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Edgar Heinrich ZWAR (C6.6)

  • Born: 8 Oct 1903 on Caltowie Farm, South Australia
  • Parents:
    Peter Traugot and Wilhelmine ZWAR nee Wandke
  • Lived:
    On the Caltowie Farm most of life till retiring to nearby town of Laura
  • Died: 6 June 1989 buried Appila Lutheran cemetery.
  • Buried:
  • Link to Family Tree.

Detailed biography

Click here to go to the Edgar Zwar Photo Gallery

Edgar Heinrich ZWAR, the sixth and youngest child of Peter and Minna Zwar.

Youngest Child

Edgar was born on 8th October 1903 on his parent’s farm between Caltowie and Stone Hut in South Australia with the help of his grandmother Lena Zwar as the midwife. He was the youngest of six children born to Peter and Wilhelmina Zwar nee Wandke. He was baptized in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila a month later on 8th November by Pastor Ortenburger. His godparents were Luise Keller, Gustav Sägenschnitter and Carl Jaeschke. [Carl Jaeschke was an uncle by marriage as Carl had married a Wandke, the sister of Edgar’s mother.]

Three years earlier Edgar’s grandmother Lena Zwar had been present on the farm waiting to help with the arrival of a son when the oldest child, Herman, nearly five years old, died in a tragic accident on the farm. The terrible shock brought on the premature birth of their son Oscar who only lived for 13 days. The following year a daughter Marie arrived. Two years later Edgar arrived. Peter and Minna Zwar now had four surviving children, Agnes, Alfred, Marie and Edgar. Edgar would spend most of his life on the farm he was born on.

Zwar Home early 1900’s


The Home

The family lived in the second house built on the farm. The first was a stone hut that consisted of two rooms with a flat iron roof. [One can see this hut featured if one clicks on the Zwar ‘Family Tree’ page of this website – the hut is seen behind the many implements.]

Albert Nayda

A single workman, Albert Nayda lived in this hut. The children loved playing games with him and he helped them with their homework. “He looked after the horses so well he nearly slept with them.” Ed Zwar. Ed remembered he also loved to play cards. He played the accordion and also taught Alf to play too. Peter added a room on the western end of the hut that became a boy’s room. He also added the blacksmith and a buggy shed out of corrugated iron along the northern side of the old hut.

The Zwar Home

Peter’s family lived in the second house. It had two main rooms with a ceiling and a sloping roof (later to be a dining room, and the other – in my time 50 years later – the girl’s bedroom). Along the Eastern side an iron closed in veranda ran along the whole length and included a kitchen. There was a flat iron roofed veranda on the western side too. There was a cellar, but only covered with dirt/soil. Later the builder Maywald made the cellar deeper and built a low stone storeroom room over the top. Later two more main rooms were added on the Western side – later to become the parlour and the main bedroom. The Western veranda was now covered with a curved corrugated iron roof. Just before Ed married, Shepherd, a builder from Laura put a new gable roof on the house and plastered the outer walls.

From Crown Lease to Freehold

The property had only become freehold on the 13th March 1903, the same year Edgar was born. Prior to that it had been leased from the Crown, in the recent years by Charles Kentish who had then bought it on 13th March 1903 for 2 pounds per acre. The Lands department in Adelaide has no records of crown leases, only of freehold purchases, so there are no Land records of the property before 1903. We have records that Peter Zwar leased the farm from Charles Kentish on 1st March 1904. We have the original copies of this five year lease. Peter Zwar bought the property five years later, on 14th September 1908. So there is no written evidence of Peter Zwar leasing the farm for the five years before 1903 because it wasn’t freehold at the time and only a crown lease, for which the government kept no records. Nor have we found any records of the building of the first hut – maybe in the 1880’s – and of the first house that Peter lived in. The Lands department has no records of leased Crown lands.


The children attended the Pine Creek Lutheran school. They headed out east on a solid flat cart pulled by Nellie, an old horse over 20 years old. They first cut across Daly’s [later Kennedy’s and then Ted Lange’s] paddock to a back road to Appila as far as Almond Tree corner, picking up several Lange and Wurst children on the way, and then headed in a western direction where they arrived at the school just after crossing through the Pine Creek. With the old horse the journey to school took about two hours. Pastor Ortenburger and the elders attended the day of their final exams, but not at any other time.

Old Memories from Edgar and his two sisters, Agnes and Marie.

(shared with Kevin Zwar: [24th August 1983] and included the following:)


“In our school exams we had to read and do sums in front of the congregation.


For Christmas we had a big Christmas tree and gifts. We didn’t put on a Christmas Eve nativity service for the congregation. The congregation didn’t have Sunday School because of the Day School we attended.


Our mother was always kind and good to us. She tried to help us with our school and confirmation lessons.


Father worked from morning until it was dark. He was the blacksmith for the farming district. He went to clearing sales and he and Dick Becker would buy up the scrap iron to use in their workshops. Father preferred blacksmith work to the farm work. He had a certificate as a qualified wheelwright and blacksmith. Once he had 20 or more strippers lined up for him to repair the wheels. He made a set of harrows for Langes. He could weld the iron. We girls had to work the bellows.

Wandke family

We hardly ever went to the Adelaide Hills to visit the Wandkes [their mother’s family]. Ed could recall going there once.

Zwar Grandparents

Grandfather Peter Zwar lifted us off the buggy by the head when we were little children. Father could understand grandfather when he spoke in Wendish but he would reply in German. He didn’t speak in Wendish himself. Father always spoke German at home. Grandmother Zwar always baked us a birthday cake and brought the birthday cake to Church on a Sunday.


The Appila Lutheran Day School was way behind. When the government closed the school during the first World War we went to the Stone Hut [public] school and we couldn’t speak English and we failed the spelling tests. It was the only place we learnt anything. We didn’t learn anything in the Appila [Pine Creek] school.

Marie: “The 1914 drought affected the horse we went to school with – Ed got a prickle bush and hit it under the tummy and made it go.”

Edgar said he went to the Stone Hut school for 9 months. Smith was the teacher. “He pulled our hair. We had our hair cut short [crewcut style K Z.] so he couldn’t grip it. Others felt sorry for me as I knew little English, and they helped me a lot. I learnt more in the 9 months there than ever before. Saegenschnitters went there too. When I came home from school my pet kangaroo used to wait at the creek and then he’d race me home [about a kilometre – K Z.]. I was riding a pony.”


Pet Kangaroo



After our schooling was finished we had confirmation lessons for half a day each week. Tuesdays and Fridays generally – it depended on when it suited Pastor Ortenburger. Edgar mentioned to his father one day that he was thinking he’d like to be a pastor. His father replied,

“That’s only for pastor’s sons. Not farmer’s. You’d be better off to go on the road and crack stones.” Edgar was confirmed in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church by Pastor Ortenburger on 18th November 1917.


“After we finished schooling and confirmation we had jobs round the house. Agnes went to help Mrs Herman Pech after her husband died. Marie went to Alf Beckers. We never went out anywhere much. We went to Church on Sunday mornings. We’d go home from church, change the horses and then go to Christenlehre [Young Adult Group that included Bible Study]. There were 40 to 50 at Christenlehre, held in the afternoon. All in German. Choir practice on the other Sundays.”

Agnes and Marie: “We worked stooking hay, loading it – and carting wheat. Marie: “Father sent me to help the neighbour too because he was loading on his own!”

Agnes and Marie each spent three months in the Barossa Valley to learn dressmaking.”

“Both Agnes and Marie learnt to play the organ from Mary Dack in Laura, but after she moved away we didn’t learn any more.”

Our Neighbours

“We visited the Daly’s sometimes – the nearest neighbours, about a mile away. Two Kennedy brothers lived in the old house near Ted Lange’s. They had bought it from Humphries, and later Herb Lange bought it. The Kennedy brothers had an old Oldsmobile car. They often came to play cards. We went to the football with them.” … Ed Zwar.

Mother Wilhelmine (Minna)

“Mother was a good cook. We were never short of anything to eat. We had lots of fowls, sheep and pigs.” Ed Zwar. When mum needed help some of the Altmann’s, Tilly and Lydia [their cousins! K Z]] would come. A girl Jane Drage (?) learnt German from us.”


“We did our shopping at Laura. Our mail was always to the Laura Post Office. It was a bigger place then.”

Share Farming.

The two boys Alf and Ed spent a lot of time and worked together for years. Alf was five years older than Ed and he had a five furrow plough and seven or eight horses. Ed had a three furrow plough and five or six horses. Their grandfather Peter Zwar lived on the Wirrabara farm after 1904 – the year after Ed was born. When Alf was a teenager Alf and young Ed would walk a plough and horses to Wirrabara and stay there a week or so.

The Farm

The home farm was small and some of it badly affected by salt magnesia and not suitable for cropping. A look at the farm on Google Earth shows the affected areas and probably the poorest land in the District. In my days [Kevin Zwar] the neighbouring paddock, then Lange’s, was never cropped and was overgrown with box thorns and we children had great fun hunting rabbits with our dogs. Peter Zwar had made up for the poor quality soil with his blacksmith work, and he also share farmed land. In 1914 he share farmed for Davidson, a bachelor. Then he share farmed land for Kargers, and then for Weston’s [both adjoining the Zwar farm]. Peter also share farmed for Traugott Pech for some years. The land hadn’t been cropped before and the first year they got 8 to 10 bags per acre.

More Land

Peter Traugott Zwar had bought the 99 year lease on a three cornered paddock of 104 acres from Henry Hannett on 4th December 1908. Then he sold it to his son Edgar Heinrich Zwar 5th June 1930 [a few months before Edgar married]. Then it went to Glenn Zwar in 1975.

An aerial photo of the Zwar farm, 1938


The Barn

When Ed was a teenager they built a barn – a huge one for those days.

“The barn was built with native pine timber from the farm at Wirrabara. We sawed the logs ourselves. It was built about the end of the War.” Ed Zwar. In 1919 the silver wedding dinner for their parents was held in the barn. A photo shows numerous relatives and friends posing outside the house. The children met some relatives they had rarely seen before.

The First Car

“Our first car was bought in 1924, a Buick 4, and Father [Peter] drove it, and no one else for quite a while. It was white. The leather upholstery was ‘Zwar’ leather [from the tanneries of Zwar relatives in Victoria. K Z.]. We now had to drive to Church via Staker’s corner as it used to get too wet for the car [leaving home eastwards K Z.] across the flats over to Lange’s.” Ed Zwar


Alf was the first married. He married Jane Borgas (1924). The following year (1925) Agnes also married a Borgas (Emil). Two years later Marie married Herbert Schultz. Ed lived at home with his parents for three years. He was courting Rita Becker. They went to the same Lutheran church at Pine Creek, had gone to school there together, and only lived about five kilometres apart. At the Jamestown show one year Ed’s father had suggested to Emma Becker that Ed and her daughter Rita would make a fine couple, and Emma replied, “But she is so young!”.

Ed’s parents moved to the Laura blocks just outside the Laura township on the 14th August 1930. Six weeks later Edgar Zwar and Rita Becker were married in their home church at Pine Creek on 2nd October 1930. Rita was 22 and Ed almost 27 years old. The church was decked out with many hanging clusters of blue, purple and white Wistaria flowers. The minister was pastor Ern Stolz and they were the first couple he married since coming to the Appila parish to take the place of Pastor Ortenburger who had been the pastor since 1891. Ortenburger and his wife returned to Germany in 1928. They sent the couple he had baptized and confirmed a special greeting from Germany for their marriage.

The wedding reception was held at ‘The Willows’, the Becker homestead.

The Great Depression

The couple married in about the worst financial year of the 20th Century. The Great Depression would run until the Second World War came along. Nobody had money! Ed’s brother gave the couple a haystack as a wedding gift. I asked Ed how he managed in the Depression years. He said there were times they had no money to pay the bills. Sometimes he used tactics like posting off a cheque without signing it. This gave several more weeks of time before the cheque was returned with the message that he had forgotten to sign it! However, they never went without food as they killed their own sheep and pigs for meat, had eggs from the fowls and milk and cream from the cows. They grew some vegetables and were well supplied with vegetables by Rita’s mother Emma Becker who had a large vegetable garden at ‘The Willows’. They baked their own bread.

Both Alf and Ed were to make repayments to their father over the years for their farms. For Alf it was to be 60 pounds per annum [not all the land was cleared] and for Ed 80 pounds. In the Depression years they did what they could but didn’t manage to repay the full amount each year.

There were two breaks that helped Edgar.

The Lanz Bulldog Tractor.

Edgar’s father in law [who died in 1936] had given Edgar 100 pounds to buy a Lanz Bulldog tractor.

“No more horses! The horses tended to get sick and some used to die due to the brackish and salty water. There had been many dry seasons and we used to have to cut about 100 tons a year of feed for the horses. Now I worked the Bulldog day and night and I also worked Priors. This helped me get on my feet.” .. Edgar.

“I remember going to Laura railway station in 1936 to pick up the Lanz Bulldog tractor. Mr. Clark of Appila garage was the agent. He picked it up at the Laura railway station and drove it to our farm at 4 mph. It took him two hours. It had a set of steel wheels that we never used. We fitted it with the rubber tyres that were also supplied with it.“ …son Melville Zwar.

Characteristics of The Unusual Lanz Bulldog Tractor – by Melville Zwar

Starting the Bulldog

On the front of the tractor was a steel housing acting as a head to the piston. Inside this was a hot bulb which was heated to a low glow red by the blow lamp. The blow lamp as it was called used petrol. When lit it was pressurised by a small pump attached to the half litre tank and it gave quite a hot flame to heat the bulb.

Then to start the engine there was a fuel pump with a hand lever which was given 2 or 3 strokes to put fuel into the hot bulb for starting. The steering wheel was used to start the engine, it was designed so it could be taken apart and the wheel end was used on the flywheel. The tractor had one large flywheel (approx. 900mm diam. ) each side about half way along. The steering wheel stem was inserted in to fly wheel and rocked back against compression to make it start. The steering wheel was easily removed because the engine started very slowly, 650 rpm was max. working speed. It could start running either way so you had to make sure it was going the right way (clockwise) This was fairly simple.

The two flywheels were connected by the crankshaft to which was attached a piston (about 250mm diam.) which went backward and forward, not up and down as usual, the hot bulb providing ignition and was always a bright red hot when engine was going.

No idler

It had no idler or governor, which meant when the throttle was put back to idle, it ran erratically. It ran on any combustible fuel, (definitely not water) but recommended was crude oil, a dark coloured cheap fuel, unrefined diesel one might say. It definitely had a loud bang about it, even with a muffler, but all single cylinder engines are noisier than multi cylinder.

Pulling Implements

In those days all implements were operated from the implement which meant steering and all controls including the steering wheel were operated by an extension from the tractor as there were no hydraulics, and all implement controls were from the implement.

One time my father Edgar, after backing the tractor up to the header to hook it on, went and hooked up all the extension bits, got on header to drive off and found out he had forgotten to hook up to the header. Consequently when he released the clutch the tractor took off and left dad sitting on the header. It was all slow motion so he could run and catch up to the tractor and the only damage was a bent up gate.

One other experience was when you were ploughing and the going got a bit heavy and the engine started losing revs, you had to watch out you didn’t get too close to stalling point before releasing the clutch, as when the engine picked up revs again it could well be running backwards so when you went to take off again, forward gear became reverse. It did happen a few times.

Farm Building Changes

The Bulldog Tractor led to a number of building changes. A car shed had already been added to the eastern end of the Barn before Edgar married. It had a cement floor and included a car pit, usually only found in garages. The 1912 model T ford of the parish pastor was serviced in the car shed. Edgar’s first car was a hard top and square shaped tourer Pontiac. Now a tractor shed and truck shed were added along the northern side of the barn.

A major change was the number of haystacks which had been essential to feed the teams of horses. After they had been used up for stock feed these stacks were not all replaced.

In time some of the sheds with straw roofs were converted to iron roofs. The original main shed that had included the stables, the chaff shed, and the original barn where the oldest brother of Edgar had died in a tragic accident in 1900 was rebuilt with corrugated iron roofing. There was a central old wall running through the centre of the main shed that was built of pug and straw.

One section now became the cowshed with the milking machine driven by a petrol engine. The little old straw covered cow shed now became home for the school horses Mick and then Toby, until it was no longer used and was demolished.

The salt damp affected the walls of the farmhouse. About 1938 the builder Shepherd underpinned the walls.

“He used to ride his pushbike out the 12 kilometres from Laura on gravel roads to do up the fretting walls on the house. He arrived early each morning and left when it got dark.” … Melville Zwar.

In 1916 ? Peter Zwar had bought a large Hornsby petrol watercooled 6.5 horse power single piston engine (made in England) at the Laura Show that drove the chaff cutter, and this cut chaff for about 50 years. [The engine still runs and is now on display in the Roseworthy Agricultural College.]

In 1949 Edgar bought his first truck, a Lend Lease green Chevrolet that had previously been an Army truck. Previously he had towed a wagon with the Bulldog tractor to cart his seed wheat and fertiliser on the farm for seeding the wheat, oats and barley crops.

In time the old hut and blacksmith buildings on the farm were replaced by a large iron workshop that included electric machinery like a welder and power tools. The modern farm machinery and implements could be repaired on the farm.

The old sheep yards and a long straw roofed shed where the sheep were shorn in the 1930’s with hand shears were demolished. The sheep were shorn by machines driven by a petrol engine in the Becker shearing shed until more additions were made to the southern side of the big barn on the Zwar home farm. These later extensions included tractor and machinery sheds, and a modern shearing shed with some undercover sheep yards.

Some of the last straw sheds to go were the pig sties. Ed’s children loved to hunt for sparrow eggs in the straw roofs, and sometimes they shared out the eggs and had sparrow eggs fights.

The fowl shed always had an iron roof. The fowls were free range during the day but locked up at night to protect them from foxes. Fox hunting at night with a spotlight and a utility was an exciting night of entertainment with the Becker uncles. There were always far too many rabbits on the farms, and regular efforts to plough the burrows in, and an attempt to gas the warrens were usually losing tactics in a battle until the myxomatosis virus put the farmers on the winning side.


The Becker Family loved fishing. With the Pine Creek running through their farm and next to their house they enjoyed catching yabbies. The Beckers and their spouses co-operatively shared ownership of a long sea fishing net. A major fishing expedition at least once each year was the drive through the Port Germein Gorge to a secluded beach on Spencer Gulf. A team would wade out up to their waists into the sea with one end of the net dragging out behind them, and they pulled it in a half circle back towards the beach to trap fish and crabs. There were usually enough fish for each family to get several feeds. Kevin Zwar remembers hearing on one of these fishing excursions that King George had died.


In the depression years the Karger family in Laura who were friends of the Zwars went bankrupt. They had several paddocks on the southern side of the Zwar farm.

“The bank offered the land to me (and the house in Laura – I refused the house as old Mrs Karger would have had nowhere to live).” Edgar Zwar.

This was good land for cropping. Edgar used the Bulldog tractor and a scoop to add a dam to water the sheep. This land also helped Edgar to get on his feet.

Farm worker Harry Fimmel

“I remember Fimmel quite well. He used to live in the room on the west side of the three rooms behind the blacksmith shop on the farm. He had a horse and hooded buggy he used to get around in. He took Rhonda and me to school when the weather was wet and we couldn’t ride the bike. From this I would guess it would have been 1941-42. I don’t know how long he was on the farm, but used to help with farm work. When our neighbour great uncle Ted Lange lost an arm in a chaffcutter accident, he helped out there for a time. I remember him becoming ill at one time and spent a time in bed and Dr. Tassie (at the time) used to come out daily and see him. The room he lived in became the petrol storage shed later.” … Melville Zwar.


Edgar and Rita had five children between 1932 and 1943 – Melville, Rhonda, Glenn, Kevin and Valma. The first three started their schooling at the Caltowie Extension School only about 3 kilometres from home, and when it closed at the end of term one in 1944 the eldest three then went to the Stone Hut public school, followed by Kevin and Valma who received all of their primary schooling in the Stone Hut school. The children went to school by a horse and jinker. The first horse was called ‘Mick’ and the second one was ‘Toby’. Edgar Zwar was Chairman of the Stone Hut School committee for a number of years.

Pine Creek Church

Edgar took over the ‘Yardmaster’ [Property Caretaker] position for the Pine Creek congregation for 25 years after his father had already held the position for 25 years. He chaired the project for a vast renovation of the Church in the early 1950’s that included a lot of voluntary labour. Edgar spent nearly every weekday with busy bees and the building project at the Church for many months. By then he had two sons who could run the farm.

Wife Rita

Rita cared for and fed the children. On Monday morning she boiled the water in the copper and did the washing, putting the clothes through the ringer and then hanging them out to dry on a long clothes line. There was no refrigerator for the first fifteen years until a kerosene one found a place in the kitchen.

Rita milked the cows by hand in the morning and the evening, helped by the older children, until the milking machine was installed in about 1947. The children were so excited to see the cows milked by machine on the first day they made their horse Toby race all the 8 k’s home so they didn’t miss the first milking by a machine. It was the earliest they ever arrived home from school. When they were old enough the daughters Rhonda and then Valma helped with the milking. They loaded the large and heavy milk cans onto a utility and took it nearly two k’s out to the main road for the Golden North milk truck to collect. In the evening several buckets of milk were carried to the pig sty and fed to the pigs.

The children had their tasks. One collected the eggs and fed the fowls, which were all free farm in those days and only locked up at night to keep them safe from the foxes. Their water trough was topped up from a small rainwater tank. Another chopped the wood and cut some kindling for the stove. Others helped with the milking, from about 7 or 8 cows by hand to about 20 cows after the milking machine arrived.

The Evening Meals

In the cold winter evenings when all the outside jobs were finished and the children came in for the evening meal – we called it ‘tea’ in those days – father would open the flagon of port and pour out a glass of wine for everyone, according to their size. A tiny sherry glass that only held about as much as a thimble for the smallest child and then larger glasses for the older ones according to their age. We never drank beer. The wine came from Uncle Wally Bartsch who worked for a winery in the Barossa Valley.

The evening meal began with table grace, and closed with a a devotion read by Edgar from a series of devotion books supplied by the Lutheran Church. After the children had finished their education at Immanuel College they would later read the devotion for the day. Then Ed and Rita would retire to the lounge to listen to the big radio, and the children would do the dishes.

Ed Zwar home with ‘Freelight’



In 1946 Mr Kranz the electrician in Caltowie installed the 32 volt electrical system powered by a freelight. The children were fascinated to flick a switch and a globe would light up the room. The kerosene lamps and the candles were packed away.

The Country Shows

A major outing in early days had been the Laura Show. The Beckers exhibited horses, fowls, vegetables and other products. In later years after the Laura shows were discontinued, it was the Jamestown Show, and then the Crystal Brook Show also became popular.


Laura was the regular weekly shopping centre. Port Pirie was for major shopping excursions like clothes, visits to the dentist and Christmas presents.


In the morning father would have left for farm work before the children were up for breakfast. After breakfast the children would harness the horse and put it in the jinker and leave for school about 7.30 am and arrive at Stone Hut about an hour later, tie the horse up under a pepper tree that used to be in the old hotel yard [but the hotel had burnt down about ten years earlier] and then walk to the school several streets away.

There was one teacher, and about 20 children in a good year. The Zwar children rarely missed school. The only day they didn’t have to go to school was the day there was a ‘pig killing day’ at home and all the Becker Uncles and Aunts came to help. One year it snowed on pig killing day – the only time there was ever a fall of snow on the Zwar farm. The next day on the way to school the sheep still had snow on their backs.

“On the way to school we had plenty of time to learn memory work for Sunday School at the Pine Creek Lutheran Church on Sundays. I think the hour journey to and from school on the jinker helped mould us together as friends for life!

After school we walked to Woolfords, the only shop in Stone Hut. It was a General store. In Summer we could book up a large bottle of soft drink to share between the two or three of us on the way home. In Winter we could buy a packet of Yo Yo biscuits to share on the jinker on the journey home. If we had pocket money we could buy a little ‘penny’ ice cream [one cent] or a normal single cone for threepence [two cents].“ … Kevin Zwar

Secondary School

The alternatives after primary School were to go to Stone Hut and then catch the School bus to Gladstone High School – about 90 minutes in time, or to stay at home on the farm, or go to boarding school in Adelaide. The five children all went to boarding school at Immanuel Lutheran College in Adelaide. One advantage was that the first year included a thorough Confirmation Course, taken by the Headmaster, Rev J E Auricht. All five children were confirmed in Adelaide by Pastor Auricht.

Immanuel College

Melville was the eldest and the first to go. He had finished Primary School at Stone Hut the same year the Second World War ended. There was still petrol rationing and food rationing. In 1946 Melville was put on the 7 am train at Gladstone with a suitcase of clothes, and along with cousin John Zwar they went on the four hour train journey to Adelaide. They had never been to Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. When they arrived at the Adelaide railway station they had to find their way to Immanuel College in the North Walkerville suburb. Melville went to Immanuel for three years. Then it was Rhonda’s turn for two years, and Glenn for the next two years, followed by Kevin in 1953. Valma also went for two years while Kevin was there too as he followed the call to the Lutheran ministry and went through Immanuel College to complete Leaving Honours. His years included the move of Immanuel College from Walkerville to Novar Gardens.

Farm Water

The salty water had always been like a curse on the Zwar farm. The original settlers had sown plantations of tamarisk trees that were salt tolerant in an attempt to lower the underground salt water table. The water table round the Zwar house was less than two metres in some years.

In the 1950’s this all changed with the connection to the River Murray pipeline. A pipe was run from near where the Caltowie Extension School had stood, about three kilometres south of the Zwar home. In time this river water was connected to troughs in the different paddocks and the windmills went quiet and in time they disappeared from the landscape. The sheep and other farm stock thrived on the clear river water.


A major development for Edgar was to begin share farming for the Featherstonehaugh brothers Franck and Percival. They had no sons and Edgar and his two eldest sons Melville and Glenn share farmed their large properties for many years. They were great to work for. In the worst drought years they generously told Edgar he could have what little crop there was as he had a family of five children to keep and feed.

Farm House Extensions

In the nineteen forties a new laundry and a boys room, with an enclosed veranda, were added to the southern side of the Zwar house. In 1953 the front veranda and front rooms of the house were changed. A new kitchen was added. The old kitchen was divided to became a sewing room and a new bathroom. An indoor toilet was added to the house to fill the role of the old outdoor thunder drop toilet that had stood next to a tamarisk tree near the old cow shed. The undergound tank that had served as the fresh water supply was filled in.

240 Volt Powerlines

In the late 1950’s the 240 volt power line was connected to the farm. The old 32 volt glass batteries were retired. Dumped outside they would break apart in the cold frosts and then end up in a deep gutter leading into the salt creek which had become the major rubbish tip for the farm.

The 240 volt power was a great improvement on the old 32 volt system. Many more items could be connected to the power and it was far more stable and reliable than the 32 volt system.


During the Korean war the price of wool boomed and helped farmers in the District get on their feet financially. During these years the Zwars ran about two thousand sheep, many on share farms.


The Appila Lutheran Parish were great supporters of the Hermannsburg Mission in Central Australia. Members worked there in different roles, including lay administration, as teachers, missionaries, builders and water explorers. In the late fifties Edgar spent three months to help build the Aryonga Lutheran Church. He enjoyed living and working with the aboriginal people.


In mid 1963 Edgar and Rita joined a group of Lutherans on a trip to Europe that included the Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Helsinki. The sea journey and the visit to Europe were broadening and exciting experiences for the couple who had never been overseas.

Retirement to Laura

Edgar and Rita retired in the late 1970’s from the farm where Edgar had been born and had spent all his life so far to a house in Laura.

They enjoyed spending time with family, relatives and friends, and playing lawn bowls. Edgar lost his wife Rita to cancer on 10th January 1988. Edgar passed away in the Laura hospital eighteen months later on 6th June 1989, aged 85 years following severe heart attacks. He had served on the Hospital Committee, for many years as chairman, and he had fought to keep the hospital open when there were government moves to close it.

Edgar and Rita were buried in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila, where they had both gone to school and to church together.

The old farm house became vacant when they moved into Laura and has since deteriorated to the point where the floor boards are breaking, several sheets of the iron roof have blown away and decay has set in.

In 2010 Kevin Zwar took some of the original timber from a doorway of the parlour, and used the timbers to frame a painting that his auntie Agnes Borgas nee Zwar had commissioned her daughter in law to paint from a photo taken in the very early days when Agnes had lived there as a child.

The property remains in the Zwar family.

© Kevin P Zwar