A lesser-known site of interest within Flinders Ranges National Park
is the Appealinna ruins. I myself have not heard of it until recently even though its pastoral and mining heritage was actually rather significant.
Wills' homestead dunny
In the 1850s, a modest English pastoralist by the name of Joseph Wills took up unwanted land on the southern side of the creek and started building stockyards as well as a homestead. However, soon after establishing his run, copper miners arrived and decided to settle across the creek on the northern side. With water being just as important to both of them as it is to us today, a 13-year argument over lease boundaries and access to the Appealinna Water spring in the creek began. Lines on maps were interpreted differently by the various parties, hence exasperating this war of words. And, when all else failed, Wills took matters into his own tough hands (don't worry, there won't be any spoilers here).
Wills' homestead kitchen
Today, the ruins of both Wills' southern pastoral run and the miners' northern settlement can be visited by the general public. Interpretive signs have been erected around Appealinna for your reading pleasure, as well as a carpark and picnic table. No toilets though, except for the single-seater that was built approximately 150 paces from Wills' homestead. This bucket-style dunny has a rear hatch for the removal and emptying of its bucket.
Wills used untrimmed stones of various shapes and sizes to build his homestead. The dwelling has a thatched roof, flagstone floor and four rooms plus an extension which probably accommodated any guests. Its workmanship wasn't great and, as mortar crumbled, the walls and chimney became unstable. Detached from the homestead was a kitchen with a fireplace and oven. Ever wondered why many kitchens were detached on early runs? It's mainly to do with the risk of fire.
Then, in contrast, we have the purser's house and mine manager's house. Constructed by professional builders, these houses have large trimmed blocks and slaty mudstones both consolidated with mortar. The quality of the stonework was just extraordinary.
Mine manager's house
Last but not least, there is an unidentified structure on the side of the hill. With its thick walls providing insulation, this dry stone building could have perhaps been a meat house, cool room or powder magazine. And, to our amazement, we actually saw the "famous" spiny-tailed skink who lives within the walls. Unfortunately, my fingers weren't quick enough to snap a photo of it.
Mine manager's house
The Appealinna ruins can be reached via a track approximately 20 kilometres north of the Wilpena turnoff on Hawker-Blinman Road. My little Toyota Corolla survived the three-kilometre dirt track, but I'm sure the ride would've been much more comfortable in a 4WD. Anyhow, do check it out next time you're in the Flinders Ranges.
A meat house, cool room or powder magazine?