Beltana was first surveyed and proclaimed in 1873 although the Beltana Pastoral Station had been operating for more than 10 years prior. The station itself has an interesting past. In 1878 it employed 90 shearers alone and it was one of the first places in Australia to use and breed camels.
South Australia was settled in 1836 and it wasn't long until great inland explorers such as Edward John Eyre and John McDouall Stuart passed through the area. Beltana was the edge of white habitation and was used as a launching pad by other noted explorers Giles, Warburton, and Ross.
With plenty of mining activity in the area and Beltana being chosen as a repeater station for the Overland Telegraph Line the settlements future looked bright. Camels from Beltana Station were used in the construction of the line.
At the turn of the century Beltana had 2 hotels, a brewery, telegraph office, carriage maker and a population of 500. A railway station and maintenance gang ensured the town was the regional hub. With copper, sheep and wool all being freighted from the railhead Beltana was a classic boom town.
The first blow came in the 1920's. The mines began to close and drought affected the prosperity of the stations. In 1956 the railway was realigned and bypassed the town in favour of a new coal field at Leigh Creek. Services like the police station, hospital and school moved on. The final blow came when the main road was diverted eleven kilometres west, essentially killing off the potential to capture the passing motor trade.
Today Beltana is home to around 12 residents. The 4 school kids make an 80km trip to attend the school at Leigh Creek. Electricity was only connected to the town as late as 1980 and if live there you are responsible for sourcing your own water. There is no mobile phone service and internet is available by satellite only. However, the place refuses to die and the pride of the residents is plainly evident. Perhaps the ever increasing motoring tourists will find their way to Beltana and revive the towns fortunes.
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