In 1880, the Kapunda Herald gave an account of an incident on Baker’s Flat involving several of the Irish women living there and some unfortunate would-be fencers. It went something like this.
Three men – William Grabert, Francis Pinn and Robert Hooper – were employed to fence a section on Baker’s Flat. So, bright and early of a Wednesday morning, the men went fencing. They brought a shovel, a pick and a crowbar.
Their arrival on Baker’s Flat was greeted by scores of ‘wives and mothers, who turned out to drive off the would-be despoilers of their hearths and homes’, armed with brooms, sticks and shovels. The women included Ann Slattery, Mary Callaghan, Mary Lacey, Ann Hoare, Catherine Driscoll and Mary Jose.
The fencers were not deterred. Brave and manly men, they were determined to do their duty and dug a hole for the first post.
There were some choice words and threats from the women, who called the fencers ‘vagabonds’, and threatened that they would lose the last drop of their blood before the men could put a pick in the ground. And the men were frightened because the women had sticks, especially Mrs Callaghan who had a ‘good-sized one’. William Grabert told the court later that he had received several pokes in the ribs.
The fencers managed to make a start, but then, after a small skirmish, Mrs Callaghan was able to sit herself in the partially sunk hole, and declare that ‘You will have to sink a hole through my body before you sink a hole in the ground’.
The three fencers went into a huddle, examined their options, and took the decision to retreat, ‘leaving the fair army in triumphant possession of the field’.
They had to leave by crossing the River Light, jeered along the way, including by one woman who told another to ‘do something’ in her shovel and she would plaster their faces with it. On the positive side, no stones or cow dung were thrown! The men later stated they were very glad indeed to get safely home.