MORE than 70 descendants of Joseph Cummings and Sam Harris joined together to re-enact the trek these two boys undertook 170 years ago.
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The boys, aged 16 and 14, absconded from a whaling ship at Fowlers Bay in August 1843 intending to walk to Port Lincoln.

However they arrived at Point Drummond, having walked more than 500km where they joined the survey ship The Governor Gawler and sailed to Port Lincoln.

History tells that Edward John Eyre was the only other white man to have traversed this area.

By the mid 1880s, the two boys found themselves living on neighbouring farms at Sheringa – Joseph on Black Hill and Sam on Pine Hut.

A 4WD drive tour of whale bones and the Point Fowler lookout was enjoyed on Friday.

The 30 car convoy left Fowlers Bay at 8.30am Saturday morning.

The evening before an historical interpretive board was unveiled by Ella Allen and Val Mickan, the eldest descendants of both men.

The eldest descendant of the occasion was a sprightly Dorothy Harris who, at the age of 100, travelled from Henley Beach and the youngest was Balyn O’Brien (6 years) from Kyancutta.

Balyn is the sixth generation of Sam Harris.

With a stop-over at Streaky Bay, all joined together for lunch at Eyre’s Water Hole after which they continued on to Lake Newland where they were able to view the fresh water springs fromwhich, after being shown the spot by friendly natives, the two boys were able to get water.

The convoy stayed the night in Elliston, leaving early Sunday morning for Mount Wedge where they travelled by 4WD to the top.

The group was able to view the lush countryside as described by Joseph and Sam.

Joseph and Sam had climbed the mount on foot.

The convoy then visited the homestead ruins of Joseph and Annie Cummings on Black Hill, travelling on to Pine Hut, the chosen lunch spot where the ruins of the homestead of Sam and Elizabeth Harris were inspected.

Travelling on, the group arrived at the Sheringa cemetery where they had identified the 11 graves of the Cummings family and the two Harris graves.

An interpretive board that gives a brief outline of Joseph and Sam’s association with the district was unveiled there by Audine Tree and Dorothy Harris.

By the time the group reached Point Drummond they numbered more than 70 descendants and interested friends.

Several Harris descendants had travelled from interstate to join with the local descendants.

An interpretive history board telling of the story of these two boys erected in the car park at Point Drummond was unveiled by Avis Colbert and Jayden Harris.

Champagne corks popped as the group enjoyed a celebratory toast and nibbles. Reverend Ruth Buxton gave a thought-provoking thanksgiving service, after which We Are One was appropriately played and sung by all present.

In 1900 Joseph Cummings Jnr had written a poem – The Men who Try and Try – which was recorded by Slim Dusty and this CD was played.

The Cummings/Harris Memorial Trek booklet written by Ian Rodgers for all as a souvenir of this memorable occasion tells of the fortitude of these two boys as they trekked through unforgiving native scrub to reach their destination.

However their stories of the land through which they trekked was responsible for explorer Charles Darke and his teambeing sent out to explore the land in more detail, which resulted in the land being opened up to pastoralists.

Thanks went to the Elliston District Council for their donation of the interpretive sign at the Sheringa cemetery, its erection and the preparation of the cemetery grounds.

FOWLERS: Ella Allen and Val Mickan unveiled the interpretive sign at Fowlers Bay.

OLDEST: At the age of 100 Dorothy Harris travelled from Henley Beach to be a part of the occasion.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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