Beltana State Heritage Area
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The historic settlement of Beltana is located near the Warioota
Creek in the western fringe of the Flinders Ranges, approximately
540 kilometres north of Adelaide. The boundary of the designated
State Heritage Area encompasses the surveyed township, as well as
the adjacent cemetery and railway structures.
View Public Notice (300Kb
The declaration of the Beltana State Heritage Area, on 16 July
1987, recognised the town's significant links with many important
episodes in the history and development of South Australia's inland
regions. People of Aboriginal, Afghan and European descents
all regard Beltana as an important place in their cultural heritage.
| Martin's Eating House
The township of Beltana is historically important for its links
with pastoralism, the Overland Telegraph, the Transcontinental Railway,
mining, outback services and the Australian Inland Mission. Of added
significance are the Afghan sites that reflect another phase in
Beltana's past as an important camel-based transport centre of the
A Brief History
The land around Warioota Creek was first taken up by John Haines
in 1855, and later (1867) amalgamated into the substantial holdings
of the Beltana
Pastoral Company of Thomas Elder and Samuel Stuckey. During
1866 Elder and Stuckey imported over 100 camels
drivers, which formed the basis of transport in the district and
further north for decades.
The discovery of copper at Sliding
Rock in 1870 prompted the construction of Martin's Eating House,
later to be replaced by the Beltana Hotel, on the road to the mine
at Warioota Creek. This location at the creek crossing had already
been chosen as a site for a repeater station for the Overland Telegraph,
which reached Beltana by 1871. The Beltana township was surveyed
in 1873, and a purpose-built repeater station erected by 1875.
Beltana boomed with the arrival of the railway in 1881, and with
an influx of mining families following the failure of the nearby
Sliding Rock copper mine. By the mid-1880s the town had its own
brewery, general store and a school. In the 1890s the Presbyterians
established a mission at Beltana, with the Reverend John Flynn acting
as the minister for a time in 1911. In 1919 the Australian Inland
Mission opened a nursing home at Beltana. The town's population
stabilised at about 150 and remained fairly constant until the 1920s.
By the 1940s, 64 trains per week were passing through Beltana along
the Marree-Oodnadatta-Alice Springs line.
The development of the coal-mining town of Leigh Creek during the
1940s and 50s and the realignment of first the railway (1956) and
later the main road (1983) led to Beltana's decline as a major service,
transport and communication centre for the region.
Read a more detailed version
of Beltana's history (50Kb PDF).
A number of websites also present brief histories of Beltana, for
Interpreting Beltana's History
During the 1990s a Beltana State Heritage Area walking brochure
was produced and a total of 14 interpretive panels were erected
at significant locations around the town. These markers tell the
stories of Aboriginal, Afghan and European connections and provide
specific information about the historical significance of many individual
buildings. Titles within this series (available as pdf versions)
Features of Beltana State Heritage Area
Important to the charm and distinguishing features of Beltana is
the overall 'townscape'. While individual buildings and places have
historic merit and their own appreciable characteristics, it is
the town's layout and the location and type of buildings that contribute
to its outback character.
The rugged visual setting and the small and simply designed buildings
are reflective of the early settlement of South Australia's inland,
and reveal the hardships faced by early pastoralists, miners, developers
|Railway Station and Ghan Interpretation
|| Beltana Cemetery
Surviving within the Beltana State Heritage Area are many buildings
and places that illustrate the historical themes that dominate the
town's past and contribute to its heritage significance. These include:
- telegraph repeater station (1875)
- railway station complex (1881)
- Beltana Hotel (1874)
- Royal Victoria Hotel (1878)
- police station and cells (1881)
- ruins of Buttfield's store (1887)
- Mitchell's manse (1894) - subsequently the A.I.M. nursing home
- Smith of Dunesk mission, formerly Doig's coach works
- school (1893)
There are also about six cottages and some substantial ruins, such
as fireplaces, wells and a baker's oven, scattered over the area.
Significant water supply structures include the railway dam and
a government well and concrete trough dating from 1917.