Christine Goodwin hopes to uncover the mystery of Sunny Brae Farm at Streaky Bay

Adelaide-based artist and writer Christine Goodwin is trying to uncover a historical puzzle about Streaky Bay and former journalist Daisy Bates.

The name Daisy Bates is familiar to many older Eyre Peninsula residents, but not everybody in the Streaky Bay community may be aware of the town's role in her story.

Ms Bates lived in a tent for many years at Ooldea, along the transcontinental railway line, where she documented aspects of Aboriginal culture and became a controversial figure for some of her views.

In her late 80s she often caught the Birdseye bus from Adelaide to Streaky Bay, staying at the Flinders and Criterion hotels, and with several farming families in the district.

Ms Goodwin recently came across a letter written by Ms Bates to an Ararat school principal in 1947 and it was the letter's return address which sparked her interest.

She said Ms Bates gave her address as 'Sunny Brae Farm via Streaky Bay'.

"In the letter Daisy says that she has come to a jolly little farm in the Streaky Bay area, so I wondered where this farm was," Ms Goodwin said.

"It has led me on quite a journey of discovery."

Last year she visited Streaky Bay to look for Sunny Brae Farm and learned that Ms Bates stayed on farms at Westall and Pantoulbie, but could not find a property called Sunny Brae.

"In the letter Daisy says that she honours and respects the fine farmers around her and calls them the 'bravest of the Australians'," Ms Goodwin said.

The Streaky Bay National Trust Museum displays a photo of Ms Bates, Ernestine Hill, Vida Thompson, Phyllis Matthews, Bert Thompson and grandchild Natalie Thompson, taken at Westall.

Ms Hill was the author of My Love Must Wait, a fictionalised account of explorer Matthew Flinders, who named Streaky Bay.

"Later I was interested to read in a new book on Daisy Bates and Ernestine Hill that the other people in this photo are the Matthews family and that the photo was taken at Sunny Brae Farm," Ms Goodwin said.

"So does this mean that the Westall property was known as Sunny Brae Farm at that time?

"Vida and Cyril Thompson owned the Westall property, but did the Matthews family also own or manage a property where Daisy Bates might have stayed?"

Another museum photo shows Ms Bates on a swing at Pantoulbie and the house in the photo has a distinctive chimney, which Ms Godowin later recognised in a Streaky Bay Heritage Study, giving Hospital Drive as the address.

This house is now used for health services associated with Streaky Bay Hospital.

"I had assumed Daisy Bates must have stayed at the property near Eyre's Waterhole, but the Pantoulbie property was originally more extensive, so perhaps she stayed in this house," Ms Goodwin said.

She has started making a series of ceramic artworks linking Daisy Bates and the elusive Sunny Brae Farm with Mrs Mary Norman-Bail and her St Andrew's Path Finder School.

"Mary was a remarkable woman, ahead of her time with a focus on art in the school curriculum," Ms Goodwin said.

"She had apparently written to Daisy Bates, whose reply I found glued inside a book previously owned by Mary.

"It is just an intriguing puzzle that I am trying to solve."

Ms Goodwin hopes that someone with a long memory of Streaky Bay's history can help her solve the puzzle of Sunny Brae Farm.

She wants to know where Sunny Brae was and who owned or managed it in the late 1940s.

You can email Ms Goodwin at if you have more information.