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Jamestown, SA

Important rural service town on the Belalie Creek

Jamestown is a charming rural service centre which is located in the heart of some of South Australia's most productive agricultural land. Located on the banks of the Belalie Creek it is a prosperous town with a main tree-lined street which is so wide the central area is a park. The town was the birthplace of R.M.Williams, the famous outback clothing maker. The main attraction near the town is the exceptional Bundaleer Forest Reserve which is particularly impressive in autumn.

Location

Jamestown is located 215 km north of Adelaide via Clare. It is 456 metres above sea level.

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Origin of Name

Jamestown was named after Governor James Fergusson, who was the Governor of South Australia from 1869-1872.

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Things to See and Do

Jamestown Railway Station Museum
Located on the northern side of town in Irvine Street (over the Belalie Creek and next to the grain silo) the Museum is situated in the old Railway Station (1878). It is part of the National Trust and contains local memorabilia, an impressive collection of agricultural equipment as well as a railway carriage, a crop stripper, an iron lung (it was invented by a local) and memorabilia from The Emu Factory which produced chutney and butter. It also contains a history of the Bundaleer Forest.  Open Monday to Saturday 10.00 am to 4.00 pm; tel: 0402 304 965 for additional information.

Jamestown Mural Walk
In recent times Jamestown has become famous for its murals. There are extensive displays in the main street and these are complemented by more modern murals in purpose built shelters in Ayr Street. There is a Jamestown’s Mural Walk and the Jamestown Mural Festival which is held in late September and sees artists competing for prizes by drawing huge murals over a period of five days. Check out http://www.jamestownmuralfest.com.au.

Penn Cottage Museum of Pressed Glass
Located at 15 King Edward Terrace, the Penn Cottage Museum of Pressed Glass is Australia’s largest pressed glass collection with pieces dating back to 1846. It is suggested that you will need at least two hours to explore this amazing 14,000 piece collection. It is open from 10.00 am. For more information tel: (08) 8664 0333.

R. M. Williams Interpretative Display
Located in Memorial Park this is interpretative display dedicated to one of Jamestown's most famous sons -  the bush outfitter R.M. Williams who is known for his distinctive hats and boots. The display includes a wooden bust of Williams and a series of panels which tell the story of how this man who was born at Belalie North became the nation's most famous rural clothing manufacturer.

Krupp Cannon
Located in Memorial Park this rare, fully restored 1907 German Krupp Cannon, captured by Australian troops in World War One. It is one of only two in Australia and features rear-mounted trunnions and an inverted barrel and recoil assembly.

Cockburn House
It is particularly interesting and informative about Sir John Cockburn, the local doctor who became the local Mayor and ended up the Premier of South Australia. It was Cockburn who planted the trees in the town's main street. He also laid the foundation stone for the local Anglican Church (1880) and his house (1876) is still well preserved on the corner of Cockburn and Clifton Streets. It is no longer a doctor's surgery. There is also a bust of the doctor in the town's main street. For more information about Cockburn House, now a wedding venue and accommodation option, check out http://www.cockburnhouse.com.au.

National Australia Bank (1885)
The Heritage Places Database (http://apps.planning.sa.gov.au/HeritageSearch/HeritageItem.aspx?p_heritageno=26976) lists the National Australia Bank, 21 Ayr Street, Jamestown as demonstrating the importance of banking and the role of towns in the provision of services for surrounding farming regions in "an important period of rapid development of the Upper North region of South Australia in the 1870s-80s, the prominence of banking in this phase ... It also demonstrates a high degree of creative and aesthetic accomplishment and is a fine surviving example of a `Victorian Free Classical' bank building."

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Other Attractions in the Area

Bundaleer Forest Reserve
Bundaleer Forest Reserve is located 9 km south of Jamestown. It dates back to 1876 when the state, having had vast timbered areas cut down, declared 9000 hectares a forest reserve and planned the planting of commercial quantities of trees. The initial experiments resulted in a forest with a vast diversity of exotic and native species until it was discovered that the best commercial timber for the area was Californian radiata pine. It was the state's first pinus radiata plantation. In 1882 400 ha of Californian radiata pine was planted. Today it has 1500 ha and produces radiata pine which is used for verandas, pergola posts, packaging and shipping materials, and some plywood products. Beyond the radiata pine the forest has stands of maples, oaks, elms and poplars which are particularly impressive in autumn. There is a very useful brochure Bundaleer Forest Visitor Information put out by Forestry SA which can be downloaded at https://www.forestry.sa.gov.au/Portals/0/Publications/InfoLeaflets/Bundaleer%20Forest.pdf.
Today the reserve is a pleasant picnic location with a number of attractive and interesting walks:
(i) Maple Walk (1.5 km, 45 mins, easy) through groves of deciduous trees including English elm, ash, poplars, maples, and sycamores. It also features a giant cork tree and native blue and red gums. This walk passes through country inhabited by echidnas, possums, kangaroos and euros.
(ii) Sculpture Walk (800 m return, 20-30 min, easy) As the brochure explains "play music on the giant percussion instrument, lose yourself in the arboreal sculpture, see the giant sundial" as you walk beside these large, outdoor sculptures.
(iii) Scenic Trail (4.6 km, 90 minutes, hard) offers views across the countryside from Campbells Hill. This walk passes through stands of red river gum and forest red gum. There is a useful map of this walk. See http://www.southaustraliantrails.com/pdf/shortwalks/08/clareregion.pdf for more information.
(iv) Conservator's Walk (4.6 km return, 90 minutes, moderate) which includes 'Curnow's Hut', an old timber cutters hut, has been restored for walkers and panoramic views over Bundaleer Valley.
Both the Heysen Trail and the Mawson Trail pass through the forest.

Jamestown Bundaleer Trail
The Jamestown Bundaleer Trail is a 33 km loop through local agricultural land to the Bundaleer Forest. The Trail commences on the Jamestown‐Caltowie Road and follows the Jacka Creek Walking trail before heading south to connect Jamestown to the Bundler Forest Picnic Grounds and the Mawson Trail. There is a very detailed map and instructions which can be downloaded at http://www.nacouncil.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/103565_DLbrochure_Bundaleerv2.pdf.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the district was the home of the Ngadjuri Aborigines.

* The first European through the area was the explorer Edward John Eyre in 1839.

* The granting of the first pastoral lease occurred in 1841. The pastoralist was John Bristow Hughes who named his property 'Bundaleer'.

* In 1869 the Wastelands Amendment Act opened up the area to more dense settlement.

* Jamestown, as a town, came into existence beside the Belalie Creek in 1870. It was primarily a service centre for the surrounding wheat properties.

* The town was gazetted in 1871 and named Jamestown after the first name of Governor James Fergusson, the Governor of South Australia. The first crops were planted that same year.

* In 1875 the Bundaleer State Forest was declared a state reserve.

* By 1877 there were more than 100 stonemasons working in the town.

* By 1878 it was incorporated as a town. That year Dr John Cockburn became the town's first mayor. He would go on and become Premier of South Australia.

* By 1881 the town had a population of nearly one thousand.

* In 1888 a farmer's cooperative, the South Australian Farmers Union, was formed.

* In 1908 the famous bush clothes maker, R.M.Williams, was born in the town.

* Today Jamestown is a major service centre for an area which relies on wool, a range of cereal crops and the timber from Bundaleer Forest.

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Visitor Information

Visitor information in Jamestown is handled at the Northern Areas Council Office, 94 Ayr Street, (08) 8664 1139.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://www.visitjamestown.com.au for information on eating and accommodation. There is also a useful, downloadable brochure. Check out http://www.imags.com.au/visit_jamestown_south_australia.

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Got something to add?

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3 suggestions
  • I’m trying to find the origin of the name Belalie and what it means. My ancestors settled in the Clare Valley in 1847 at Mintaro.

    James Briggs
  • 2352 CPL Edward Clarence Inglis – Once Lost – Now Found. Yesterday a headstone rededication service was held for
    2352 CPL Edward Inglis at Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux.
    Edward was born in Jamestown, South Australia and enlisted in the AIF on 24 September 1915 as a 20-year-old.
    He was KIA during the 48th Bns attack at Monument Wood on 3 May 1918.
    As his final resting place was unknown he is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. However, 99 years after his death Edward’s final resting place has been found thanks to the excellent research of the Fallen Diggers Organisation.
    CPL Inglis has no known family, so the new headstone was unveiled by the South Australian Premier, Mr Jay Weatherill with the Mayor Simon of Villers-Bretonneux also in attendance.

    Lyndell Singe
  • I believe my grandfather and his father built the Jamestown railway station, their names were Johan Frederich and Frederich Wilhelm Schumann. Just wondering if there is any information out there to corroborate this account. Thankyou, Darryl Atherton

    darryl atherton