• Jon Ruwolt

Early Pastoral Pioneers of Snowtown

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

Pastoral pioneers 1

(Captain) John Ellis

Captain John Ellis (c. 1803 – 22 March 1873) was granted the first South Australian pastoral Occupation License in 1845.


  • Ellis was a speculator and a pastoralist with great "resources" (finance).


  • John Ellis arrived in South Australia

from England on the Buckinghamshire (pictured left) on 22 March 1839, in company of his brother George Ellis.

In 1867 John Ellis returned to England but one of his sons remained to manage his South East properties but the Hummocks runs were sold freehold to Robert Barr Smith and John Maslin.


At this time the old Barunga homestead became known as the Hummocks homestead as it still is today.

  • Hummocks homestead from 1858 must be one of only a dozen or so homesteads built in the 1850s in South Australia and still occupied.

  • It is a very unique property with a fascinating history.

John Ellis made a considerable fortune and in 1867 retired to England with his second wife where he died in 1873.


Pastoral pioneers 2


Robert Barr Smith

Robert Barr Smith had a genius for business.

  • He was also a generous philanthropist,

  • though his modesty dictated that much of the funding was dispensed anonymously.


Robert Barr Smith and Joanna Barr Smith

Probably the wealthiest man in South Australia, this Grand Old Man of Australia was largely interested in pastoral properties,

  • and also identified with many public, patriotic, and philanthropic movements,

  • to which he has given donations most liberally,  including notable gifts to the SA State, Adelaide University, the Anglican church, and many other institutions.

In 1869 John Ellis lost the Hummocks lease, and the Government sold the leasehold lands of his Hummocks and Barunga runs to a partnership between Robert Barr Smith and John Maslin.

The Hummocks was a well-established station carrying about 25,000 sheep when it was sold.

  • John Maslin was the resident manager for a period and lived in the Barunga homestead.

  • In 1886 Mr Barr Smith alone took over the Hummocks Station "sheep run" from John Maslin.

  • Go to the page on Robert Barr Smith

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