East MacDonnells – Artlunga

The next day we visited the old mining village of Artlunga.  It had been in ruins but about 30 years ago a number of the buildings were rebuilt using the original stones.  The most preserved section was the government works area that managed the ore stamper and cyanide separation of the gold from the rock.  This operation was started in 1898 and continued until 1913 when mining petered out.  Interestingly the police station was 1 Km from the main concentration of buildings. The small single cell gaol was built after the superintendent complained to the powers that be that the constable had to chain a prisoner to his bed as this was the only way to stop him escaping.

Artlunga Police Station & Gaol

You will notice on the photo of the gaol below a small flap in the door so they could check on the prisoner.  The single window on the other end was about the same size and the cell was about 6 feet by 8 feet, not a nice place to be confined in a hot climate.

Artlunga Gaol

The managers house had two rooms and originally verandas front and back like the police station. The assayer was the next most important person, and his house was the next biggest but only one room.  All the other houses were smaller and all single rooms except for the Post Office. The smal stone building on the bottom right is the remains of a miners house, very small.

The building with the curved roof was the gold room and offices.  This is where the miner’s gold was weighed and bought.  This building was the second gold room constructed as the miners complained that the first building on vibrated so much from the gold stamper that they were not getting the correct weight for their gold. The ruin in the photo next to this building is of the Post Office.

The boiler and steam engine were imported from Cornwall, not sure of the origin of the stamper.

We also visited Crossroads Cemetery where there were about six graves but no marking except for Jack Woodford’s grave which was surrounded by a stone wall and had a fancy headstone.

From there we went on to Jokers Mine where there were a few stone house ruins and then onto Jokers Gorge where the rocks in the gorge were much larger than you would expect for a relatively small gorge.

Despite the very dry nature of the country we did pass a couple of wildflowers.

We also managed to snap a flock of Budgies, hard to do as they fly and move so quickly.

On the way back we stopped at a high point to take a photo of the country ahead, it was such a bright green, very unusual for this part of Australia, it reflects good rains earlier in the year.

We also stopped to gather some firewood at a creek crossing so we could have a campfire and cook some potatoes and steak, which Deen marinated.  It was a delicious and so good to sit around a fire again.

The sky was unusually stormy and we did get a little rain in fact the Oodnadatta track was closed for a day and today it is open but from Maree to William Creek only to 4WD. We have had to change our plans as the Painted Desert Road is not open for towing so we will get to Coward Springs turning off the Stuart Highway at Marla and staying at Oodnadatta for a night. There is a chance of more rain at Maree tomorrow so we may have to change our plans yet again. We want to get to William Creek as we have a flight over Lake Eyre booked and don’t want to miss that.

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2 Responses to East MacDonnells – Artlunga

  1. Jan Barker says:

    About 35 years ago I travelled the Oodnadatta track on the back of a motor bike Russ – it doesn’t sound like the road will have changed much.
    Loved the historical building photos, they always make me ponder on the difficult lives the occupants must have had.

  2. Russ says:

    Wow, I didn’t realise we had a bikie in our midst! It hasn’t changed much, I first did it in about 1982 and it was much the same as it is today and every other time I have travelled it over the intervening years. I also contemplate the harshness of the lives of those people and the way they lived in such small houses.

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