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The Adelaide Hills south of Adelaide attracted European settlers from the early days of the colony. Good water supplies, plentiful wood for fuel from the trees, and fertile soils encouraged enterprising individuals to start farms such as at Mackereth Cottage on the banks of Scott Creek.
Not far from Mackereth Cottage, in the Scott Creek Conservation Park is an abandoned silver mine which dates back to 1850, in the early days of South Australian mining history. It's thought that minerals were first discovered at Scott Creek after ore deposits were noticed in a piece of rock broken by a bullock cart.
Initially opened as a copper mine called Wheal Maria, the mine was situated on the west side of Dorset Vale Road. However it was soon found to be unproductive and was then abandoned. Subsequently the Wheal Mary Anne shaft was sunk on the eastern side of the road but this was largely unsuccessful also.
Ey's Tunnel was then dug through to the lode on the eastern side of Dorset Vale Road, and the Almanda Mine treatment plant was constructed on the western side. It used a 15-head stamp battery to crush ore, powered by a large 60 horsepower steam engine.
Interpretive Signs Explain the Almanda Silver Mine
Curiously, around this time it was even suggested that mineral waters from the mine could beneficially be used for drinking and bathing.
In 1887 after 310 kg of silver had been mined at the Almanda Mine, it was closed as the mine was no longer economical to operate. Today you can still see the legacy of the original operation more than 150 years ago.
The Mine Enginehouse Was Powered By a Steam Engine
When you visit Scott Creek, it's best to park on the western side of Dorset Vale Road where you will see the round stone chimney which connects to the boilerhouse ruins. Walk south from the car park, check out the mud map showing trail locations, and a little further on there is an interpretive trail sign with a sketch showing how the clearing looked when the mine first opened.
On your left you will see the ruins of the mine office, while on the right are the incredibly thick stone walls of the engine house ruin, and another interpretive sign with more information about the ore treatment plant enginehouse. This is connected via an underground flue to the chimney, which you can see on a short but worthwhile climb up the hill.
On the opposite side of Dorset Vale Road is Ey's tunnel, which was open for exploration back in 2012 when this article was originally written. You needed a torch and good shoes or boots as it was often muddy inside. Unfortunately the Department for the Environment has since closed the entrance to Ey's tunnel, and it is no longer possible to enter it.
Once across the road, climb the narrow winding trail until you see another interpretive sign and the mine entrance.
The sum total of the trail on both sides of the road will take about an hour to complete (even with children), unless you deviate to explore further afield.
Scott Creek Conservation Park is also worth a look while you visit the Almanda Silver Mine. It's a beautiful and largely unspoiled area of rolling hills, with a rich diversity of native flora and fauna. The Friends of Scott Creek Conservation Park hold an annual Open Day to showcase the area, where you can take self guided walks.
Took my 2 children to explore the tunnel kitted out with walking shoes and torches but sadly access is closed to the public now which was disappointing. We did however still enjoy seeing the mine shafts and ruins and some koala spotting. Thankyou for posting the article, still worth the visit.
I visited'South Australia recently and was fasinated to learnof it's mining history. Visited Moonta and Burra where the copper mining was done. Interested to hear of the silver mining. Bob Davey - Queensland