The best place to start your Flinders Ranges adventure!
Beltana Station (incorporating Puttapa Station) is a fully working sheep and cattle station that offers a variety of accommodation, a cafe & restaurant and a range of activities. Taken up in 1854 by John Haimes, it was first surveyed in 1855 by John McDouall Stuart. In 1862 Sir Thomas Elder acquired Beltana through his brother-in-law Robert Barr Smith. Thus starting a historic journey that would last well over 100 years. The station was the starting point for expeditions including one made famous by Ernest Giles in 1875 to Western Australia. Thomas Elder imported some of the first camels to South Australia and Beltana Station became one of the most successful breeding studs and largest depot for camels in Australia.
Camels were the mainstay for transport to remote areas, with expeditions and also building the overland telegraph line in the 1860s. Today Beltana Station (incorporating Puttapa station) is 1876 sq km in area (460,000 acres). Owned by the Ragless family, Beltana has so much history and wild beauty to discover.
The homestead, cottage, shearing shed and men’s quarters all date back to the 1860s, are all made of local stone and still in good order today. Venture out around the station and the Historic Beltana township, the old Ghan Railway line, Copper King paint mine, Puttapa Springs, Sliding Rock, Lake Torrens, old ruins, out stations and much more. Beltana, Puttapa Station and Historic Beltana have also featured in moviessuch as Tracks, Gallipoli, Thousand Skies, Stealth, Rabbit Proof Fence and more
Beltana Station was first taken up by Robert Barr Smith in 1857 when he bought it from John Haimes including its 17,705 sheep and some cattle. Sir Thomas Elder acquired it in 1862 from his brother in-law Robert Barr Smith. It derived its name from an Aboriginal word meaning 'running water'. In the early years, because of its enormous size, many of the local people were either directly or indirectly employed on the station. Jobs such as fencers, boundary riders, bookkeeper, well sinkers, blacksmith, saddler, cook, teamster, dogger, shearer or cameleer were in great and constant demand. In 1878 for instance, ninety shearers were employed at the station. Often sheep from nearby stations were also shorn at Beltana.
Mount Deception Hut
Built in the 1850’s as its own Run (Lease) the hut was built into the Beltana run in the late 1800’s. It was an outstation and post for men overseeing further afield.
During the depression of the 1930’s some men left coastal or farming areas to find work on sheep stations. Station hands camped out away from the station homestead for days in a row; some men camped in the Mount Deception hut. The bindie was so bad that sheep dogs were useless and the men realised they would have to muster and yard Mount Deception on foot. They slept with clothes and sandshoes by the trough and every sheep that came in day or night to have a drink they ran at them via a wing into the yard. The men ran most of the day in the ranges. September to December at another time was spent at Depot, St Ronan’s and Friday huts.
The Station Homestead
By the 1880’s the main homestead was nicknamed “government house” and included additional buildings such as a shearing shed, a men’s hut, an eating house, a kitchen, a cellar, a store, firewood store, a blacksmith’s premise for shoeing horses, mules or donkeys, a cart shed, fowl house, horse yards and a garden if the local bore water was suitable. The materials used for the outbuildings included gum slabs, saplings or brush or thatching for walls or roofing, pug and pine posts and galvanised iron. But as you can see around Beltana Station a lot of stone was used to build these buildings.