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Arkaba Station was first settled in 1851 by two Doctors from England called the Browne Brothers; Doctor William James Browne (1815-1884) and Doctor John Harris Browne (1817-1904). Although the Browne Brothers' names appear in the first South Australian medical register in January 1845 they did not practice much and instead abandoned their medical careers and turned to buying property. They were the second settlers in the region establishing Booborowie Station in 1843.
In 1850 W. J. Browne, J. F Hayward, G. Marchant and an Aboriginal guide explored for more country to the North. Heavy rain stopped the party just north of Hawker so they had to return to Booborowie Station.
William Chace, a stockman for the Brownes, was later sent in 1850 to further explore the country. It was then that Chace discovered the Arkaba, Wilpena and Aroona country (the Chace Range on Arkaba's eastern boundary remains testimony to his work. The Brown Brothers claimed Arkaba and were issued with a Pastoral Lease 129 in July 1851 and engaged Frederick Sinnett, a surveyor from Adelaide to survey their claims.
Early in 1851 they placed managing partners (the Marchant Brothers) in charge, giving each a half share in the property. The Great Drought of the 1860s broke many pastoralists. The Brownes, however, had the means of surviving but not the managers so the Marchant Brothers left Arkaba. The average rainfall is 12 inches per year (30cm).
In December 1862 a camel team returned from Cooper's Creek with the remains of explorers Burke & Wills and camped at Arkaba. John McDouall Stuart also camped at Arkaba on his exploring expeditions to the north.
During the 1890s dingoes posed a great threat for the survival as Arkaba was still unfenced. As a result Arkaba Station changed hands a few times between the 1860s and 1900, the owners not being able to hold on to the property, and was reduced to 460 sq km (180 sq miles or 115,000 acres). Today the property is 260 sq kms (100 sq miles or 64,000 acres).
In 1901 Otto Bartholomaeus purchased Arkaba. Bartholomaeus spent all of his money and borrowed to erect a vermin proof fence 6 feet high. Paddock after paddock was fenced. Bartholomaeus applied for and was granted a perpetual lease. The cost of 14 miles of fencing in 1912-1913 was 954 pounds, labour 324 pounds, material plus freight 630 pounds. A man's wage was 30 shillings. The completion of the dingo fence allowed dingo numbers to be controlled and Arkaba became a successful venture. Otto's son, Frank took over the station and they held it in the family until 1984 when the Rasheed family purchased the property. When the Rasheeds moved to Arkaba in 1984 there was only one road on the property and so destructive were the rabbits that much of the country looked like a moonscape.
The first major project was a program to eradicate vermin by using bulldozers, explosives and chemicals. This project took 14 years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars but the result was magnificent and won them 3 Ibis Awards for Pastoral Management. Bushes and trees that have not been seen for many years returned and the carrying capacity of sheep increased from 3000 to 8000. Also, approximately 10000 feral goats were removed from Arkaba.
The Historic Arkaba Woolshed was built in 1856 and was used as a depot shed for the surrounding properties. The original corrugated iron roof is still on the building to this day, along with the 'kit-form' roof struts which were shipped over from Oregon, USA. Back in the blade shearing days it was a 40 stand shed but now, with electric wide combs, it is a 5 stand shed. Still to this day you will find names etched on the stone wall of shearers gone, dating from today right back to the late 1800s.
The five-bedroom heritage homestead was built in 1856 and retains its original Flinders region settler lines. Originally, it was two cottages and later was joined together with a building between the two. Since then the 'bones' of the homestead have remained the same.