Miners' Dugouts

Useful Information

Location: Burra. 170 km northeast of Adelaide. East of the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs, off the Barrier Highway to Broken Hill and Sydney.
Open: All year daily 9-17. Closed Christmas Day. The key is part of the Burra Heritage Passport can be obtained from the Burra Tourist Office. [2004]
Fee: Miners' Dugouts only: Adults AUD 5.
Burra Heritage Passport: Adults AUD 15, Concession AUD 11.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: none
Guided tours: self guided
Address: Miner's Dugouts, Blyth Street, Creek Bed, Burra, South Australia, 5417.
Burra Tourist Office, Market Square, Burra. S.A., Tel: +61-8-8892-2154, Fax: +61-8-8892-2555. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1845 first dugouts excavated.
1851 2000 people lived in these dugouts.
1851 floods devastated the dugouts.
1860 dugouts deserted.


Dugouts - the Australian word for cave houses - were used all over Australia and are used until today. Especially in the aride climates, where the temperature is very hot during day and very cold during the night, the underground with its constant temperature is a nice place to live. Often temperature of the underground, which equals the average outside temperature, is a little above 20 °C, which is a pretty comfortable temperature.

At Burra there are some important reasons why dugouts became so important. First there are layers of rather soft rocks, which are excavated rather easily, making the construction of a dugout much easier than the construction of a house. And then the inhabitants were miners, used to digging adits. But there are also some good reasons why the cave houses were not always a good idea. The dugout were built along a dry creek, and most of them were destroyed when the creek was flooded in 1851. The mines had built houses for their workers, so many moved into those houses, but some still preferred to live in the dugouts for free. So the mining companies refused to employ workers who lived in the dugouts.

There were 600 dugouts which spread for 5 km up and down the creek. This row of dugouts was called Creek Street. All in all up to 2,000 people, miners and their families, lived in these dugouts. Two dwellings survived until today and can be visited. Then there are the Paxton Square Cottages - built by the mining company to lure the miners away from the dugouts.