Karoonda (including Sandalwood and Wanbi)
Quiet service centre in the heart of the
Karoonda is located 146 km east of Adelaide and
66 km from Murray Bridge. It is a pleasant and
quiet township with a population of around 250
people which serves the surrounding agricultural
area which is noted for its fine sheep, its
crops of wheat and barley.
The area was first settled in the 1860s but
the land was harsh and droughts drove the
farmers from the land. By the 1880s grazing had
totally ceased in the entire district.
The town came into existence as recently as
1910 when a bore was sunk. Within a year there
was a general store and the need for a school
became obvious when it was found there were 15
children within walking distance of Karoonda
siding which was a basic train stop. By 1913 the
town boasted a general store and a blacksmith
and it had been formally gazetted by the
government. The town was named Karoonda because
that was the name of the railway siding. It is
likely that the word 'karoonda' is an Aboriginal
word for 'winter camp'.
The sale of allotments saw the town grow
rapidly with the construction of the local
Institute building in 1914 and a number of
houses being built in the next two years. It
was, at this time, primarily a railway town.
Today Karoonda is a typical wheatbelt town.
It is said the grain silos can be seen from 7km
away. Certainly they are capable of storing
50,000 tonnes of grain. The Karoonda Sheep Fair
is held each February.
Things to see:
Karoonda Pioneer Park
There are a range of attractions in Karoonda
Pioneer Park including a railway display, an
early farm machinery display and an attractive
Lions Nature Trail. The Mallee Lands Railway
Museum was centred on a rebuilt railway siding
(Yurgo) with an old van housing interesting
artefacts. The Pioneer farmhouse is a house
which was built at Sandalwood in 1913. It houses
a collection of artefacts from the period
notably some excellent and usual laundry
On display in the local council office is a
meteorite which fell to earth near Karoonda in
1930. There is additional information about the
event on an obelisk in the main street.
Wanbi is a tiny settlement which is a classic
wheatbelt town dominated by its grain silos. It
is 56 km east of Karoonda. The local hall was
built in 1925 and the two storey Wanbi Hotel,
the only hotel between Karoonda and Loxton, was
completed in 1932. The town's first grain silo,
with a capacity of 3000 tonnes, was completed in
1965 and another silo with a 2700 tonne
capacity, was added in 1976.
Tiny township which was named after the
sandalwood trees in the area. It is 28 km east
of Karoonda. The town came into existence around
the time of the outbreak of hostilities in World
War I. The railway arrived in 1913 and the Post
Office was opened in 1914. The school arrived in
1919 and the town was connected to the telephone