An often forgotten aspect of South Australia's history
Talisker silver-lead mine ruins
The continuation of my search for ruins brought me to Talisker Conservation Park where the remains of an 1860s silver and lead mine still stand today. This historic mine site has been heritage-listed to preserve an often forgotten aspect of South Australia's history.
The green and white conservation park sign
Although not the dominant metal, Talisker silver-lead mine did play an important role in our early mining endeavours. It was one of the colony's largest producers of silver and lead. Its mining and ore processing techniques were typical of those used in Cornwall and a number of Cornishmen were employed to carry out the work.
Today, an interpretive trail passes through the mine ruins providing visitors with a glimpse of the past. There is a map at the trailhead along Talisker Road to get you started. Look out for the green and white conservation park sign. Approximately two hours will be required to complete the whole trail at a leisurely pace, however, I can recommend a shorter not-so-steep loop if you're under time constraints.
This route follows the 'main walk', slightly downhill, until you reach a 132-metre deep shaft, the focal point of the mine. Then, turn left onto a side trail literally next to the shaft. Along the way, there are piles of stone scattered in the valley marking the chimney sites of several miners' cottages. Some of the miners decided to build their cottages on the mine lease, rather than in the nearby township, to be closer to work. Ironically, those of us working from home are just as close to our workplaces today.
Side trail next to the shaft
Taking a left again after the shaft, you will soon be led to a brick kiln where firebricks were made for maintenance, a calcining furnace where ore was roasted to remove sulphur and arsenic, and a two-storey crusher house where ore was crushed before concentration and smelting. I'm really glad to find the fireplace, furnace bottom and arches still evident to this day. These remnants tell the story of a time gone by, so do stop and read the many interpretive signs dotted around the area.
After exploring all that has survived, head up a narrow left trail just before the 'extension' and continue round until you join back onto the 'main walk'. From here, you'd simply retrace your steps back to the car.
Even if you're not a history buff, I reckon there's great value in visiting places like this. You're bound to learn something from the past, and if nothing else, you'll gain an appreciation for the present.