I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published January 31st 2016
Above and below the water: Moonta has it all
As I swim out from the beach I watch the sandy bottom merging into an endless meadow of seagrass. Schools of baitfish hover above the strappy weed. I approach a sandy clearing and a large ray lifts out of the dense growth gliding effortlessly further out to sea.
A mixed growth of seagrasses carpets the bottom near the Moonta jetty
After half an hour in the water I head back to shore and walk along the old wooden jetty that I was swimming beneath just a few minutes earlier. There are several fishermen enjoying the mild weather and one is landing a garfish while another has netted a large blue swimming crab. Closer to the beach a juvenile Pacific gull is perched on the jetty railing. The large grey bird keeps a close eye on the anglers, ready to pounce on a discarded fish, squid or bait left unattended.
Moonta is a wonderful little costal town situated on the western flank of the York peninsula about an hour and a half's drive from Adelaide. The jetty at nearby Moonta Bay provides good all year fishing and snorkelling but for the more adventurous there are professional charters. The town centre has a diverse mixture of cottages, restaurants, galleries and antique shops, many of which are situated in heritage listed buildings. Perhaps Moonta's most famous drawcard is the abandoned copper mine. Guided tours and a scenic railway provide a memorable journey into this important part of South Australia's colonial history.
Moonta tourist centre is located in the heritage listed railway station
When I reach the mine the last tour for the day has already left and I opt to walk around the site in search of wildlife. There are swallows hunting insects and a several rosellas singing in a nearby eucalypt but it is a pair of common house sparrows that are nesting beneath a weathered beam in the old crushing plant that draws my attention. Through my telephoto lens I watch the birds bring a succession of grubs to their waiting chicks.
A house sparrow returns to the nest with a grub in its beak
One of the old mine shafts has a short section of rail complete with the old bucket shaped ore carriers and a large hawk is perched on the rusting metal edge intently peering into the undergrowth. Suddenly a sleek speckled lizard breaks cover and the bird flashes low across the bushes in pursuit; to no avail as the reptile stops in the scrub then relies on its camouflage to survive.
My time in Moonta has been well spent and I have encountered a range of wildlife while learning more about the State's copper mining heritage. As I drive out of the town one last image beckons; golden wheat fields foregrounding a lone tree amongst the ruins of an old farmhouse.
I must visit your blog.
Moonta,Wallaroo and Kadina,so close together are ideal holiday destinations for the retired,people with young families and those that like boating,fishing and swimming.
The Cornish Heritage has survived ,which makes Moonta an interesting place to visit,with it's long history of mining,pasties and band music and carols.
The 3 main towns now have a combined permanent population of 15.000 people aprox. and all are growing and improving their facilities.
If you are are a jetty fisherman and the fish are not biting at Moonta Bay,then Port Hughes and Wallaroo,with longer jetties are just a short drive away.
There are excellent caravan/cabin parks at Moonta Bay,Pt.Hughes and Wallaroo and of course other types of accommodation as well.
I have never been on the mine rail line,but have driven around the mine areas many times over the last 60 years.
For those that play golf,there is a 9 hole course at Pt.Hughes with greens and a small cafe/restaurant,close to the beach,
As you say"it has got it all"
Barry ,I have just spent 20 minutes perusing your blog articles...I think I will need 20 hours to digest thoroughly.The photos and in depth descriptions are going to give a good insight to many beautiful parts of the state.Thank you!