Do these mine sites warrant World Heritage status?

Settlement and development of South Australia’s copper ‘triangle’ by Cornish miners not only helped put the colony on the road to prosperity but remains a showcase of early industrial and mining history in the southern hemisphere, says leading historian Professor Philip Payton.

From the 1840s – a decade before Victoria’s colonial gold rush – Cornish migrants from south-western Britain discovered then opened up several mines in regional SA, using ‘cutting edge’ technology, including high-pressure steam engineering and other techniques in Australia for the first time.

“Restoration of these mines and surrounding landscapes is important and a great way to preserve this heritage, and paves the way for them to be granted UNESCO World Heritage status as it extends beyond Cornwall,” says Prof. Payton, whose books help keep this chapter of Australian history alive.

Along with a new updated edition of the Pictorial History of Australia’s Little Cornwall, Professor Payton’s other titles include Making Moonta: The Invention of 'Australia's Little Cornwall' (2007), and Regional Australia and the Great War: 'The Boys from Old Kio' (2012), both of which are about the history of northern Yorke Peninsula.

The National Heritage listed Moonta mine this year received $5 million in Federal Government funding for further restoration, building on the rich Cornish history of the Yorke Peninsula where more than 24,000 miners built their own antipodean ‘Little Cornwall’.

“These sites, including at Wallaroo, Kadina, Kapunda, Burra and elsewhere, are quite unique memorials to the early European settlement of Australia, and we’re lucky that much of this is still apparent to see and enjoy,” Prof. Payton says.

The application for World Heritage listing is flagged in the introduction of the updated pictorial history of Little Cornwall.

On 13 July 2006, select mining landscapes across Cornwall and west Devon were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, placing Cornish mining heritage on a par with international treasures like Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. The largest industrial World Heritage Site in the UK, it is spread over 20,000 hectares across Cornwall and West Devon, with led to the expansion of copper mining around the world, including Australia.

Have you visited any of these early mining sites in South Australia? Do you think they should be given World Heritage status?


South Australia’s copper ‘triangle’ is a top visitor's place and should be on the "Heritage List". I have been there and it is very interesting to look at the way these Cornish Miners worked and lived. I would support the site being put on the Heritage Register.

What next?? The Chernoybl site???

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