My Town: The secret holiday spot in South Australia that offers the best of Cornwall

May 24, 2019
Moonta Bay Jetty, South Australia. Source: Barbara Easthope

Barbara and her husband worked for 20 years in Canberra, but spent many holidays in Adelaide and at her parents’ holiday home at Tickera on Yorke Peninsula. It was while on a drive from Tickera exploring the region they came across and old unloved looking church complex in Moonta. It became Barbara’s husband’s retirement project and is now their home. Moonta, South Australia is a quiet town part of a bigger region called the Copper Coast or sometimes Copper Triangle, the three biggest towns Wallaroo, Kadina and Moonta making the points of the triangle.

History lovers, golfers, fishing enthusiasts and beach lovers are well catered for. Moonta now joins what once were quite separate towns Moonta Bay and Port Hughes, which is where The Dunes, a Greg Norman designed golf course, is located. Boat launching is also located at Port Hughes. Both Moonta Bay and Port Hughes have jetties and at Moonta Bay there is an enclosed swimming enclosure. Wallaroo too has boat launching and some access to the jetty.

So much of what you can do is spread over the Copper Triangle. Moonta and Kadina are 17 kilometres apart and it’s 18km to Wallaroo. Kadina and Wallaroo are 9km apart. There is a range of accomodation available with hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, caravan parks and for short stay caravaners or motorhomers free camping at a spot in Moonta parklands.

An interesting thing people might not know about my town

As you would guess from the district’s name. The area was a large copper mining region. Mining ceased in 1923. Moonta at one stage had the largest population outside of Adelaide. The old mines site is a National Heritage site.

The best events that take place in my town throughout the year

The biggest event in the Triangle is the Kernewek Lowender (the Copper Coast Cornish Festival), which is held in May every second year. It has a range of different things to see and do and celebrates the Cornish miners who worked so hard in the mines. The next Kernewek Lowender will be held in 2021.

The Best List

Best thing for first time visitors to do in my town

The beach is a must for most who visit, and for photographers the sun setting makes for some spectacular photos at Moonta Bay as the sun colours the ocean with streaks of colour.

Best place for a coffee

This is a difficult one as so many have great coffee. The cafes we most often go are Cafe Moonta (on George Street) and The Smelter at Wallaroo (you’ll find it on Owen Terrace). Taste the Yorke (George Street) and Nook and Nourish (also on George Street) in Moonta are both fabulous too and they also do some great lunch dishes.

Best place for a walk

Along the beach is great for a leisurely stroll particularly low tide at Moonta Bay as tidal pools often leave some interesting creatures visible and a stroll along the jetty provides lovely views. There is an historic walk around Moonta town and the leaflet detailing the buildings and their history is available at the tourist information centre in the old Moonta Railway Station.

The other major towns also have similar walks. Serious hikers could ‘Walk the Yorke’ a series of trails that extend around the peninsula.

Best place to look out over an amazing view

Port Hughes is a very beautiful sandy beach that stretches south for quite some distance. Simms Cove and other points along the coast offer lovely views too.

Best thing to do at night

As the population swells greatly in the summer due to the influx of holiday home owners and tourists what is available varies greatly during the year. Movies, bingo, live performance and dance clubs are available, but the best idea is to check with one of the tourist information centres in the three main towns to find out what is on during your visit.

Best place to have breakfast

My favourite is The Smelter in Wallaroo but Cafe Capella in Moonta is also very good but do not open as early.

Best thing to do in town for less than $20

Visit the Moonta Mines historic area and go for a wander. It is located at the northern end of the Yorke Peninsula, ajoining Moonta. There is a little tourist train that departs from the platform adjacent to the Moonta Mines Museum and guides you along the historic Moonta Mines State Heritage Area (cost $12 adult, $5 for school-aged children). It doesn’t run everyday so it would be wise to check with Moonta’s tourist office to find out times.

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A keen fisher can visit to one of the jetties to try their luck.

Best place to eat a meal with a view

Almost on the beach itself North Beach Kitchen Wallaroo. A bit hard to find on Pamir Court, but worth it. The Port Hughes Tavern (Minnie Terrace, Port Hughes) , Coopers Alehouse (Heritage Drive, Wallaroo) are not as spectacular but offer a view as do three eateries at Moonta Bay.

Best restaurant in town

We tend to go to the local pubs for some great meals, but Cafe Capella in Moonta is probably the best restaurant.

Best souvenir to take home as memento of your visit

I don’t know that there is one particular thing that is unique, but maybe a pot of Quondog Jam made from a native fruit found around the district. A toy wombat is another thing that represents the history of the area as it was at one of their burrows signs of copper was first found.

Best place for a visitor to pick up something special

The best shopping is without a doubt Moonta’s Main Street George Street.

Best place to visit on a hot day

A trip to the beach then lounge around under the trees in the square at Moonta’s centre is one option, or off Kemp Place at Moonta Bay is the Secret Garden with a walkway to the beach and a sheltered garden with shade trees, just follow the walkway.

The Secret Garden pathway. Source: Barbara Easthope

Best place to visit when it’s cold

Each of the towns has a museum or you could wander the shopping district of Moonta or Kadina.

Best place for visitors to learn more about Moonta and surrounds

Each town has a tourist information centre. The main one for the district is Kadina by The Farm Shed Museum. Moonta’s is in the old railway station and in Wallaroo there is one at the museum. Visit the Copper Coast Visitor Information Centre Facebook page.

Do you like exploring the towns and regions in your local area?

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