Discover Cornish heritage at Moonta Mines

In 1859, copper near Kadina sparked a mining boom on Yorke Peninsula. By 1861, traces near a wombat burrow led to the Moonta Mining Company, one of Australia's richest copper mines. Skilled workers, mainly from Cornwall, flooded Moonta and Wallaroo Mines, shaping the town. By 1870, Moonta rivalled Adelaide, its growth evident in architecture, stone fencing, surnames, and Cornish Pasties.

The Moonta Mines thrived, producing £67,000 worth of ore in its inaugural year. By 1876, the Moonta Mining Company set a historic record by paying £1 million in dividends. However, the mining era faced a decline in 1923 due to a significant drop in copper prices.

Today, the Moonta Mines National Heritage Area, spanning 320 hectares and managed by the Moonta National Trust, preserves this rich history. The Moonta Mines Museum, housed in the 1878 Model School, offers a hands-on exploration of mining life. Visitors can delve into the mining complex through the Tourist Railway and indulge in sweet treats at the must-visit Sweets Shop.

In 2021, Moonta, encompassing historic mines, Moonta Bay, and Port Hughes, proudly earned the title of South Australia's Top Tourism Town, beckoning visitors to immerse themselves in its vibrant history.

Highlights of Moonta Mines

Museum Delights: Explore Cornish miners' lives at Moonta Mines Museum. Vivid displays showcase sports, school tales, and more.

Sweets Shop Magic: Indulge at the must-visit Moonta Mines Sweets Shop for old-world lollies and fizzy delights.

Historic Railway Journey: Narrate the copper mining saga on a 50-minute Tourist Railway trip, passing reservoirs and tunnels.

Family History Hub: Dive into your roots at the Family Resource Centre, aided by local historians in the heart of Moonta.

Walking Trails: Step into the copper mining era with Ryan’s, Hancock’s, and Hughes Walks, guided by interpretative signage.

Miners Cottage Charm: Transport to 1870 in a quaint Cornish miner’s cottage, offering a snapshot of daily life.

Heritage Exploration: Cruise the Self-Drive Heritage Trail, exploring Mines and Moonta township.

Forge Enchantment: Tipara Forge offers blacksmithing re-enactments, sharing stories and foundry works.

Mining Marvels: Hughes Enginehouse, a key player in mining operations, and Richmans Enginehouse, a historic ore concentrator.

Discover and relive the vibrant tales of Moonta Mines in a captivating journey!


The Yorke Peninsula is the traditional lands of the Narungga (Nharangga) people, who have lived on, and cared for, this country since the beginning of time. We work, live and travel on Nharannga Banggara [Country], and we take time away from those pursuits to acknowledge and pay our deep respects to the Nharangga Elders of the past and present. 

Today, it is essential that we continue to care for and protect our spectacular natural environment. Tread lightly and leave no trace. Learn more about responsible and respectful travel on Yorke Peninsula.