The Kongorong area was first surveyed in 1910. The Government acquired the land that became the Kongorong District from W J T Clarke, who owned the Mount Schanck Station. The 1893 photo below shows shearers operating at Mount Schanck Station.
The Biggest Family Album of Australia, Museum Victoria
In the 1880s, the Benara Council was formed, but it was several years later when the first public building was built in Kongorong, and served as the Council Chamber until the 1910s when it served as the school. During its life as Council Chambers it was also used for church services, social events and for meetings. In 1932, the Benara and Port MacDonnell District Councils amalgamated and the building became a private residence.
A new school was built in 1925, and by 1981 the grounds included a much larger complex, which incorporated the original stone building.
Much of the area around Kongorong was drained from the early 1900s, opening up more land for farming. The rural area of Kongorong has had many fires recorded, all causing considerable losses to the farming area, with bad fires reported in 1914, 1917, 1918 and the worst in 1959. The fire in 1959 would have to have been the most destructive, not only to Kongorong, but to Mount Schank, Allendale East and across the border into Victoria. The losses of sheep, cattle, homes, sheds, machinery and fodder, plus miles of fencing took its toll on the community and years to replace.
Being a rural area, the development of the area revolved around rural living. Industries in the area included wattle bark stripping, which was taking place as early as 1870. Many landowners stripped trees on their own land to provide extra income. Much of the bark was sold to Wilkes Bark Mill at Port MacDonnell. Wagon-loads of flint pebbles were carted from the coastline adjacent to Kongorong, and used to crush ore and for glazing.
Rabbits caused huge problems for the farmers in the area, eating the grass and eventually the soil had no cover and the areas became eroded. Trappers were employed to reduce rabbit numbers and later fumigation became common practice. During the early 1900s, rabbits were sent to the Compton Rabbit Factory for processing.
1919 saw the building of the Kongorong Cheese Factory. Milk was bought from all around the District, carted by horse and cart over rough tracks. Cheeses were made for local and export markets and provided jobs for many local people. Unfortunately, effluent disposal caused problems and local bores become contaminated. The factory closed in 1971.
The town developed, and so did social and sporting facilities. Horse racing was popular in the late 1800s, although it did not last for many years. Football was played against Mount Gambier teams, and in the 1930s, Kongorong formed a team to play against other nearby towns. A cricket club was formed in the mid 1920s and has had success over the years in various grades. It was in 1925 that a sports ground became available and was used by cricket, football and tennis plus the local school children. Tennis was possibly the first orgnaised sport in Kongorong. Today, the tradition of sport is carried on with football, netball and cricket teams.
A show society was formed in the 1920s and provided an opportunity to showcase local produce, which included horses, the usual side shows and athletic events. With the loss of equipment in the 1959 fire, the society struggled until 1966, when the books closed.
Churches and a hall were built to cater for the spiritual and social needs of the community. The hall opened in 1922 and the Methodist Church at around the same time, and many years later (1963), the Catholic Church. A general store was first opened in 1919, in a room attached to Mr F W Perkins home. As the need arose, the store expanded.
Kongorong still has a primary school that caters for the rural areas as far away as Carpenter Rocks. The rural area supports sheep, cattle, dairy and the new enterprise of grapes.
For further information on Kongorong, click here.