Famous polar explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins was born in 1888 just east of Hallett, in the humble Netfield cottage. His thirst for excitement and knowledge led him to enjoy a life rich with wondrous experiences. He first travelled overseas in 1908, to follow his passion for the developing craft of cinematography. It was Sir Hubert who is recognised as capturing the first ever combat on film, when in 1912, at 24 years of age he filmed battles during the Balkans War. The following year he made his first Arctic expedition. This would prove to be the first of many, with his fascination for polar adventure keeping him abroad most of his life. For more information on the life of Sir Hubert Wilkins, check out “The Illustrated Sir Hubert Wilkins” by Jeff Maynard.
Visitors can view the birthplace of Sir Hubert Wilkins at the restored Netfield property when they collect a key from the Hallet General Store (Open 7 days – phone 8894 2078)
The restoration of Netfield (the Wilkins Homestead) came about when Rosemary Lehman sent a photo to the editor of Australian Geographic magazine of the ruins of Netfield. This was seen by Dick Smith, who was a devotee of Sir Hubert’s aviation achievements. Dick Smith having flown over Netfield was motivated to have Australian Geographic society to facilitate its restoration.
In hand with a grant arranged by the Australian Geographic society a local volunteer group was formed and the remaining funds were raised in a great start by Susan Tilley who held the ‘Jazz Affair’ at Petherton Homestead. This eventually became the ‘Jazz in the Monster Mine’ event now sadly missing from the Goyder calendar of events.
The Sir Hubert Wilkins Memorial Cottage Committee, a completely volunteer group was given the task of promotion and care of Netfield when is became the property of The Regional council of Goyder. The committee celebrated its 20 th anniversary April 2021.
The homestead is located at Mount Bryan East just a short drive from Hallett or you can follow the Wilkins Drive loop for a more scenic adventure. A daylight visit is recommended as there is no power at the homestead.