Tintinara is located 191 km south-east of Adelaide and 18 metres above sea level on the road between Murray River (Murray Bridge) and Bordertown. It is located on the edge of a desert area which starts with the Little Desert in western Victoria and sweeps west to include Ngarkat and Mount Rescue Conservation Parks.
The area was settled in the 1840s when graziers moved into the district with substantial flocks of sheep. The 'Tintinara' homestead, including the woolshed and outbuildings, dates from this period.
No one knows how the town got its name. One body of opinion argues that 'tin-tin-yara' was an Aboriginal term used to describe the group of stars Europeans know as Orion's Belt. This explanation, first proposed in 1841, claims that it had the meaning of 'a group of youths who hunt kangaroos and emus on the great celestial plain'.
A more prosaic, but no less fascinating, explanation was published in The Register in 1919. It told the story: 'We had a smart young blackfellow in our employ, with a name that sounded like Tin Tin. We liked the sound of it, and when choosing a name for the [pastoral] station, we put 'ara' at the end of it, and made Tintinara of it. Tin Tin was of the Coorong tribe, and in his white moleskin trousers, blue shirt and cabbage-tree hat, was worth looking at.
Being on the edge of the desert the land was harsh and unforgiving. For many years it was known as the '90 Mile Desert'. The first settlement in the area occurred in 1852 when Police Inspector Tolmer created a track from the Mount Alexander goldfields in Victoria across to Adelaide. One of the stopping points on this track was the place where the old Homestead now stands which was used as a watering spot.
It was mostly covered with mallee scrub and it wasn't until the arrival of the 'scrub rippers' (which ripped the mallee out and ploughed the soil at the same time) that any real agriculture started in the district.
Things to see
Tintinara Homestead and Post Office
It appears to be closed and is certainly on private property but the people are very friendly and will show you around. The homestead was built in 1865 and shortly afterwards it became the Post Office. For a time it was a stopping point for the Tolmer gold escort which brought gold from the Victorian fields across to Adelaide. It is interesting to note that the building was once papered with old copies of the Adelaide Chronicle which are still quite legible. It is located on Homestead Road 10 km outside Tintinara and is easy to locate because of the handsome old pine trees at the entrance.
Tintinara Woolshed and Outbuildings
The people at Tintinara Homestead will point you in the direction of the Woolshed and Quarters which are only a few hundred metres down the road. This was also built in 1865. It is now nothing more than a solitary old building standing in a paddock although it is worth noting that the limestone walls are 80 cm thick and the roof timbers, some of which are 11 metres long, were carted here from Kingston South East. It is recognised as an excellent example of a building from its era.
Mt Boothby Conservation Park
Located 20 kms west of Tintinara. It is 4045 ha of flat mallee and heathland with small outcrops of pink gum and granite outcrops. One of the outcrops is Mount Boothby which is 129 metres high. The vegetation consists of dwarf oaks, tea trees, yaccas and desert banksia and in spring there are wild orchids. The park is home to grey kangaroos, emus and mallee fowl.
Mt Rescue Conservation Park
Located 15 km east of Tintinara this conservation park (it covers 28 400 hectares) has a number of Aboriginal burial grounds and campsites. The Conservation Park is characterised by mallee scrub and is the home of communities of emus, kangaroos, echidnas and mallee fowl.
Ngarkat Conservation Park
This is one of the largest mallee conservation areas in South Australia covering an area of 270,152 ha. The park is noted for having 14 different types of honeyeaters and thornbills. There are also mallee fowl, pygmy possums, hopping mice (only seen at night), echidnas, grey kangaroos, dragon lizards, skinks and a number of snakes. At various times the local bee keepers use the park to gather honey. Keep away from beehives as they are private property and may be dangerous. Access to the park requires a 4WD vehicle because of the sandy conditions and it is not wise to explore the park at the height of summer when the temperatures can be very high. There is camping available in the park.
The best way, if you have limited time, to see the park is to get a copy of Tym's Lookout International Walking Trail, a simple brochure which details a 5 km walk taking 2-3 hours which encompasses much of the beauty and diversity of this important Conservation Park.For more information contact National Parks and Wildlife in Tintinara on (08) 8757 2261.
Tintinara Heart of the Parks
Tintinara SA 5266
Telephone: (08) 8757 2220