SA Mining Heritage

Take a trip back through a significant era of Australia’s mining history in the Mount Lofty and Flinders Ranges of South Australia.  Recapture the romance and adventure of Australia’s first mining era in this picturesque landscape, which still bears the evidence of mining activity.

The Mining Legacy
Much remains to capture the atmosphere of this early mining era.  The dry South Australian climate has helped to preserve stone buildings and chimneys, deep mine shafts and tunnels, tailing heaps and slag dumps.  There are more than 20 widely scattered and diverse sites which are managed by a range of organisations.  These provide a representative range of what remains of the historic mining sites and field relics and most are State Heritage Listed.  Self-guided walking trails, featuring interpretive panels, have been established at many of these sites. In the towns, which were born of the historic mining era, you will find signposted heritage trails, museums and interpretive centres, colourful historic hotels and restored stone buildings containing restaurants, craft shops and specialty accommodation.  These allow you the chance to experience part of South Australia’s unique mining heritage.
South Australia’s Mining Heritage Trails brochure


callington.jpgCopper was discovered by Cornish miners in this district in 1845 and a number of mines were established, most bearing the names of Cornish mines.  The most important were the Kanmantoo and Bremer mines.  Callington was laid out in 1850 and buildings from the mining era remain.  The tall chimney on the edge of the town marks the Bremer Mine which worked from 1850-1875.  Signs are located on the road near the heritage listed powder magazine.  Callington Heritage Trail 

Slate was discovered in the nearby hills in 1840 and led to the development of a thriving industry.  It was quarried by Cornish miners and carted to Port Willunga, where it was shipped for use in the building industry.  The industry declined after the 1890s but many historic buildings within Willunga featuring the use of slate still stand.

MID NORTH          Map

Kapunda, the first significant metal mine in Australia, operated between 1844 and 1878.   The boom period during the 1840s – 1870s saw a strong and independent business and manufacturing base develop in the town.

Copper ore was discovered at Burra 160 km north of Adelaide in 1845 and, for the next 10 years, it was the largest mine in Australia.  In 1851, more than 5000 people lived in the various townships surrounding the mine.  Much of the built heritage of the mine and townships survives, providing a unique glimpse of a mid‑19th Century industrial site.  In recognition of Burra’s outstanding value as an historic place, the Burra State Heritage Area added to the National Heritage List in May 2017.


hughes.jpgCopper was discovered here in 1861 by a shepherd named Paddy Ryan.  During the late 19th century, the Moonta and Wallaroo Mines formed one of the largest copper producing areas of the world.  These mines were worked by skilled Cornish miners and the area became known as Australia’s Little Cornwall.  The Cornish heritage is still evident today in various former Methodist churches, mine enginehouses and miner’s cottages scattered around the mines area, which is now a State Heritage Area.  The Kernewek Lowender, the largest Cornish Festival outside Cornwall, is held every second year in May when the towns of Australia’s Little Cornwall celebrate their Cornish heritage.
The Moonta Mines and Burra State Heritage Areas now form the Australian Cornish Mining Heritage Site.

Kadina, the largest town on Yorke Peninsula, was established as a result of the discovery of copper.  The nearby Wallaroo Mine was discovered in 1859, two years prior to the rich discovery at Moonta.  In 1889, the Wallaroo and Moonta mining companies amalgamated and continued operations until 1923.

Wallaroo was established in 1861 as the site for smelting works to treat ore from the nearby Moonta and Wallaroo Mines.  The smelting works employed a large number of Welsh smeltermen, who gave the town a distinctive character, as the Welsh language was used in the town for many years.


Coober Pedy
Opal was discovered at Coober Pedy, 863km northwest of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway in 1915.  Over the years opalfields have surrounded the town with a spectacular lunar landscape of dumps and shafts.  Tours of working mines are available but because of the danger other access is not permitted.