Destination – Leigh Creek, Flinders Ranges
The township of Leigh Creek is located 567km North of Adelaide, approximately a 6 hour drive from the CBD. Situated on the edge of the Northern Flinders Ranges, Leigh Creek is the perfect destination for visitors seeking a variety of activities and experiences!
It has been developed as a new township because the original settlement at Leigh Creek, located 13 km north of the present site, happened to be under the coal seam. In 1977 the new town site was chosen and by 1980 the first houses were occupied. The entire old town was auctioned off. Such is the economic imperative which drives this community.
It is a modern township with a series of neat modern roads and small, attractive plots of land on which standard modern houses had been built to house the workers and their families who previously provided the labour force for the huge Leigh Creek open cut coal mine which exists 22 km north of the town.
The Leigh Creek area was first settled by Harry Leigh (after whom the town and creek are named) in 1856. Coal was discovered in 1888 and small quantities were mined, but it wasn't until the 1943 that the fields were commercially exploited. By 1986 100 million cubic metres of overburden had been removed from the mine site.
The reasons for the late development of the mines are twofold. Early mining was thwarted by mine shafts being filled with water which made mining nearly impossible. The development in 1943 was a result of South Australia's total dependence on New South Wales for its coal supply. Thomas Playford, the SA Premier at the time, argued that the state needed to be self-supporting in energy. Most of the coal now goes to Port Augusta where it is used to fuel the power station.
The Leigh Creek Outback Resort, formally the Leigh Creek Tavern, is now under management by 1834 Hotels and is being developed into an iconic regional tourism location.