Burra and the East, SA
Less than half an hour’s drive from Burra you can explore the Mongolata Goldfield, part of which is still operating. You can picnic at Burra Creek Gorge or discover the old copper refinery ruins at Apoinga.
On the discovery of copper in 1845, miners flocked from all parts of the world to be a part of the great ‘Monster Mine’. Two groups, nicknamed the Nobs and Snobs, vied for ownership of the copper-bearing land. The Nobs, or Princess Royal Mining Company (PRMC), were capitalists and pastoralists, and included the owners of the Kapunda Mine. The Snobs, or South Australian Mining Association (SAMA), were a group of Adelaide shopkeepers and merchants. Both groups jointly purchased the Burra Creek Special Survey (Monster Mine) and agreed to divide it in two. The PRMC drew the short straw as their preferred southern half produced very little copper ore. The SAMA gained the northern half of the survey and went on to reap the rewards from one of the greatest copper mines of the world.
Although the town is known today as Burra, it had been earlier named Burra Burra by Afghan cameleers which is Hindustani for ‘great great’. It was once a collection of five very distinct townships called: Kooringa, Aberdeen and New Aberdeen, Redruth, Llwchwr (”Lewisher”) and Hampton.
Burra, home of the world famous ‘Monster Mine’ what a town! Burra’s Market Square looks so much part of the nineteenth century that it featured in the film Breaker Morant. Crowds of Cornish miners no longer sprawl out of the pub, instead it is a relaxed, quiet and historic place for a getaway.
Very few of our mid-nineteenth century settlements have been preserved like Burra. It has escaped the ravages of modernisation and through the great work of dedicated and welcoming locals, you can unlock its secrets through its unique and fascinating Heritage Passport Tour. Redruth Gaol, the creek dugout homes, mining sites, old brewery cellars and much more await to bring you a very special heritage experience.
You can even stay in the old mining company cottages in Paxton Square or choose from several authentic heritage listed bed and breakfasts.
On the old copper trail to the southwest of Burra is Farrell Flat, which is home to one of the region’s two airstrips catering for light aircraft. Once a stopover point for bullock and mule teams transporting copper ore to Port Wakefield. At Farrell Flat you can discover the town’s history at an interpretive centre located in the main street community gardens. Visitors can stay at Monaghan’s Cottage B and B and explore the region from this town that is centrally located between Burra and Clare.
Leaving Burra you can take the scenic route south and enjoy the natural beauty and serenity of Burra Creek Gorge, a great picnic spot. Stop in at Robertstown, originally settled by O’Dea who cleverly identified the need for a wine shanty to service the Burra mine traffic along the Great Northern Route. Venture up to Inspiration Point for a magnificent view over Robertstown and surrounding grasslands.
Make sure you ask one of the locals for a mud map on how to find the Apoinga refinery ruins or how to explore the panoramic vistas of the Tothill Ranges. You may wish to stop at one of the secluded spots for a picnic or a walk through the seemingly untouched bushland. Continue through Point Pass once a thriving historic town where many German immigrants settled in the 1850’s.
Then it’s on to Eudunda, originally named Eudundacowi by indigenous aboriginals, meaning ‘water out of the ground’. The town grew rapidly as a German settlement. This is still evident today and a visit to the Heritage Gallery is a must. Literature enthusiasts will be delighted to know that famous Australian author Colin Thiele was born here. The proud community has commissioned a park sculpture in tribute to the author, who is renowned for childhood classics such as ‘Storm Boy’.
Today, Eudunda salutes Colin Thiele with silhouettes of Gustav greeting visitors entering the town. There is also a delightful memorial garden and statue of Theile. And while some may dismiss Eudunda as being in the middle of nowhere, it actually takes centre stage. If you base yourself around Eudunda, you’re less than an hour from the centre of the Clare Valley Wine Region, the Barossa and the Riverland.
Taking another loop, you can head north to Marrabel on the once busy Burra to Kapunda road, the Great Northern Route. This small town is renowned for its annual rodeo on the October long weekend, which has been running since 1935. Look out at the crossroads for Curio the unrideable mare – a large bronze sculpture of a bucking horse and rider.
Travelling north-west to the Barrier Highway, you will come to Saddleworth, settled and named after ‘Saddleworth Lodge’ in Yorkshire by pastoralist James Masters. This town, like many of the others, also enjoyed thriving business during the copper mining boom. Stop in to experience a traditional country town atmosphere, and to wander through the craft shops.
Follow the Burra Antique Trail to Old Wares, The Pharoahs Tomb, Sara’s, The Miners Couch, Griffiths Cottage, Gaslight Collectables and Old Books.
Explore the Tothill Ranges, a nature enthuasist’s haven. Pack a picnic hamper and enjoy the tranquility of an unspoilt environment.
Discover historic Burra by following the unique Burra Heritage Passport Trail. Visit the Burra Visitor Centre to purchase your key to eight National Trust properties and a guide booklet detailing the history of these and other significant buildings throughout the town.
The Burra Creek Gorge offers visitors a unique experience of untouched wilderness. Enjoy exploring the walking trails in an around the gorge, or simply relax and take in the tranquil surroundings.
Journey out to the picturesque Burra Creek Gorge, known by locals as Worlds End Creek. Pack a picnic hamper and enjoy the tranquillity of the unspoilt natural environment.
Explore the public and private galleries of Burra. The Burra Artists’ Trail takes visitors to small galleries, studios and homes to view their work. Also, don’t miss the Regional Art Gallery – the most visited in regional South Australia.
Did You Know?
Mount Bryan East, in blue bush country, was the birthplace of Australia’s famous modern day arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins.
The great Burra Jinker, an exhibit in Market Square, was once pilled by some 40 bullocks, four abreast. Straining to the vivid exhorations of six bullock drivers under the leadership of William Woollacott, they hauled the massive jinker for three months, on a 100 mile journey from Adelaide. In April 2001 the Jinker was included in the BankSA Heritage Icons List.
About Burra and the East
- State: South Australia