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Burra Heritage Trail 16

Home > Adelaide > Escape the City | Historic Houses | Places of Interest | Travel | Walks
by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published June 1st 2015
A tour of this historic town is a must

"There is copper in them that hills" was the war cry in the early 1840's, and with that came the start of a revolution that saw Burra become Australia's largest inland town by 1851. A "Monster Mine" commenced production, and for the best part of that decade was Australia's largest metal producing mine. By 1877, when the SA Mining Association's operations ceased, around 50,000 tonne of copper metal had been extracted.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Morphett's Enginehouse - Steve Hudson


The magnificent collection of buildings, and well made mining infrastructure has seen Burra transform from a mining town to an important rural centre and a tourism icon within South Australia. Indeed the township of Burra was placed on the National Heritage Register, being one of the best preserved mining towns in SA. A trip on the recently relaunched self-guided Heritage Trail (Tourist Drive 16) was the focus of my recent visit.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Market Square Signage - Steve Hudson


The tour commences from the Burra Visitor Centre in Market Square. At the centre, you can pick up a Burra passport key for a small fee of $25, which provides you with access to 8 historic locked sites along the way. Following the Tourist Drive 16 signs leads us down the main street past the historic and well maintained Town Hall (1874), Kooringa Telegraph Station (1861) and St Joseph's Catholic Church (1874), all three which are open for inspection every afternoon.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Burra Town Hall - Steve Hudson


Just a stone's throw away from suburbia stands the gigantic Peacock's Chimney. This chimney, with the likeable Johnny Green on top, signifies the entrance to the Burra mine site which became affectionately known as the Monster Mine.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Peacock's Chimney - Steve Hudson


The restored Morphett's Enginehouse (1858) and Museum takes centre stage on the tour of the mine site. The enginehouse commenced pumping in 1860 and worked continuously until production ceased in 1877. Years of decay were finally arrested in 1986 when the Enginehouse was reconstructed and commenced operations as a Museum with an interpretive display on Cornish engines.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Old Ore Trucks - Steve Hudson


While within the Burra mine complex, the Ore Dressing Tower (1870) is within walking distance from the Enginehouse, while the former Powder Magazine stands tall on the top of a hill. Numerous chimneys are scatted amongst the grounds, with several lookouts giving great views of the township of Burra, the Monster Mine, and Burra North.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Monster Mine - Steve Hudson


Leaving the Burra mine site, the drive takes us to the Bon Accord Mine Museum, located on the original site of the Bon Accord Mine. The mine's life was short lived due to low volumes, and mining ceased in 1862. However the mine was the source of a good water supply, and became the town water supply until 1966 when the River Murray pipeline was installed.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Bon Accord Museum - Steve Hudson


The former township of Aberdeen is adjacent to the mine, and within that township is the Railway Station (1870), Bon Accord Hotel (1874), Bulk Store (1873), Blacksmith's Shop (1881) and the former Grocers (1912). Alongside these is the magnificent and stately property of Wandillah (1918). Heading north, the drive heads past the Redruth Bridge (1879), one of the original steel arch bridges used to cross the Burra Creek.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Redruth Bridge - Steve Hudson


Crossing the Burra Creek, we now enter the area of law enforcement with the Redruth Courthouse (1857), Police Station (1879) and the Police Lockup and Stables (1847). Heading further up the hill, the Redruth Gaol (1856) appears and is worthy of an extended stop and tour. The Gaol was the first regional gaol opened in South Australia, and provided for 30 prisoners. The Gaol closed in 1897 before re-opening as a Girl's Reformatory, and eventually closing for good in 1922. Numerous information boards inside the Gaol provide a insight in to the operations of the Gaol / Reformatory.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Redruth Gaol - Steve Hudson


Hampton was a township formed in 1857 when the mine was booming, but was abandoned soon after. An interpretive trail provides an insight in to this former miner's village on top of a hill, before we travel back towards Burra Creek passing former historical residences and the Burra Smelter (1849). Another short interpretive trail provides great information about the smelting operations that occurred onsite from 1849 to 1868. A number of the original buildings have been removed, but the signage plus also the foundations, rubble and slag provide a realistic view as to what was there.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Smelting Works - Steve Hudson


The Paxton Square Cottages (1849) were the original cottages built to encourage miners to come to Burra. Today these cottages are owned by the local Council, and offer a historical and realistic piece of accommodation for visitors. The Unicorn Brewery Cellars (1873) is another restored building which requires a passport key for greater access. Although the building is devoid of the equipment that would have made a great brewery, the building and the myriad of underground tunnels have survived.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Underground in the Unicorn Brewery - Steve Hudson


Underground was common for miners, and the early miners came across a shortage of housing, so they created dugouts in the side of the soft clay banks of the Burra Creek. In 1851 over 1,800 people lived in these dugouts, prior to a great flood later that year that forced nearly everyone to seek above ground alternatives.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Miners Dugouts - Steve Hudson


Leaving the dugouts, the tour circles around the township of Kooringa where the Uniting Church (1914) and the Methodist Church (1879) remain as memories of the past. Near the end of the tour, the Thames Street Cottages (1846) are an example of some of the earliest domestic buildings in SA that are still in occupation today.

Burra Heritage Trail, Tourist Drive 16, Burra Passport Key, Burra Monster Mine, Bon Accord Hotel, Miners Dugouts, Morphett's Enginehouse, Burra Railway Station
Sunset on Tourist Drive 16 - Steve Hudson


Burra Heritage Trail 16 is 11km long, and can be walked, cycled or driven. Tourist Drive 16 signage is very good, and helps navigate you through the town. The Drive is free and available all year round. Further information, and an information booklet is available from the Burra Visitor Centre.
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Why? SA's best mining town
When: Anytime
Where: Burra, South Australia
Cost: Free tour, $25 for access to some buildings
Your Comment
Would be good if I could share as a single destination on face book. I lived in Burra for 7 years owning a pub. Some of my friends comment they would like to visit as I have told them much of what Burra has to offer. Also good Coffee and shopping .
by iwill (score: 0|7) 1168 days ago
Please note that this Heritage Trail has been renamed the Johnny Green Trail with iconic green images of Johnny forming the directional signs.
by Steve Hudson (score: 3|1242) 794 days ago
Visitors to Burra SA who wish to do the "Heritage Passport Trail" including the Museums beware. The two Museums are ONLY OPEN between 10am and 1pm - so get there early. On our recent trip to do the "Trail" we were not told of this time factor, we were very disapointed that this was not pointed out to me at point of paying $50 for the key to the trail and museums. My 7 year old grandson was very dissapointed as he was really looking forward to this trip.
by fairl (score: 0|2) 37 days ago
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