Wallaroo, South Australia

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South Australia
Wallaroo Town Hall
Wallaroo is located in South Australia
Coordinates 33°55′0″S 137°37′0″E / 33.91667°S 137.61667°E / -33.91667; 137.61667Coordinates: 33°55′0″S 137°37′0″E / 33.91667°S 137.61667°E / -33.91667; 137.61667
Population 3,053 (2006 census)[1]
Established 1851
Postcode(s) 5556
Elevation 44 m (144 ft)
Location 160 km (99 mi) NNW of Adelaide
LGA(s) Copper Coast
State electorate(s) Goyder
Federal Division(s) Grey
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
23.0 °C
73 °F
10.8 °C
51 °F
386.7 mm
15.2 in
Localities around Wallaroo:
Spencer Gulf North Beach, Tickera Alford
Spencer Gulf Wallaroo Kadina
Spencer Gulf Moonta, Boors Plain

Wallaroo is a port town on the western side of Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, 160 kilometres north-northwest of Adelaide. It is one of the three Copper Triangle towns famed for their historic shared copper mining industry, and known together as "Little Cornwall", the other two being Kadina (about 8 kilometres to the east) and Moonta (about 18 kilometres south). At the 2006 census, Wallaroo had a population of 3,053.[1]

The name "Wallaroo" comes from the Aboriginal word wadlu waru, meaning wallaby urine. The early settlers tried to copy the aboriginals by calling it Walla Waroo. However, they found this too big to stamp on the wool bales, so they shortened it to Wallaroo.[2]

Since 1999, the rural broadacre farming area to the north of the town has been officially known as Wallaroo Plain.[3] The area south of Wallaroo is Warburto.[4] The Warburto railway station name was derived from the Narrunga name for a nearby spring.[5]


Prior to European Settlement, Wallaroo was occupied by the indigenous tribe of Narungga. Matthew Flinders was the first European to visit the location; on 16 March 1802 when he sailed by he recorded that "the immediate coast ... which extends several leagues to the north of the point, is low and sandy, but a few miles back it rises to a level land of moderate elevation, and is not ill-clothed with small trees."[6]

Wallaroo Jetty, 1909
Wallaroo jetty in 1909, showing shipping, launches, and grain waiting for loading.
Wallaroo miners in 1900

Wallaroo was first settled in 1851 by a sheep grazier, Robert Miller. In 1857, Walter Watson Hughes purchased the land and named it "Walla Waroo". The name was subsequently shortened to "Wallaroo".[2]

Copper was discovered in the Kadina area in 1859, and in Moonta (in a wombat hole) in 1861. Confusingly, there were no copper mines at Wallaroo itself.

Wallaroo settlement was established on Wallaroo Bay by 1861 and was proclaimed as a town in 1862. By 1865 the population was 3,000, and peaked at 5,000 in 1920. It was Yorke Peninsula's largest and most important port until 1923 when copper production ceased, and the largest and most important on Spencer Gulf until the Port Pirie smelters were established in 1890.[2]

The copper smelter was established in 1861. It grew and developed to eventually become the largest copper smelter outside of Wales. In addition to copper, the smelter also produced gold and lead, and included a sulphuric acid works. By the early 20th century, profits were declining. Despite measures to improve productivity, the smelter became financially nonviable and closed in 1923. [2]

Trading prospered, and a jetty was built in 1861 for ships to bring in coal, timber, food and mining equipment. The first load of refined copper was shipped in 1862, and by 1868 over 100 tons were produced each week. Distilled sulphuric acid was also produced and superphosphate was manufactured between the 1890s and 1920s.[2]

Wallaroo was connected to Kadina by horse-drawn tramway in 1862 and to Moonta in 1866. A connection to Adelaide was completed by 1880.[7] These railway yards expanded to a significant size, but its use diminished and it was closed in the 1990s.

Today Wallaroo remains as a major grain port. An automatic grain loader was built on the town's third jetty in 1958 and is currently in use.

The Narungga had a healthy population during the early years but the population has since dwindled.

Geography and climate[edit]

Wallaroo exists in a grain farming area with a moderate to low rainfall. It is located on the foreshore and is 13 metres above sea level. Wallaroo has a dry Mediterranean climate with seasonal temperatures a few degrees above Adelaide's temperatures. The temperature ranges are similar to those of Kadina and the weather patterns are similar to those of Kadina and Adelaide. In the summer Wallaroo has a light cool sea breeze on hot afternoons that sometimes makes the hottest afternoons more bearable than further inland.

Wallaroo's surrounds are used for growing barley, wheat and other crops such as legumes, canola, chickpeas and field peas.


Shops in Wallaroo

Wallaroo exports various agricultural products such as [fertiliser], and continues to handle grains through conveyor jetties and silos. One of the large mining chimneys still stands, aptly named the ‘big stack’.

The Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum has information about the ships that sailed to the area as well as 'George The Giant Squid'. There is also a Heritage Walk around the town.

New housing developments have been started on the former area of Office and North Beach.

Wallaroo offers a number of places to stay including several hotels and a campsite. Most of the hotels have their own restaurants, and there are also a few cafes and snack bars in the town.

On 6 November 2015 Monopoly Property Group (MPG) announced a new $220m tourism and residential development Wallaroo Shores Resort.

The popular three-day Kernewek Lowender Cornish festival is held every odd year in May, with Kadina, Moonta and Wallaroo each hosting the festival for one day.


Wallaroo foreshore with silo

Wallaroo is at the western end of the Copper Coast Highway and on the Spencer Highway. The railways to Moonta and Kadina closed in the 1990s. Grain is transported to the storage near the wharf by road, and loaded to ships by conveyor belts.

From the 1990s until 2009,[citation needed] the Lions Club of Yorke Peninsula Rail operated tourist services between Wallaroo, Kadina and Bute on some Sundays on the previously disused railway line.[8]

A daily ferry runs between Wallaroo and Lucky Bay, near Cowell on Eyre Peninsula.[9]


The District Council of the Copper Coast governs Wallaroo at the municipal level. Wallaroo lies in the state electoral district of Goyder and the federal electoral Division of Grey.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Wallaroo (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Wallaroo, southaustralia.com.
  3. ^ "Placename Details: Wallaroo Plain". Government of South Australia. 8 September 2008. SA0038041. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "Placename Details: Warburto". Government of South Australia. 8 September 2008. SA0038073. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "Placename Details: Warbuto". Government of South Australia. 21 August 2008. SA0004363. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  6. ^ Flinders, Matthew (1966) [1814]. A Voyage to Terra Australis : undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802, and 1803 in His Majesty's ship the Investigator, and subsequently in the armed vessel Porpoise and Cumberland Schooner; with an account of the shipwreck of the Porpoise, arrival of the Cumberland at Mauritius, and imprisonment of the commander during six years and a half in that island. (Facsimile ed.). Adelaide; Facsimile reprint of: London : G. and W. Nicol, 1814 ed. In two volumes, with an Atlas (3 volumes): Libraries Board of South Australia. p. 247. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Callaghan, W.H. Horse and Steam, Wheat and Copper, Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, January;February, 2002 pp. 9–27;46–63
  8. ^ Beckhaus, John. Yorke Peninsula Railway, Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, February, 2001 pp43-44
  9. ^ "Ferry Services - Sea SA". SeaSA.com.au. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  10. ^ Stab Kicks, Footystats diary.
  11. ^ Black, David; Bolton, Geoffrey (March 1990). The Biographical Register of Members o f the Parliament o f Western Australia Volume One 1870-1930, (PDF). WESTERN AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY PROJECT. p. 55. ISBN 0 7316 9782 0. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 

External links[edit]