When copper was found here in 1843, a syndicate quickly formed to take up the 20,000 acres the government then required as a minimum for mining leases. The copper deposits fizzled out and the syndicate tried to recoup some of its investment by dividing up the land and selling it freehold (1853). Advertisements described the area as rich and Melrose as a ‘romantic township’ though the township barely existed. Melrose became a centre for the Flinders Ranges settlers for some years. The region’s first police station, a log hut, was built there in 1843, and expanded twice. A stone police station, lock-up and court house complex was built in 1862, and police horses grazed in an 80 acre Police Paddock. Most traffic north went through Melrose from the 1850s until it was isolated by the new railway line to Quorn. The first North Star Hotel (1854) was a log hut. Today’s stone North Star Hotel, built in 1882, is the oldest existing hotel in the Flinders. Melrose telegraph station opened in 1866, connecting the North to national and international news via the Overland Telegraph. Until 1893 the town was kept alive by wheat and beer. Then beer made at the Jacka brewery was the only main industry for 40 years. Jacka Beer was enjoyed through the inland and miners in Broken Hill were good customers. Artists Kenneth Jack, Robert Ingpen and Bill Walls all painted the old brewery building.

Melrose Courthouse Heritage Centre tells the stories of the Nukunu people, of law and order in the north and of the Melrose area generally. It’s one of the best museums in the north.


  • Barker, S, M M McCaskill and B Ward, eds. c.2005 Explore the Flinders Ranges. Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (S.A Branch).
  • Mincham, Hans 1983. The Story of the Flinders Ranges. (3rd ed). Adelaide, Rigby.
  • Nicol, Stuart 1998 Flinders Ranges and the Mid North . Adelaide. Royal Automobile Association of South Australia.
  • South Australian Museum 2008. Mountains of Memory Geotourism Strategy materials.