The Moonta Mines Museum building, formerly known as the Moonta Mines Public School, was the seventh of the nine 800 pupil schools constructed in South Australia during the intensive period 1876 – 1880 and is among the earliest to have been constructed after the passing of the 1875 Education Act. Opened in 1878, this site continues to be historically significant to the people of South Australia as it played a pivotal role in fostering the growth of the Moonta Mines community.

The existing Statement of Cultural Significance reads, “The former Moonta Mines Public School complex (main building, school residence, shelter shed, toilet block and boundary walls) is significant as a relatively complete example of the largest type of school erected during the formative years of public education in South Australia.  The school building is one of the best and least altered examples of the contemporary schools designed by EJ Woods.  The building has a unique and one of the most successful plans.  The school is of historic importance due to its intimate association with the lives of the largely vanished Moonta Mines community, the size and importance of which is reflected in the size of the building.  This building forms an important and appropriate physical landmark of the Moonta Mines National Heritage Area”.

At its peak the school had 1059 students attending, making it the largest school outside of the Adelaide metropolitan area, and one of the few to operate three separate departments (boys, girls, infants).  During the nineteenth century the school remained one of the largest in the colony and was a centre for the large Moonta Mines community, being the source of the children’s education for ninety years.

The building was designed on a sophisticated plan which was unique only to Moonta Mines. The building had a central entry opening into a common hall which accessed each of the separate girls’ and boys’ schools.  Its impressive size and substantial construction are perhaps the most evocative indication of what had been a large and significant community.  Woods’ so-called “diluted “gothic” style used for these early buildings was adapted and applied to all subsequent schools during the next thirty years.

Today, the site is managed and maintained by the National Trust’s dedicated Moonta Branch, who continue to teach people about the historical importance that the Moonta Mines community had on the development of South Australia through their museum and guided tours.

This appeal will go towards urgent conservation and preservation works:

  1. Masonry repairs to mortar cracking on parapets, eroded bricks and lime mortar
  2. Repointing to chimneys
  3. Painting to timber elements
  4. Gutter and down pipe upgrades

We ask that you please consider helping us preserve this significant piece of South Australia’s education history.

Thank you in anticipation.