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Cut Hill on the Victor Harbor to Adelaide Road

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by Cecelia (subscribe)
Cecelia writes stories & tutors English. Her ONLINE POETRY COURSE is available at: https://www.openlearning.com/courses/poetry-appreciation-and-analysis-skills. Cecelia's articles are illustrated with photos by Allan who enjoys photography.
Published July 23rd 2016
Check below your feet - present literally rests upon past
Cut Hill Wall, Victor Harbour
Cut Hill Wall, Victor Harbour to Adelaide Road - Photo by Allan


Cut Hill Wall is an interesting place to stop and admire the view when travelling from Victor Harbour to Adelaide via Encounter Bay. The site offers a modest shoulder where you can pull the car off the road, stone picnic table and bins. Cut Hill is heritage listed and boasts two monuments which explain the history of the construction.

Bullock carts were inclined to turn over on the steep hillside, so in 1868 Jabez Grimble was contracted by the Central Roads Board to make the road safer. Jabez had already built bridges and culverts around the Encounter Bay area. From visual inspection, it looks like Jabez and his workmen cut stone out of the side of the hill on one side to create a wider and more passable ledge.

Cut Hill, Victor Harbour, Encounter Bay, Hindmarsh valley
Cut out edge of the hill - Photo by Allan


The workmen then appear to have used the stone to build a retaining wall to stop the outer edge of the road from slipping down into the valley below. The outer edge is also topped with a small safety wall, approximately a meter high, with jagged natural stone topping sometimes referred to as "parapets" (although to me parapets are usually shaped and carved.)

According to SA Conservation and The Dry Stone Wall Association of Australia Inc. this stone masonry is "of the highest standard", and also represents "first-class civil engineering". Moreover, the "grey-green meta-siltstone" abutment is standing "on an impossibly steep slope below" onto which it has somehow been successfully fixed. The wall is constructed purely of dry stone, without the addition of any lime or mortar. While the passer-by may only see the top section, the whole wall is around 5 metres high. Unlike dry-stone walls you may see bordering farm paddocks, this wall is weight bearing and actually supports the road.

Hindmarsh Valley, Encounter Bay, Victor Harbour
Looking into the valley below Cut Hill Wall - Photo by Allan


Dry stone walls are constructed from two outer "walls" leaning into each other, with the space in-between packed solid with small stones. Coping stones are placed along the top. Good quality dry stone walls were extremely strong and have proven to be extremely durable. The walls were built by teams of up to four people working together. According to the Marion Historical Society these teams could build around one square meter at the rate of "a chain a day". (I used a conversion chart to determine a chain is 22 yards or 20.1168 metres).

The known pay-rate for building was about "18 shillings per chain" as this was considered a skilled craft. "Wallers" were also provided with meals and rations for their horses. I do not know whether accommodation was provided, but shearers (who received a similar rate of pay for their services) were usually billeted by the farmers who employed them. I would expect the Council or contractor to do the same.

One sad thing about the stone building story is that according to family sources quoted by the Encounter Bay Family History Group, once the workers had been paid for constructing the wall, there was no money left. Jabez Grimble did not make any profit and had to move on to other work to survive.

Cut Hill Wall, Victor Harbour, Memorial Plaque, Encounter Bay, heritage listed
Memorial Plaque - Photo by Allan


A note about the engineer:

According to the Encounter Bay Family History Group
, Jabez Grimble is also recognised as the one time Chairman of the District Council of Encounter Bay. He assumed office in 1866 and served until 1868. Jabez and his wife, Sophia were involved with the Tabernacle Chapel, where Jabez was a "lay-preacher". Jabez also worked on the building committee for the church at Port Victor (which is now known as Newland Memorial Church, Victor Harbour) and helped build the Anglican Church of St Augustine (Victor Harbour) between 1865 and 1869.

After finishing the Cut Hill project, Jabez Gimble moved to Bald Hill and then Yankalilla. He then travelled interstate to Victoria and NSW, where he worked as a builder and decorator in Sydney until retirement. Jabez is honoured by a reserve in his name on the corner of Prime Boulevard and Wishart Crescent at Encounter Rise.

Cut Hill Wall, Victor Harbour, Encounter Bay, Hindmarsh valley
Cut Hill Wall, Victor Harbour to Adelaide Rd., Encounter Bay - Photo by Allan


References:
encounterbayfhg.org.au/grimble
marion.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Marion-Historical-Society-Newsletter-April-2016.pdf
immigrationplace.com.au/story/jabez-grimble
dswaa.org.au/conserving-australian-dry-stone-walls/conserving-sa-dry-stone-walls
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Where: Cut Hill, Victor Harbor to Adelaide Road
Your Comment
There is a wall along the Yankalilla to Victor road, was this also built by the same team, I always marvel at what these people did way back then. They were so clever. We live in a caldersack and have a very high rocky hill like some in your photos. My husband started to construct a garden there, our neighbour also German has built a terraced dry wall up the she of the hill , we have filled it with plants. Looks great as well.
by Lmd48 (score: 1|13) 477 days ago
I will have to look out for this wall. Fascinating story about Jabez and the stone masons.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|3754) 480 days ago
What a fantastic tale, thanks for sharing it Cecelia.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|10450) 488 days ago
There is a wall along the Yankalilla to Victor road, was this also built by the same team, I always marvel at what these people did way back then. They were so clever. We live in a caldersack and have a very high rocky hill like some in your photos. My husband started to construct a garden there, our neighbour also German has built a terraced dry wall up the she of the hill , we have filled it with plants. Looks great as well.
by Lmd48 (score: 1|13) 486 days ago
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