Historic Moonta and Region

Moonta and Moonta Bay is only 4 kilometres from Arura Group Stays and Port Hughes. It had a flourishing mining industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries and there are many reminders of this in the area.

Moonta became the 110th place to be added to the National Heritage List for its renowned role in Australia’s mining history. The opening of the Moonta Mines in 1861 produced a significant boost to the South Australian economy, earning 67,000 pounds in its first year of operation. By 1870 the population of Moonta was second only to Adelaide.

The Moonta Mines historical area has a museum and tourist train which takes visitors through the mines area. Wheal Hughes mine at North Moonta has opened an underground area for visitors.

The region holds a Cornish Festival – Kernewek Lowender – every two years to celebrate the area’s links with Cornwall, England. Many miners emigrated to this area to work in the copper mines.

Moonta Mines Railway

Departing from the platform adjacent to the Moonta Mines Museum, the Moonta Mines Tourist Railway is a guided tour of the historic Moonta Mines State Heritage Area. Featuring extensive commentary from local drivers, passengers are taken past many historic landmarks of the former mining operations, including the reservoir, ore sorting floors, and through a tunnel in Ryans Tailings Heap. It visits the former Precipitation Works, which was set up in 1900 to recover additional copper from the tailings heaps, a process which continued until 1943.

Moonta Mines Museum

The museum is located in the former Moonta Mines Model School, erected in 1878. The school remained an active and important centre for the Moonta Mines community for ninety years and closed in 1968. The National Trust of SA, Moonta Branch took over the building and established a museum which now tells the story of Cornish pioneers who came to South Australia for the copper mines 1861-1923.

The museum has 14 rooms and houses thematic displays on the Cornish miners’ lifestyles – mining, lodges and friendly societies, sports and pastimes, death and hardship, extensive displays of costumes, china, silverware, photographs and memorabilia and a classroom furnished c.1900.

Other Moonta Historical Experiences

If you wish to further enjoy the historic Copper Coast, venture on to Wallaroo and Kadina for more historical attractions and experiences.