On the way to Moonta we were able to view the comical (well to us anyway) sight of a 10km+ convoy of cars, most with either a campertrailer or boat on tow, making their way back from the Easter break from the York Penninsula toward Adelaide. This must be an annual pilgrimage as the local authorities were on hand at a couple of tricky intersections to ensure that the convoy was able to continue on its way, with minimal interuption.
Moonta and its surrounding areas appear to be made up of two distinctive areas, old and new.
Moonta was settled in 1860, and has been a copper mining settlement for much of the last 151 years. In terms of architecture this is evident by the large number of miners' cottages located in close proximity to the central retail area of Moonta. It can also be seen by the local churches, halls and other public buildings, their construction in an era where the materials used ensured that these buildings remain standing for the next 100-200 years.
|Moonta Mines Museum|
|School of Mines|
The Freemasons' Hall (built in 1875) is the oldest hall contructed by the Freemasons in Australia.
The Methodist Church was constructed in 1865 and had seating capacity for 1,250. In 1888 a pipe organ was installed (one of the first in the state).
The School of Mines and Mines Museum building were both built in the early 1870's as part of the development of the Weal Hughes copper mine.
All pictures and information courtesy of the Moonta Progress Association website.
Moonta is now also a sought after beach/holiday residence either for the retired or for those wanting a break from city life, much like Inverloch or the Ocean Coast towns of Torquay and Lorne in Victoria. This has meant an explosion of land development in Moonta and surrounding areas such as Moonta Bay and Port Hughes. The place where we are staying, owned by my friend Damien, is a very recently constructed two story house in a new housing estate in Port Hughes. Driving around today there are a number of subdivisions currently in the process of being developed, and it would not surprise me if the population were to increase to 5,000 or even 6,000 within 5 years.
Population increases of this size in such a short period of time can be tricky to manage properly. There are obvious infrastructure issues that need to be worked through, such as water, sewerage, roads. Local concerns need to be managed, as well as environmental issues. But the potential pay off can be enormous. The local economy seems to be booming, and tourism is providing employment and business opportunities to many people in the region. Whilst I have been here less than 24 hours, my first impressions are that locals are trying to preserve the old whilst ecouraging the new to flourish. These lessons could be learned by other communities I think.
Tomorrow we will be taking a closer look at the mines, as well as enjoying the beaches. Given that the weather will be nice and sunny I think there will be more of the latter and less of the former.