Located 540 km north of Adelaide, Beltana is one of the truly remarkable outback communities in South Australia. Beltana is a state heritage listed township located on the banks of the Warioota Creek that continues to hold deep cultural connections for the Adnyamathanha people. The township of Beltana had its beginnings in 1870 when the route for the Overland Telegraph was surveyed from Port Augusta to Darwin and copper ore was discovered at Sliding Rock, 20 km east of the settlement.
The township was surveyed in 1873 and the railway terminated there for a time before it was pushed on to Marree. The town grew to boast a population of 390 with 70 houses by 1883. Changing patterns of employment, transportation and resource extraction and the creation of Leigh Creek has caused population changes over time.
To the west the Ediacara silver-lead mine had a short lived boom around 1890 and many small copper mines were worked around the township of Beltana itself. In 1946, 650 million year old fossils, the oldest known fossils of multi-cellular animals in the world, were discovered at Ediacara. The area was declared a Fossil Reserve in 1958 and was included on the National Heritage List on 11 January 2007.
Besides providing support and sustenance to outback people, the township also catered to their spiritual and basic medical needs. In 1894 a Presbyterian church and manse were established and this became the base for the Smith of Dunesk Mission supported by the Church of Scotland. The Reverend John Flynn, widely recognised for his role in the establishment of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, was based in Beltana for a time in 1911. The first pedal wireless experiments occurred at Beltana.
The whole of the Beltana Township is heritage listed and has strict development controls. Following the re-alignment of the main road in 1983 there are no services in the township itself however there is a permanent resident population of 35 and an active community of 50 people. The community is actively engaged in restoring the township including the two hotels, the police station, the school and the church. The Beltana Progress Association has an active 10 year strategic plan.
A WIFI Hotspot connects visitors to the local website www.beltana.org.au and interpretative signage is in place for visitors to appreciate the history. Visitors are asked to keep to the roads and respect that all property in the town is privately owned.