Before European colonisation of the area from 1851, the indigenous Narungga people lived in the area now known as Wallaroo.
A port town on the western side of Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, 160 kilometres northwest of Adelaide, Wallaroo is one of three towns famed for a historic copper mining industry, the other two being Kadina and Moonta. Miners from Cornwall and smelters from Wales immigrated to Australia as there was a strong need for their skills once copper was discovered in the region.
The first jetty at Wallaroo was constructed in 1861 as part of the contract to build a tramway to the Wallaroo Mine and the first load of refined copper was shipped in 1862.
The port soon became one of the busiest in South Australia as ships brought cargoes of timber, coal and food supplies and departed the port with copper ore and later, wool and wheat. Wallaroo remains a major export port for grain.
Wallaroo Jetty in 1909
Mining and smelting have now become historical tourist attractions in Wallaroo. In fact, tourism associated with the copper mining history and marine activities is a major part of Wallaroo’s economy.
- Heritage listed sites in Wallaroo include:
- Wallaroo Customs House
- Wallaroo railway station
- Old Wallaroo Police Station and Dwelling
- Wallaroo Courthouse
- Wallaroo Smelters Site
- Wallaroo Wesleyan Methodist Church
The town remains an international port for outbound goods, the main cargo being seed and grain such as barley, wheat, chickpeas and other crops from surrounding farming areas. There are two fisheries in Wallaroo with commercial prawn and crab fishing carried out in the warmer months.
The Copper Cove Marina attracts visitors from surrounding areas and is a popular destination for retirees who move to the area seeking a relaxed seaside lifestyle.
The Kernewek Lowender Cornish Festival held every second year in May, celebrates the contribution of the Cornish. Each of the copper triangle towns (Wallaroo, Moonta, Kadina) hosts the festival for a day.