Moonta Mines Uniting Church on market, residents worried about UNESCO World Heritage bid

Home Arts Moonta Mines Uniting Church on market, residents worried about UNESCO World Heritage bid
Moonta Mines Uniting Church on market, residents worried about UNESCO World Heritage bid

The Moonta Mines Uniting Church is an important part of the history of this South Australian town, but some residents fear its future is now at stake after being put on the market.

The church was built in 1865 by members of the Baptist community who had migrated from Cornwall to mine copper.

Among them were the great-great-grandparents of Liz Coole, president of the Yorke Peninsula Branch of the South Australian Cornish Association.

“Life back then was so simple and hard, and all they had was their religion, their church, their families and their work,” Ms Coole said.

“It’s very important to Moonta to keep that.”

The property is owned by the Uniting Church, which has decided to sell it, citing a decision to close by the local congregation.

Ms Coole is worried about how the heritage status of the area will be affected by losing access to a piece of local history.

“I know there’s a lot of people upset that it has been put up for sale,” she said.

A town of historic renown

A coloured photo shows a bride in white and groomsmen in blue, bridesmaid in pink frothy dresses at the alter of an old church.
The wedding of Stephen Stock and Patricia “Anne” Inglis in 1985 at the church.(Supplied: Matthew Stock)

The Moonta branch of the National Trust of South Australia administers an historic school museum, railway station, post office and miner’s cottage. 

Branch chairman Stephen Stock is hoping to add the church where he was married to that list.

“The National Trust has funds to look after this building, whereas with a private person, who knows what could happen?”

Community rallies for shared space

A petition to keep the church open to the public has been signed more than 1,500 times. 

It was started by Mr Stock’s son Matthew, president of Moonta and District Progress Association.

“Small towns, we’re all pretty connected, especially with such public buildings,” Matthew said.

“They had a service there for ANZAC Day, which my husband and I attended, and it was very lovely with the organ going.

Organ pipes dominate  a building with wooden pews, three Australian flags in front, a man in uniform and people sitting.
Matthew says he and his husband attended this year’s Anzac Day service at the historic church.(Supplied: Matthew Stock)

World heritage bid in the works

The Cornish mining sites of Moonta and Burra in the northern Mount Lofty Ranges were listed on the National Heritage register in 2017.

Copper Coast Council chief Russell Peate said a joint bid with the Regional Council of Goyder for UNESCO World Heritage would piggyback on Cornwell’s listing in 2006.

“It will take some years to achieve, Goyder Council is the lead on it and we look forward to the day when both Moonta and Burra will be world heritage listed,” Russell said.

“The council is very well aware of the church’s heritage importance, both to Moonta and the region. 

“We continue to work closely with a range of organisations, including the National Trust and Progress Association in terms of how we might progress an EOI.”

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