This building was erected in 1889 and served as a Methodist church until 1975 and also as a public school from 1889 until it closed in 1944. As many as 70 students attended the school at one time.

Although Worlds End was once a thriving settlement, a township to be called Lapford with 104 housing allotments was surveyed on both sides of the creek but never developed. The Worlds End Reserve campground offers basic bush camping. Picnic tables and pit toilets are available. The reserve has a high conservation and biodiversity value due to its remnant River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and riparian zone. Please respect this ecosystem by ensuring all rubbish is removed or disposed of appropriately. Food scraps attract feral carnivores that threaten native mammal and bird life so please ensure that campsites are left tidy.

Goyders Line passes through the Worlds End Reserve. The reserve receives an average of 280mm (11.5 inches) of rain per year and this amount drops dramatically as you head east into the pastoral country.

Goyders Line. –  George Woodroffe Goyder was the SA Surveyor General in 1864-65. Farming was in its infancy and farmers needed information about undeveloped farmland in the new colony. Goyder was instructed to define on a map a boundary between land where crops could be grown and land where drought prevailed. After an estimated 3200 km on horseback he submitted his report and map to the state government. The line runs from the coast near Ceduna across the Eyre Peninsula to meet the coast again near Arno Bay. From Moonta on the Yorke Peninsula the line runs north to Crystal Brook and Orroroo, across to Peterborough and Burra then south to the Victorian border at Pinnaroo. In effect Goyder’s Line joins places with an average annual rainfall of 10 inches (250 mm). Goyder based his observations on vegetation type. South of the Line is mostly mallee scrubland and to the north is saltbush country. The resulting line was incorporated into an Act of Parliament regulating land purchase and had a major influence on farming in SA. The areas to the north Goyder judged as liable to drought, and the areas to the south were deemed arable. Goyder discouraged farmers from planting crops north of his line, declaring this land suitable only for light grazing. Ample rains fell in 1865, prompting farmers to ignore Goyder’s report and settle in the north, starting farms and planting crops. The idea that rain follows the plow was popular at that time but within a few years many properties were abandoned. The land was unsuitable for crops, and Goyder was proved correct.

In essence Goyder’s Line has proven highly accurate, a notable feat given the limited knowledge of the local climate and vegetation at the time. It has defined the boundary between pastoralism (cattle and sheep production) and agriculture (crop production) and continues to be recognised today.