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Top 7 Things to Do in Orroroo

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by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published June 19th 2015
Only 2 letters in the name, but so many things to do
Situated at the combined doorsteps of the Flinders Ranges and the outback, the town of Orroroo has a long and varied history. First settled in 1844, the town had a few stop-starts as pioneers sought to develop difficult and arid lands east of Goyder's Line. It was in fact Goyder who officially named the town in 1875 when he surveyed the town in a simple grid like fashion akin to Adelaide.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Entry Statement - Steve Hudson


There is some confusion about the meaning and pronunciation of the town's name. It seems the local Aborigines called the area 'Oorooroo'. This seems to have meant 'rendezvous of the magpie' or 'place of departure'. While local legends about the time refers to a story about the Premier of SA at the time, Sir Charles Todd, who when asked to establish a Post Office in the town is supposed to have observed: "Dear me! There are only two letters in Orroroo. What do you want a post office for?"
Despite only being two letters in the name, on my recent trip to Orroroo I went in search of the top things to do while visiting.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Historic Red Rail Bridge - Steve Hudson


Maggie's Rendezvous

In 1864 Charlie Easther settled in Orroroo and opened up an eating house that became a popular stopping point for travellers. Today, Maggie's Rendezvous has continued that tradition with a popular café and gallery in the main street, and a name that matches the aboriginal meaning for the town.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Maggies Rendezvous - Steve Hudson


Good coffee outside of city centres is always a challenge, but Maggie's has this down-pat with a warm creamy blend every time. But Maggie's is more than just coffee, and the sandwiches, foccacias and lepinjas using fresh ingredients are something to take a detour for. I ordered a BLT, and when it arrived, my expression moved to angst as I contemplated how I could possibly eat the largest BLT than I have ever been served. Eventually I succeeded. Definitely worth a try on everyone's stop.

Orroroo Kangaroo

Also located in the main street just down from Maggies is Orroroo Kangaroo, a true kangaroo shop featuring premium kangaroo meats and associated products from the region. Prepared locally, there are fresh meats to purchase, or alternatively the smoked and dried kangaroo pieces are marketed in attractive parcels as dog treats. For those looking for kangaroo skin boots, hats, gloves and other similar products, the store also stocks an extensive range of these plus some unique souvenirs.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Orroroo Kangaroo - Steve Hudson


Giant Gum Tree

Located on the northern side of the Pekina Creek sits a giant River Red Gum. Situated amongst many others, red gums alongside a river are not unusual, except for this one. A circumference of 10.4m, and a height of 6m before the first branches appear, makes it one of the biggest red gums seen in South Australia. Estimated to be in excess of 500 years old, this red gum is located in a small park alongside the river with picnic facilities and is worth taking time out to marvel at its size.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Giant Gum Tree - Steve Hudson


Tank Hill Lookout

The Tank Hill Lookout on the eastern side of town provides a spectacular view across the town and region. So named because of the large water tanks at the lookout, the view is almost 360 degrees with a complete view of the town of Orroroo and the grid like layout of the streets.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Township - Steve Hudson


To the east the view encompasses the now disused, but full, Pekina Reservoir. To the north the Pekina Creek winds its way between the hills on its way to the Reservoir, while further west the disused railway line and the red bridge is barely visible. This bridge was built in 1882 and carried the railway north towards Quorn and beyond.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Pekina Reservoir - Steve Hudson


Walking trails

Within the town, there are two main walking trails. A historical buildings walk commences from the centre of town, and takes visitors past a number of buildings that served to create the history of Orroroo. The Orroroo Railway Station and the former Butter Factory building are both slightly rundown, but both reflect the glory years of Orroroo.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Orroroo Railway Station - Steve Hudson


Meanwhile, departing from the Lions Park, a short walk alongside the Pekina Creek leads walkers towards the Reservoir, past a series of old Aboriginal carvings in the side of the hill, and on to the Tank Hill Lookout, prior to returning to the town. The walk is around 5km long, and is of moderate complexity, and would take 90 minutes or so to complete.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Former Walloway Butter Factory - Steve Hudson


Magnetic Hill

Located just south of the town is an optical illusion on a hill known as Magnetic Hill. When standing on the road, it appears that the road is flat or perhaps has a slight ascending gradient from west to east. Yet, when observing the instructions on the sign on the hill, a car will roll from west to east, depending upon whether your car is made of plastic or steel.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Magnetic Hill - Steve Hudson


Admittedly, my car probably had a fair share of plastic on it, so perhaps it wasn't a great test case. As the sign suggests, steel cars seem to get pulled by the magnetic forces in the opposite direction. I remain unconvinced, but am happy to hear stories from anyone who may have done this and what their experiences were !

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Magnetic Hill - Steve Hudson


Bendleby Ranges

Just northeast of Orroroo is the working station of Bendleby Ranges. With camping grounds, cottages, homesteads, magnificent gorges and stunning ranges, Bendleby is a perfect place to stay for a weekend or two.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Bendleby Ranges Sunset - Steve Hudson


Bendleby also encourages daily tourists, where visitors can spend time 4wd'ing, bushwalking or mountain bike riding across the two largely unexplored ranges. The 4wd tracks, which double as mountain bike tracks, vary in intensity thus enabling everyone from novices to the most experienced to explore the 150km or so of station tracks.

Orroroo, Orroroo Kangaroo, Maggies Rendezvous, Magnetic Hill, Bendleby Ranges, Pekina Reservoir, Walloway Butter Factory, Giant Gum Tree, Red Rail Bridge
Hungry Ranges - Steve Hudson


Today Orroroo is a small regional town providing necessary supplies for locals and remains an important rest / stopover point for tourists. Orroroo is located around 270km or 3 hours north of Adelaide on the RM Williams Way. Further information on Orroroo is available from the local council website.
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Why? Great place to stop on the way to the Flinders
When: Any time
Where: Orroroo, South Australia
Cost: Mainly free
Your Comment
Steve re name Orroroo - Charles Todd was never the State premier, he was the Post Master General.
Also ... 'the now disused, but full, Pekina Reservoir. To the north the Pekina Creek winds its way between the hills on its way to the Reservoir, while further west the disused railway line and the red bridge is barely visible.'
The Pekina Creek Reservoir is to the south of tank hill and the water comes from the south, not north, and once reservoir is full it flows northward onto the Pekina Plain or Walloway Plain towards Lake Frome. The reservoir was the source of water for the Pekina Irrigation Scheme, north of township where lucerne was grown for dairy cows - hence the butter factory which closed in 1971. The reservoir appears to be full - in fact it is almost full of silt, with only a few metres of water in it.
by gslat (score: 0|8) 1453 days ago
I once heard tell of a costume museum in Orroroo. Did you see any signs of it?
by Laura Parsons (score: 1|43) 1454 days ago
The costume gallery closed several years ago
by gslat (score: 0|8) 1453 days ago
please note the reservoir is SOUTH- WEST of tank hill; the hospital is almost directly EAST of tank hill ... tank hill itself is south west of the centre of the town (if one assumes that the area between the intersection of 2nd and fourth streets and 2nd and fifth streets is the centre of town). .... lovely photos; obviously taken at a time just after rain. It is not a common occurrence to see Orroroo this green! My mental images of Orroroo are shaded with pink-orange shades of browns with patches of greeny-grey.
by chris (score: 0|2) 113 days ago
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