In 1876, a South Australian farmer had an idea while ploughing his field. It was rough
and stumpy and because of that, a bolt on his plough broke. He continued ploughing. After a
while he discovered that it was a lot easier to plough with the bolt gone and the plough simply
rode over obstacles such as rocks and roots. Robert Smith went to work and invented his
new plough. Much time and money had gone into the invention, but when he took it to the
Moonta Agricultural Show in South Australia, farmers did not like Smith's invention.
They thought that the land needed to be cleared first and others said that it would not plough
deep enough. However Smith took out a twelve month patent. This meant his
invention would be secure from others who wanted to copy it. Farmers in other
colonies had heard about the stump jump plough and finally saw the benefits of it.
Unfortunately after the twelve months expired Smith had spent so much time and money on
improving his plough that he was left with no money to renew the patent, and nothing stopped
others from developing his plough and selling it.
In 1882 the poverty-stricken, Robert Smith received a reward for all his efforts from the South
Australian Government. He was given money, a gold medal and land. This encouraged him
and he joined with his brother Clarence in developing a new and better stump jump plough.
Robert Smith eventually moved to Western Australia where he set up a factory to manufacture
the ploughs. The stump jump plough became famous all over Australia as well as overseas.
Robert Bowyer Smith died in Perth in 1919.
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