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Dalhousie Homestead Ruins Images

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Dalhousie Homestead Ruins - Cities, Towns and Localities

Date Palms Phoenix dactylifera
on Dalhousie Station

Travellers in this remote outback arid region of South Australia, will witness stands of palms, the result of Europeans having once lived and worked this land.

It was thought that the Afghan cameleers introduced the date palms to the Australian outback, however, letters by The Honourable John Lewis mention his involvement in bringing dates to the region.

Now it is recognised that most probably both the Lewis' and the Afghan cameleers played a role in their distribution.

The Dalhousie homestead station has long been abandoned, a decaying site placed on the South Australia State Heritage Register. The only things surviving from that era, are the date palms.

Dalhousie Homestead Ruins / Witjira National Park Images

There is some contention about who planted the Date Palms. Some believe that it was the Afghan cameleers, however The Honourable John Lewis on 3 March 1899 wrote:

'Dates I sent up a box some time ago. I wants (sic) the seeds planted out. They should grow well at the Mission Springs.' (The Mission Springs are approximately two and a half kilometres from the ruins).

In a later letter again writing to his son Essington, The Honourable John wrote:

'I am glad that you have some young ones growing... sow them in all suitable places and protect them.'

In reality, both the Lewis' and the Afghan cameleers probably played a role in their distribution. The propagation of this palm species has been so successful that Dalhousie now resembles an oasis in the desert. Nevertheless, some now choke the springs and are a management problem.

In 1993 some of the palms were burnt. Initially it was thought the destruction would result in the loss of the palms, but time has shown the clearing of dead material has encouraged regeneration.

Date Palms (Phoenix dactylifera) on the former Dalhousie Station
Stand of Date Palms (Phoenix dactylifera) on the former Dalhousie Station
Burnt Date Palms on the Dalhousie Homestead Ruins site
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