BELTANA South Australian History

Beltana

To provide services, that was the reason for Beltana's birth and longevity. During it's long and interesting lifespan it has provided many important services, not only to the immediate area and its people, but also to the rest of South Australia and the world. One of its first services was the provision of water to the Aborigines, who named it Beltana, meaning running water. Some of the other services have been to the pastoral and mining industries, post and telegraph, providing a base for early explorers, transport, church and medical facilities, and last but not least, a place for rest and retirement.

The first group of people to make use of its services were the Aborigines. For them it had provided a resting place under beautiful Red Gum trees and an assured place for food and water. They also gave the area its name by calling it Beltana, meaning running water or crossing of the waters.

The next group to discover and settle the area were young English and German immigrants. They were exploring the north. The best known, and the first, was Edward John Eyre followed by John McDouall Stuart. When the pastoralists pushed north, looking for grazing land and runs for their sheep, Thomas Elder was one of them to take up large leases in the Beltana area. When Charles Todd signed the contract for the building of the Overland Telegraph line, Beltana became a beehive of activity.

Map of Beltana

In 1873 the town of Beltana was surveyed and proclaimed and almost immediately offered some services. It had a telegraph and postal service, although for a money order a trip to Melrose or Kanyaka station was still needed. At the hotel, food, drink and sleeping quarters were available. When laid out, the town consisted of 115 allotments, surrounded by parklands and room for suburban expansion. One of the first buyers of a town block was Henry McConville. Several buyers came from nearby Sliding Rock and Blinman, not just to invest, but to live and work.

From its beginning in the 1870s, the town of Beltana, and the nearby Beltana Pastoral Station, have faced difficult periods many times, and survived. Droughts, floods, depression, fires, world wars, loss of employment and services have all affected the town and its surrounding area. Yet, despite a steadily declining population throughout all those events, the town has survived.

Beltana's best times were between 1875 and the 1920s. During these years mining activity was at its height. The town supported a brewery, two hotels, post and telegraph office, school, police station, railway station and maintenance, doctor, courthouse, church, hospital, baker, butcher, blacksmith, cricket team, race meetings, carriage maker, mining exchange, several shops, many sporting teams and, at times, a population of five hundred people. It was also during the 1920s that Beltana was considered as the capital of the newly proposed State of Brachina.

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Beltana Cemetery

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