This page contains details on new books related to South Australian mining history and heritage.  The Webmaster welcomes relevant new book releases and reviews from members and others interested in South Australian mining history.  Active items may remain indefinitely.  They are arranged in date order.

New Books

Captain Bagot’s Mine: history of the Kapunda Mine 1844-1916bagot.jpg
Greg Drew, 2017.  Published by the author, Adelaide SA, A4, 192 pp. $49.95
To be launched in August 2017.

To order a copy, Greg Drew 82786732 or email

In Captain Bagot’s Mine Greg Drew has prepared an engaging essay, capturing every turn in the legal, technical, financial, and social aspects of this piece of South Australian history. Well documented and nicely illustrated, the book is, too, a fascinating case study of the development of a mining enterprise in a distant new land, attracting as it did from afar the technical specialists and skilled labourers essential to success.

The Coober Pedy Blowerbritt.jpg
Sue Britt, 2015. Peacock Publications, Adelaide SA, A4, 24 pp. $20 incl. postage.
To order a copy, Sue Britt, 8672 3542 or
This is a history of a unique mining machine that was created by Coober Pedy opal miners. The blower, a mobile pneumatic suction device, sparked off the boom of the 1970s, a time when the world market demanded all the opal that could be produced. Used to remove both mullock and bad air after explosives, the blower eliminated down time and enabled continuous mining, revolutionising opal mining. It is told through the stories of the men and women who designed, built and used the blower. Over 60 photos illustrate the character and individual features of each machine.

Mining Towns: Making a Living, making a lifeeklund.jpg
Erik Eklund, 2012.
  University of NSW Press, 23.4×15.3mm, 400 pp. p/back, $49.99.  To order.
At any given moment in our history Australia has been in the middle of a mining boom. This timely book is a history of the iconic Australian towns that arose with these booms over a century: Broken Hill, Mount Isa, Queenstown, Mount Morgan, Port Pirie and Kambalda. Mining Towns shows the rich cultural and historical legacy these towns helped create as townspeople - those working below the ground and those above - sought to make their lives in them.   Review

Regional Australia and the Great War.  “The boys from Old Kio”
payton-2.jpgPhilip Payton, 2012.  University of Exeter Press, 24cm, 272 pp, 79 ill., $44.95 p/back, $135 h/cover.  Available from Footprint Books
Philip Payton provides a vivid insight into the experiences of regional Australia during the Great War of 1914-18. Alighting upon ‘old Kio’, the copper-mining communities of South Australia’s northern Yorke Peninsula,  he describes the relationship between the ‘homefront’ and the ‘battlefront’ half-a-world away. He draws an intimate portrait of Australia at war, from the lives (and deaths) of local soldiers - all volunteers - in the trenches far from home to the myriad reactions and activities of those in a community struggling to grasp the enormity of the situation in which it found itself.   Review

Cornish Beam Engines in South Australian mines
drew.jpgGreg Drew and Jack Connell, 2nd Edition, 2012.  Dept for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy, A4, 196 pp, 159 photos, 105 ill., p/back, $30 plus postage.  To order 
Cornish miners and engineers played a central role in the early development of the South Australia’s mining industry and it was therefore natural that Cornish machinery and mining methods were adopted. The successful mining of copper would not have been possible without Cornish beam engines, which drained mines, raised ore, and powered crushing and concentrating machinery. This revised and
updated publication presents a thoroughly researched historical review from a SA perspective that includes engineering aspects and practices of a mining era that had such a profound impact on the State’s development.   Review

Women of gold: the unsung heroines of the goldfields
kakoschke.jpgKevin Kokoschke, 2011.   Eureka Printing, 25cm, 180 pp, ill., facsims., maps, $35 (plus postage).   To order email
This book is a blend of historical facts with a dash of humour. The stories are of the NE Goldfields of South Australia including Teetulpa and Waukaringa during the late 1800s and 1930s depressions.  Cases of the hardships experienced by some women on the goldfields, is injected into the mining narrative, to both humanise and personalise, what is generally accepted as a man’s realm. The role of women, how they coped in the harsh desert conditions, of personal tragedies, love, marriage, birth and death.

Henry Ayers. The man who became a rock
shute.jpgJason Shute, 2010.  Palgrave MacMillan, 288 pp, $59.95 plus $10 postage.  Order form
This book, the first biography of Henry Ayers, focuses attention on the complex character behind the name and examines all aspects of his life - from his humble origins in the naval city of Portsmouth in southern England, his migration to Australia and his career as a miner, businessman and eventually as Premier of South Australia - a post to which he was elected seven times. It provides a fascinating insight into Australian history through the life of a man who was consistently in the upper echelons of influence and authority in colonial society and whose legacy lives through his association with the most famous and recognisable natural feature of his adopted country.

The Olympic Dam Story - How Western Mining defied the odds to discover and develop the world’s largest mineral deposit
upton-cover.jpgDavid Upton, 2010.  Upton Financial PR, Armadale, Victoria, 180pp, including maps and photographs, $35. Available from the author ( and from selected Dymock stores.   To order
The Olympic Dam Story tells for the first time the surprising story behind the 1970s discovery of the world’s largest mineral deposit.  The author explains how Western Mining’s pursuit of the best science, teamwork and a dash of good luck led from an exploration base in a suburban garage to a super-giant copper, uranium and gold resource.   The book also describes how Western Mining overcame the main challenges of developing Olympic Dam, a multi-billion dollar project more difficult than ever envisaged with the unexpected discovery of uranium.    Review

A Mirage in the Desert? The discovery, evaluation and development of the Olympic Dam
ore body at Roxby Downs, South Australia, 1975-88

johns-2.jpgR. Keith Johns, 2010.  O’Neil Historical and Editorial Services. A4, 64 pp, 27 images in colour, $30.
Available from O’Neil Historical and Editorial Service, PO Box 2, Klemzig SA 5087.
The occurrence of uranium in the Olympic Dam orebody ensured that the mine’s development became a controversial and often emotional issue dominated by prejudice, ignorance and fear of the unfamiliar world of radiation. This narrative provides historical insights on these and other issues with which the developers would have to contend - and which have relevance 35 years on from discovery.   Review  Order form

burra.jpgBurra.  A Photographic Journey
Compiled by Eric Fuss and Meredith Satchell, 2009.  Burra History Group Inc.  A4, 246 pp including 64 in colour, softcover $55, hardcover $75.  Available from the Burra Visitor Centre.
Burra’s fascinating history is beautifully told in the text and photographs which show the shifting fortunes of the town which began as the mining township of Kooringa in 1845.  The famous Burra Mine, churches and hotels, businesses and bridges, floods and droughts, along with the cycle of births, deaths and marriages are presented in wonderful photographs. Review

payton.jpgMaking Moonta:  The Invention of ‘Australia’s Little Cornwall’
Philip Payton, 2007.  University of Exeter Press, Exeter, i-xiii, 268 pp.
In this gripping history of the migration and settlement of Cornish people, Philip Payton explores    Moonta and its copper-mining hinterland.  He charts the arrival of hundreds of Cornish immigrants in the second half of the nineteenth century and the transplantation of distinctive Cornish cultural patterns that saw the town invent itself as ‘Australia’s Little Cornwall’.