Food and Drink in Wallaroo
The main street is like so many Aussie country towns, with the essential retail traders aligned along the main street. The grocer, pub, newsagent, post office and cafe are all within a stone's throw. The bakeries, however, are a feature of any rural town and in Wallaroo you will find the local variation of such Aussie staples as the meat pie, sausage roll and pasty. (South Australians pronounce the 'pasty' as 'PARS-tee', while Easterners say 'PAY-stee'.)
The mass-produced, brand-name items can be a bit ordinary, but here is where the local baker can shine with light, flaky pastry and rich, tasty filling of minced meat and vegetables. The humble pasty has historic roots in the Wallaroo region where Cornish miners settled in the latter part of the 19th century to exploit the newfound copper deposits. The so-called Cornish Pasty is slightly different from your standard version in that the protected recipe contains only diced or minced beef, onion, potato and swede in rough chunks along with some peppery seasoning. It is also distinguished by having the join in the pastry raised in a ridge across the top, which formed a 'handle' so the miners' dirty hands did not contact the pasty while eating.
Apart from decent coffee at any of the main street cafes, one should really sample the local beers that are brewed locally in the Bond Store, a recently restored premises featuring a microbrewery, restaurant and distillery. There are 12 regional boutique beers and ales on tap, four of which are brewed onsite. (13 Owen Terrace; 08 8823 3809; open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 11 am to 10 pm; Friday to Saturday, 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday 11 am to 10 pm).
Seafood around both Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent is superb. The once-ubiquitous snapper is getting harder to find, but King George whiting is a delicacy you should not deny yourself. Small with delicate white flesh, it is best enjoyed either lightly crumbed or grilled with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice or a dab of white sauce. Stroll into one of the hotels in town for a true Aussie 'pub' experience. There's the Weeroona Hotel adjacent to the Farmers' Market or the Prince Edward Hotel opposite the Wallaroo Town Hall. Both are easily accessible on foot.
Beaches in Wallaroo
The easiest and safest swimming beach is Office Beach right there at the jetty. While you may see local kids jumping off the jetty, it is against port regulations. A little farther to the northeast, past the vehicle ferry wharf, is Jetty Beach (aka Sailing Club Beach), also safe and popular with locals. Kayak hire is available at the Wallaroo Marina Apartments. There is also North Beach, but you may find it inconvenient walking distance.
Don't Miss in Wallaroo
Miners' Heritage: There are numerous Heritage-listed ruins and relics of the copper mining history within the 'triangle' in the form of old smelters, miners' cottages and various workings and museums. You won't be able to see them all in a single day, but for my money, neighbouring Moonta has the best examples, especially the preserved cottage staffed by enthusiastic volunteers who will re-enact the history for you.
Victorian and Edwardian Architecture: So many of the original civic buildings and mine offices were built almost 150 years ago from local sandstone. The Wallaroo Town Hall is a perfect example and you are welcome to go inside and see the auditorium. Many of these buildings will also form part of your chosen shore excursion.
Churches: Every town has a church of some sort to act as both a place of worship and a Sunday meeting place; the pick of the local ones is the 1913-built Copper Coast Baptist Church just past Wallaroo Town Hall. Built from distinctive local sandstone and red brick in classical style, it's not overly ornate but accurately reflects the austere sobriety of the time.
Maritime Museum: The former Wallaroo Post Office houses the excellent Maritime Museum which, while not enormous, has an excellent display of local historic, marine-related artefacts and other items of local folk history including railway, homewares, military and Freemasonry.
School of Mines and Heritage: Located in Moonta, this museum is great for children and, if you're timing is good, you can ride the miniature railway around the park. It's also where you will get your iconic old mine ruin image that you see on all the postcards.
Kadina Folk Museum: This excellent local museum tells a little more of the agricultural history of the Yorke Peninsula with displays of machinery and implements.