Over the Easter long weekend, the Yantanaby Memorial Hall was alive with the sounds of laughter, music and a good amount of talking as Fay Kelsh successfully hosted the Bennie and McInnis family reunion.
Family members travelled from Keith, Hawker, Clare, Adelaide, Moonta, Port Lincoln and Whyalla to attend.
The hall had been decorated with memorabilia including war letters, old photos, books and plaques that provided insights into the life of the families who once lived in the surrounding farming areas.
Original pioneers John and Margaret Bennie sailed from Plymouth in England in 1851 on board the ‘Marion’.
Six months later, Angus and Florina McInnis left Liverpool aboard the ‘Medina’, arriving in Port Adelaide in 1852.
The Bennies settled in the Clare district before moving to Hawker while the McInnis’ joined them from Burra.
At Port Augusta in 1882, John Bennie married Ann McInnis and by 1885, Ann’s sister Elizabeth McInnis had married John’s brother William Govan Bennie at Arkarba, near Hawker.
Together these families with other McInnis descendants, moved to the Streaky Bay district in 1913.
The hall at Yantanaby is of significance as in 1924, Ann Bennie laid the foundation stone in memory of her son Wally and others who had fought in World War I.
On March 3, 1917, John and Ann Bennie’s son William Clarence Bennie of the 27th Battalion, was killed in action at Dernancourt.
On Good Friday, visitors had a tour of property toward the Gawler Ranges, formally leased by the McInnis family.
Many childhood memories were shared by Jack McInnis and Meredith McInnis at sites including ‘The 10 Mile’, ‘Mullundilla’ and ‘Secret Tanks’.
Everyone’s vehicles managed to dodge numerous wombat holes along the way and in true spirit, an outback seafood barbecue was prepared by Katie and Jack McInnis.
On Saturday afternoon, with tour guides Dean Bennie and Jeff Kelsh, properties in the Yantanaby and Cungena districts were visited.
These included Moodlica, the family farm of John and Ann Bennie from 1917, Windy Hill, the family of Angus and Violet McInnis, the family farm of Harold and Jessie Bennie from 1927 and Petra Farm settled by Herbert Bennie and his wife Mary, nee Williams, in 1917.
On Easter Sunday everybody gathered at the hall to commemorate the courage and commitment of the pioneers.
Fay Kelsh created a wreath to which family added red poppies commemorating 100 years since Wally Bennie had been killed in action.
It was a fantastic weekend in which the families came together to revisit where it all began.