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Town of Kooringa

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Catalogue record

Object Source: Rough plan and sketch of the township of Kooringa [cartographic material] : the property of the South Australian Mining Association

Date of creation : 1849

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Format : Map, 615 x 722 mm

Hand drawn ink with watercolour town map of Kooringa, (now part of Burra) South Australia, dated 1849, annotated with later additions. Shows lots 1-330, owners' names, street names, natural and cultural features

The town of Burra began in 1846 as the company town of Kooringa, surveyed and built for the South Australian Mining Association. It was the first such company town in Australia and remained so until the closure of the mine. An Aboriginal word Kooringa (kuri-ngga) means 'in the locality of the she-oak'. The neighbouring hills of Kooringa and the mine were stripped of their trees for the mine works. Kooringa today is known as Burra South and is the main part of the town of Burra. George Strickland Kingston was responsible for laying out the town; Kingston was a Director of the Association and had arrived in South Australia in 1836, as deputy surveyor-general to Colonel William Light.

Copper was discovered in the area in 1845 and the Burra Burra Copper Mine formed in 1848. For 15 years the mine supplied 89 per cent of South Australia's and 5 per cent of the world's copper. The mine closed in 1877 and then was re-opened briefly in the twentieth century. Along with the copper mine at Kapunda the Burra mines were largely responsible for saving South Australia from financial ruin in the 1850s. The mine was managed by Henry Ayers, later Sir Henry Ayers and a Premier of South Australia. Despite being a company town Kooringa was neglected by its owner, the Mining Association, which took no responsibility beyond the initial laying out of the town. No ongoing maintenance was undertaken with the Association expecting the residents to look after it themselves despite the fact that they had no freehold in the town, only limited leasehold.

The monopoly of the South Australian Mining Association was progressively side-stepped by the survey, further north, of a number of government and private towns. This was not however without considerable expense to the Association. When land in Redruth was put up for sale on 29 August 1849 it outbid small land buyers by forcing up prices in what Auhl has called 'a travesty of justice for the miners'. These settlements - Redruth, Llwchwr, Aberdeen and Hampton - reflected the cultures of the various immigrants who flocked to the Burra Mine. In 1876 the individual townships were formed into the Corporation of the Town of Burra, but retained their identity until 1940, when the name Burra was adopted.

Today Burra is the regional centre for the farming community and a popular tourist destination.


Related names

Kingston, George Strickland, 1807-1880

Further reading

Auhl, Ian The story of the 'Monster Mine' : the Burra Burra mine and its townships, 1845-1877 Burra, S. Aust.: District Council of Burra Burra, 1986

Ratcliffe, Julian The early townships of Burra, South Australia [Burra, S. Aust.]: Burra History Group, 2007

National Trust of South Australia. Burra Branch Burra: a glimpse of the past. Burra, 1978?]


History of Burra

Flinders Ranges Research : Burra Mine South Australia

Australian Heritage: Burra

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