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Kimba, SA

Eyre Peninsula wheatbelt town which describes itself as "Halfway Across Australia"

Kimba is acutely aware that tourists, having somewhere they want to get to, tend to drive through the town without stopping. As a result they have managed to create a number of "tourist attractions" - a Big Galah, a sculpture of Edward John Eyre and Wylie, an impressive mural on the local wheat silos - all designed to encourage travellers to stop ... and hopefully to spend some money in the town. Apart from its tourist attraction Kimba is a typical wheatbelt town, with a railway and huge wheat silos, designed primarily to service the surrounding grain and sheep properties. The average annual rainfall in Kimba is only 339 mm.

Location

Kimba is located 263 m above sea level. It is 154 km south-west of Port Augusta on the Eyre Highway and 461 km north-west of Adelaide .

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Origin of Name

Most sources claim that 'kimba' was a local Aboriginal word meaning 'bushfire'. The Kimba Council's emblem incorporates a burning bush.

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Things to See and Do

Kimba Town Tourist Walk
There are 35 places of interest around the town which feature historical photos and information. The route is known as the 'Kimba Town Tourist Walk'. The Kimba Guide, which includes a map, is available at the Visitor Information and the Roadhouse. The 'walk' is 3 km around the centre of the town  (it is an extra 2.8 km each way to White Knob Lookout) and starts at the Kimba Gateway Hotel at the roundabout on Cross Street, and continues around the town eventually reaching the Kimba Electricity Supply on North Terrace. It includes:
1. Kimba Gateway Hotel
2. Old Post Office
3. Rail Line
4. Gawler Ranges Information Bay
5. Police Station
6. Bank of Adelaide
9. Big Galah
12. Kimba and Gawler Ranges Historical Museum
13. Entrance Walls
14. Kimba Area School Community Library
15. Kimba Area School
16. Murals
16a. Kimba District Football and Netball Club
17. White's Knob
18. Roora Walking Trail
19. Water Tanks
20. Lions Park
21. Swimming Pool
22. Catholic Church
23. First Government School Building
24. Church of England
25. Hospital
26. Rock for Water
27. Vennings Garage
28. J.L. Pike
29. The Big Store
30. Palmers Pioneer Store
31. Kimba Soldiers Memorial Institute
32. Institute Memorial Gardens
33. TAFE Campus
34. Ellis Garage
35. Electricity Supply

Kimba Grain Silos
In 2017 Melbourne artist Cam Scale spent 26 days and 200 litres of paint creating the artwork on the grain silos. The mural is 25 metres tall and 60 metres wide. The artwork, depicting a young child in a wheat field at sunset, has turned the silos into an attraction for passing motorists. There is a viewing platform on Railway Terrace. Access to the silos is restricted as they are a fully operational receival site. Check out http://www.kimba.sa.gov.au/tourism for more information.

Kimba & Gawler Ranges Historical Society Museum
The Kimba & Gawler Ranges Historical Society Museum is located on the Eyre Highway and open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9.00 am - 11.00 am and 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm. And Sunday 1.30 pm - 4.00 pm. Tel: (08) 8627 2684 or (08) 8627 2436. 
The museum complex includes a pioneer house, a one teacher school, a blacksmiths shop, and sheds displaying machinery and engineering equipment which was used to improve the district's water supply.
The Pioneer House is a reconstruction, using original materials, of the first house built by the Haskett family. The house, which is constructed of pine and plaster, was built by Sam Haskett some time after 1908. It was removed and re-erected at the Museum in 1978. The sign explains that it "helps you appreciate what it meant to be a housewife and mother in Kimba's earliest decades."
The One Teacher School is one of twenty-three portable wooden schools which were built in the area between 1918 and 1967. The cost per pupil was about 5 times as much as pupils in larger schools but many children of pioneer families had the whole of their schooling in these tiny schools. A map on the cairn outside the school building records a total of 23 schools in the Kimba area and identifies where they were all located.
The Blacksmiths Shop and Machinery Display Sheds contain a wide range of equipment connected with shearing, wool handling, blacksmithing and wheelwrighting.
The museum also includes stationary engines, "Clancy" the fire truck and the local Telephone Exchange. There are also Government sheds, a section of the Dog Fence and equipment involved in water conservation.

Roora Reserve Nature Trail
Located on North Terrace and stretching for 6 km (return) to the Edward John Eyre sculptures on White's Knob Scenic Lookout, the Roora Reserve Nature Trail is a walk through a variety of vegetation types. Part of the appeal is that there are signs identifying plants along the way and life-sized animal sculptures of kangaroos, emus and other wildlife. It is an adventure into the uniqueness of the fauna and flora of the area.

Edward John Eyre Sculptures
Located at White's Knob Scenic Lookout (it can be accessed off Tola Road to the north of the town), which offers a fine view over the town, are two statues - one of Edward John Eyre and one of his Aboriginal assistant, Wylie. They were erected in November 2011 and sculpted by Roland Weight and Marcus Possingham. There is a very detailed sign at the site which explains who Eyre was and his importance in Australian history. 
"Edward John Eyre, born in England in 1815, is remembered as the first man to cross this continent from Sydney to the Swan River.  He was the first man to record his exploration of the three sides of the peninsula named in his honour.  Lake Eyre and the Eyre Highway are also named in recognition of his skill, perseverance and courage as an explorer.
"In 1838 he led an expedition from Streaky Bay.  Passing through sandy terrain and scrubby vegetation, Eyre reached the Gawler Ranges where he identified Sturt’s Pea.  Water had been scarce and Eyre was glad to find a good supply at Baxter’s Range, near Iron Knob.  The expedition ended at Depot Creek, near Mt Arden.
"In 1840 this trek was reversed by Eyre’s overseer, John Baxter.  Recent rain had ensured adequate water and the party was able to follow the tracks made by their wagons the previous year.  Meanwhile Eyre explored the eastern side of the peninsula.  It was very hard for the horses to penetrate the dense vegetation.  Feed was scarce and water more so.  
"About 45 km east of where you are standing, Eyre found good grass and a spring of water.  He was so relieved that he named the place Refuge Rocks, 'for such they were to us in our difficulties'.  At Port Lincoln, Eyre arranged for supplies to be shipped from Adelaide.
"In 1841 Eyre left Port Lincoln and headed North West to Streaky Bay where he met John Baxter.  Arrangements were made to ship supplies to Fowler’s Bay and the party set out for W.A.  Poor feed and shortage of water so weakened the horses that they were not able to carry all the provisions wanted by the men.
"Eyre was determined to explore beyond the Head of the Bight and was very aware of the difficulties ahead.  At Fowler’s Bay he sent non-essential supplies and four men back to Adelaide by ship.  It was at this stage that Wylie joined the expedition.  He was from King George’s Sound and had accompanied Eyre on previous trips.  
"Lack of water, scarcity of feed, difficult terrain and extremes of weather all combined to make this trek along the coast so arduous that men and horses perished.  "Fortunately for Eyre and Wylie, a whaling ship was anchored at Rossiter’s Bay and the two survivors were able to recuperate sufficiently to finish the trek to Albany."
It is ironic that the most memorable and disturbing event during the expedition has been omitted. The Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on Eyre records: "By 3 November he rejoined Baxter [who had been his assistant] and his party at Streaky Bay, and they moved on to found a depot at Fowler's Bay. From there, on the third attempt, Eyre reached the head of the Bight, but the difficulties involved made him decide to send all the members of the expedition back to Adelaide, except for Baxter, Wylie and two South Australian Aboriginal men; with them he intended to traverse the 850 miles (1368 km) to King George Sound, with a determination 'either to accomplish the object I had in view, or perish in the attempt'. With eleven pack-horses, the small party left Fowler's Bay on 25 February 1841. On 12 March they reached good water at what is now called Eucla, 'after having passed over one hundred and thirty-five miles (217 km) of desert country, without a drop of water in its whole extent, and at a season of the year most unfavourable for such an undertaking'. As they continued round the Bight they met with the same difficulties of terrain and lack of water, but by the middle of April they were also suffering severely from cold, as they had had to discard most of their clothing. On the night of 29 April two of the natives murdered Baxter and disappeared with most of the provisions and all the serviceable firearms. 'At the dead hour of night, in the wildest and most inhospitable wastes of Australia, with the fierce wind raging in unison with the scene of violence before me, I was left, with a single native, whose fidelity I could not rely upon, and who for aught I knew might be in league with the other two, who perhaps were even now, lurking about with the view of taking away my life as they had done that of the overseer'.  
"In 1997 the Ngadju-Mirning man Arthur Dimer said it was Eyre who killed Baxter in a fit of rage because Baxter was drunk; the two South Australian Aboriginal people fled in fright and were speared by Mirning people who were observing the expedition’s progress."

Town Murals
Located at the Recreation Reserve on North Terrace, are two murals - one, painted in August 2001 and named "Sharing our History", is dedicated to the local pioneers. The other was painted by Neil Swanson, a Kimba local, and depicts shearers. It is dedicated to local graziers.

The Big Galah
The Big Galah is the work of Roger Venning and his family. Venning purchased the Halfway Across Australia Tourist Shop in 1986 and, remarkably, designed and built the giant galah in his back shed in two halves. It is made from steel, high tensile bird wire, and fibreglass with a gel coating. The galah is 8 metres high and 2.5 metres wide and weighs around 2.3 tonnes. It was unveiled on 21 July, 1993.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Secret Rocks
Located 35 km east of Kimba on the Whyalla Road, and also known as Refuge Rocks, this impressive granite hill was first sighted by Europeans when Edward John Eyre, in 1841, used it as a rest camp. It is now part of the Middleback Alliance, "a 259 square kilometre area of mallee scrub which has been placed under a conservation covenant. 
A Federal Caring for Our Country grant was recently secured by Ecological Horizons and is currently being used to implement on ground outcomes in the Middleback Alliance region. Activities include Malleefowl nest monitoring and surveys for threatened species including the sandhill dunnart. Recent developments include building an exclosure to protect the nationally threatened plant, Acacia cretacea, implementing a remote camera monitoring program for goats and foxes and trialling eradicat cat baits as a means of controlling feral cats. Ecological Horizons have successfully applied for Green Army teams to assist in the construction of herbivore exclusion fences to help manage goats, rabbits, kangaroos and feral predators to recreate denser habitat and better conditions for malleefowl and sandhill dunnart recruitment." For more information check out http://www.ecologicalhorizons.com/initiatives#middlebackalliance.

Gawler Ranges National Park
Located 107 km from Kimba via Buckleboo Road, the Gawler Ranges rise 470 m above sea level. They are the division between the Eyre Peninsula and the desert of Central Australia. It is an unusual and impressive outback park which combines history, Aboriginal culture and a commitment to environmental conservation. It protects rare and threatened plants and animals, including Crimson Mallee and the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby. As well the park has large communities of kangaroos and emus. The park is ideally traversed by 4WD vehicles but, when it has been dry, most of the roads are accessible to 2WD vehicles although they should have a decent level of clearance. For those wanting to go on an organised tour there are a number offered by Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris, tel: (08) 8680 2045 or check out http://www.gawlerrangessafaris.com.

The Highllghts
Organ Pipes
The Organ Pipes, formed over 1500 million years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions, are the park's main attraction. They are actually basalt columns which have been formed by the cooling and cracking of molten lava. The Organ Pipes walk (it takes around 30 minutes each way) requires a reasonable level of fitness as there are some loose rocks and slippery sections. The walk passes through open eucalypt woodland to a natural amphitheatre surrounded by these ancient basalt rock formations. For more information and downloadable maps and brochures check out http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Eyre_Peninsula/Gawler_Ranges_National_Park.

Aboriginal Culture
The Barngarla, Kokatha and Wirangu Aboriginal people have lived in and around the Gawler Ranges for over 30,000 years and still have a strong connection with the land. It is significant that their traditional ceremonies and practices are still carried out in the park.

Flora and Fauna
The Gawler Ranges are located between mallee country to the south and an arid, desert zone to the north. There are over 400 different plant species in the park and many are located at the extremity of their geographical distribution. Other plants such as the Gawler Ranges Hop Bush and the Gawler Ranges Grevillea are unique to the area. The Gawler Ranges is home to a wonderland of wildlife including the Australian Ringneck Parrot, the Superb Fairy-wren and Australia’s only protected population of the Short-tailed Grasswren, a shy creature which relies on spiny shrubs and bushes for protection from predators. The park is also home to colonies of Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby, the delightful Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, the Central Long-eared Bat and flocks of Major Mitchell Cockatoos. 

Bushwalking
There are only a few marked walking trails in the Park but the land is sufficiently open that experienced bushwalkers can carve their own routes through the area. There is a trail from the Waganny campground (defined as an easy to moderate walk) which passes through woodlands and grasslands to a dramatic rocky outcrop which offers magnificent 180° views. It takes around 90 minutes for the round trip.
There is an excellent and detailed brochure on the Gawler Ranges National Park. Check out http://www.wudinna.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/gawler-ranges-bro.pdf.

Lake Gilles Conservation Park
Located 17 km east of Kimba off the Eyre Highway, this semi-arid mallee landscape of saltpans, low sandy rises, gypsum dunes and isolated stony hills is accessible by all vehicles. The northern area of the park is only accessible to 4WD vehicles. It is a wonderland of wildlife with visitors expecting to see kangaroos, emus, mallee fowls and native birds. For more information check out https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Eyre_Peninsula/lake-gilles-conservation-park.

Bird Life
This area of the South Australian wheatbelt is rich in fauna. Over 140 species of birdlife have been identified with the most common being emu, wedge tail eagle, galah, crested pigeons, honey-eaters, willy wagtail, white winged choughs, Major Mitchells and fairy wrens. There are also Western Grey and the Red Kangaroos,  Euros, and numerous reptile species and, although hard to spot, the Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat now resides in the Gawler Ranges.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans this harsh desert area was sparsely populated by the Banggarla Aboriginal people.

* The first European into the area was Edward John Eyre who passed near to the current townsite when he crossed from Streaky Bay to the head of Spencer Gulf in late 1838. Eyre was the first European to sight the Gawler Ranges. He wrote: "During the whole of our course of 600 miles through, I believe, an hitherto unexplored country, we never crossed a single creek, river, or chain of ponds, nor did we meet with permanent water anywhere, with the exception of three solitary springs on the coast." 

* In 1840 Eyre returned to the area and camped at the location now known as Secret Rocks.

* In 1841 Eyre travelled north-west from Port Lincoln through the area and across the Great Australian Bight to Albany.

* The first settlers were pastoralists who moved north up the Eyre Peninsula during the 1870s and 1880s. They attempted to survive by lightly stocking the land and relying on the limited water supplies and intermittent open grass lands.

* By the 1890s large tracts of mallee scrub had been cleared.

* By the early 1900s regular mail services were travelling over the rough bush tracks from the port at Cowell. 

* The first pioneers to grow wheat in the area were the Haskett family who were growing crops by 1908. The bags of wheat were loaded onto bullock drays and carried to Cowell 76 km south.

* In 1913 the railway from Port Lincoln was extended into the area and a siding named 'Kimba' was built. 

* By 1915 a number of wheat farmers had moved into the area. The township of Kimba was officially proclaimed and service industries began to move into the district. That year saw the first building in the town.

* In 1978 a new Council Office was opened.

* In the summer of 2012/2013, dubbed The Angry Summer by the Climate Commission, the temperature in Kimba reached a new recorded high of 46°C.

* Today Kimba is the centre of one of South Australia's most productive wheat producing areas.

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Visitor Information

District Council of Kimba, Cross Street, tel: (08) 8627 2026.

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Useful Websites

There is a council website which has tourist information. Check out http://www.kimba.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=265.

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