Celebrate Cornish culture on Yorke Peninsula

Yorke Peninsula is once again getting ready to celebrate its Cornish culture & heritage, with the world’s largest Cornish festival (outside of Cornwall) being held in Moonta, Kadina & Wallaroo.

From Monday 13th to Sunday 19th May the Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival will entertain and delight the region and its visitors with everything Cornish being celebrated.  A unique festival on the South Australian event calendar, it has been held every 2 years since 1973 and attracts more than 40,000 people to the event.

The week-long Kernewek Lowender – which translates from the Cornish language to English as ‘Cornish Happiness’ – has a full program celebrating all aspects of Cornish life, culture & heritage.  

Visitors can choose from attending concerts and choirs, observing Dressing of The Graves commemorations, viewing the Gathering of the Bards or attending an art exhibition or language seminar.  There are also guided tours of Moonta Mines & Wallaroo, or road tram tours of Moonta.

Plan your week with the Kernewek Lowender program.

The official opening day of the festival is Friday 17th May, with a day jam-packed full of festivities in Moonta, including the Fer Kernewek, street parade, Furry Dance and Maypole dancing.  Plus, there’s the always popular Cornish Pasty Bake-Off with local students and VIP guests taking part.

Kadina & Wallaroo share the event hosting duties on Saturday 18th May, with the Rotary Village Fair in Kadina’s Victoria Square.   With around 100 stalls, local producers, food trucks, rides and the ever-popular Cornish Pasty & Swanky Beer available, the fair is fun for the whole family.

Maypole dancing and the traditional Furry Dance will once again fill the streets, and there’s a best dressed competition for all the Cousins Jack & Jenny’s, who are wearing traditional Cornish clothing.

In the afternoon, the festival heads to Wallaroo with the Apex Wallaroo Street Party.  A favourite of Celtic villagers, this street party will have plenty of entertainment, seafood, wine and beer including the traditional Cornish brew Swanky.

The Classic Cavalcade of Cars & Motorcycles takes centre stage on Sunday morning, with over 500 vehicles taking part.  The motoring enthusiasts from around Australia will be gathering at the Viterra marshalling yard in Wallaroo before travelling through Wallaroo, Moonta, Moonta Bay, & Port Hughes on their way to Kadina.  There are plenty of vantage spots along the way for spectators to watch the cavalcade, cheers the vehicles & drivers on, and just see the range of classic and vintage cars & motorcycles.

Following the arrival of the vehicles, the Classic Cavalcade Fun Fair gets underway at the Kadina Football Oval, where you can view the vehicles up close and chat to the drivers.  There’s also food on offer, Cornish Pasty’s, Swanky Beer, rides, entertainment and much more on the last day of the festival.

Wherever you are in Moonta, Kadina & Wallaroo for the Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival, you’ll be sure to see plenty of Cornish Pasty’s, Cousin Jack & Jenny’s throughout the week.

View the official Kernewek Lowender program for more information on the events, displays, exhibitions and entertainment planned for the weekend.


If you can’t make it for the 2019 festival, those visiting Yorke Peninsula can experience the Cornish impact on the region & discover Cornish culture all-year-round at Moonta, Wallaroo & Kadina.  Visit some of the great attractions on offer including:

  • Moonta Mines National Heritage area
    This national heritage area covers most of the land under the Moonta Mining Company lease. Now operated by the National Trust, the area includes the Museum, Tourist Railway, Sweets Shop, Family Resource Centre and much more.
  • Moonta Mines Sweets Shop
    Everyone's number one place to visit has to be the Moonta Mines Sweets Shop, located in the former Moonta Mines Post Office – a post box and red phone booth still remains outside!  With old style lollies, sherbets, and delicious fizzy drinks, a stop at the Sweets Shop is always a must.
  • Moonta Mines Tourist Railway
    This small railway provides visitors with a 50 minute round trip by narrow gauge rail, passing the reservoir and ore sorting floors then continuing through a tunnel in Ryan's Tailings Heap. Learn about the copper mining history, and it’s importance to this area of the peninsula.
  • Moonta Mines Walking Trails
    Discover the copper mining area of Moonta Mines by following the Ryan’s Walk, Hancock’s walk and Hughes Walk. All named after key figures in the boom of copper mining, these walks take you past important locations and interpretative signage provide the history of the area, the geology of Moonta’s ore bodies and the mining methods used.
  • Moonta Mines National Heritage Area – self drive
    The Moonta Mines National Heritage Area covers most of the former Moonta Mining Company lease.  A tourist drive starting from the Moonta Town Hall leads through the Cornish cottages housing area and then passes the church, the Hughes Pump House ruins, Taylor's shaft, the deepest shaft in the area and the ruins of the ore concentrating plant at Richman's.  A walk to the lookouts on the top of the skimp heap gives an aerial view of the whole area.
    Information signs enable visitors to relate existing ruins to former structures. The tour includes Ryan's shaft where copper was first discovered in 1861, ore sorting floors, the National Trust Miners Cottage and Hancock's skimp heap and lookout. The mining area is amongst the most significant in Australia, illustrating the early mining and treatment of copper ores, mostly by Cornish immigrants.
  • Local and Family History Resource Centre (formerly the School of Mines)
    Located in the heart of Moonta in the old School of Mines building, visitors can view the comprehensive local and family history resources. If you’ve ever wondered about your family’s background and whether you have Cornish ancestry, a local historian can assist with researching your family history.
  • Miners Cottage and Gardens
    This quaint miner’s cottage provides an insight into the lives of the Cornish miners who came to Moonta to work in the copper mines. Built in around 1870, the cottage gives an example of the typical home of a Cornish miner and his family.
  • Moonta Mines Museum
    Located in the former Moonta Mines Model School, this museum features displays about the Cornish miners lifestyle. Displays include sports, death and hardship, school life, mining and much more. The Museum is part of the Moonta Mines National Heritage Area which also includes the Sweets Shop and Tourist Railway.


blog published 3 May 2019

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