Laura - Culture and History

When the evening sun slants through the gums,
By my forest-rimmed abode
Once more the old clear picture comes,
And my mind drifts down the road;
Back to the town by Beetaloo,
Where the rocky river strays;
Back to the old kind friends I knew
In the dear dead Laura days.

This poem, 'Laura Days' was written by C.J. Dennis to celebrate the town's Golden Jubilee (fifty years) in 1932.

Laura is a small and attractive township located on the eastern slopes of the lower Flinders Ranges 218 km from Adelaide. It is a town characterised by one of the widest main streets in South Australia with stands of peppercorns and gumtrees enhancing the street. The town's major claim to fame is that it has the boyhood home of noted Australian vernacular poet C. J. Dennis whose creations included 'The Sentimental Bloke'. Dennis's father was the licensee of the Beetaloo Reservoir Hotel from 1892 to 1910. C.J. worked as a barman for his father in 1898 but they soon fell out and he left and went to Broken Hill.

The actual township of Laura didn't come into existence until the early 1870s when a section of what had been Booyoolee Run, a pastoral holding which was leased by the pastoralist Herbert Bristow Hughes, was surveyed and subdivided. In 1872 the new town was named Laura after Laura Hughes, Hubert's wife. Prior to the establishment of the town the area had a number of large pastoral holdings most of which dated from the 1840s. Beetaloo Station had been established as a cattle run in 1844.

The town grew as it became an important supply post for the workmen building the Beetaloo Reservoir