It is recorded that this was the Country of the Wanyiwalku/Pantyikali. We pay our respects to the elders past, present and emerging.
Byjerkerno is the local Aboriginal word for the white feldspar which is found near where the township of Euriowie once stood. A permanent waterhole sits at the bottom of the gorge, and Aboriginal carvings are etched into nearby rock walls and elsewhere in the locality.
It is doubtful that Charles Sturt explored the Byjerkerno area as his focus had been to find a route westerly in the direction of “Lake Torrens” if possible, but a station property in the area bears his name.
Late in 1863 Abraham and Matilda Wallace walked 1400 sheep from South Australia, crossing the Barrier Ranges near Byjerkerno. Local Aborigines showed them a waterhole in the creek where they settled, naming the locality “Sturts Meadows”. Matilda was the first European woman in the area.
Water supplies for Wallace’s stock were often limited. Regularly they walked the sheep from one waterhole to another across the north, north to Cobham Lake and as far west as Lake Wallace, returning to their old camp when the rains came. Often local Aboriginal people traveled with them, scouting ahead for water and helping to shepherd the sheep.
Eventually the Wallaces built a stone house and Matilda moved into her first home on Sturt’s Meadows in July 1872. The walls of second home built in 1878 remain on the property.
The Barrier Ranges comprise very ancient rocks which have been faulted against one another, folded many times, and fractured and cleaved by the enormous energies involved in constructing a continent. The oldest rocks present are the metamorphic rocks which were deposited between 1710 and 1640 million years ago
The sparse vegetation of the crests includes mulga, dead finish and scattered bluebush but plants are more abundant and diverse on the deeper loamy soils of the foot slopes and valleys.
Pastoralists first settled the area in the early 1860s, and tin ore was discovered in the rugged hills in 1884. The local township of Euriowie was established to service the mines.
Tin was the third most important metal found in the Barrier Ranges employing around 800 men in mines located near Euriowie. A crushing plant was erected at Mount Euriowie mine in 1887 but production was often hampered by a lack of water.
Some early shareholders were rewarded with new found wealth, but these were not rich mines, raising just three or four tons of ore in 1899. By 1901 there were only twelve men employed in the Wheal Byjerkerno Mine.
Euriowie consisted of mostly corrugated iron buildings, but there were two banks as well as three stores and possibly six hotels. As the town declined one hotel remained open until the 1930s when the town was abandoned apart from a tin-dressing plant which continued to operate until just prior to World War II.
In 1892 Euriowie was on the regular Cobb and Co coach route. Passengers wanting to take the coach would catch the train to Tarrawingee from Broken Hill, and then on to Euriowie. From there the coach service would run twice weekly to Cobham, Milparinka and Tibooburra.
In 1918 when the local school closed protests from the local community led it to being reopened on a part-time basis. The teacher alternated between the communities of Euriowie and Tarrawingee.