Whatever your interest in agricultural-based machines, many can be found at Booleroo Centre, 260 kms north of Adelaide. A group of local farmers formed the BSTPS in 1968, and since then the society has acquired an enviable collection of tractors, steam exhibits, stationary engines and equipment associated with our rural industrial and agricultural heritage. The aim of the Booleroo Steam and Traction Preservation Society is: to foster the restoration and preservation of antique steam engines, vehicles, farm tractors and implements which show the technical developments and skills of an era now past.
The oval adjacent the collection, is an ideal venue for the BSTPS to parade their larger mobile items, which are out on show at the annual rally, usually on the last Sunday in March. This is where members of the society get to share their knowledge, promote their cause and the working display of priceless machines enables the public to see machines perform the work they were originally built to do. The 50th rally was held on 25 March 2018.
The most unusual and unique display is dam sinking or scooping, using two 1880s, 26-ton Fowler steam ploughing engines, one at each end of ‘the dam’ site, with the scoop being hauled from one end to the other in turn by wire rope and winch. However not everything on show is huge, noisy or mobile and ‘manned’ by blokes in overalls; smaller items from earlier days are also displayed. Stationary engines range in size from small two-and-a-quarter horse power units, ideal for farm work, a 125 hp Blackstone oil engine, up to the massive 375 hp Mirlees ‘gen set’ which was originally used for power generation in the Snowy Mountains Scheme in the 1950s. Of special interest is a Benz 125 hp model, believed to be out of a WWI (1914-1918) German U-boat, or submarine.
Other displays include bottles, vehicle number plates, sack trucks, bag loaders, buggy steps, plough and cultivator shares, and ships tanks lids. There is an assortment of larger agricultural equipment – harvesters and winnowers, ploughs and windmills and a comprehensive booklet listing the exhibits and the rally program is available. The highlight is the Grand Parade, just as at any other agricultural function, only here the oval is full of machines, not livestock. The rally and/or static display is ideal for school groups to learn more of the heritage and history of mechanisation, especially on the farm and in the paddock.
The society is also custodian of Booleroo Centre and district archival material and the entrance foyer has been developed to give visitors a ‘feel’ for the past through interpretive signage. Whilst the collection is accessible to the public on rally days, visits can also be arranged by appointment.