Orroroo, South Australia

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South Australia
Orroroo (20) (20378014690).jpg
The main street of Orroroo
Orroroo is located in South Australia
Coordinates 32°44′S 138°36′E / 32.733°S 138.600°E / -32.733; 138.600Coordinates: 32°44′S 138°36′E / 32.733°S 138.600°E / -32.733; 138.600
Population 540 (shared with other localities in the “State Suburb of Orroroo”) (2011 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 5431
Elevation 428 m (1,404 ft)
LGA(s) District Council of Orroroo Carrieton
State electorate(s) Stuart
Federal Division(s) Grey
Localities around Orroroo:
Walloway Johnburgh Minburra, Yalpara
Coomooroo Orroroo Erskine
Pekina Black Rock Minvalara

Orroroo is a town in the Flinders Ranges region of South Australia. At the 2011 census, Orroroo shared a population of 540 with adjoining localities.[1] The Wilmington-Ucolta Road passes through here, intersecting with the RM Williams Way which leads to the Birdsville and Oodnadatta Tracks. The Peterborough–Quorn railway line extended from Peterborough to Orroroo also in 1881 and Quorn in 1882, connecting with the new Central Australia Railway from Port Augusta. These railways have now been abandoned. Orroroo is situated near Goyder's Line, a line drawn up in 1865 by Surveyor General Goyder which he believed indicated the edge of the area suitable for agriculture.


Prior to European settlement, Orroroo was the home of the Ngadjuri Aboriginal people whose domain was the area to the east of the Flinders Rangers. The name Orroroo is believed to have Aboriginal origins, but the true meaning of the word is uncertain. The name was first used by an early pioneer who conducted a nearby coaching house which served travellers on the Burra-Blinman track.

In 1844, the first Europeans to settle, John and James Chambers, took up the Pekina Run which covered 320 square miles. They did not receive a millimetre of rain during the 17 months that they lived there. As a result of this drought, they sold the Pekina Run for £30.

Charlie Easther settled in Orroroo during 1864 and opened up an eating house that became a popular stopping point for the drovers and bullockys who travelled through the area. The town was surveyed in 1875, when Solly's Hut, a clay-pugged log structure, was constructed as the town's first house and is now used as a museum. In September 1875, the town was officially named by George Goyder following the suggestion made by Charlie Easther (See § Origin of the name "Orroroo", below.). The first land sales were made in May 1876. The town was granted its own local council, the District Council of Orroroo, in 1887 (taking effect in 1888(, and the town's council offices were constructed in 1888.[2] The District Council of Orroroo would survive until 1997, when it was merged to create the District Council of Orroroo Carrieton.

On 24 August 1923, 230-volt electricity was connected to the town by Cr Martin Redden, Chairman of the District Council, in the presence of a large crowd. On 4 July 1962, the power house engines were shut down to change to AC power which gave the houses standard 240-volt power.[3]

An early irrigation scheme was formed after damming the Pekina Creek and creating the Pekina reservoir. Water from here was supplied to over 50 dairy farms. Orroroo had its own flour mill, several bakeries, carriage manufacturer and a butter factory, which still stands.[4]

Orroroo is the service centre for a predominantly farming community with the main products being wheat, sheep, cattle, pigs and a kangaroo processor.

A local curiosity is nearby, called "Magnetic Hill", which is a gravity hill optical illusion.[5]


The town was connected by the Peterborough–Quorn railway line to Peterborough and Quorn in September 1881, and was served by a Class 1 station and a large Goods Shed. During 1962, concrete grain silos were built in the Yard. these provided the bulk of traffic until the railway was closed in 1987[6]

Orroroo was the last attended station on the railway; staff were withdrawn and the station operated as "unattended" from August 1981.

Passenger services were discontinued during 1969, when the South Australian Railways withdrew the railcar service.

Grain continued to be hauled by rail from Orroroo until 1987, when all rail services were withdrawn by Australian National.[6] Steamtown, a railway preservation group based at Peterborough, operated passenger trains for tourists to Orroroo and Eurelia until 2002.[7]

The railway line was eventually removed in 2008[8][9]

Road transport[edit]

Orroroo is on the south-north RM Williams Way (route B80) connecting Clare to Hawker and the west-east route B56 connecting the Port Augusta to Broken Hill.[10]

Origin of the name "Orroroo"[edit]

"Orroroo" was officially named by a C.J. Easther, an early settler in the region. The Register of 16 November 1926 gives two still further alternatives, stating that Orroroo was the name of an Aboriginal girl who lived on nearby Pekina station, and that the town was for some reason named in honour of this girl, but also noting that others have suggested the name derivates from an Aboriginal word meaning 'dust', 'drift', or 'a windy locality'.[11] It is true that in the Advertiser of 9 January 1903, it is said that orroroo means wind in "the native language".[12] In the Advertiser of 15 August 1908, a still further derivation is suggested by a Gustav Degenhardt, who claims the name comes from the Aboriginal name for a nearby creek, Oorooroo.[13] Degenhardt resided in Orroroo from at least as early as 1880 (five years after Easther named the town), so it may be that he had first-hand knowledge of Easther's reasons for so naming the town.[14]

Orroroo Fire Service[edit]

The Orroroo Country Fire Service (CFS) is the volunteer fire service of Orroroo. They are part of the Black Rock CFS Group.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Orroroo". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Australian Places. Sydney, NSW: Reader's Digest. 1993. p. 535. ISBN 0-86438-399-1. 
  3. ^ "History". District Council of Orroroo. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Orroroo". District Council of Orroroo. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Magnetic Hill - Peterborough - South Australia
  6. ^ a b Evans, J 2009; Proceed to Quorn Railmac Publications ISBN 978-1-86477-066-X
  7. ^ Kelly, B (as Editor) (2003). "Public Liability Halts Trains". The PartyLine. Steamtown, Peterborough Railway Preservation Society Inc. (Number 78, Summer 2003). ISSN 1322-2473. 
  8. ^ Mannion, J (March 2009). "Ripping up the tracks - Eurelia to Peterborough". Catchpoint Magazine: 14–16. 
  9. ^ Mills S "Harvest time for the Eurelia rail line" Flinders News - 19 September 2008 10 October 2008
  10. ^ Google (8 September 2014). "Orroroo" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Manning, G (1990), Mannings Place Names of South Australia  ISBN 05437687505
  12. ^ Advertiser, 9 January 1903
  13. ^ Advertiser, 15 August 1908
  14. ^ South Australian Government Gazette, 12 February 1880

External links[edit]