The trail starts at the Town Hall and is a leisurely drive of about 16 kms which can be completed in 1-2 hours. The trail passes many sites of historical interest and gives visitors an impression of the history and development of Moonta.
Simply follow the distinctive Trial Signs (Tour Drive No 38). Note that most of the buildings featured are privately owned. Please respect the privacy of owners.
The Government township of Moonta was surveyed in March 1863 on a grassy plain, mid way between the shafts and the sea, the name being derived from the aboriginal Moonta-Moonterra – impenetrable scrub. It was laid out in a symmetrical grid pattern with a central square and surrounded by parkland reserves and cemetery. Allotments were auctioned in April 1863 but the town was initially slower to develop that nearby Kadina or Wallaroo.
Commercial buildings were the first to be established in Moonta as most miners continued to live on mining leasers. The area east of the central square, along George and Ryan streets became the center of business because of its proximity to the main road and the mines. In response to the prosperous mining operations after 1864, the commercial structure of the town began to expand, resulting in the towns most vigorous building period which continued into the mid 1870’s.
By 1870, the population of the Moonta district reached 10 000 of whom more than 6000 lived on mining leases and all building blocks in the town had been sold. When the mines flourished after 1900 the new prosperity was again reflected in town growth. However there was a rapid decline in population after the closure of the mines an by 1926 there were only 1350 residents.