Innamincka, South Australia
|Population:||131 (2006 Census)|
• Summer (DST)
|Location:||1065 km (662 mi) NE of Adelaide|
|LGA:||Outback Areas Community Development Trust|
Innamincka is a very small town in north-east South Australia. It is 1065 km northeast of Adelaide and 459 km from Lyndhurst up the Strzelecki Track. It is on the banks of Cooper Creek in the state's Channel Country, and surrounded by the Strzelecki, Tirari and Sturt Stony Deserts. It is within Innamincka Regional Reserve. In 2006 there were 131 people living in the town.
History[change | change source]
The area was the traditional home of the Yandruwandha, Aborigines. The first European to visit the area was Charles Sturt in 1845. He was followed by A C Gregory in 1858 and then Burke and Wills. A monument to Sturt, Burke and Wills was built in Innamincka in 1944.
In 1882 a police camp was set up and a small settlement followed. From 7 April 1889, a Royal Mail coach ran fortnightly from Farina, operated by merchants Davey and Pilkington. The town was first named Hopetoun after the Governor of Victoria, the Earl of Hopetoun but it was never popular with locals. The town was never very large, but had a hotel, a store and a police station. Until 1901 the police station was also the customs post for collecting duties on cattle brought overland from Queensland into South Australia. In 1928 the Australian Inland Mission built a hospital here, the Elizabeth Symon Nursing Home. Severe drought and poor access to the settlement resulted in the hotel and hospital closing. In 1951 the police post closed and the town was abandoned.
Increased tourism and discovery of gas and oil in the late 1960s led to the formation of Cooper Creek Hotel Motel Pty Ltd. The company opened a hotel, a store and accommodation in the abandoned town. In 1994 the Elizabeth Symon Nursing Home was restored by Dick Smith and Australian Geographic and used as a visitor centre for South Australian Parks and Wildlife.
The town common, on the banks of the Cooper, is popular with campers, as are the town's public coin-in-slot toilets and showers.
Burke and Wills[change | change source]
The Burke and Wills expedition passed through this area on their journey across Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. They set up a camp on Cooper Creek at Camp LXV, their 65th camp since leaving Melbourne. This camp is also known as The Dig Tree. Members of the expedition camped at the Dig Tree from 6 December 1860 to 21 April 1861.
The Victorian Contingent Party under Alfred Howitt was sent by the Victorian government to find the expedition. Howitt found the remains of both leaders, Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills and buried them close to the site of Innamincka. He also found the only survivor, John King on the 15 September 1861. King was living with and being cared for by the Yandruwandha aboriginals.
Howitt returned to the area in 1862 as leader of the Victorian Exploring Party. He set up a depot camp at Cullyamurra Waterhole before digging up the bodies of Burke and Wills and taking them to Melbourne for a State Funeral.
The site of Wills' grave and King's site are on Cooper Creek downstream of Innamincka. Burke's grave, Howitt's camp and the Dig Tree are on Cooper Creek upstream of Innamincka.
References[change | change source]
Other websites[change | change source]
- Outback NSW
- Burke and Wills Web A website with many of the historical documents about the Burke and Wills Expedition.
- The Burke and Wills Historical Society
- The Diary of William John Wills The diary written by Wills while at the Cooper from 23 April to 28 June 1861.
- William John Wills' journal Images from the National Library of Australia's digital manuscript collection.
- Aerial Video of Innamincka