The December 2019 arrival of the first passenger ship into Wallaroo since 1955 was an event of great significance for this little port town of about 4000 inhabitants.
Historically, Wallaroo -- along with other South Australian ports such as Port Pirie, Cowell and Port Lincoln around the Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf -- were called upon by mixed passenger/freight vessels of the Adelaide Steamship Company. The passenger service, dubbed the 'Gulf Trip', was a popular holiday option for Adelaide residents on the old steamers. Road and rail services eventually spelt the end of this once iconic tradition.
Wallaroo's deep-water port currently sees large bulk carriers several times a year as they load grain from the many wheat farms on the Yorke Peninsula. The port was previously one of the busiest in the whole state thanks to the busy copper mining industry of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; declining fortunes saw this industry wind up in the early 1920s.
Today, Wallaroo relies on tourism to supplement agriculture and, along with neighbouring towns Kadina and Moonta, forms a nucleus playing host to thousands of Adelaide weekend visitors. It is also proving to be a popular sea-change destination as it is just two hours by road from the State's capital, Adelaide.
Dubbed South Australia's Copper Coast, the three towns have well-preserved historic public and private architecture as well as intriguing museums and sites of interest, many of them relics of the mining hey-day. While you can occupy yourself for a couple of hours in Wallaroo's cute downtown, it's also worth getting out to Moonta or Kadina -- or both -- for a bit of variety.
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