Return to Places

Over the years many sites which were once a part of every day life in Burra, have disappeared.  Here is a list (and information) of some of those lost places:-

Unicorn Brewery

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Brewery in 1905

Unicorn Brewery, Kooringa

Inside the cellar at Unicorn Brewery, Kooringa

Unicorn Brewery, Kooringa - 1873 - 1902

The Unicorn Brewery was built in 1873 on the site of an earlier brewery and served the town's nine hotels.  The first brewer was Mr Birrell.

The Brewery complex included a tall malting tower, offices, cooper's workshop, steam engine and boiler to operate the pumps, and manager's residence.

The brewery closed in 1902 due to new licensing laws and was demolished for stone in 1911.

The cellars, storeroom, manager's residence and walls of the brewery block still remain.


Miners' Dugouts

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Another early photo of miners' dugouts

1925 Back-to-Burra celebrations with Edwin Harris (left), cab driver Charles Grow (centre), and A. Lott standing at the entrance to the Miner's Dug-out in the banks of the Burra Creek

Interior view of a dugout

Miners' Dugouts in 2004

Miners' Dugouts - 1850

The early rapid development of the Burra Burra Mine led to a shortage of housing. 

In 1851 about 1,800 out of a total population of 4,400 lived in nearly 600 dugouts along the Burra Creek and tributaries.

In 1851 a flood devastated "Creek St" driving the inhabitants from their dugouts.  By 1860 the dugouts were virtually deserted.

Two dugouts survive under the care of the National Trust.

Buildings at the "Monster" Mine

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Burra Mine showing the Powder Magazine on the hill (1847)
Centre is Peacock's Enginehouse;
Right is Graves' Enginehouse
 Foreground: horse operated rope whim for hauling up ore

This photo was taken in 1977, at the same location as the photo above
And the same view in May 2005

Smelting Works and Smelt Chimney

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 Smelting Works

S.T. Gill (1818 - 1880) Burra Burra Mine from the rear of the P.C.C Smelting Works (detail)

Ruins of Smelter Chimney

Burra Railway Station

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Burra Station in 1904.  Photo from the "Kapunda Herald"

Detail of the 1904 photo

Burra Station - The Broken Hill Express at Burra in 1908.  Photo from the Kapunda Herald

Train passing through cutting just north of the Show Grounds in the 1920s

Horse shunting in Burra in the 1950s

Burra Railway Station, 1970s

Front view of Burra Railway Station today

Side view of Burra Railway Station today

Burra Railway Station - 1883

When the railway reached Burra in 1870, the Adelaide-Burra line was more than half the total railway line laid in South Australia.

In 1874 it took five hours for the 160 km journey to Adelaide.

The present station was erected in 1883 and replaced an 1870 wooden structure.

It was originally known as the Aberdeen Station.

Until 1935 a large arched roof covered te tracks and platforms.

Rail services to Burra discontinued in 1985 and the line closed in 1988.

Train Timetable

The following is transcript of the train timetable:-

20 April, 1877

Railways: SAR Timetable effective 2 April 1877 (extract)


Weekdays Only



Adelaide dep



Gawler arr



Gawler dep



Hamley Bridge dep.



Riverton arr.



(Refreshments) dep.



Mintaro (since 1917 Merilden) dep.



Burra arr.



Burra dep.



Mintaro (since 1917 Merilden) dep.



Riverton arr.



(Refreshments) dep.



Hamley Bridge dep.



Gawler arr.



Gawler dep.



Adelaide arr.




The Burra Railway Station as viewed in the Burra Record

The following are excerpts from the Burra Record.

27 August 1880

2nd leader on the need for a new railway station.  The temporary Burra Railway Station has done duty for long enough and cost perhaps no more than £300 to £400.  There is no suitable waiting rooms or anything else.  Refreshment provisions are no more than a table on the platform.  Even for such wretched provision the railways get £65 p.a. which is enough to pay interest at 5% on £1,300.  The urinals are almost in full view of persons arriving at the elevation of a cart.  The platform has never been flagged and all is ‘miserly, incomfortable [sic] and insufficient.’

It is time a new station was built.  A splendid station has been built at Gawler recently and Riverton has thoroughly good and substantial refreshment rooms and many far less busy stations have facilities at least equal to that at Burra.  To the north facilities with every convenience are to be built at Yongala, Petersburg, etc.

29 April 1881

Burra Railway Station.  The wants of the Burra District were brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Public Works, G.C. Hawker, by the Members of the District on 21 April.  There was a complaint about the inadequacies of the refreshment facilities at the station.  All that was available were ‘meat pies (the very idea of which was repulsive), stale dry cakes, and tea and coffee.’

Mr Rounsevell sought a licence for the refreshment rooms at Riverton and Burra and to compel refreshment rooms to supply decent solid food in the shape of chops and steaks etc.  The bad state of the Burra Station was also raised.

27 October 1882

Railways.  We warn visitors to the Burra railway station to take care of holes in the floor covered with loose pieces of packing case etc.  When will the long promised new station be commenced.

16 October 1883

Burra Station.  The new railway station is now complete and has been passed.  A pity that when the new asphalting was being done the old area was not re-laid.  The bank in front of the station also needs cutting back to allow more room.

30 Nov. 1886

Advt.  Messrs Halls & Bromley, Cabs.  Fares from any street to the railway station or to Aberdeen or Redruth, 6d.  Fares from stand to stand are 3d.

21 Dec. 1886

Advt.  Wanted, two or three girls about 17 or 18 years of age, to serve at the Railway Refreshment Rooms, Burra Station.

29 Apr. 1890, page 2

Railways.  There is a complaint that no matter what the weather the ladies waiting room at the Burra station is only open while the train is at the station!

25 May 1892

Railways.  Burra railway yards are presently very busy with men relaying the line and a telegraph party is carrying out repairs and carpenters and painters are overhauling and painting the station buildings.  Another party is erecting a water tank.  There is also extra activity in delivering chaff to folk not prepared to pay unwarranted prices charged by the local chaff dealers. 

XV, 282, 7 Feb. 1894, page 3

The Railways apparently sent a new horse from Adelaide to replace steady old ‘Brit’ who had done the job for some months of shunting trucks around the quarry under his young master.  The new animal, ‘Joey’, looked impressive until he got to the end of the rope and had to take the weight of the truck: he then stopped.  It seems likely ‘Brit’ will soon be back plodding on in his reliable style.

Roach's Mill

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Burra Model School Opening Day
January 25th, 1888

Miss Sleep's Private School circa 1892
Left: Anne Sleep, Headmistress
Right: Miss Emma Sleep

Burra Primary School, November 8th, 1907

Hanson Primary School Students, 1907- 8
Top Row: Emily Stockman, Rita Humphrys, Myra Humphrys, Albert Dixon, Burt Blunt, Frank Ogorman, Silas Dixon
2nd Row: Charles Stockman, Allan Humphrys, thomas Dixon, Hedley Bishop, Stamley Bishop, Robert Dixon
3rd Row: Myrtle Gotherall, Minnie Stockman, Nellie Ogorman, Clara Motherall, Ivy Peak, Jean Jorgan, Edith Dixon
Front Row: Rueben Rogers, Ted Blunt, Maurice Humphrys, Robert Motherall, Minetta Humphrys with bicycles, Clarence Humphrys

Spit & Dribble Band on the steps of Burra School, 1910.  2nd Row, 4th from right - Alma Wicklein

1919 or 1920 class of Burra School
1st Row Standing, 1st on the left -
Dolly Bennett (Rosilia or Rosalie) Hilda Dorothea Abbott

1932 Grade VI class of Burra School
Rear view of Burra School

1936 Burra Schools Concert Programme

Bleak House School
On the steps: back Alice Hiddle, Joy Sangster, front Miss Millar, Rita Vivian, Ruby Sandland, Clara Bartholomaeus
Back row: Hazel Bartholomaeus, Vera Goode, Nell Scott, Nell Vivian, Vera Fuss (Eric's great aunt), Edna Goode
Middle: Kath Roach, May Sangster, Mrs Robinson
Girls in front: Isobel Hiddle, Edith Bartholomaeus, Floss Richards, Vera Bowman, Elsie Wise
Boys: Jack Richards, Chester Sandland, Jack Roach.

Burra’s Earliest Pubic Schools



Mr. and Mrs. Francis Jolly




James and Margaret Houghton (Wesleyan Day School)




William and Mary Hocking




Sophia James

Burra Mine



J.F. Leith




Harriet Wheeler




W. G. Bulley




Thomas and Mary Ann Oakford (Old Bible Christian Chapel)




Ann Reid




Edward Strike




John and Elizabeth Stephens (Wesleyan Day School)




Augustus H.Forder




Charles Smelt




Nicholas Bennett




Arthur Motley




Joseph Fogg




Robert Z. and Ann H. Jones




William and Frances West




Charles Drummond




William Kean




George R.Lowe




Frederick William Holder (Wesleyan Day School)


* Licensed schools in receipt of government subsidy and therefore open to children of any parent who could pay the required fee.

+ At least four of these schools, licensed under the new Education Act of 1851, were operating previously as ‘private’ schools.

Private Schools

Miss Bock’s, Miss Johnson’s, Mrs. Press’s, Miss Josling’s, Miss Sleep’s, Mrs. Gillespie’s, Miss Goss’, Mrs. Bonney’s, Mrs Roes’s, Miss Stanton’s, Mrs. McBride’s, Miss Rabbich’s, Mrs. Edlin’s, Miss Simpson’s, Miss Both’s (Hampton), Mrs. Chambers.

Church of England Day School 1928

Miss Sleep's Private School, Queen Street

Children paid sixpence a week for education and during winter, threepence a week for firewood.



Notes from the Burra Record relating to Bleak House School

VIII. 617, 4 Feb. 1887, page 2

Mrs McLagan has moved to Aberdeen and will open a school on 7 February in the house lately occupied by Mr Wittber, opposite Roach Bros Mill.  [Bleak House.]

XII, 1025, 4 Feb. 1891, Page 3

Local Board of Health Inspection, last Wednesday covered:

  • Burra Railway Station, where the urinals were found to be a disgrace and the drain nearly saturated with disgusting filth and quite foul.  The baggage office was quite unsatisfactory.  It is really the booking office and whatever filth is forwarded by rail finds its way into this room.

  • Redruth Gaol had two occupants and everything was clean and tidy both inside and in the garden.

  • Redruth Police Station and Courthouse.  The former was in good condition, but the cesspit at the latter was very bad.

  • Misses Rabbich’s School, conducted in the old German Chapel, was satisfactory.  There were 73 on the roll and attendance was 60.

  • Mrs McLagan’s School [Bleak House] was also satisfactory with 20 on the roll and c. 16 present.

  • St Joseph’s School was satisfactory with an attendance of c. 40.

  • The Burra Public School had an average attendance of 240 in room for 1,000.  All was very satisfactory.  The drinking water from the underground tank was excellent.

  • Miss Josling’s School in Kooringa was satisfactory.

  • Miss Sleep’s School in Kooringa was satisfactory.

  • The Burra Hospital was satisfactory.

  • The Burra Institute: water closet and urinal requirements were not satisfactory.

A meeting was then held and the two matters needing urgent attention were the Railway Station and the Courthouse cesspit.

XIII, 1074, 13 Jan. 1892, page 2

Advt.  Girls High School, Bleak house, Burra, reopens after Christmas Vacation,

19 Jan. 1892.  Matriculation and Senior Classes: Miss Sprod.

Principal: Frances McLagan.

XV, 496 (2), 8 Jan. 1902, page 3  [Second use of No. 496]

Burra High School.  The report from the principal and the prize list is printed.  The prizes were distributed and the report read at Bleak House on 27 December.

XV, 511, 23 Apr. 1902, page 2

St Mary’s Annual Vestry Meeting.  The district was large, extending from Waterloo to Hallett with Mission Churches at Black Springs, Gum Creek and Hallett.  Services were regularly given at the Hospital and visits made to a number of sheep stations and scripture lessons given at Miss Millar’s School [Burra High School at Bleak House] and at Redruth Reformatory.  Sunday school work was also encouraging.  Income for the year was £337.


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Swimming Pools

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Opening Day at the Burra Mine swimming pool in 1932

Mine Pool

Detail of the Mine Pool photo above

Mine Pool, August 8, 2004

Community pool in the 1960s

Another photo of the Community pool in the 1960s

Old Community Pool as it is in May 2005

Burra Mine Pool

The following are extracts from the Burra Record relating to the Mine Pool.

16 November 1877, Page 2.290

Burra Burra Mines. On Tuesday and Wednesday next will be performed nearly the last act in the drama of the `knocking' of the Burra Mines. Sale of all surplus plant and equipment. The business in town is depressed, but the prospects for harvest are good. The cessation of pumping has caused a problem of water supply for livestock. Previously the creek at Redruth and Aberdeen was supplied by the pumping and livestock depended upon it. Now there is a need for water as the creek dries up. The Mayor, in response to an application from a group of ratepayers, has called a meeting for Tuesday afternoon (20 Nov.) to consider the problem. A bathing place is also needed. The Mine Pool was previously available and much used in summer months, but now it is very low and will not be replenished until the mines begin working again.

XXII, 1931, 10 Feb. 1915, page 3

Burra Swimming Club.

Mr Nation, who founded the Hamley Bridge club is the instructor.

Changing sheds are being erected at the Mine Pool.

The official opening was performed last Saturday by Mr E.W. Crewes.

Membership costs 1/- and so far there are 72 members.  Carnivals will be organised.

Part of the pool has been set aside for learners.

The diving board has been donated by C. & A. Fuss.

Office bearers are:   

President:-                  E.W. Crewes

Instructor:-                  B. Nation

Assistant Instructors:-  F. West, W. Bowen, S. Sara, E.M. Cox

Hon. Secretary:-          E.M. Cox

XXII, 1932, 17 Feb. 1915, page 2

The Mine Pool.  Last Saturday was a special ladies’ day at the pool and 20-30 took advantage of the instruction available.  A large number of envious youths had to content themselves with a seat on the bank.  A number of young ladies have returned for a sunrise dip since, or for an evening swim.

February 17, 1915

The mine pool in Burra has suddenly become the most popular resort in the town.  Owing to the hot weather and the formation of a swimming club there has been an unprecedented rush to take advantage of the delights it affords, and the young ladies are amongst the most ardent enthusiasts.  Last Saturday was their particular and special day and between twenty and thirty took advantage of it, and, aided by the instruction of Mr Nation and others they spent a really enjoyable time in the water, whilst a large number of envious youths had to content themselves with a seat on the bank.  Since then the young ladies have developed a craze for early rising and anyone who gets up about the same time as the sun rises may have the pleasure of seeing them wending their way to the bathing resort, whilst at night they sacrifice their evening meal to the same god.  How long the enthusiasm will last is difficult to say, but anyhow the tramp and the swim is a good health-giving recreation.

Burra Community Pool

  • Opened in 1960.


Eastern Telephone Exchange

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