This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels May 16


It was a fine day, with some cloud about.

M and I both rose at a respectable hour. While John slumbered on, we each did a load of washing. The chores had been neglected for a while now. You know it is time to act when you have to start inspecting the used undies in said washing basket to find some that could be recycled!

Once John was up and breakfasted, and had pottered about for a bit, we went for a walk  to explore Copley, in part because we had time to fill in before going back to Leigh Creek.

It did not take long! We bought an early lunch at the bakery, which was reputed in travel write ups as a must patronize place. John had a pastie. I had a sausage roll – which turned out to be still semi-frozen in the middle! I would not be recommending the place!

Drove to Leigh Creek to stock up on the fresh produce, which came in on Wednesday mornings. There was a much better selection of fruits and vegetables now, plus fresh bread (which the bakery didn’t have).

Took our bounty back to camp, then turned around and drove to the Heritage township of Beltana, some 35kms south of Leigh Creek.

A few of the buildings here were still occupied, but others were ruins.


The town was a thriving little one in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. There were copper mines to the east to supply, as well as a few local pastoral operations. The TransContinental Railway to Marree and then Alice Springs, passed through it,  as did what passed for the main road.

But the copper mining declined. From the 1940’s coal was mined at Leigh Creek and a township established to service that. In 1980, the railway closed down, when the new route was established well to the west. Then the road alignment was shifted a few kms to the west – now one must detour from the main road to reach Beltana.

We wandered about Beltana for a little while, studying ruins, taking photos.

The ruins of the copper smelter and settlement at Sliding Rock, 22kms east of Beltana, was our next stop.  It was a little tricky, finding our way out of Beltana to the road we wanted – tracks everywhere and little in the way of signposts. (Last time we went out there, it was kind of by accident, so I didn’t really remember the way). We crossed the dry creek bed and headed in what looked like an easterly direction. It turned out to be the Warraweena road,  which was what we wanted. The gravel road out was in good condition.

The copper mine at Sliding Rock started up in 1869. The ore was so promising that a smelter was built out there, and then a second one. A little township grew up near the mine, during the 1870’s and was gazetted as Cadnia.

Unfortunately, the early optimism proved premature – copper prices fell, the smelter machinery was prone to breakdowns, transport was difficult, underground water in the mine shafts was a major problem.  By the early 1900’s, the mine was closed and people were moving away to other places. The school house at Cadnia was moved to Beltana.

Now, it is just a collection of very picturesque ruins in a brilliant setting.

On one low hill are the remains of the smelter complex, and some distance away, on another rise, the township ruins.

We wandered around the very scenically set ruins for a couple of hours.

Sliding Rock

This place is only about 30kms in total from the main road, on good gravel roads, but it was a measure of how far off the normal tourist trail it was, that in our time out there, we saw no one else. But then, I  guess the same could be said of most of the places we went at Arkaroola. But it seemed to me that travellers going through Leigh Creek and Copley are focussed on “the Tracks” – Birdsville and Oodnadatta – and do not stop to explore en route. They miss some gems.

A few kms further along the track from Sliding Rock is the Warraweena Homestead, which we had visited on a previous trip. Sliding Rock is located on the Warraweena property,. a former pastoral lease now turned conservation  land. Next trip up this way, we thought we’d like to utilize their bush camping area and explore tracks further east of here.

Drove back to Beltana and, for something different, took a dirt road north that follows the old rail alignment through Puttapa Gap and so back to the main road. That was an interesting way to go.

John refuelled Truck at Copley – $1.43cpl.

We were back at camp in sufficient time for me to roast a chook for dinner – in the electric frypan, outside,  as I always do my roasts when travelling and on external power.

While dinner was cooking, and M and I were getting our washing off the line, John downloaded the photos that HE  had taken, to date, on the new Pentax digital SLR camera that was MY Xmas present! He was very pleased with the results, especially the ones he took out at Sliding Rock today. He named them and burnt a backup copy to a CD.

We made some phone calls. Sent emails to family and to house sitters asking for mail to be forwarded to Alice Springs.

There was an email from the construction company we had worked for, saying they were about to pay in John’s super – it had been held up for some reason, whereas mine had been fine. Almost $4000 worth – wonderful!

Through the evening, we could see much lightning flashing away in great sheets across the sky, to the east and south-east. Apparently Broken Hill, Tibooburra and Poochera all had heaps of rain – and very large hail stones. We fervently hoped that weather system did not migrate north!

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1999 Travels May 23


John got up at 8.30, me half an hour earlier.

After breakfast, John checked over the van and filled the water tanks. I washed the van floor while he was outside, and packed a sandwich lunch.

Chores completed, we set out to drive to Beltana, some 30kms to the south. Got fuel at Leigh Creek – 84cpl.

Rather than go back down the highway we’d come north on, we opted to turn off some 10kms south of Leigh Creek and take the old road, through the Puttapa Gap – this was pleasant and interesting, on an unsealed road.

05-23-1999 01 ruins near Patawarta Gap.jpg

Ruins near Puttapa Gap

Beltana  was a settlement that dated from the 1870’s and the copper mining in the area. It was boosted by the Overland Telegraph being built nearby, likewise the northern railway (that became the old Ghan rail), and the road north. But the copper mining declined, technology rendered the telegraph obsolete, in the 1950’s the railway line moved, and the road was moved further west in the early 1980’s. Leigh Creek had become the main service town of the area and Beltana became a ghost town, almost. Today, there are some residents, and some upkeep of certain old buildings.

05-23-1999 02 old police station and jail at back.jpg

The old Beltana Police Station, with a little stone jail at the back

Beltana was not as intact as I had expected, but there were some interesting old stone buildings, and bits and pieces lying about. Didn’t see any signs of life, though.

05-23-1999 03 Old schoolhouse Beltana

The old school house at Beltana

After we’d driven around and walked and looked, we decided to continue on to Sliding Rock, 24kms to the north east, along a reasonable gravel road. The road crossed the wide and dry Sliding Rock Creek, and we stopped to eat lunch there, amongst some beautiful old red gums.

05-23-1999 04 sliding rock creek.jpg

The dry bed of Sliding Rock Creek, north west of Beltana

Copper was discovered at Sliding Rock in 1869 and mining began. The prospects were really promising, and smelters were built. A township was established there – Cadnia. But by 1901, the problems of water in the mine proved too much, and the mine closed, and the place was abandoned. A lot of investors lost a lot of money at Sliding Rock.

05-23-1999 07 more sliding rock.jpg

Sliding Rock Mine ruins from the former Cadnia town site

05-23-1999 08 Sliding rock ruin

Ruins at the former Cadnia township site

05-23-1999 06 old smelter Sliding Rock

Unusual square chimney at Sliding Rock

We found the ruins of the settlement and mining activity fascinating, including a big, square, smelter chimney and a round mine one. The stark, stone building remnants were evocative, in this setting, with the huge, grey face of Sliding Rock behind. We thought it much more special than Beltana.

05-23-1999 09 ruins at the Sliding Rock

Ruins of the hotel at Cadnia with the Sliding Rock face behind

Around the old smelter area there were lots of pieces of slag residue, some with a greeny copper residue on. We collected a couple of bits of this, as a memento.

05-23-1999 05 mineruins at sliding rock and slag heaps

The picturesque setting of Sliding Rock. Slag heap remains.

Drove further on the same track, to Warraweena Homestead. This had been mentioned to us by a Melbourne friend, who had been there, pig shooting, in recent years.

At the Homestead, the lady of the managing couple was home, and seemed to welcome some company. The house is in rather poor condition, with the front rooms termite and ant ridden. They sleep in an Atco hut. This property ceased being a sheep station in 1996; I think it may be intended to become a conservation area.

The lady said we could try to drive towards the Angapena diggings. She gave us a station map to use and some directions. She was not sure whether the tracks connected up to the ones we were on the other day. I don’t think they have been there for long – she was rather vague about it all. John was hoping that there was a through track and we would be able to see where we had gone astray the other day.

05-23-1999 10 track through Warraweena.jpg

Track through Warraweena

We found our way alright, through some picturesque country. Drove nearly 18kms from the homestead to the property boundary. It seemed that, although tracks might be running parallel on each property, there was no apparent connection through Warraweena. And, as so often happens to us, with our late starts, it was getting a bit late to keep wandering about exploring.

So, we had to backtrack. We took one wrong turn, but despite that, the GPS was really useful, for retracing our route.

05-23-1999 11 warraweena track.jpg

Parts of the Warraweena track were rough.

We called back in at the Homestead, to let the lady know that we were on our way out. We do not want to be the subject of any false alarm searches!

It was dark by the time we got back to Beltana, and almost 7pm by the time we got back to Copley, having driven 166kms today.

Had a tea of soup, chicken with water chestnuts stir fry, rice, followed by yoghurt.

It was an early night to bed – all this exploring is hard work!