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Published July 28th 2015
Exploring the home of some of SA's greatest pioneers
It was in 1842 that copper ore was discovered by the two main pastoralists in the region now known as Kapunda. A couple of years later, Francis Dutton and Charles Bagot secured the rights to mine the copper in the area, and as they say, the rest is history.
The Kapunda Mine operated until 1879, but by that time the settlement had moved beyond a single pub and a church to a thriving regional town supported by several smaller mines and a bustling agricultural industry. Those mines have since closed, but Kapunda remains a vital part of SA's history, and the Kapunda Heritage Trail 17 has been created to provide visitors with a snapshot of the significant parts of Kapunda's history.
The Heritage Trail, or Tourist Drive 17, starts from the Visitor Information Centre on the Main Street where information is available on this trail, and many other tourist attractions in the region. With mining being a significant part of the heritage, it is appropriate that the Trail takes us past the former Northern Star Printing Office (1860) and the Baptist Church (1866), both of which are now Museums.
The Kapunda Mine is on the southeastern part of town, and contains the mine and various pieces of mining infrastructure, some in better repair than others. A 1.5km walk around the mine is complete with interpretive displays to give visitors a guide as to what the mining life in Kapunda may have looked like.
The Mine Chimney (1850) hosts a lookout, and is located on Dutton Hill. Nearby the Mine Manager's House (1858) is undergoing some restorative works while there are several examples of Miners Cottages (1846). The Miner's Store (1846) has seen several uses in its life including as the Store, a school and now as an attractive private residence.
Other significant private residences in the town include Osborne House (1862) and Wagenfeller's House (1870). The latter house was the home of Isabel Wright, the wife of one of Australia's great landowners and pastoralists, Sir Sidney Kidman. Kidman's original home in Kapunda, known as Eringa (1879), was donated to the Education Department in 1921, and now forms an integral part of Kapunda School.
Kidman's legacy is well known across the great lands of this country, and up until recently, his company remained one of the largest landowners in Australia. The Kidman Trail, a long distance horse riding trail (may be walked or ridden in many sub-parts) has been created in his honour and traverses the Adelaide Hills from Willunga before finishing at Kapunda.
Kapunda is also a mid-point for walkers on the Heysen Trail and cyclists on the Mawson Trail, with both trails passing through en-route to the Flinders Ranges which reflects on some of the sporting heritage of the town. The Dutton Park Sporting Complex, the end point of the Kidman Trail, is also the home of the Kapunda Football Club which was formed in 1866 and is the oldest Australian Rules Club in SA playing under its original name.
The Sporting Complex is part of Dutton Park, named after the Dutton family who donated considerable sums to the establishment of a recreation park in the area and whom lived in a grand pastoral property at Anlaby Station that is open for inspection at several times during each year. The park is also the home of the Women's Memorial Gardens, the only gardens of its kind in Australia, and pays tribute to Kapunda born Sister Vivian Bullwinkel, all nurses who served in the great wars, and Princess Diana with a fountain that was donated by Dodi Al Fayed to commemorate her life.
Like mines, railways also played a significant part in the history of country towns. The Kapunda Railway Station (1860) was an important part of the rail line as it ensured the end of the Gulf Road from Burra through Auburn and the Adelaide Plains to Port Wakefield. For a number of years in the early 20th Century, Kapunda Railway Station was also the destination for Colin Thiele while he undertook his secondary education in Kapunda.
Nearby the Station was the Railway Hotel (1860) and Prince Alfred Hotel (1860), while on the northern part of town there is the Globe Hotel (1866) and the Victoria Hotel (1865), all of which are now private residences but once were part of a raft of hotels that were built in the town during the mining and agricultural booms. Today, there are only a few hotels left open on the Main Street, a story which is not necessarily repeated in respect of the local chapels and churches in the town.
Today, the north and eastern side of town is similar to Church Hill at Gawler, with no less than six churches and manses within close proximity of each other. The St Rose's Catholic Church (1938) is near the former St Rose's Convent (1892), while the Congregational Church and Manse (1858), Anglican Church (1857, St John's Lutheran Church (1907), Wesleyan Chruch (1858) and the Primitive Methodist Church (1864) are all impressive buildings that have stood the test of time.
Other buildings that have been upstanding for over 140 years include the Police Station (1852), Old Court House (1866) and the original Corporation Chambers (1876), while also upstanding is one of the largest statues in Australia being Map Kernow. At the southern entrance to the town, Map stands over 8m tall and is a tribute to the Cornish miners that helped create Kapunda in to what it is today.
The Kapunda Heritage Trail is 10km long, and has excellent signposting thoughout, and should take around 60-90 minutes to complete depending upon the time spent exploring the mine. Information on the Heritage Trail is available from the Kapunda Visitor Information Centre.