Callington, on the Bremer River, is a well preserved microcosm of a mid 19th century mining town with many heritage buildings. It is a step back in time to typically dry rural South Australian wheat and sheep country, yet close to Adelaide. The town is listed on the State Heritage Register and can be found just off the South Eastern Freeway near Monarto between the Adelaide Hills and Murray Bridge. The old Bremer Mine can be seen on the outskirts of town. Callington provided a perfect backdrop for the filming of the television mini series "Golden Fiddles" in 1990, "The Battlers" in 1994 and "Rain Shadow" in 2007.
By 1847, ten years after South Australia's beginnings, a small settlement existed in the Callington district with small tenanted farms of The South Australian Company and Paringa Proprietors. Settlers also mined small lodes along the Bremer River. Many were German from Hahndorf as well as Irish and Cornish miners. Cottages were built from local stone with shingle roofs. Many still survive – excellent examples of their cultural origins. Cornish brothers John and Mauris Thomas established the Bremer Smelting works on the river, processing ore from the Kanmantoo Mine. A marker on the Princes Highway commemorates their efforts and informs of local historic mines.
The Bremer Mine
In 1949, the new Bremer Mine was established, after bullock driver John Kienan's dray struck a rock exposing a copper lode. He received a reward of fifty pounds (equal to six months wages) from the mining claims office. A township was surveyed and named Callington after the copper mining town in Cornwall.
The Government surveyed a road from Balhannah to Wellington on the River Murray, passing Callington. Stores and hotels soon opened to service the growing community. A railway followed in 1886, thought to be the most expensive stretch of railway in Australia. The old Callington Railway Station building, a typical country station shelter/booking office, is now in use at the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide. The station serviced Callington's small rural community for many years and closed after intense competition from the transport industry. The building fell into disrepair and vandal attacks left nothing but the exterior. An approach to Australian National resulted in Callington Station building being purchased and donated it to the Museum.
Historic Town Tour
You can tour historic Callington by foot or in your car. Ask locally for Tour Map.
Points of interest include the remains of the mining era – the explosives hut, settling tanks, engine house and chimney stack as well as other historic structures including the hotel, old police station and the Erskine Bridge.
Acknowledgement: Michael Coligan and Susan Benham Page, Dog 'n' Ute Callington Hotel