Port Broughton, Moonta Mining and a Cornish Festival

May 15 & 16 2009

After traveling everywhere with Rose for the last five weeks, my partner, Enigma, and I decided we were well overdue for some 'us' time. Enigma heard that there was a Cornish Festival happening in the town of Moonta, South Australia so she booked some accommodation over the coming weekend for us in the, kind of, near by town of Port Broughton (closer, affordable accommodation was booked out due to the festival).

We didn't see a lot of Port Broughton as our specific purpose was to see the Cornish festival. In fact we didn't arrive in town until after dark on the Friday. However we did enjoy some fish and chips for tea at a local cafe and, on the Saturday evening, we snapped a few pictures of the Port Broughton historic jetty and surrounding beach front at sunset (see photo above).

According to one passer by the sunset we snapped was nothing compared to some he had seen there. I can only imagine as the sun seems to set almost in line with the end of the jetty. Given the right cloud conditions you could get some stunning pictures on a 'great' sunset day.

The Cornish Festival we were going to see is billed as The World's Largest Cornish Festival according to our souvenir guide. Its actual title is the Kenewek Lowender and is a Festival that lasts a full week and has events which span across three South Australian towns, Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo. Enigma and I were here to catch the second last day of the event which was focussed on the town of Moonta.

We knew there was going to be a parade through the streets of Moonta but weren't sure if we could get there in time to see it since the drive from Port Broughton was about 30 minutes. However we managed to get going early and arrived in town just in time to find a vantage point for the start of the parade.

The weather up to this point had been dodgy to say the least, with stretches of blue sky followed by a passing, shower delivering cloud. I was surprised that the town was seemingly packed with visitors despite this and, incredibly, the rain held off long enough for the entire parade to pass us by.

Not that it was a long parade but it did have a good variety of brass bands, Cornish costumes, vintage cars (a monster truck?) and floats relating to Moonta's mining history and the Flintstones (what the?).

The selection of photos shown here are just a sample of the many Enigma and I took (thanks to Enigma for the Flintstones float photo which I didn't manage to get a good photo of). Be sure to click on them to see larger versions of each image.

After the parade Enigma and I did what probably most people who are hungry do at a Cornish festival - headed off to purchase a Cornish Pasty. Enigma had heard that the Cornish Kitchen Cafe on Ellen street made the best Cornish Pasties so we went straight there. Apparently word had got out because the cafe had set up a table on the shops front footpath to meet up with the demand. We joined the queue and it wasn't long before we were sitting on the footpath a little further up from the cafe enjoying our pasties.

As with all town festivals they're always a good time to put on an art exhibition and Moonta had no shortage of them. Enigma and I were amazed by an exhibition of photography by local artist William Godward whose images of the mines in the region are like none we'd ever seen.

A festival isn't a festival without a fair and Saturday was Moonta's turn. We made our way to the show grounds and paid a ridiculous entry fee to see a bunch of food wagons, food tents and amusement rides with a few Cornish themed stalls and entertainment thrown in to match the festivals theme.

If I hadn't been to so many town fairs over the course of the Barossa Festival I would've said this was a pretty good fair but it could've been a fair anywhere with a few Cornish events rather than a Cornish Fair. I know these things are not easy to organise but if you are someone who organises a town fair please make sure the food stalls/tents and amusement rides don't dominate and overshadow the whole reason for the fair in the first place.

Considering the entry cost for each adult person there just wasn't enough for the adults to do to justify it. The couple in the photo above probably had the right idea by setting up their fold up chairs next to the entertainment arena to watch some Irish dancing (or was that Cornish Dancing? It looked more Irish to me?). I didn't notice too much happening of interest in that arena after the dancing though?

By about this time Enigma and I were all festivaled out having seen the main attractions for the day. Country towns being country towns we of course bumped into someone we knew who lived no where in the immediate region. Enigma's Sister and her family had driven over from the town of Burra for the day and quite by chance we crossed paths.

I reckon Enigma's had a baby homing device secretly installed to seek out her sister's newly born daughter, whom she has to hold every time the two get together. (This isn't the first time we've 'accidentally' crossed paths with her sister since her daughter was born - it's not like we live next door either - Burra is over an hours drive away from where we live).

From then on we kept crossing paths as we managed to choose almost the same things to do with the rest of our day. Enigma and I went back to the Cornish Kitchen for a drinks break before heading over to the town's Visitor Information Centre at the Historic Railway Station.

There we learned about the Mining History Museum housed at the old school around the corner and down the road a bit. So we decided to head over there where we crossed paths again with Enigma's sister and family, browsing the museum whilst they waited for the Museum's train tour to get back in for the next trip.

The Museum its self has a wealth of information about not just the mining history but the history of life in general when mining was starting to take off in the region. Everything from school history to men's clubs (such as the Freemasons) is covered.

I found this museum even more interesting as it features many cartoons by a local Cornish newspaper cartoonist of the day (who's name escapes me) highlighting many humorous moments of the time in that sort of stiff wordy style of the old time gag cartoons. Though the cartoon drawings were far from 'stiff'.

One thing that did stick in my mind was that the original discovery of copper in the region was made by chance when copper deposits were dug up by a wombat. Apparently on the surface in this region there were no obvious signs that the area was rich in copper.

Enigma and I finished off our day with a visit to the Moonta Mine Sweet Shop just across the road from the Museum. This is quite possibly one of the smallest sweet shops I've ever been in (housed in the former post office) but still worth a look if you like traditional style candy.

Then we waited around for the tourist train to return for a photo opportunity (of the train) and one last chance to path cross with Enigma's Sister. Whilst we were waiting at the train station we wandered around the grounds looking at the old machinery on display. I wandered into the Black Smith's display and discovered another 'Upsetting Machine' just like the one in Angaston (see photo below).

There is actually quite a lot to see and do in Moonta if you have the money to pay all the admission fees. One unique experience is the chance to tour a modern day copper mine that was worked during the 1980s. Known as the Wheal Hughes Copper Mine you can book tours at Moonta's Visitor information centre. Enigma and I didn't do the tour but I thought it worth mentioning as seeing a copper mine isn't something you can do just anywhere.

That was pretty much our day in Moonta. As I mentioned at the start Enigma and I headed back to Port Broughton where we enjoyed a Sunset and turned in for the night.

2 comments:

  1. I thought that beach shelter was on Whyalla beach at first - it just reminded me of it. It all looked quite interesting, as these things are when you visit them.

    I looked at all the photos enlarged, and saved the train one. Is that a steam train? Hope those pasties had meat in them, as the UK ones do, supposed to be corned beef for the real thing.

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  2. Shelters like that one no longer exist on Whyalla's beach anymore (all but one with a flat roof is gone).

    I don't think the train is a true steam train. It's just made to look like one.

    The pasties did have meat in them. I assume they were made the traditional 'Cornish' way since they're supposed to be authentic.

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