Clare Valley to the North and West, SA
To the north of Burra you will be greeted with what remains of once bustling rural townships. They all have their own story to tell about how they came to be, although most now just serve as small service centres for surrounding properties. However all have escaped modern development and you truly do ‘step back in time’ when you enter these historic townships.
Just a short drive north from Burra is Mount Bryan, a small service town renowned for its quality merino studs, notably Collinsville. Both the Mawson and Heysen trails pass nearby here with basic accommodation available for weary walkers at the old Mount Bryan School House. Approximately 20 kilometres north is the Mount Bryan East Road, which takes you to the birthplace of Sir Hubert Wilkins, one of Australia’s greatest adventurers and Arctic explorers. This cottage has recently been restored into a memorial depicting the architecture of Australian pioneering farming families. Stop at the Mount Bryan or Hallett hotels to obtain a key for entry into the cottage.
How quickly times change in the harsh era of the pastoral pioneers. Hardly had the hue and cry died down after the tragic loss of Henry Bryan, from whom the township’s name evolved, when much of the Mount Bryan district was transformed from a wild and dangerous wasteland to a district which became one of the colony’s richest sheep runs. With Burra not far away, it had no need to grow. Its role has always been to provide services on a local scale, so on your way through call in and have a beer at the Mount Bryan Hotel.
Hallett lies within the northern area of the Mount Lofty Ranges, and was the birthplace of the aviator Sir Hubert Wilkins. From a pile of rubble and a lonely chimney, it has at last been transformed to its former glory, that of a homestead, the birthplace of Sir Hubert and a fitting honour to a great pioneering aviator, explorer, writer and naturalist. Today you can visit the reconstructed home of this great Australian at Mount Bryan East. The town’s story follows the pattern of others in the area, with a population of approximately 100, and it does allow the visitor the opportunity to visit a town of historic importance. While you are in Hallett be sure to call into the Wildongoleeche Hotel.
Located on the Barrier Highway, Hallet is renowned for its quality merino studs, notably Collinsville. Take the ‘Dare’s Hill Circuit’ scenic drive from Hallett through majestic blue bush country. Pocket a guidebook to discover the history of the imposing ruins and learn why the pioneer communities found it necessary to simply desert their homes and livelihoods. You will stumble surprisingly across Dare’s Hill and marvel at the spectacular panorama stretching for miles. Continue along until you reach the highway once again, and then on to the historic town of Terowie.
To the east of Hallett is Tooralie Homestead where you can relax and soak up the country air whilst sitting around a camp fire with friends. Bring your swag, tent or caravan or experience silver service dining and bed and breakfast in the main homestead.
Once a prosperous railway town known as ‘the hub of the north’, Terowie appears relatively untouched by the modern era. On arrival you will soon appreciate why it was declared a historic township in 1985. Stroll through the expansive main street to discover shop facades still in original condition. You will find charming buildings that once housed a blacksmith and newspaper office. Look out for the Pioneer Gallery where you can view a display of the town’s photographic and archival records. Make sure that you visit the old railway station to see the plaque marking the spot where United States General Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous ”I shall return” speech after retreating from the Philippines to Melbourne during the depths of the Second World War. Terowie was the site of a huge military transit camp in those days.
The town of Terowie occupied a unique position within the rail network, and passengers and goods came through Terowie to be transferred from one gauge to another. The railway yards were a hive of activity. Terowie’s population numbered more than 2000 at its peak. In 1969 the broad gauge was extended to Peterborough, and the station became a whistle stop. With the major employment base gone, the town’s population declined to 130 and it appeared that it would become a ghost town. However the last years of the twentieth century attracted new businesses and the refurbishment of many historic buildings. During your visit, be sure to drop into the Pioneer Gallery where you can browse through a photographic display of the town’s history, before heading to the Terowie Hotel for refreshments. The Old Terowie Hospital Retreat is now a bed and breakfast offering visitors a truly unique experience.
The historic railway town of Peterborough is a must for train enthusiasts. The majesty of the great steam era has been well preserved. Take the time to explore the walking and driving trails, or take a guided tour for a further insight into Peterborough’s railway heritage. Visit Steamtown, the only place left in the southern hemisphere where three different rail gauges still exist. There are also two museums and the only Government owned gold battery in South Australia.
Travel west to Jamestown, a picturesque rural township with beautifully maintained gardens and gracious stone buildings. Stroll along the manicured main street and look out for the wall murals adorning many heritage buildings. Wander down to the meandering creek and enjoy the serenity of the bird life – this is ‘a must’ if you happen to be there in the evening as the creek becomes alive with lights. On your way to Spalding, stop in at the beautiful Bundaleer Forest for a picnic lunch, or simply enjoy the many historical and botanical walks.
Travelling south to Spalding, stop in at the beautiful Bundaleer Forest for a picnic lunch or enjoy the many fascinating historical and botanical walks.
For those who enjoy the finer things in life, visit the North Bundaleer Homestead, now a country retreat. A charming farming community is renowned as the location of the largest water catchment area within South Australia. If you enjoy fishing, head out to the Broughton River, just south of the town where you will find large numbers of trout. On your journey south, stop in at Geralka Rural Farm for a tour of the replica Wheal Sarah Copper Mine – an experience not to be missed. Children can view the farm animals and also take a ride on a wagon pulled by a team of magnificent Clydesdales.
Travelling east you will find Brinkworth, a township settled in 1892 after the Victorian gold rush, primarily to service the surrounding pastoralists and farmers. Today Brinkworth continues to provide these services and is also home to a several bed and breakfasts that mainly cater for larger groups.
The expansion of farming in the north saw the settlement of Snowtown on a rapid scale to cater for the growing number of farmers. Snowtown remains a service centre today, providing essential services for the district and a rest for motorists on the busy Stuart Highway.
Booborowie is an Aboriginal word meaning ’round water hole.’ The original Bungaree 24-stand shearing shed still stands and this building was the centre of the district’s social life. A cluster of solid outbuildings demonstrates the quality of East Bungaree’s halcyon years. The Booborowie Hotel is great for a nice meal on Saturday night.
About Clare Valley to the North and West
- State: South Australia