On the hill overlooking Rocklands Reservoir, the locals have set up several pieces of agricultural equipment for permanent display. This one is a stump jump plough, originally invented 1876 in South Australia by Richard Bowyer Smith (1837-1919).


An ordinary plough couldn’t cope with constantly hitting rocks or stumps from recently cleared fields, so Mr Smith came up with a blade system that kicked up out of the way when it hit an obstacle, and which could be dropped down again, by hand.


B-64256 SLV stump plough

Rough sketch of the first single furrow stump jumping plough known as ‘the Vixen’ made by Mr. R. B. Smith of Kalkabury in June 1876.
Image: State Library of South Australia [B 64256]

In the following years, others manufactured the stump jump ploughs, some having as many as 12 blades. The flexibility was added to other types, including disc harrowers.


Fallowing with a stump jump mold board plough on S.J.Venning’s property near Pinnaroo. Image: State Library of South Australia [B 20498]

It would’ve been informative if these pieces of machinery at Rocklands had little plaques, saying what they were, but I was able to find out easily enough.


Thanks for looking.



An Aussie invention: Stump Jump Plough


5 thoughts on “An Aussie invention: Stump Jump Plough

  1. Interesting. And I’m thinking when European fields were first tilled, the larger rocks were removed by hand, stacked to build field walls, or used as paving. No ploughs back in the day, just a fancy and strong stick. How times change.

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  2. sue says:

    I remember learning about the stump jump plough in school although the name Smith doesn’t ring a bell. All the stone fences were built by “Depression” workers and also the roads I believe (at least in the northern suburbs of Victoria). A van or truck would arrive at a fixed location each morning where anyone wishing to work for a few shillings a day would line up. They would be taken out to the countryside where they did this work and then returned at night. I don’t know if the roads around Epping, King Lake, Mernda etc. still have any of the fences left.

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