Snowtown, S.A.

A sleepy Wheatbelt town situated between the Mt. Lofty Ranges and the Barunga Range. The town achieved notoriety in 1999 when it was discovered to be the site of the largest serial killing in Australia. The putrefying remains of eight people were discovered in six barrels inside the town's disused bank building in what were to become known as the 'bodies-in-the-barrels' murders. The town had its beginnings when pioneer farmers arrived around 1868, the year in which the Snowtown pub was built.

Where is it?: 145 km north of Adelaide; 50 km north of Crystal Brook. Snowtown lies on the main road and rail routes between Adelaide and Perth  the Augusta Highway and Adelaide-Port Augusta railway line.

Natural features: salt lakes; Lake Bumbunga

Built features: Snowtown Memorial Hall (1919); Snowtown Institute (1889); St Candice's Catholic church.

Snowtown is situated approximately 7 kilometres east of Barunga Gap, South Australia, a cleft between the Barunga and Hummocks ranges. The excess rainfall from these hills collects in Lake Bumbunga, directly south of the township, and in a trail of smaller lakes stretching north of the town to Lake View near the main highway and railway line. Beyond the eastern edge of the township is the Snowtown Golf Course and a swampy region populated by saltbush and other salt-tolerant flora.

Brief History

The settlement of Snowtown by non-indigenous Australians initially grew up around a railway station on the Brinkworth-Wallaroo line. Located on what was traditionally the land of the Kaurna (indigenous) people, the first pioneers arrived sometime between 1867 and 1869 due to the rapid expansion of farming to the north of the area. During this period one of the first major structures, the old Snowtown Pub was built in 1868. Bailliere's South Australian gazetteer and road guide, published in 1866, contains a brief description of "Hummock's Run" located 45 km north of Port Wakefield. This farmland, according to the publication, contained the farming stations of Barunga, Bumbunga and Wokurna and consisted of "salt lakes and lagoons, dense scrub, with mallee, pine and bushes, grassy plains and saltbush, well grassed spurs and hills, with oaks and wattle on the Broughton River."

The Government only started showing interest in the settlement as late as 1869 when it planned to establish various new towns throughout the district and to divide the land into much smaller holdings. Snowtown's charter was formally proclaimed by the then Governor of South Australia, Sir William Jervois, in 1878. Jervois named the town after one of the members of the Snow family who were his cousins and lived on Yorke Peninsula (which lies immediately west and southwest of Snowtown). It is officially considered that the town was named after Thomas Snow, who became Jervois's aide de camp when he received his posting in South Australia.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the secessionist micronation of Bumbunga Province existed on farmland owned by the Brackstone family, 15 kilometres south of Snowtown.

The Brinkworth Kadina railway line opened in 1879.[citation needed] It connected Snowtown via Bute to the port of Wallaroo, initially built as narrow gauge. This line was converted to broad gauge in 1927, but closed following the gauge standardisation of the Adelaide-Crystal Brook line in 1982. The Salisbury-Redhill broad railway gauge line was opened in 1925 and intersected the town along a north-south axis. In 1982 the line was converted to standard gauge, making it a part of the Adelaide-Port Augusta railway line.

In 2008, TrustPower completed the first stage of the 47-turbine Snowtown Wind Farm in the Barunga and Hummocks ranges just west of Snowtown. The wind turbines are 110 metres from the ground to tip of the top wing. In February 2014 the wind farm became the largest in South Australia with the opening of the second stage. It tripled its capacity of operation, which in a year is now enough to power the Sydney Opera House for 55 years.

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