Historic Bungaree Station and Burra

Monday, 15th May 2017 by Anthony Hunter
Categories: Clare Valley

Interested in the history of our state and due for a weekend away? Here’s a suggestion for two heritage trails that provide unique insight into South Australia’s sheep farming and mining history. Stay at the award winning Bungaree Station in the heart of the Clare Valley and add an excursion to the mining town of Burra for a weekend where you really do step back in time.

The story of Bungaree Station begins on Christmas Day 1841, when sheep farmers George C Hawker and his brothers, James and Charles, selected a site along the Hutt River for their head station and named it ‘Bungaree’, after the aboriginal name for the area.

Bungaree TractorsBungaree Station trucks

Bungaree became an extensive property, running 100,000 merino sheep by the mid-1880s. It became a small village complete with sandstone Homestead, Woolshed, Shearers’ Quarters, Station Store, Manager’s House, District Council Chambers, staff cottages and a Church.

BungareeToday, Bungaree is a mixed farm still run by the Hawker family but also offering a diverse range of B&B accommodation options in the property’s heritage buildings. There’s a fascinating self-guided history trail complete with audio signposting, signs and displays that provide a unique look at our pastoral history and the stories of those who lived and worked on the station. It’s complimentary for guests, or a minimal charge for visitors. I suggest staying a night or two to soak up the history of Bungaree along with the beauty and gourmet delights of the Clare Valley.

You’ll learn about another historic boom industry on the Burra Heritage Trail. Head off after a hearty country breakfast for the 50km drive from Bungaree to the beautiful old copper mining town of Burra. Swing by the visitors information centre in the middle of town to pick up your Burra Heritage Passport. You’ll receive a map, information booklet and an actual key that unlocks padlocks along the trail to provide special access.

Allow a couple of hours to do the self-drive trail starting at The Burra Mine. Your passport provides free entry into the restored Morphett’s Enginehouse and for a particularly dramatic view across the lake, stroll down to Graves Enginehouse. Your key allows entry to the bunker-like Powder Magazine, the oldest intact mining building in Australia. Just up the road you’ll get free entry to the Bon Accord Mining Complex to view a meticulously researched model of the mine and inspect the restored mineshaft. A bit further north use your key again at Redruth Gaol before finishing up at The Unicorn Brewery back in Burra Township. With your key you can see the network of tunnels beneath the original brewery and there’s also a spooky night time option.

Morphett's Enginhouse

You can stop off for a wander around Clare on your way back to Bungaree station or maybe enjoy a spot of wine tasting to end the day. If you are heading back to Adelaide, take a moment during the trip to contemplate the regions pioneering South Australian sheep farmers and miners - and their substantial contributions to forging our state’s heritage.

Trip Notes

The drive from Adelaide to Clare takes approximately two hours with two commonly used routes from Adelaide. The more scenic drive is via the Northern Expressway taking in the towns of Tarlee, Auburn and Clare. The quicker route heads north from Adelaide on Port Wakefield Road, turning off at Two Wells and passing through Mallala, Balaklava and Blyth to Clare. This route is less scenic but can be quicker, particularly on long weekends. It’s a 12 km drive north from Clare to Bungaree and well signposted. Allow 40 minute (53 km) for your trip from Bungaree to Burra via Clare on Farrell Flat Road. The Burra Heritage Passport offers concessions for students, seniors and National Trust members. All school age children are free – and they receive a treasure hunt sheet for a bit of extra fun.

Visit Experience SA to book Bungaree Station, the Burra Heritage passport and explore other Clare Valley experiences.

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