Site about the Warrakoo Station,
Cal Lal, NSW, Australia.

It's History, and People who settled there
complete with some of their Descendants.

Hi Everyone.

       Re Tantunga :
Several months ago Graham Smith and I met with a stonemason and a heritage consultant to assess the possibility of repairing the original home of Tom & Caroline Smith which was built just prior to their marriage in 1854.

As those who joined us at the last family reunion would recall, white ants and 160+ years of weather has taken its toll - in recent years the roof has blown off and walls starting to crumble.

If we are to save it for future generations to visit and reflect on the life of our ancestors - their first years in Australia, repair work needs to be done very soon - the first stage preferably in the next few months.

So this is a call; asking for anyone who has been, or is currently a stonemason, to lend a hand and those us us with "handyman skills" to help. Perhaps you know a stonemason etc who might help out – maybe at a reduced rate.

I'm also asking for those who are not in a position to help with manual work (including fencing & general cleaning up) to help by making a donation towards the costs.  The more who can help in anyway is appreciated.  Once we know who is available and if we need to employ professionals or not we will be able to assess the amount it might cost to restore, advise everyone, start raising the funds required and organise the working-bees. Please keep an eye on the website that Ian Fisk set up for updates......... www.warrakoo.org

Our priority is to stabilise the building ....... repair the walls (the NE corner a priority) and get a roof on - such to maintain its original appearance (from the outside).  To keep costs down we were advised to secure the new roof to metal framework inside the rooms (in the corners) so not to show on the outside.

We were also advised there is very little government money if any available for this type of project - not worth applying for, only to be given a long list of conditions to abide by.

Could you please copy this note and forward to all relatives via email, Facebook or discuss etc.. asap and drop Graham a line on 0427272494 or email "warrakoo@bigpond.com" or myself  davidsmith5278@gmail.com with any queries or offers to help. Thanks.


David Smith

[Presently working on another large "Frac-fighting project"

Photos taken at the weekend of Oct 17 2015 Reunion are here


About 5 years since the last reunion so the plans for 2015 can be seen below.

My time for organising this reunion has been limited, so a little later than hoped. 
I am very committed to challenging Unconventional Gas (Fracking) in the SE of SA due to the human & animal health risks, as well as the likelihood of contaminating the ground water which would effect businesses/people that rely on it.  To learn more just Google three words "Fracking Birth Effects". (or click here)

Back to the reunion, I hope you can all spread the word - especially to relatives who might not use the internet. 
See you all soon hopefully.


David Smith

Next Re-union - October 17, 2015

Descendants and friends of Tom Smith, (Warrakoo Smith) who arrived in Adelaide 1848 plus his brother Charlie & sister Emily, as well as their uncle Samuel (Yalumba Smith) who arrived in Adelaide in 1847, are all invited to the next Smith Family Reunion.  The venue on this occasion is about 7km from Smith's Yalumba Winery founded in 1849.  Their Wine Room is open daily from 10am-5pm for those who wish to visit.

The date has been set for 17th October 2015 starting at 4pm.  Meal starting at 6pm.

Catering options have been finalised for the Family Reunion. 
A selection of finger-food with tea & coffee will be served at 4pm.   Main meal will be served at 6pm.

Meals must ordered in advance when registering.
To register please contact Graham Smith at warrakoo@bigpond.com  or 0427 272 494

Please either fill out this form (download it, fill it out and hopefully it will be automatically sent to Graham by it being added to ones Mail program outbox) Make sure your open it with Acrobat Reader, fill it out, and Submit it. For good measure save a copy for your records) or alternatively just tell Graham details of your menu requests by email or phone.

The hiring of a mini bus is being investigated to travel from Adelaide to Nuriootpa. Please contact Graham if interested.

Registrations, orders & payments must be completed by 1st October.
Please advise Graham of any special dietary requests.

Adults $48pp (Dessert Optional = $10 extra) 
Children under 12yrs = $20 pp

Please pay at any bank or credit union or via internet banking :

Account Number :  102044465
Payee or Account Name :  SMITH
Reference : Please write/enter your full name

Venue: The Vines Inn Barossa, 14-22 Murray Street, Nuriootpa, South Australia.  Please phone 08 8562 2133 if onsite accommodation is required or email reservations@vineinn.com.au

Coffee & Tea – self serve
Trio of Dips with toasted ciabatta
Mini Herb & Vegetable Quiche
Soup of the Day
Main Course
Dessert - (option) $10.00 per person adult EXTRA

Adult Menu

Potato, Leek and Bacon
With herbed croutons

Main Courses
Grilled 300gm Porterhouse Steak
Cooked medium, served on Dauphinoise potato with a mushroom and bacon sauce
Herb Marinated Chicken Breast
Filled with garlic butter, served on mash with sauce vierge
Grilled Atlantic Salmon
On mash with a tomato and fennel salsa and Hollandaise sauce


Desserts  (option) $10.00 per person EXTRA
Sticky Date Pudding
With butterscotch sauce, cream and strawberry garnish
Blueberry Cheesecake
With berry coulis and mint
German Style Apple Strudel
With whipped cream and icing sugar

Children (Under 12)
Starters, Soup, Main Course & Dessert (ice cream)

The children’s menu includes dessert which is a child’s ice cream, some might not want the starters or soup, so we have decided to include everything for the price, knowing that some might not have it all.

Potato, Leek and Bacon
With herbed croutons

Main Courses
Grilled beef patty with cheese in a burger bun, served with chips
Fish & Chips
Crumbed butterfish, served with chips
Chicken Nuggets
Served with chips
Lasagne Bolognaise
Topped with cheese

Ice Cream
With sprinkles and choice of chocolate, strawberry or caramel topping

Can someone help find and make contact with Samuel Smith's descendants plus the other family lines from Samuel's brother William (other than his son Thomas)?
I am not the family tree expert but the brief history ...........

I have emailed Sam and Robert from Yalumba but they are very busy with running the Yalumba operation which I respect is a very large operation.  As a result they are unable to commit to the task of tracking down long lost relatives.

Samuel Smith (founder of Yalumba) came out to Australia on the "China" in 1847. His nephew Thomas came out to Australiaon the "Bolton" in 1848. Some 33 years later in 1881, Thomas and his family (10 children ?) took up grazing land half way between Wentworth (Mildura) and Renmark and named the property "Warrakoo". The previous 3 reunions have only involved descendants of Thomas.

So, if you can help with the task of tracking relatives - please contact me by email ...... davidsmith5278@gmail.com

David Smith
Kalangadoo SA

Photos of the Nov 20/21 2011 Re-union are here. (from Angela Smith) the webmaster does not know many of the names. Please help identifying the people in these photos by contacting I Fisk. Address here (or adding comments to the photos)

Warrakoo Photos sent by Graham Smith after the 2010 Re-union some 2006 Arial photos and images scanned from old glass plates if anyone can help with names of the people please email me. Address here

David has "Warrakoo" fridge magnets  - 10 for $5 + p&h.
If interested please contact him on
(08) 8739-3153 or Email (please remove 'no spam' from address)

please contact David if you wish to purchase the above fridge madnet. (69x50mm)

Smith Family Tree CD and books (Jan 2009)

Fran Thomas laboured for years on her Smith Family Tree. Although terminally ill with cancer, she managed to produce three books in time for the 2004 Smith Family Reunion in Renmark.

Two of her children, Lorraine Bald and Peter Thomas have now produced a CD which contains the following:-

Read Me file, Smith genealogical Database (in several formats, Gedcom, and Brother's Keeper), Brother's Keeper, Frances Thomas Images and Word Documents includes the raw material (scanned images, electronic text, as was gathered by Frances Thomas up until her health deteriorated in late 2003, in most cases family trees have been traced to our ancestors who arrived in Aust from England.

Obtaining Hard copy Family Trees Listed Below

Hard copies of the following books are available for the following Family Trees.

Please note these are NOT professionally produced glossy productions, they are A4 sheets photocopied (from good quality originals) and then spiral bound.

Smith Family – 3 separate books depending on branch of tree

WT Smith  Approx 586 single sided pages
Mirriam Approx 774 single sided pages
Others Approx 666 single sided pages

Cost is available on request

Thomas Family  
Anne Approx 250 pages single sided pages


Approx 360 pages single sided pages
Maria Approx 440 pages single sided pages
John Approx 258 pages single sided pages
Elisha Approx 214 pages single sided pages
Harriet Approx 268 pages single sided pages
William Approx 464 pages single sided pages
Frederick Approx 328 pages single sided pages
Duncan Family Approx 600 pages single sided pages
Madden Family  Approx 284 pages single sided pages (images to be added)

Generally printing will only be done when a reasonable number of orders have been received usually 2-4 times per year – full payment to be received before copies are sent to printer.

Please contact the below for the CD and/or books.

Contact details:-
Name Phone Email
Lorraine Bald  (03) 5382 5486 kalfbald(at)wimmera.com.au
Shirley Starbuck (03) 5083 7218  
Peter Thomas (03) 9381 1645 thomasp2(at)gmail.com

Peter has also put the tree up on Genesreunted search for Peter Thomas born 1954


From Peter Read and the "Murray Pioneer" 29/4/1994.

"Warrakoo" was taken up by Mr Thomas Smith in 1882. He came to Australia from Dorset England at the age of 19, about the same year that his uncle, Samuel Smith founded the Yalumba vineyards and winery at Angaston SA.

After joining the Victoria gold rush and running a farm in the Keyneton district for 20 years, he came the first owner of Mindarie Station and with his sons William and Harry, sank and timbered numerous wells in the Murray Mallee country.

Thomas Smith moved to "Warrakoo" with his wife, two sons and eight daughters, making a week -long trek by bullock wagon from the Lower Murray.

With daughters joining in such tasks as dairying to supply butter to the passing steamers and scrub rolling to feed the sheep in droughts, the family developed the property into one of the show places of the River Murray.

Gardening and forestry were Tom Smith's hobbies and the orchard attached to his hilltop home supplied fruit to Renmark when the irrigation colony was established in 1887.

William Smith, who became widely known as "Warrakoo" Smith succeeded his father in running the property.

Before the First World War the homesteads of Will and his father were extensively renovated and additional homes built for Wills sons, Gilbert and Norman.

About the same time the large woolshed which still stands today was built. A feature of the shed was a 21 meter long softwood beam was imported from Norway and used to support the shaft for the 10 stands.

Mr Lindsay Smith took over from his father, Norman, as the owner of 'Warrakoo' and later built a new home at "Pine Camp", away from the river, because the proposed Chowilla Dam would have flooded the riverfront homesteads.

The riverfront homesteads were unoccupied for a number of years after the move to "Pine Camp" and Mr Smith subsequently decided to sell the riverfront section, including the old homesteads.

He Later sold "Pine Camp" and moved to the South East SA.

Five generations of the Smith family had lived at "Warrakoo" for a period spanning more than a century and many of their descendents still live in the Renmark and Wentworth Area.

They include the author of this article, Mr Peter Read, who is a grandson of Mr and Mrs Gilbert Smith who moved to Renmark after retiring from "Warrakoo".

The riverfront section of "Warrakoo" has had a succession of colourful owners in the past 20 years. After almost 100 years in the Smith family, part of the property was sold to a Melbourne businessman in 1974. It was subsequently bought by the Hare Krishnas, who ran it as a rural retreat and vegetable farm for their restaurants.

Because of their refusal to shoot kangaroos and emus, the venture was not a great success and the riverfront section including the old homesteads, was sold to a Chinese company which ran an experimental farm on the site.

The most recent owner was a former Melbourne G.P. who based a religious sect there. Bullets were allegedly fired at some visitors and savage dogs and a heavily armed "welcoming party" awaited anyone visiting by road or river.

The neighbouring Cal Lal Gaol complex, which was unoccupied for many years, was redeveloped by 5RM radio announcer, Kris Pickering and his cartoonist brother Larry, in the 1970's. This property was later sold to as Israeli group who operated a commune style operation on the river flats on which the latest owners will grow vegetables.

the above was retyped by the late Fran Thomas.

Origin of the Name :- Peter Read recalls being told by his Grandmother, Anna Smith, that "Warrakoo" is Aboriginal for "big bend in river"

The local Wentworth Shire undertook a Heritage Study in 1989, the study is published on their website. Item 96 in Appendix 5 identifies the heritage value of the Warrakoo homestead.

Museum of Victoria: have an image of Warrakoo at the address below, but have the river incorrectly identified as the Darling!

Thanks to Russell Williams for advising the webmaster of these Web references to Warrakoo.

Googling Warrakoo results in a number of interesting hits, below are some of them:-
an ATSIC document from the ATSIC News September 1999
"Life at Warrakoo Station, a unique alternative sentencing option for Aboriginal offenders."

Another ATSIC document
Warrakoo Station: An Aboriginal-Run Farm for Offenders

From Sunraysia Institute of TAFE (VIC)
"In 1996, the Sunraysia Institute of TAFE provided a farming skills training program at Warrakoo Station, the site for a Life Skills Rehabilitation Program for young Aboriginal offenders. The activities were designed to improve the farming skills of the staff members at Warrakoo Station, provide young offenders with some basic practical training in farm operations and assist them to develop skills in cooperation and team work. They covered livestock management and development, cropping, general farming and farm maintenance skills."

Warrakoo Reach below Lock 7 Oct 2001 Area Photo with Water depths colour coded. This is an SA Water page, follow the links on it to other information on the whole river!

The Murray Pioneer has a number of stories which mention Warrakoo, searching for Warrakoo results in the following. Click the below links to see their archive stories, use your browser's "find" command to find the reference to Warrakoo.

Friday, May 21, 2004 Story about the May 2004 Smith Family Re-union (see some pictures above)
Front Page News - November 6 ,2001 A letter to the Editor about the Warrakoo Sandbar Problems
Front Page News - February , 2003. Letter of Thanks for help after the 2004 Re-union
Friday, January 9, 2004. "Looking back" story, about the "Devil's Elbow
Front Page News - July 2, 2002 "Looking back" story, about Bush Wedding at Warrakoo 1898
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 a Story about the retirement of Darryl Mullins, one time resident
Friday, May 6, 2005 Letter regarding 'Man-made hazard' on Murray near Warrakoo
Front Page News - February , 2003. "Looking back" on the fox debate history.
Front Page News - January 31 , 2003. Story on death of Warrakoo Smith descendant W. Wilkinson.
Front Page News - August 10,1999 More on the River Navigation problems at Warrakoo.
     Thanks again to Russell Williams for reporting these Warrakoo References.

Russell also found a old map of Cal Lal Cemetery here on the NSW Gov Lands Site (only works with IE Browser)

If you have GoogleEarth installed click here to see a satellite picture of the location.

A Few pictures, most taken by I Fisk May 2004 at Warrakoo for Smith Family Re-union

View from Road

Picture taken by Jenny Smith May 2004 (wool shed)

Inside Woolshed

Murray River at Warrakoo

Mrs and Mr "Warrakoo" Smith

Cal Lal Cemetery Headstone for Lizzie and W. T. (Warrakoo) Smith

To send Feedback/contact webmaster/comment please send an Email to
warrakoo(at)ianfisk.org replacing (at) with @

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