'One and All?': Retrieving South Australia's forgotten Labor history

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In 2017 the Cornish copper-mining landscapes of South Australia, comprising Burra in the State’s mid-North and Moonta Mines on northern Yorke Peninsula, were awarded the coveted National Heritage Listing by the Commonwealth government, a prelude to a projected application for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The distinctive identity of these localities had been moulded largely by the extensive nineteenth-century immigration of miners and their families from Cornwall. Critical to this essentially working-class identity as it developed in its South Australian context was the emergence of a vibrant trade union and later Labor Party movement. This led to the growth of the United Labor Party in South Australia, furnishing the Premier of the State’s (and the world’s) first majority Labor government, and, among other things, notably creating a vital space for female activism in support of industrial action in the mines. However, despite the formal recognition of these communities’ national and international significance, their significant role in Labor movement in South Australia is all but invisible, not least in terms of its representation in the State’s museums. Even the National Trust Museum at Moonta Mines, ostensibly dedicated to the locality’s mining heritage, has little to say about the trade unionists and the early Labor movement. The acquisition of National Listing, therefore, offers an important opportunity to redress this omission, both locally and nationally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMuseums and the Working Class
EditorsAdele Chynoweth
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-02951-9
ISBN (Print) 978-0-367-46551-3 , 978-0-367-46547-6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2021


  • Museums
  • Cornish copper-mining
  • working-class identity
  • Labor movements


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