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Burra Town
Burra Town
Burra creek
Sorrel steps back in time for lunch

Burra Town Guide

Thursday, November 28, 2002
Venture back in time to peaceful Burra, Australia's first surveyed mining town.

South Australia's mid-north was a contented sheep grazing area until in 1845 a shepherd discovered a significant ore vein. This was closely followed by another discovery and the peaceful, grassy site quickly turned into a copper mining centre and became Australia's first surveyed mining town.

The townships of Kooringa, Redruth (Cornish), Aberdeen (Scottish), Llwchwr (Welsh) and Hampton (English) collectively became known as The Burra. The different races, cultures and religion enriched the area's history. It quickly grew to become a community of 5000 in 1851 when the population of Adelaide was only 18,000.

The lode lasted only 32 years but in that time ore worth $5 million ($200 million today) was taken from the ground. As the copper petered out in the 1850s, much of the labour rushed to the lure of the new goldfields in Victoria, resulting in interests being abandoned and the mine closing.

Now the historic town of Burra is proud of its heritage and a Burra Passport allows visitors to enjoy around 47 historic sites.

Barbara Wallis runs Mongolata Tours, which take interested people through the town during the day and by torchlight through the cemetery at night.

The Market Square in the centre of Burra is surrounded by Victorian buildings from 1860. Its King Edward VII Memorial rotunda opened in 1911 and the 1852 Bedstone and 1911 hand-pump are other items of historic interest. The Market Square Museum is an original residence and shop, furnished appropriately for its period.

The police lock-up and stables were built in 1847 in an effort to bring some order to the sometimes raunchy town. It is well-preserved, right to its cobbled floors and cell.

Redruth Gaol was built in 1856 and was kept fairly busy. It has an interesting collection depicting prison conditions in the 19th century and was used in the film Breaker Morant.

The cider cellars are in an old mud-brick building, set up to show the cider-crushing process. They also have a methode champenoise process, the same as that used in France, which involves freezing and racks which are more than 100 years old.

Paxton Square is made up of 33 Cornish whitewashed cottages, built between 1849 and 1852. Malowen Lowarth is open to visitors and looks just the way it would have when it was a family home. The others are available as budget accommodation and are particularly popular with families. There is a common yard where children can play, and barbecues for guests' use.

Along Burra Creek you will find the miners' dugouts. The underground houses were small but were occupied by miners and their families who were too poor to live anywhere else.

The Burra Monster Mine site is huge — it is open cut with water in the bottom. Nearby are the lookout, Morphett Enginehouse Museum and the Burra Open Air Mine Museum.

Just a short drive away are the Clare and Barossa Valleys with many wineries open for tours and tastings. Just to the north are the very beautiful Flinders Ranges with their magnificent scenery.


2½ hours north of Adelaide.


Mongolata Walking tours cost $6 per person and last around 1½ hours. Tombstones by Torchlight tours also cost $6 per person.
Burra Heritage Passports cost $15 per person or $24, which includes entry into museums.
Paxton Square Cottages start at $65 per double a night.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Mongolata Walking Tours
Ph: (08) 8892 2233

Burra Visitors Centre: Ph: (08) 8892 2154

Paxton Cottages: Ph: (08) 8892 2622

Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13

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