Melrose, S.A.

A small township at the foot of Mt. Remarkable, Melrose proudly declares itself the 'oldest town in the Flinders Ranges'. Melrose is a quiet and attractive town nestled below the Flinders Ranges. There are many interesting historic buildings in town and the area around the town is ideal for bushwalking.

Where is it?: 56 km south east of Port Augusta; 21 km south of Wilmington.

Around Town

Blacksmith's shop; Post Office (1865-66); 'Willow Springs' Woolshed (c.1850); 'Dingham Cottage (c.1860); Keating Cottage (c.1859); Mt. Remarkable Hotel (1857); Copper Mine Chimney, Charlton Run, Wirrabarra (1854). Jacka's Brewery (1878) was originally the local flour mill and was completed in 1878 in local stone. It was converted to a brewery in 1893 and continued to operate in the town until the 1930s. The North Star Hotel is the most prominent building in town, it being located at the top of the main street. It was the first licensed hotel in town originally being nothing more than a log cabin. The license dates from 1854. The present building was completed in 1881 and dominates the town's main street.

The Court House and Police Station (1862) is now a National Trust Museum, and contains good exhibitions reflecting the history of the town and the surrounding district. This attractive complex was built in 1862 and comprises the Police Station, Old Court House, cells and stables. At one time it was one of the largest police stations in Australia looking after all the land to the north which, at that time, meant everywhere to the north coast of the country.

Mount Remarkable Copper Mine ruins

Located on the hill overlooking the town (it is impossible not to notice it as you enter the town) The Memorial Monument was constructed to commemorate the fallen from World War I with funds raised from local subscription. A World War I honour roll is displayed in the Town Hall. The World War II gates in the main street of Melrose adjacent to the Memorial Gardens were erected because it was considered that elderly citizens would have difficulty accessing the monument on the hill.

From the monument you can walk to Mount Remarkable Copper Mine which is located 3.5 km south of the monument. There is a walk to Bald Hill Lookout and there's a walk to Mt Remarkable National Park boundary. And there's a walk to the Melrose Mine. They all start at the Caravan Park and can go via the Memorial or along the Willochra Creek.

Surrounding Area

A Goyder's Line marker outside of town indicates a line marked on the map of South Australia by Surveyor General Goyder in 1865 delineating drought affected country. The line which passes through this area became an important factor in the settlement of South Australia as it indicated the limits of lands considered safe for agricultural development.

Port Germein Gorge

Enjoy a scenic drive through this picturesque gorge with its deep ravines and magnificent gum trees to port Germein. There s good walking with spectacular views of Spencer Gulf nearby at Telowie Gorge Conservation Park. Telowie Gorge is about 10km east of Port Germein and has drive up access right to the start of the gorge.

Mt. Remarkable National Park

A popular destination for bushwalking and camping, the dramatic gorges, walking trails and diverse wildlife are just the beginning of its appeal. The park features the 960m high Mount Remarkable Summit which can be reached along the Mount Remarkable Summit Hike from Melrose, providing impressive views of Willochra Plain and Spencer Gulf. The walk from the Melrose Caravan Park at the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill takes around 4-5 hours return. The effort is rewarded but this is not an easy walk. More extensive walks through the Mount Remarkable National Park usually start from Mambray Creek or Wilmington.

The park is located 45km north of Port Pirie. Access is from National Highway One via Mambray Creek. You can walk into the park from the adjacent town of Melrose, which lies at the foot of Mount Remarkable. Please note: There are no public roads that pass through Mount Remarkable National Park. Horrocks Pass and Port Germein Gorge are the nearest public roads to the park where you can pass over the Flinders Ranges in an east-west direction.

Alligator Gorge, within the Mt Remarkable National Park, offers some of the most spectacular and colourful rock formations in the Flinders Ranges. A circuit hike along the full length of Alligator Gorge, including the Narrows and the Terraces. Explore the gorge during Spring to see abundant wildflowers. The Narrows is a gorge a couple of metres wide which stretches for several hundred metres. The Terraces are a series of platforms which the creek flows down. Walking anti-clockwise, when you leave the gorge and reach the Ring Route Track, you could undertake a short sidetrip by turning right and heading up the firetrack to The Battery for spectacular views over the Spencer Gulf.

Alligator Gorge can be reached via a picturesque  but sometimes challenging  drive commencing 1km south of Wilmington on Main North Road. This road is very steep and is unsuitable for caravans, camper trailers and buses.

Murray Town

Now a quiet backwater to the south of Melrose, Murray Town was once a bustling community. European settlers first arrived in 1883 and very soon teams transporting livestock began passing through. Its name from pioneer Alexander Murray, who introduced the Murray Merino sheep breed. The history of Murray Town is revealed on plaques at the park and with an old plough, made at the Murray Town Blacksmith Shop in 1900, on display. Painted Stobie (power) poles tell the town's story. Picnic and campgrounds are conveniently located in the main street.
Brief History

Origin of name: Unknown. Believed to recall a town in Scotland, it is possible the name originated for Scotsman Alexander Lang Elder who was involved in the original survey of the townsite. Kirkcaldy, Elder's birth place, and Melrose are both in Central Scotland.

Prior to European settlement there was a community of around 900 members of the Doora Aboriginal group living in the lower Flinders Ranges. By 1880 this community had been reduced to three men and five women. Such is the story of the confrontation of Aborigines and Europeans in this area.

It was in 1840, that Edward John Eyre named Mount Remarkable (955m) which towers above the little township of Melrose. Three years later, the first pastoralists had established themselves in the area. Conflict with the aborigines caused the pastoralists much concern and they pressured the Colonial Government for police protection. The nearest police station at that time was at Clare, which was 13Okm south. This distance gave little security to the early pastoralists and their families. In 1848, a police outpost was established at Mount Remarkable with a corporal, two troopers and a native constable. Green streaks betraying the presence of copper in the bulk of Mount Remarkable were responsible for the establishment of this settlement, the oldest in the Flinders Ranges. The promise of the early copper discovery was never to be realised but in the 1850s, as the most northerly outpost of the South Australian colony, Melrose was the headquarters of one of the world's largest police districts, which stretched across the continent to the Arafura Sea.

In 1846, a Special Survey of 20,000 acres was granted to the Mount Remarkable Mining Company for the purpose of mining copper. However this venture was not successful and the Company was dissolved in 1851. Old Melrose was surveyed by T. F. Nott in 1853 as part of his duties for the Mount Remarkable Mining Company's subdivision of the Special Survey.

What is known as the township of Melrose today is really the aggregation of the Police Paddock (1848), Old Melrose (1853) and New Melrose (1856). As pastoralists, miners and timber-getters moved into the area, so the tradesmen came to fill their needs. Melrose was the only established town for more than twenty years and it developed as the "Emporium of the North" supplying remote pastoral runs, mining camps and early settlers with goods, communication and transport.

The township of Melrose continued to thrive, with commerce and industry developing hand in hand with agriculture as the large pastoral runs gave way to closer settlement. Melrose became a microcosm of the development of rural South Australia as all the different land tenure schemes that were legislated for over the years in South Australia were implemented in this area. From the early Pastoral Acts, the Workingmen's Bloc 45ks, the Village Settlement Scheme, the Closer Settlement Act and the Soldier Settlement Scheme all played a part in the history of Melrose.

The passing of time has brought changes to Melrose as it has to most small country towns. The Great Depression of the 1930's brought about the closing of local industry and large scale farming has brought changes to the population, which in turn has changed the face of this small township.

The only reminder of those days is the police station and court house, now a museum, and the troopers' barracks and stables. The scattering of other old buildings which give the town its charm include Keating Cottage (1859), the post office (1865-66), the Mount Remarkable and North Star Hotels (1881 and 1857 respectively) and the massive, five-storey, stone shell of Jacka's brewery, which began life as a flour mill in 1879.

Goyder's Line Marker

Jacka's Brewery

Adjacent to the Melrose Caravan Park is this Swing Bridge. There is also a causeway over the creek for access to tent camping sites.

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