Cradock is a good example of the rise and fall of a rural service town.

It was started in 1878 during the land rush, north of Goyder’s Line, by farmers who believed that rain would follow the plough.

Local settlers asked the government to survey a township on the travelling stock route which ran through the Adelaide University Reserve at Wirreanda.  The stock route was only 400m wide, but Cradock’s plan was made to fit it.

You can see the surveyed stock route on the western side of the Cradock – Orroroo Road.

Cradock was surveyed along with several other new towns such as Amyton, Carrieton, Chapmanton (also within the stock route), Gordon, Hammond, Johnburgh and Stephenston, and named after a Governor of South Africa Sir John Cradock. (All these names were connected with Governor Jervois. Amy, Carrie, John and Hammond were his children’s names. His brother was called Gordon). The town was officially proclaimed on 5 March 1879.

In town two blacksmiths opened up quickly, the local storekeeper was appointed postmaster and a start was made with the first of two hotels. The Cradock Hotel, locally known in the early days as the Heartbreak Hotel, as a result of the many crop failures, was open for business in 1881. During the relatively quiet time of winter the locals found enough time to play cricket.

The first government school in the district opened in Cradock at the end of 1881. For the first couple of years the school ground was unfenced and mobs of wild northern cattle passing down through the Stock Route caused great excitement and a certain danger to the children from time to time [Mincham 1980:68]


  • Catholic church opened 1883 – the most attractive ever erected in the district was designed by Thomas Burgoyne of Port Augusta.
  • The Wesleyan Methodist community built a weatherboard and iron, the Wesleyan church was used from 1884 till 1925 when it was replaced by a stone church still in use in the 1980s.
  • The Anglican Church built in 1894 of stone, served till 1958. Is now a private residence.

Cradock welcomed a mounted Police Constable in 1882.  The portable iron police cell was replaced in 1885 with a more substantial stone police station. After the exodus of farmers and towns-people during the 1890s, the station was closed in 1901. Between 1929 and 1949 it was used as a school.


  • Flinders Ranges Research –
  • Mincham, Hans 1980. Hawker, Hub of the Flinders. Hawker Centenary Committee. Adelaide.
  • Nicol, Stuart 1998 Flinders Ranges and the Mid North . Adelaide. Royal Automobile Association of South Australia.