The story of Shotfire

It all began several generations ago with James "George" Goddard.

In 1871 he filed a mining prospectus - a simple document by today's standards. But for this sailor, whaler, bullock driver, farmer, prospector, later miner and hotel keeper this was his El Dorado - or more correctly his Lady Alice Mine, at Humbug Scrub in the Barossa Goldfields in South Australia.

The mine continued operations until 1892 when it was flooded by water from a nearby reservoir, and two miners were drowned.

Under George's management, the mine prospered for a considerable time, paying out several thousand pounds in dividends. He, his wife and family lived at Lady Alice where he ran the Hotel and Store until his death in 1897.

His story reads like that of a great wine maker - Prospecting, digging, discovering, building, producing and sharing the spoils.

David and Cheryl Clarke have the Barossa soil in their blood.

In the mid 80's David and Cheryl planted their dream vineyard in the Barossa. "Against the current" is a term that springs to mind. When others were grubbing our vines, David and his inseparable other half were establishing their most fruitful claim.

Cheryl Clarke (nee Thorn) comes from a family of winegrowers whose plantings date back to 1853. They are some of the oldest vines in the world. The Clarke family now has plantings at four locations in the Barossa and Eden Valley.

And of their wines, the complex, rich and full bodied Shotfire Shiraz was voted by Wine Spectator as the 18th best wine in the world in 2005.

Robert Parker proclaimed Thorn-Clarke red wines as some of the greatest value in the marketplace. James Halliday has also given Thorn-Clarke a 5 star rating for Eight consecutive years.

And 2004 Shotfire Quartage was rated the top wine at the 2005 Royal Adelaide Wine Show.

Year after year, Thorn-Clarke strikes more gold.

The shot-firer's legacy.

Above the old Lady Alice Mine in the Southern Barossa, there's a derelict hut on a ridge. This was the magazine, where the mine's founder and first 'shotfirer'; James Goddard stored his gunpowder, caps and fuses.

It was a job not without its risks in the 1870's, perhaps best explained by this droll description.

  1. Drill hole
  2. Load hole with black powder
  3. Tamp in the fuse
  4. Light the fuse
  5. Run

Of course, scrambling three hundred feet up a rough wooded ladder made the last instruction difficult.

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