Snowtown, South Australia

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"Snowtown" redirects here. For the neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island, see Snow Town. For the 2011 film, see Snowtown (film).
South Australia
Snowtown welcome sign.jpg
South-western entrance to Snowtown
Snowtown is located in South Australia
Coordinates 33°47′0″S 138°12′0″E / 33.78333°S 138.20000°E / -33.78333; 138.20000Coordinates: 33°47′0″S 138°12′0″E / 33.78333°S 138.20000°E / -33.78333; 138.20000
Population 405 (2006 Census)[1]
Established 1878
Postcode(s) 5520
Elevation 103 m (338 ft)
Location 145 km (90 mi) north of Adelaide
LGA(s) Wakefield Regional Council
State electorate(s) Frome
Federal Division(s) Grey
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
23.3 °C
74 °F
9.7 °C
49 °F
407.4 mm
16 in
Localities around Snowtown:
Port Broughton Redhill Brinkworth
Bute Snowtown
Lochiel, Bumbunga Blyth

Snowtown is a town located in the Mid North of South Australia 145 km (90 miles) north of Adelaide and lies on the main route between Adelaide and Perth. Snowtown is perhaps most infamously known for the Snowtown murders, despite the fact that most of the murders were not committed in the town. The town's elevation is 103 metres (338 feet) and on average the town receives 389 mm of rainfall per annum.


The settlement of Snowtown by non-indigenous Australians initially grew up around a railway station on the Brinkworth-Wallaroo line. Located on what was traditionally the land of the Kaurna (indigenous) people, the first pioneers arrived sometime between 1867 and 1869 due to the rapid expansion of farming to the north of the area. During this period one of the first major structures, the old Snowtown Pub was built in 1868.[citation needed] Bailliere's South Australian gazetteer and road guide, published in 1866, contains a brief description of "Hummock's Run" located 28 miles (45 km) north of Port Wakefield. This farmland, according to the publication, contained the farming stations of Barunga, Bumbunga and Wokurna and consisted of "salt lakes and lagoons, dense scrub, with mallee, pine and bushes, grassy plains and saltbush, well grassed spurs and hills, with oaks and wattle on the Broughton River."[2]

The Government only started showing interest in the settlement as late as 1869 when it planned to establish various new towns throughout the district and to divide the land into much smaller holdings. Snowtown's charter was formally proclaimed by the then Governor of South Australia, Sir William Jervois, in 1878.[3] Jervois named the town after one of the members of the Snow family who were his cousins and lived on Yorke Peninsula (which lies immediately west and southwest of Snowtown). Thomas Snow became Jervois's aide de camp when Jervois received his posting in South Australia and it is widely thought by the people of Snowtown that the town was named after him.

Bumbunga Province[edit]

Main article: Province of Bumbunga

During the 1970s and 1980s, the secessionist micronation of Bumbunga Province existed on farmland south of Snowtown owned by the Brackstone family.

Snowtown murders[edit]

Main article: Snowtown murders

In 1999, Snowtown became notorious as the location where the remains of eight bodies were found in barrels of acid stored in a disused bank vault. The Snowtown murders or Bodies in Barrels murders, as they came to be known, occurred in several locations in South Australia between August 1992 and May 1999. The bodies were held at a series of locations around Adelaide for some time, and were moved to Snowtown in early 1999, a few months before their discovery. Only one victim was killed in Snowtown and none of the victims or the perpetrators were local to the town. Four people led by John Justin Bunting were convicted of murder or assisting the murders. Snowtown, a film about the murders and the life of Bunting, was released in 2011.

Geography and climate[edit]

Snowtown is situated approximately 7 kilometres east of a cleft in the Barunga range, named Barunga Gap. The excess rainfall from these hills collects in Lake Bumbunga directly south of the township. North of the town near the highway and railway line are more lakes and an old settlement still known as Lake View. Beyond the eastern edge of the town is the Snowtown Golf Course and a swampy region populated by saltbush and other salt-tolerant flora.

Snowtown has a warm Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures around 30 °C and winter temperatures around 16 °C. The average annual rainfall is 407.4 mm (16.0 in), most of which falls in the winter months.[4]

Climate data for Snowtown
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 46.3
Average high °C (°F) 31.1
Average low °C (°F) 14.6
Record low °C (°F) 3.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 18.6
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 3.5 3.4 4.0 7.0 10.4 12.5 13.4 13.5 10.9 9.2 6.0 4.7 98.5
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[5]


The town administration now falls under the control of the Wakefield Regional Council for local governance. This body came into effect on 1 July 1997 as a result of the amalgamation of the former District Council of Blyth-Snowtown and the former District Council of Wakefield Plains.

Snowtown lies in the state electoral district of Frome and in the federal electoral division of Grey.


Grain silos on western side of railway tracks, Snowtown

Located in what is described as a wheat-belt, the local Snowtown economy is predominantly based on cereal crops. Other primary industries include woolgrowing, livestock production and salt mining (at the nearby Lake Bumbunga saltworks).[citation needed]

Snowtown is a service centre for the local area, providing various essential services for the district[citation needed] as well as for motorists on the busy main road, Port Wakefield Road, the section of Highway 1 running past the town.

In 2008, TrustPower completed the first stage of the 47-turbine Snowtown Wind Farm in the Barunga and Hummocks ranges just west of Snowtown. The wind turbines are 110 metres from the ground to tip of the top wing.[6]


The town's main street, Fourth Street contains most of the town's civic buildings, notably the Snowtown Memorial Hall (built 1919) which is attached to the Old Institute (built 1889).[citation needed] Nearby is the town's tribute to the original pioneers telling visitors that the town's population is 520.[citation needed]

In 2008, a monument in the form of a 44-metre wind turbine blade was installed at the intersection of Fourth Street and Railway Terrace East.[7]


The two railway lines (Brinkworth-Wallaroo and Adelaide-Crystal Brook) intersecting the town figure less significantly in Snowtown today.

The main north-south road running just outside the western edge of the town was designated to form part of Australia's Highway 1 in 1955.


Snowtown Area School first opened in 1879 as a Provisional School by Mrs. Lamb, with a total enrolment of 14 pupils. Pupil enrolments in 2006 totalled 118, with many pupils also travelling from nearby Lochiel, Barunga Gap and Redhill.

The school is located on 4.5ha of land, with an additional 10ha of land used for Agricultural Studies. Today, the school offers a range of subjects for pupils in Reception to Year 12, with a key focus on Agricultural Studies and Information Communication Technology. Pupils are also able to study via distance education through the Open Access College at Marden (Adelaide) or via local delivery with neighbouring schools to increase their range of subject choices, particularly in Years 11 and 12.

Alumni of Snowtown Area School include Australian cricketer Lauren Ebsary.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Snowtown (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Whitworth (1866) p. 283
  3. ^ Jones (1978)
  4. ^ Climate averages by number
  5. ^ "Snowtown". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Wind farm ahead of schedule". ABC News Online. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  7. ^ "Big Blade joins the big Pineapple, Merino etc". December 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 


  • Jones, A. (1978). Snowtown, the First Century, 1878–1978. Snowtown Centenary Committee, Australia. 
  • Whitworth, Robert Percy, ed. (1866). Bailliere's South Australian gazetteer and road guide: containing the most recent and accurate information as to every place in the Colony. F.F. Bailliere. 

External links[edit]