Laura, S.A.

Laura is a small and attractive township located on the eastern slopes of the lower Flinders Ranges 218 km from Adelaide. It is a town characterised by one of the widest main streets in South Australia with stands of peppercorns and gumtrees enhancing the street. Today the shopping centre is quite unusual in the sense that there are little blocks of two or three shops separated by a few houses, then a few more shops - all this is in the long main street. In recent times its future has been tied to a proliferation of gift and craft shops which have breathed new life into the town.

Where is it?: 21 km north of Crystal Brook; 11 km north west of Gladstone.

The Laura Information Outlet in Hughes Street, the main street of Laura, is run by volunteers and aims to be open from 10am to 4pm every day. The Centre promotes and retails a large selection of Southern Flinders Ranges produce, local art and craft items along with a variety of souvenirs. It also provides visitors and locals with holiday information for all of South Australia and Broken Hill. Ph: (08) 8663 2260

The town's major claim to fame is that it has the boyhood home of noted Australian vernacular poet C. J. Dennis whose creations included 'The Sentimental Bloke'. Dennis's father was the licensee of the Beetaloo Reservoir Hotel from 1892 to 1910. C.J. worked as a barman for his father in 1898 but they soon fell out and he left and went to Broken Hill. He wrote the poem, 'Laura Days', to celebrate the town's Golden Jubilee (fifty years) in 1932.

When the evening sun slants through the gums,
By my forest-rimmed abode
Once more the old clear picture comes,
And my mind drifts down the road;
Back to the town by Beetaloo,
Where the rocky river strays;
Back to the old kind friends I knew
In the dear dead Laura days.

This poem, 'Laura Days' was written by C.J. Dennis to celebrate the town's Golden Jubilee (fifty years) in 1932.

Outside Dick Biles Gallery is a large metal statue of C. J. Dennis designed by Dave Griffiths. It is a fitting tribute to a poet who was born in 1876 and spent his formative years in the town. Dennis remembered his time in Laura with affection. In 1932 he recalled his childhood writing 'In sifting through these memories I can discover nought that could be set down in malice, but a very great deal that gives me constant happiness to recall.'

The Laura Folk Fair, a two day folk festival, is held every April and attracts thousands of people to the town. This is much more than a folk festival with food, art and craft stalls, bush dancing, fireworks and music and literary awards.

The Old Court House, built in 1877, is now part of the local Rocky River Historical and Art Society. It operated as a Court House for 90 years and was only closed down in 1968. It is used for art exhibitions during the Laura Folk Fair.

Surrounding Area

Located in rugged country only a few kilometres from Laura, the Beetaloo Reservoir was South Australia's first regional reservoir. It was built between 1885-1890 (thus bringing men and work to the area) at a cost of £700,000 to supply water to Port Pirie, Moonta, Wallaroo and Kadina. Most of the water was required for the mining and smelting works in the Copper Triangle. Beetaloo now provides water for local agriculture and grazing.

Linking the Lower Flinders Ranges towns of Laura and Stone Hut, the 7km Laura to Stone Hutt rail trail follows the Horrocks Highway through open farming land. Following an old railway route that ran north from Gladstone, the trail is well constructed compacted gravel trail providing a firm surface for the entire 7km length. The trail is shared between horse riders, cyclists and walkers.


to the north of Laura is the township of Wirrabara, pr4oclaimed in 1874 and named a native word meaning 'forest with running water'. The magnificent steam engine on display in the town's main steeet was used by woodcutters to power a saw which cut timber to make the sleepers for the railway lines through the Mid North. Wirrabara supplied half a million sleepers between 1880 and 1887. The township was developed on a portion of Wirrabara (formely Charlton) station. Fortunately the highway continues to pass through the township, assisting its now stuggling economy.

Stone Hut

The quiet township of Stone Hut was named after the old stone home of early landowner Frederick White on the banks of the Rocky River, the ruins of which can still be seen today. The town was originally surveyed in 1874 and like many towns of the day, was expanded by trade. Hickory's Run Olive Grove and Cafe is today popular spot for a long, lazy lunch, with the option to sit in the sunshine and linger over your food or coffee while enjoying views of the the Flinders Ranges. The olive grove's infused olive oils are extremely popular, with tastings and sales available. Stone Hut Lookout has a picnic table and amazing views. If you prefer not to walk, the lookout can be accessed by car.

Brief History

The town was founded in 1872 on Booyoolee Station land with the establishment of a staging post on the Main North Road from Adelaide. Two Chinese market gardeners settled there and implemented South Australia's first irrigation system to grow vegetables and fruit at Laura. Beer, ice and dairy products were later produced in the town for shipment to Broken Hill after its mining operations were established in the 1880s. Flax was also produced in the area. Origin of name: recalls Laura Hughes, the wife of Booyoolee Station's Herbert Bristow Hughes. Laura was the daughter of Samuel White, who migrated with his family from Dorset, England in 1843, and established White Park, one of SA's major pastoral stations.

Beetaloo Dam

Stone Hut

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