Small Towns with Big Personalities

On the way home from a recent trip to the outback and Flinders Ranges region of South Australia, we returned on the R M Williams Way, a major road in the mid north of the state, named in honour of Reginald Murray (R.M.) Williams. To most Australians this maker of iconic Australian bush clothing would need no introduction and this road bears his name because he was born in the town of Jamestown, which the route passes through.

There are a number of small towns you pass through on the way and if you’ve got the time it pays to drop in and find out a little bit about each of them. Like most Australian towns they all have something unique or quirky about them.

Take Craddock for starters. We stopped in here to see the hotel, well you have to support these small businesses after all! And what a great story it has too. The current owner told us he bought the 1880s built hotel, to stop it from closing. It was his local and he needed somewhere to drink so as you do, he bought the pub and has done some terrific renovations throughout since. Now the hotel is on the market for someone else to take over. Apart from the renos, the pub also has space for caravans to stay at the back and has its own amenities block too. It could be a little gold mine for the right people with the Flinders Ranges not too far away.The next town we stopped a while in was Carrieton. I had heard about some terrific artwork in the town so we made a detour to take a look and we were really impressed. There is a ceramic mural which depicts scenes of Carrieton and the local area since it was settled in 1878. This colourful mural was created by local community members and is made up of 880 tiles over a 15 metre length.

The swimming centre also has some beautiful paintings by Rob Catterall on it. The cute cartoon Aussie animals were painted in 2016 and make an otherwise plain brick building a joyful place for kids to visit for swimming lessons. While you’re in town, stop in at the store and spend a bit of money as this is another example of small towns looking out for each other. The shop is community run, to ensure it keeps running and locals have somewhere to keep shopping in their own town.

Next stop is the town of Orroroo, which features some fabulous corrugated metal animal sculptures at the entrance roads into the town. They were created by artist, Dudley Siviour and feature a mob of kangaroos and a pair of life sized working horses pulling a plough. Other things to see in town include some aboriginal rock carvings on the Pekina Creek walking trail, that are estimated to be around 7,000 years old. These circle carvings are on a rock face and these type of symbols usually depict campsites or waterholes. These are just some of the rock carvings to be found in this Ngadjuri country.

In Orroroo you will also find a giant River Red Gum which is estimated to be over 500 years old and has an impressive circumference of over 10 metres and the trunk measures 6 metres before it forks into branches. A sign at the tree gives an ominous reminder that these trees also have the nickname of ‘Widow Makers” because of their habit of dropping large branches without warning, especially in times of drought.

The next leg of our journey took us onto Petersburg Road through the town of Peterborough and then onto the Barrier Highway through the town of Terowie. Both of these towns have a lot of railway history and more interesting stories to delve into and will be on my return visit list for another time.

The final must see for me though was a place I’ve been waiting to get to for a while and you can find it just a few kilometres before arriving at the town of Burra in the mid north of SA. This ruin has been made famous after appearing on the cover of Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust album and it’s a sought after pic to get by many photographers. I love the fact that on Google Maps it’s actually a landmark ~ The Midnight Oil House.

From Burra to Adelaide is around a 165 kilometre drive.


Enjoy the journeys, not just the destinations and take the roads less travelled.


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