main street of Laura
Pleasant small township where Australian
poet, C. J. Dennis, spent his childhood
When the evening sun slants through the gums,
By my forest-rimmed abode
Once more the old clear picture comes,
And my mind drifts down the road;
Back to the town by Beetaloo,
Where the rocky river strays;
Back to the old kind friends I knew
In the dear dead Laura days.
This poem, 'Laura Days' was written by C.J.
Dennis to celebrate the town's Golden Jubilee
(fifty years) in 1932.
Laura is a small and attractive township
located on the eastern slopes of the lower
Flinders Ranges 218 km from Adelaide. It is a
town characterised by one of the widest main
streets in South Australia with stands of
peppercorns and gumtrees enhancing the street.
The town's major claim to fame is that it has
the boyhood home of noted Australian vernacular
poet C. J. Dennis whose creations included 'The
Sentimental Bloke'. Dennis's father was the
licensee of the Beetaloo Reservoir Hotel from
1892 to 1910. C.J. worked as a barman for his
father in 1898 but they soon fell out and he
left and went to Broken Hill.
The actual township of Laura didn't come into
existence until the early 1870s when a section
of what had been Booyoolee Run, a pastoral
holding which was leased by the pastoralist
Herbert Bristow Hughes, was surveyed and
subdivided. In 1872 the new town was named Laura
after Laura Hughes, Hubert's wife. Prior to the
establishment of the town the area had a number
of large pastoral holdings most of which dated
from the 1840s. Beetaloo Station had been
established as a cattle run in 1844.
The town grew as it became an important
supply post for the workmen building the
Today the shopping centre is quite unusual in
the sense that there are little blocks of two or
three shops separated by a few houses, then a
few more shops - all this is in the long main
street. In recent times its future has been tied
to a proliferation of gift and craft shops which
have breathed new life into the town.
Things to see:
Historical & Arts Society Building
Walking tour of Laura
Old Brewery (1874)
This is a prominent local landmark. It was
built in 1874 and operated as a brewery for the
next twenty years until it was closed in 1894.
It became a private residence in 1907.
The Old Court House, built in 1877, is now part
of the local Rocky River Historical & Art
Society. It operated as a Court House for 90
years and was only closed down in 1968. It is
used for art exhibitions during the Laura Folk
C.J. Dennis Sculpture
Outside Dick Biles Gallery is a large metal
statue of C. J. Dennis designed by Dave
Griffiths. It is a fitting tribute to a poet who
was born in 1876 and spent his formative years
in the town. Dennis remembered his time in Laura
with affection. In 1932 he recalled his
childhood writing 'In sifting through these
memories I can discover nought that could be set
down in malice, but a very great deal that gives
me constant happiness to recall.'
Biles Gallery, a large metal statue of
C. J. Dennis designed by Dave Griffiths
Located in rugged country only a few kilometres
from Laura, the Beetaloo Reservoir was South
Australia's first regional reservoir. It was
built between 1885-1890 (thus bringing men and
work to the area) at a cost of £700,000 to
supply water to Port Pirie, Moonta, Wallaroo and
Kadina. Most of the water was required for the
mining and smelting works in the Copper
Triangle. Beetaloo now provides water for local
agriculture and grazing.
Laura Folk Fair
The Laura Folk Fair, a two day folk festival, is
held every April and attracts thousands of
people to the town. This is much more than a
folk festival with food, art and craft stalls,
bush dancing, fireworks and music and literary
awards. For details contact (08) 8663 2582 or
(08) 8663 2221.