Kapunda and to the South
Roseworthy has a major grain-holding centre and is home to Roseworthy College, Australia’s first agricultural education centre. The Dryland Farming Museum, situated on campus, is world-class and depicts a typically Australian country lifestyle. Visitors can also take a ride on the miniature railway on the third Sunday of each month.
To the east is Freeling, a quaint rural town with many historical buildings. Wander through the heritage streets at leisure, or follow the walking trail and learn about Freeling’s rich farming history. Look out for the Railway Hotel, featured as the Gungellan Hotel in the Australian television series McLeod’s Daughters.
Just a short drive on is the town of Kapunda, location of the first significant copper mine in Australia’s history. In 1838 when a sheep farmer stumbled over some ‘moss- coloured stones’ on land he didn’t own, it turned out to be a ‘gold mine’ for South Australia, or more correctly, a copper mine. Incredibly, Dutton and his partner, Bagot, had to keep their find a secret for two years while the assay results confirming it as copper ore returned by sea from Wales. In fact, to this day it stands as the highest grade found anywhere in the world. So they then bought the land around Kapunda, announced their discovery, and built Australia’s first mining town. It is said that the million pounds worth of copper it produced saved South Australia from bankruptcy.
The Kapunda Heritage Trail leads you on a 10 kilometre tour through the history and development of Kapunda. Walk through the old mine area, past tunnels, open cuts, and miners’ cottages. Don’t miss the fascinating two-storey folk museum – regarded as the finest in Australia. It has an extensive display of agricultural machinery and a motor pavilion. Among other motoring memorabilia, the pavilion features Kapunda’s old fire engine and ambulance. Bagot’s Fortune is a brilliant interpretive display of the mining history with a working-scale model of Kapunda’s original Cornish Bull Pumping Engine.
On the southern edge of town, visit ‘Map Kernow’, an eight-metre high bronze statue constructed as a tribute to the miners. Admire the many buildings adorned with magnificent ‘Kapunda lacework’, and discover the history of the mining and pastoral empires centred on and near the town. Anlaby Station, originally settled by the Dutton family, is a magnificent example of the latter.
Kapunda is also renowned as once being the home to Australia’s ‘Cattle King’, Sir Sidney Kidman, for more than 40 years. His presence has been etched in the Kapunda community in many ways. From holding horse sales, reputed to be the largest such sales in the world, to the benevolent donation of his family home to the Education Department for use as a high school.
Heading west to the Main North Road one comes to the farming community of Tarlee, a great place to stop for antiques, plus arts and crafts. The Tarlee quarries provided stone for the foundations of many Adelaide buildings, most notably the General Post Office, Railway Station and the South Australian Museum. Stroll down the main street to admire some of Tarlee’s stone buildings and stop for a while at the picnic area. If you plan to stay over, there is a range of accommodation, including a bed and breakfast, motel and nearby farmstay.
If you are in the Clare Valley for Gourmet Weekend, drop into Tarlee for its annual Country Market.
Veering to your right onto the Barrier Highway you will come to Riverton, once a stopover for teamsters hauling copper to Port Adelaide. This charming town continues to thrive as the commercial centre of a rich farming district. The local community has preserved many of the significant heritage buildings, with the Riverton Railway Station being a highlight.
The site of Australia’s first political assassination, it now houses delightful tea-rooms, a gallery and bed and breakfast accommodation. You can also sleep in the tastefully converted old railway carriages.
Further west is Rhynie, which has an historic pub and also a pottery outlet housed in a welcoming old stone building.
To continue the southern loop, travel through Auburn and head west to Balaklava. Visit the Balaklava Courthouse Gallery for inspiring exhibitions by local painters and potters. If you are travelling through in August, don’t miss the annual Balaklava Cup race meeting.
Stop in at the Rocks Reserve just south of Balaklava where you will find a unique formation of rock carved naturally by the River Wakefield. Enjoy the flora and fauna along the many walking tracks in the reserve.
Further south is Mallala, a farming community that is well known as the venue for many national and international motor sport events. These are held at the racetrack built on the site of a World War II air force base. The unusual town centre comprises an intersection of eight roads leading to an impressive war memorial forming a traffic roundabout.
Continuing on towards Adelaide, stop in at Two Wells with its wealth of heritage buildings, all situated on the eastern side of the main street. This quaint town was named after two Aboriginal wells that catered for the bullock teams and shepherds of early days. With progress, they were quickly forgotten and filled in. The local community has now restored these two wells to their former condition, and beautified the setting with gardens and picnic facilities. Follow the Pudnarla Food, Craft and Medicine Trail alongside historical Two Wells.
Go on to visit one of South Australia’s pioneering sites, Port Gawler, which is bounded by the Gawler and Light Rivers.
The nearby Middle Beach Samphire Discovery Trail is also worth visiting and offers the opportunity to take a closer look at our coastal fringe, at the meeting point between the land and the sea.
The trail meanders across tidal creeks, through low samphires and past mangrove trees and takes you along an ancient sand ridge that was, millions of years ago, the original coastline.
Interpretive signage has been placed along the trail to enable visitors to gain an increased understanding of what makes this area unique.
Drive the Kapunda Heritage Trail – a 10 kilometre self-guided tour of Australia’s first significant copper mining town. Guidebooks are available from the Kapunda Visitor Centre.
Don’t miss the fascinating two-storey folk museum regarded as the finest in Australia, and Bagot’s Fortune – a brilliant interpretive display of mining history with a working-scale model of Kapunda’s original Cornish Bull Pumping Engine.
See the Railway Hotel at Freeling, featured as the Gungellan Hotel in the Australian television series McLeod’s Daughters.
Experience some of the most remote and spectacular areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges by exploring the Mawson Trail.
Did You Know?
The historic Riverton Railway Station gained notoriety in 1921 for Australia’s first political assassination. A Russian immigrant, Koorman Tomayeff, travelling by train to Broken Hill fired shots, injuring several people and killing left-wing Member of Parliament Percy Brookfield. Tomayeff never stood trial, as he was certified insane and admitted to a lunatic asylum.
Activites and Experiences at Kapunda and to the South
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