In 1845, a shepherd, William Streair, found an outcrop that indicated copper at the site of the Princess Royal Mine. Shortly after, another shepherd, Thomas Pickett, discovered a large mass of red copper oxide at what was to become Burra.
The mines were opened only after the unlikely combination of two groups. One was comprised of wealthy pastoralists and the other of tradesmen. Together they raised the 20,000 Poundsdemanded by Governor Grey for mining rights to the area.
The purchase accomplished, the 'Nobs' and the 'Snobs' as they were named with typical irony, drew lots for areas. The Nobs drew Princess Royal, which, by 1851, had petered out to become sheep country. The Snobs claim at Burra Burra became the Monster Mine, resulting in enormous wealth for those concerned.
Copper mining at Burra preceded the Victorian gold rush. In fact for a time, between 1851 and 1853, the mines closed, as miners succumbed to the lure of gold.
Cornish miners, Welsh and German smelters, Irish teamsters, English labourers and Spanish muleteers lived in villages, with names of varied derivation :
Kooringa (Aboriginal), Redruth (Cornish) and Copperhouse (Cornish), Aberdeen (Scottish), Llywchrr (Welsh), and Hampton (English). One theory is that Burra Burra was the name given to the creek by Indian coolie shepherds. The word is Hindustani and means Great Great.
The great Jinker, an exhibit near Market Square, recalls Burra's colourful past. With some 40 bullocks, four abreast, straining to the vivid exhortations of six bullock drivers under the leadership of William Woollacott, the boiler for Morphett's shaft was carried aboard the massive jinker for a two month's weary haul over the 100-mile journey from Adelaide to Burra. What an exciting road that must have been, up through Gawler, bustling with teamsters, muleteers and roistering miners on their way to and from the mining towns.
When mining ceased in 1877, Burra became mainly a pastoral centre and continues as such today. Many fascinating buildings and sites remain today, to remind us of those great days. The Burra township is a State Heritage listed area and as such, places great importance on its history and heritage as you can see by the many restored and preserved sites that are a highlight of any visit to this area.
Farrell Flat is on the old copper trail to the south west of Burra and was once a stopover point for bullock and mule teams transporting copper ore to Port Wakefield. At that time the town had enough work for three resident blacksmiths. In 1880 the railway was put through, connecting the town to Burra in the north and Riverton in the south.
Farrell Flat's main industry is the growing, collection, sorting and distribution of a variety of grains from the surrounding farms. Just before harvest the valley is a beautiful patchwork quilt of gold, yellow and purple.
Hallett lies within the northern arm of of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Cutting through the town is the Barrier Highway, a major route from Adelaide to Peterborough, the Flinders Ranges, the Far-North, as well as Silverton and Broken Hill, and to Sydney and Brisbane. This important transport route provided the catalyst for the development of the three towns in the area - Hallett, Whyte-Yarcowie and Terowie.
Other factors contributing towards the development of the district as a whole were the opportunities for pastoral and agricultural industries. Goyder's Line passes right through the middle of the area. When considering the history of the Hallett area, several prominent historical themes can been seen in relation to the development of South Australia as a colony. These include pastoralism, agriculture, transport and railways, military operations and gold mining.
Pioneering settlers were keen to establish runs in the northern part of the State, despite the fact that the area was mostly unexplored and not fully surveyed.
Regardless of the success of pastoralism, agriculture was always considered to be the economic backbone of South Australia. Pastoralism led to wealth for a few whereas agriculture provided a livelihood from the land for a large number of people.
Transport and the Railways
Transport was a vital component of the development of the Hallett area. The three towns in the area are all situated along the Barrier Highway. The railway used to run through the area with a station at each town. Of particular importance was the town of Terowie.
People fromthe Hallett district have fought in and contributed to various wars, including the Boer War, World War I and World War II. Various monuments stand in tribute to the fallen soldiers.
Terowie also played an important part with a large staging camp being situated there, where thousands of soldiers stayed between 1941 and 1945. Some of these buildings still survive including the cell block used to hold soldiers who had misbehaved.
Alluvial gold is distributed over a fairly large area around the Ulooloo Creek and has been mined at intervals over a hundred year period.
Hallett has a general store, op shop, hotel (the Wildongoleeche) and a gallery. This little town is rejuvenating itself as the hub of the three trails (Mawson, Heysen and Dares Hill) and is actively attracting new businesses and residents.
It is also the gateway to many other areas of interest including Terowie, Sir Hubert Wilkin's Homestead, Whyte Yarcowie and Dare's Hill.
Visit the Hallett Website for further information on the town.
Source : Department of Environment and Natural Resources, District Council of Hallett, Heritage Survey
Mt Bryan is situated 16km north of Burra on the Barrier Highway and is surrounded by picturesque hills. It is a small community with outlying farms that produce cereals, cattle, sheep and the famous stud merino sheep. The township was named after Henry Bryan, an assistant surveyor, who perished in the area.
How quickly the times changed in the harsh era of the pastoral pioneers. The district was transformed from a wild and dangerous wasteland to a district which became the colony's richest sheep run.
Mt Bryan was also a booming railway town, with the station being a stopping point for the East-West Express.
Sir Hubert Wilkins grew up in the area and went to school at Mt. Bryan East. He is known as being the most famous explorer and aviator of the northern polar area.
Businesses in Point Pass thrived in its heyday - saddlers, carpenters, blacksmiths, upholsterers, a cheese and butter factory, and even a watchmaker. For all its historic buildings which still stand, Point Pass is now more of a dormitory town for Robertstown and Eudunda. One business which still continues is the Hotel, the doors of which were first opened in 1876. The original stone stables, with mellowed walls two feet thick, are part of the hotel complex.
Two surprises are in store for travellers between Eudunda and Point Pass. The first is the Lutheran Church, serving Point Pass and district, with itsgold painteddomed roof which dazzles motorists as they drive past. The second building of note is the Old Lutheran Boarding College, a complex of graceful proportions with all the rooms fitted out with antiques, each with its own unique theme.
Robertstown owes its origins and history to its location - the only town between the Murray and the Barrier Highway, and strategically situated on the road joining Eudunda and Burra. The district of Robertstown stretches from World's End in the north to Emmaus in the south. Initially the majority of the land was leased to stations that still exist such as Anlaby and Koonoona.
From 1850 onwards the area was surveyed into smaller blocks and settlers moved in. Gradually the population increased to approximately 2,100 in 1936 but more recent times have seen the population remain steady at around 700.
The first settlers in the area were probably overlanders of stock from New South Wales . There are records of a route through Australia Plains, so named for the 'Australia Hut', a pine and daub hut used by drovers and shepherds.
As the years passed, farms became more established and ceased to merely support subsistence farming. Wheat became more and more important. Over the years sheep numbers gradually increased and wool and fat lambs became significant to the economy. As early as 1842, Anlaby Station was listed as the biggest sheep holder in South Australia.
Robertstown grew out of a need for a supply depot and supply of water, as did other towns including Point Pass, Australia Plains, Bower, Black Springs and Emu Downs. The first shop was a wine shanty operated by a Mr. O'Dea. As the settlement grew John Roberts, a Koonunga storekeeper, catered for the inhabitants with his travelling shop. He then settled in the small community and opened a shop and post office. Mail was franked "Roberts Town". His son built a new store - which was subsequently taken over by one of the longer serving employees - and renamed for its new owner "Lehmann's Store" - which still operates today.
The district recently celebrated 125 years and itis very proud of its heritage. A visit to the area will allow you to meet the wonderful people that give the area its character.
Source : Emmaus to World's End.
Visit the Robertstown Website for further information on the town and its services.
Grazing licences were issued around Terowie during the early 1850s. Despite warnings that soils and climate in areas such as Terowie were unsuitable for farming, the grazing lands were subdivided into farm allotments in the early 1870s.
John Aver Mitchell purchased section 158, Hundred of Terowie in 1873 and subdivided it to establish the nucleus of the township. He obtained a licence for the Terowie Hotel, the first building, in 1874, and shortly afterwards a store and blacksmith were established.
The township was gazetted in 1877. It developed remarkably quickly and surrounding sections were also subdivided to extend the town boundaries. By 1881, the population had reached almost 700. From its foundation, Terowie was a major supply centre for the developing areas to the north and north-east.
Even before the arrival of the railway in 1880, each day saw the arrival and departure of horse and bullock wagons and coaches. Terowie became known as 'The Hub of the North' and it was reported that as many as fifty horse and bullock teams were in town at one time.
Shortly after the broad gauge line from Adelaide reached Terowie, it was linked by narrow gauge to Petersburg (now Peterborough) and Broken Hill to Quorn and the northern line. This was eventually extended to Alice Springs, and to Port Augusta and later through there to Western Australia. Terowie occupied a unique position within the rail network and all passengers and goods to and from the northern areas of South Australia and to most States came through Terowie to be transferred from one gauge to another.
The arrival of the railway coincided with mineral discoveries and mining operations in the Broken Hill-Silverton districts, which looked to South Australia as an outlet and for transportation. The development of vast north-eastern pastoral areas of South Australia saw Terowie become the centre from which supplies were drawn, and to which produce was delivered.
The railway yards at Terowie were immense, extending for a length of almost three kilometres including workshops, engine sheds, shunting lines, a turntable, and the trans-shipping yards. The yards were a hive of activity with railway employees and those employed by the trans-shipping contractors numbering several hundred. Terowie's population numbered over 2000 at its peak.
Between 1941-1946, there was a further increase in activity due to the establishment of a large military camp in and around the town to cope with the trans-shipping of men and materials to the north. In March 1942, General Douglas MacArthur gave his first Australian press interview in Terowie after his escape from the Philippines and it was here that he first issued the now famous statement "I came
In 1969 the broad gauge line was extended from Terowie to Peterborough and the station became a whistle-stop. With its major employment base gone, the town's population declined rapidly to about 130. The Barrier Highway, constructed at the same time, by-passed the town and Terowie's stores and shops closed. Itappeared that it would become a ghost town. With a final wrench, the rails that had become idle by the mid 1980s, were removed in 1990 - the rail was required elsewhere. Although almost all the workings and buildings in the railway yards were removed and demolished from the mid 1960s onwards, Terowie has retained a Main Street facade which has been described as unique in Australia.out of Bataan and I shall return."
The last years of the twentieth century witnessed a re-growth. The population has stabilised at about 200. New businesses have been attracted, and many of the historic buildings have been refurbished. In 1985 Terowie was designated an Historic Town - one of only seven in South Australia.
Terowie - The 'place of hidden water' has re-emerged nourishing and nurturing its heritage.
Whyte Yarcowie was surveyed in 1875 and the name Yarcowie is said to be aboriginal for 'wide water". "Whyte" was added to the name in 1929, after an early pastoralist John Whyte.
Alexander McCulloch was the first to pioneer the area and his name is given to McCulloch Square.
The railway station was built in 1880 and Whyte Yarcowie was a good example of a bustling railway town in the early 1900s. The town had a flour mill, schools, hotels and an Anglican Church which, at the time, was reported to be the smallest in Australia.