The north western part of Yorke Peninsula is referred to as the Copper Coast. It encompasses the towns of Wallaroo, Moonta, Moonta Bay. Port Hughes and Kadina and it will be no surprise to hear that it was once a thriving copper mining area. This has lead to a rich and interesting history, which along with the natural beauty and relaxed towns makes this a great place for a weekend getaway from Adelaide or an essential stop on a South Australian road trip. Here are all the Things to do in the Copper Coast, South Australia.
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- 1 Getting to the Copper Coast
- 1.1 Wallaroo Silo Light Show
- 1.2 Kadina Water Tower & Murals
- 1.3 Eat a Cornish Pasty
- 1.4 Visit the Moonta Museum and Mine
- 1.5 Find the Kadina Fairy Doors
- 1.6 Take a Walk on the Rail Trail
- 1.7 Visit Tarnasey Farm
- 1.8 Taste the Local Brew at Bond Store
- 1.9 Splash Town at Moonta Bay
- 1.10 Visit the Farm Shed Museum in Kadina
- 1.11 Kernewek Lowender Festival
- 2 Where to Eat on the Copper Coast
- 3 Copper Coast Accommodation
Getting to the Copper Coast
The Copper Coast is located on the traditional lands of the Nharangga people, a comfortable two hour drive from the centre of Adelaide to Kadina, and another 15-20 minutes to the other towns..
I do suggest travelling to the Copper Coast by car if possible as it will be much easier to get around the area once you are there if you have your own transport. If you need a rental car, I use and recommend RentalCars.com to compare prices and availability from all the major hire car companies in one search.
Having said that, it is possible, even if not entirely recommended, to get there by bus, and then use the local taxis to get around. To see the Copper Coast bus timetable, visit the Yorke Peninsula Coaches website.
For Copper Coast taxi services in the area, try Copper Triangle Taxis. Their contact info is on their Facebook page.
Wallaroo Silo Light Show
After a successful temporary show in 2019, Wallaroo have made their light show a permanent feature of the town. Each evening, just as the sun goes down, the light show begins. It’s a thirty minute show, consisting of a welcome from the local Narungga people, some Copper Coast tourism information, and art and photos from the local community. Even some of the local school children are involved and have their art displayed.
The light show is expected to change every few months to keep things fresh, and it is best watched in conjunction with music to be streamed from the website here. If you miss the beginning, don’t worry, the show does loop around and continues for a few hours each evening.
Kadina Water Tower & Murals
The Kadina water tower has a lovely mural of a young girl holding a piece of copper and a sheaf of wheat, both in recognition of the industry in the area. The reverse side of the tower is decorated with a train, since it is located opposite to the former train station. The mural was painted by Resio and completed in 2018.
Also look out for a fantastic mural on the side of Kadina Jewellers. it incorporates a peacock tail and a seat into it, making it THE place to take a selfie on the Copper Coast. There are also some butterfly wings on the side of Helloworld Travel.
Eat a Cornish Pasty
The Copper Coast has a very strong Cornish heritage, with many of the original copper miners coming from Cornwall in England. That heritage lives on in the Cornish pasties that the men loved. The pasties were generally filled with vegetables, but occasionally a little meat was added too. Sometimes the pasties even had “dessert” included, with a savoury filling at one end, and sweet at the other. The pastry that held it all together was folded over on the top to form a thick crust. The miners would hold this thick crust with their dirty hands, eat the rest of it, then discard the crust at the end.
Today there are many locations that have a Cornish pasty on the menu, but I recommend popping in to The Cornish Kitchen in Moonta and trying one there.
Visit the Moonta Museum and Mine
To learn more about the mining history of the area, visit first the Moonta Mines Museum, now housed in the original Moonta Mines School building. For a small museum, it’s actually quite interesting. I now know that it was all thanks to a wombat that copper was found here, and that rogues and swindlers were around even then!
Right across from the museum is the Moonta Mines Tourist Railway that takes visitors on a guided tour through the mine area. The railway mostly runs on weekends, but the full list of times can be found here.
After the train, take a drive around the area and check out some of the mine areas further. Make sure you include a visit to the Miners Cottage to see how the Cornish miners lived.
Oh, and one more place to visit before leaving the mines are, the Moonta Mines Sweet Shop. Located in the old Moonta Mines Post Office across from the museum, it stocks all those old-style sweets that have become favourites.
Find the Kadina Fairy Doors
This is a fun one, for both adults and kids alike. As you walk around the main shopping area of Kadina, keep your eyes peeled for tiny fairy doors. At first we couldn’t see them, but in fact we were walking right by them. Once you spot the first one and you know what you are looking for they will be everywhere.
Take a Walk on the Rail Trail
The old unused rail corridor that runs between Kadina and Wallaroo has now been replaced with a shared cycling and walking path between the two towns. While you may not want to walk to whole 9km path, you can certainly walk a section of it to enjoy what each town has to offer.
Within the towns you will also find plenty of other walking trails, particularly around the heritage areas. Drop into any of the visitor information centres to pick up maps and
Visit Tarnasey Farm
If you are visiting the Copper Coast with kids then they will love this! Take them to a Copper Coast farm – Tarnasey Farm has a Little Farmers Tour where they will get to interact with all sorts of farm animals. You can even stay here at Tarnasey Farm in one of their on site cabin and enjoy the tranquility while knowing your children are safe and having fun.
Taste the Local Brew at Bond Store
Bond Store is located on the main street of Wallaroo and is home to the first distillery and microbrewery in the region. This combination is great for those of us who are not beer drinkers, but are travelling with someone who is. He can try one of the craft beer tasting paddles, and I can try some of the gin.
They are only open Thursday to Sunday, so if you visit in the early part of the week like we did, you will unfortunately miss out. The next time I visit Copper Coast it will have to be later in the week as I am really keen to try the Quandong and Blood Orange Gin! The meals look really good too.
Splash Town at Moonta Bay
If you are visiting the Copper Coast in summer, the kids will love a visit to Splash Town, a water park located where the Moonta Bay jetty meets the shore. There are water play areas, waterslides, a large tipping bucket and more. The best part though, is that this is a community park provided by the local council, and it is absolutely free! How good is that!
Visit the Farm Shed Museum in Kadina
I’m not exactly sure what to call this place. It’s a complex that offers multiple activities that visitors to the area will enjoy. The main attraction seems to be the Farm Shed Museum which tells all sorts of stories about the history of the area, local farming life and more. It includes Matta House, showing life as it was during the mining boom, a school room, plenty of farm vehicles, engines and even a printing press.
The main building here though houses the Kadina Tourist Information Centre, which not only houses the usual local information, but a small shop selling local products, a free book exchange and a huge kids indoor play area. Outside you will find a mini-golf area which looks new, and at $5 a round, will not break the bank.
Right next door is the Copper Coast Miniature Railway where there is a track for the little sit-on trains. The trains run on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month, so if you are in the area then, pop in for a ride.
Kernewek Lowender Festival
I’m adding this in, but it’s more of an event you will have to plan for as it only happens every two years, and since it was held in May 2021, it will next be held in 2023. The four-day Kernewek Lowender is the Copper Coast Cornish festival celebrating, well, all things Cornish! Of course there will be plenty of Cornish pasties on sale, but look out too for the traditional maypole, Cornish language lessons, art exhibitions, car shows, street fairs, markets, and most intriguing of all, “dressing the graves”. I want to go to the next festival just to find out what that is!
Where to Eat on the Copper Coast
There are some really good places to eat on the Copper Coast. Here are a few that I recommend
- Coopers Alehouse Wallaroo – this is a great option right on the marina at Wallaroo.
- The Smelter – fabulous big breakfast, both normal and vegan. The coffee is pretty good too. Wallaroo
- Cafe Capella’s – to be honest, I haven’t eaten here, but that’s because when we tried, they were booked out. On a Monday night! I’m guessing, therefore, it’s pretty good Italian food. Moonta
- North Beach Kitchen – This cafe right on the beachfront at Wallaroo is perfect for lunch and breakfast. Great coffee and vegan options
- Taste the Yorke – we only called in here for coffee and cake, but it was great. Moonta
- Primo @ Royal Hotel – I wouldn’t normally recommend a chain-style restaurant, but we had a surprisingly good meal here. There were no vegan options on the menu, but the staff went above and beyond to make something really tasty for me.
Copper Coast Accommodation
The last two times I’ve visited the Copper Coast I’ve stayed at two of the different caravan parks, Moonta Bay Holiday Park and Wallaroo Holiday Park – and I would happily recommend with of them. For camping or caravans, I would choose the beachfront sites at Moonta Bay, but for cabins I would choose Wallaroo, they have some fantastic options.
In the past I have also stayed at the Wallaroo Marina Apartments, which have options from one- to three-bedroom apartments and townhouses. For a unique stay, try the Redwing Farm Shearers Quarters – don’t worry, they are renovated and quite comfortable. For a larger group, this five-bedroom house on the marina at Wallaroo will sleep up to 14 people.
Visiting more great South Australian locations? These posts might help
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Things to Do and See
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Things to do in Port Broughton (with Port Broughton Accommodation)
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.