Located 569 km from Adelaide and 257 km from Port Augusta on the Eyre Highway, Wudinna is a larger-than-average Eyre Peninsula wheatbelt town which is inevitably dominated by the grain silos and the railway. The town centre actually lies just to the north of the highway and visitors arriving from the east drive into the town past an old trough and pump (opposite the Bowling Club) which stands as a monument which 'perpetuates the courage, foresight and determination of the pioneers and early settlers from the year 1860.'
The Wudinna area was first settled by Europeans in 1861 when Robert George Standley lodged a claim for 10 sq. miles of land surrounding Weedna Hill ('weedna' later became changed to Wudinna which may be an Aboriginal word meaning 'the granite hill').
In 1896 W. A. Barns and A. J. Inkster acquired the Wudinna Hill lease and it was transferred to W. A. Barns in 1905. The property was sub-divided for agricultural development in 1912 and Barns retained the area adjacent to Mount Wudinna. In 1922 the South Australian government built a wall, drains, silt trap and tank on Mount Wudinna to conserve runoff water for use on nearby farms.
Wudinna township, which is larger than most of the wheatbelt towns in the area, was surveyed in 1915 and gazetted the following year. The General Store and Post Office were built in 1917. School was held in the local hall from 1919 until the local school was opened in 1927. Today it is a thriving centre servicing the surrounding wheat and sheep farmers.
Things to see
Mount Wudinna Tourist Drive
If the visitor keeps driving along Naylor Terrace, past the town's swimming pool and the local hospital, they will head straight out towards the granite outcrops which are the most interesting feature in the area. The drive, known as the Mount Wudinna Tourist Drive, goes to a number of interesting granite outcrops including the Polda Rocks which are 7 km outside of town, the Pygery Rocks which are 8 km, Little Mount Wudinna (9 km), Turtle Rock (12 km), Mount Wudinna (12 km), Peella Rock (30 km), and Corrobinnie Hill (32 km). These are not just a pile of rocks in the middle of a rural landscape. They are strange and impressive granite outcrops which were probably formed over 1500 million years ago at the same time as the Gawler Ranges.
Mount Wudinna, for example, is 260 m high and covers an area of about 112 ha. and Turtle Rock, even to the untrained and unimaginative eye, really does look like a huge turtle lying on the plains. All the rocks are believed to be remnants of a much larger granite mass which has undergone intense weathering over millions of years. The notable and unusual geological features of the rocks include rillen (eroded channels on the sides of the inselbergs) and tafoni (caves found on the granite outcrops).
Mount Wudinna, which is by far the largest of the granite outcrops, was first sighted by Europeans in 1844 when the explorer John Charles Darke passed through the area looking for good pastoral lands. He was fatally speared a short time later by Aborigines at Waddikee, between the present day sites of Kyancutta and Kimba.