Map the Miner
The first sight to greet visitors to Kapunda is that of 'The Big Miner' which looms over the road into the town. This is a depiction of 'The Cornish Miner' who was instrumental in the development of this whole region. The plaque on the miner reads:
'THE CORNISH MINER. The Kapunda Mine. This statue is a monument to the profound, role and contribution of the Cornish miner in the Kapunda and in due course in other mines in South Australia. The Kapunda mine, established in 1844, was the first successful metal mine in Australia and contributed greatly to the economic development of South Australia. Up to its closure in 1878 ore to the value of more than ?1 million was produced and up to 340 men and boys, mainly from Cornwall were employed.
'THE STATUE. The statue was named Map Kernow, being the Cornish dialect for 'Son of Cornwall'. It was unveiled on 5 June 1988. The sculptor was Ben Van Zetten who was commissioned.'
Historic Buildings - A walking tour of the Town
The first stop off point in Kapunda is the Kapunda and Light Information Centre at 76 Main Street. They have an excellent brochure which covers 34 venues in a walking tour of the town. It is a comment on the quality of the town's historic buildings that so many are still beautifully preserved and worth inspecting.
The walk starts in Hill Street (turn west off Main Street and start at the large building which is the Historical Museum) and includes the following highlights:
This large building was originally the local Baptist church and was built in 1866 with some financial assistance from George Fife Angas, one of South Australia's most important early citizens. The building ceased to be a church in 1948 and was used as a technical school until the 1960s. The unusual architectural style of the building is known as French Romanesque. Although it is open daily from September to May and open Sundays and public holidays during June, July and August 1:00 p.m.to 4:00 p.m. (contact tel: (08) 8566 2021 or (08) 8566 2603) it is well worth visiting. It has one of the finest collections of old record players (from cylinders through the 78rpm machines) in the country and also has a particularly interesting collection of early motorcycles. There are lots of interesting memorabilia spread through the building and it is easy to spend a couple of hours.
Herald Printing Office - Bagot's Fortune.
Two or three doors along at 5 Hill Street is Bagot's Fortune, the perfect introduction for anyone wanting to understand the rich mining history of the district. Through a series of excellent displays it depicts the lives of the early miners. There is a model of a miner pushing a load of copper ore, a small mine, a miniature of the main Kapunda mining operation and an accurate recreation of an Irish workers cottage at Kapunda in the 1840s. The building, the old Herald Printing Office, was completed in 1866 to house the operations of the Northern Star, a local newspaper which had started in 1860. The Kapunda Herald was published in this building from 1864-1950.
Buildings on the West Side of the Main Street.
On the corner of Hill and Main streets are the old Elder Smith offices which date from 1907. Turn the corner and walk one block and you will pass the ANZ Bank (formerly the Bank of Adelaide) which was built of sandstone and bluestone in 1866 (it was the first branch office of the Bank of Adelaide) and the Kidman Buildings (1909) which can be seen better from the other side of the street where, if you look up, you can still see 'Kidman Buildings' and 'Bank of NSW' in the upper part of the building. There are more 'Kidman' buildings over the road next to the North Kapunda Hotel.
North Kapunda Hotel
On the corner of Crase and Main streets is the North Kapunda Hotel which was first licensed in 1849. The yard behind the hotel was used for stock sales from the 1850s onwards but it came into its own when Sir Sidney Kidman began using it for his horse sales. There was one famous auction where a total of 3,000 horses were offered in an auction which lasted a week. The horses were all the property of Kidman. The yard was the centre of Kidman's empire from 1904 to the 1930s. The rear section of the hotel was probably built in 1866 when the hotel was completed. The rest is a series of more recent modifications.
Around the Town
Here is a very small selection of the best buildings and destinations around Kapunda. The best way to see the town is to purchase 'Discovering Historic Kapunda' from the Museum. It includes the Kapunda Heritage Trail which has an easy-to-follow drive around the town with a good map. It is worth taking the effort because the end result leaves the visitor with a sense of the historic richness of the town as well as a great understanding of the early mining industry.
Gundry's Hill Lookout
Head north along Main street and turn left into Clare Road and then right into West Terrace. Follow the road until you come to the signs to Gundry's Hill Lookout. This offers an excellent overview of the township and the surrounding agricultural land. It was here that a Captain Gundry managed an early copper mine. On the way up to Gundry's Hill you will pass
Kapunda High School
The average state high school isn't worth investigation but this high school is built around 'Eringa' a beautiful house full of excellent woodwork and characterised by some superb ironwork. This was the home of Sir Sidney Kidman. When he left Kapunda in 1921 he presented the house to the Department of Education.
Mine Lookout and Main Open Cut
The Mine Lookout can be accessed by taking Lucas Street east from Main Street, turning south into Whittaker Street which becomes Mine Street and then turning into Morton Street which leads towards the Mine Lookout chimney. There is a fence around the site so you have to walk to the chimney.
There is no better way to understand the process of mining which occurred in the district than to visit the main open cut mine. There is a walk around the edges of the cut and it is possible to go down into the valley where the miners worked and look into the various small cuttings in the sides of the valley. The area has a large number of descriptive displays which point out the features of the mine and provide fascinating early photographs which show the views, which are full of buildings and activity. The mine chimney (which was built in 1852) stands like a sentinel on the hill above the operations. It is still possible to see the sides of the cuttings covered in the distinctive bright green of copper washed down by the rains.
Below the Mine Lookout is a pleasant and interesting walk around the edges of the old Open Cut mine. There are descriptive panels with old photographs around the edges of the mine and at various points it is possible to walk down into the valleys where the ore was mined. You can still see the green in the rocks.
Continue around Mine Street and into Mugg Street. A short distance along are the
Mine Square Cottages
This Mine cottage is all that remains of three rows of six attached stone cottages built by the Kapunda mine owners on their property to house mining families. The first two rows were built by 1845 and the third by 1849. This is a portion of the third row. It is not available for inspection and so it can only be viewed from the fence.