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Burra Town History

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In 1845 with the discovery of copper near the Burra Burra Creek, the first company owned mining town in Australia, Kooringa rapidly grew to be Australia’s largest inland town by 1851. The ‘Monster Mine,’ as this mine became known, was the largest metal producing mine in Australia up until 1860. It had a large influence on the economy of the struggling colony of South Australia, producing about 50,000 tonnes of copper metal between 1845 and 1877, when the South Australian Mining Association’s operations ceased.

Burra has survived as one of Australia’s significant historic towns because of its magnificent collection of historic buildings that give an insight into the life and times of Australia’s early settlement.

Whilst Burra’s story starts with a mine, and this is part of its history, you will see that it is more than that. Like most country towns it has suffered from adversity as well as enjoying good times. Over time it has evolved into an important rural centre servicing the surrounding agricultural and pastoral holdings and more recently a tourist attraction because of its rich history.

When copper was discovered at Burra in 1845 the main population centre that grew up was the town of Kooringa, to the south of the mine, on the land of the South Australian Mining Association (SAMA). Their tight control of the town and their refusal to grant freehold title until the 1870s encouraged the growth of other towns or subdivisions beyond the border of their Special Survey. Most notably to the north there was the Government town of Redruth, but also the private subdivisions of Aberdeen, Llwchwr, Millerton and Hampton (and others that did not develop.) To the west and south-west of SAMA’s land about nine subdivisions were made, but only Copperhouse and Lostwithiel had numbers of houses that persisted into the twentieth century.