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The town of Beltana was an interesting example of a town going the same way as Farina but it has refused to die despite having no reason to exist.  It started in the 1870s as a post on the Overland Telegraph line and expanded with the discovery of copper nearby. It thrived with the arrival of the railway until that was extended further up the track to Farina and Marree. The town settled into serious decline when the railway was redirected to Leigh Creek in the 1950s and worse still when the road was also realigned away from it in the 1980s when the last of the businesses closed.  It is now a State Heritage area.

Today some of the old buildings are occupied with ruins for neighbours.  There also appear to be newer dwellings built in modern heritage style.  The population sunk to 9 people in the 1980s but has 100 today.

Another interesting facet of the history of the town is that John Flynn worked as a clergyman in the Smith of Dunesk Mission here before eventually establishing the Australian Inland Mission and Royal Flying Doctor Service.


  1. 'Smith of Dunesk" is an interesting name. Scottish? Any idea why this name?

    9 people is not very many ... I wonder why more were attracted. Probably would not cost much ...

  2. Good on Beltana - getting the popn up to 100!
    Homeowners building in the heritage style always complements.
    Lovely reading these small town survival stories.

  3. Julie yes Scottish it seems. Here's what I found on the Flinders Ranges Research site "In 1839 Henrietta Smith of Dunesk, Scotland, bought some land in South Australia and had it rented out, later the funds were administered by the Colonial Committee of the Free Church of Scotland for the benefit of the aborigines. Smith was told that the Aborigines were a dying race and that her money, if used for that purpose, would be a waste. Although a little of it was used for the Point McLeay Mission this was stopped in 1896. Most of the money was never used and accumulated interest in the bank. Eventually this money became available to the Presbyterian Church and was used to establish the Smith of Dunesk Mission at Beltana."

    With 9 the town was surely going the way of Farina. But it looks like people who just love their peace, the astoundingly beautiful landscape, and heritage have taken up residence. I might find it a bit isolated and too hot in the summer but it would be a nice spot to live and I am sure there is a nice community feel about the place with 100 people now there.

  4. It never ceases to amaze me that people lived in these areas all those years ago.
    Imagine coming from somewhere like Scotland and ending up in Beltana.

  5. Letty, the same thing amazes me. Were they running to something or away from something I wonder.

  6. Parts of Scotland have similar extreme conditions and isolation, I suspect. Takes a certain breed of person ... I wonder how they earn an income?

  7. Julie, another thing I wonder about but there are lots of options really -- art, national parks, tourism, IT/writing etc via the Internet, retirement and the dole to name a few -- sounds a lot like the occupations we also see here in the Blue Mountains for those of us not doing the daily commute to the big smoke.


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