Weeroona Holiday Camp

From The Recorder (Port Pirie), Thursday 19 December 1918



The construction gang at the holiday camp near Point Lowly, which has not yet been named, now numbers 130. The work is proceeding satisfactorily. The kitchen is nearing completion, and the framework of the dining room is in position.

A gang of men is clearing further ground on the point for the erection of additional tents. All the men comment favourably on the class of tent erected. Each tent has four vents in the ridge, and has a canvas window at each end which can be opened or closed from inside. Some anxiety is felt regarding the arrival of certain equipment, which has been on the road for a fortnight. In its absence it may be necessary to curtail the number that can be taken into the camp at Xmas.

One of the astonishing features of the camp is the difference in climatic conditions there compared with Port Pirie. The difference could not be more marked if a visitor went for a holiday to a spot 300 miles away. On days when Port Pirie is sweltering in heat the camp site is cool and invigorating. The men working there have all noticed that in spite of long hours of work they waken in the morning quite fresh. The atmosphere appears to have a special tonic effect. One of the manifestations of this is a hearty appetite.

A specially enjoyable condition is that every evening a cool southerly comes up the Gulf to the camp, and usually lasts until sunrise.

Through the kindness of Mr James Glasson, a 4-inch telescope, mounted on a fixed tripod, has been placed in position at the camp, and will be available for the amusement and instruction of holiday-makers. With the aid of this telescope the Smelter buildings at Port Pirie can be seen, 18 miles away.

The carrier pigeon post will be brought into service at once, Messrs Chellow and Munn having kindly placed birds at the disposal of the company. Several offers of birds for a loft at the camp have also been received so that eventually there will be a carrier pigeon service both ways.

The company’s second motor boat, the Britannia, is expected from Adelaide this week, and arrangements have been made with the Tug Company for the use of the Uro and Nelcebee to carry the holiday-makers to camp.

Weeroona Holiday Camp 1920sDining pavilion at Weeroona Holiday Camp    1920s

This magnificent building was originally at Correy’s Pleasure Gardens in Sydney. It was transported to Point Lowly after the Gardens closed in 1918.

Source: Nyrstar Port Pirie Collection

From The Barrier Miner (Broken Hill), 9 April 1921

“The big cabaratta that stands prominently behind the promenade acts as a landmark and can be seen from several miles distance. The building, which was purchased by the Broken Hill Associated Smelters, is 207ft. long by 51ft. wide, and was transferred in sections from Parramatta River, Sydney! It is especially suitable to accommodate boys and girls in dormitories there being two divisions, each capable of holding 30 beds. Also there is fully 100ft. of the hall, which can be used for concerts, etc. A piano is available. Directly in front of the promenade there is a bay hemmed in by a long stretch of land that ends with Point Lowly Lighthouse on the one side and a reef butting out freely 500 yards.”

The pavillion at Correy's Pleasure Gardens in Sydney closed in 1918The pavillion at Correy’s Pleasure Gardens in Sydney closed in 1918 and relocated to Weeroona Holiday Camp at Point Lowly

From The Advertiser (Adelaide), 30 December 1918



The employees of the Broken Hill Associated Smelters at Port Pirie, who were responsible for the remarkable performance of providing a 10-acre children’s playground in one day, have now another achievement to their credit, for with the aid of the company they have prepared a holiday camp in a remarkably brief space of time.

It was another “rush” job, and the workmen threw themselves into their task with an ardor equal to that which they displayed in connection with the playground. Mr G. Mussen (industrial advisor of the Associated Smelters Proprietary) is again the chief spirit in the movement, although he would probably wish that his name should not be mentioned. The camp is across the gulf, l8 miles from Port Pirie. The first tents were bought from the Defence Department in Adelaide on December 5; by December 24 there was a township in existence where there previously had been only scrub. A water service was prepared with reticulation to various parts of the camp; an electric light plant was installed, and a permanent kitchen and a dining room to accommodate 300 persons are now in use. In addition to the natural facilities for amusement, there have been provided a piano, a phonograph, and a moving picture show.

About 120 paid men were in the construction camp, though there was volunteer labor enough to have done it all had the transportation of the men l8 miles from their homes been too big a proposition. At the weekends gangs of volunteers were taken across, and they vied with   each other in doing the work quickly and well. As in the case of the playground, all were working against time, and they were responsible for some remarkable performances. There is no wharf at the site of the camp, and all supplies had to be landed on the beach. Notwithstanding that disability, the men, to show their earnestness in the undertaking, unloaded a barge of mixed cargo in 10 minutes. As they were working in the water few of them wore clothes, or, at most, a bathing suit or a pair of trousers. It was a remarkable sight to see those naked men working as if their lives depended on it.

The camp is to be called Weeroona, a native word meaning – ‘a resting-place’. It is one of the most remarkable holiday resorts in Australia and is already very well equipped. Early in January an addition will be made by removing the Cabarita pavilion from Correy’s Garden, Sydney, to Weeroona. It is a building 207 ft. long by 51 ft. wide, and will have a 12 ft. verandah, in addition, facing the bay. It will command a seascape which is claimed to be unsurpassed in the Commonwealth. The pavilion will be used as a permanent dining room, and will have a dormitory at each end, one for boys and one for girls. The parents will have the tent to themselves. The tents are of the military type, with floors, and are furnished with two single beds, duchess chest, and washstand, and enamelled toilet ware. The sanitation is on the same line as the Mitcham camp. An incinerator of the beehive oven type has been built, and the whole of the refuse will be burned there daily.

All the employees of the Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary are entitled to a fortnight’s holiday, on full pay, for regular attendance. On getting leave an employee may take his wife and children to Weeroona, the company paying all the expense of transport and equipment. The holidaymakers simply pay the cost of living, which is at a specially low rate. There is a stretch of 60 acres of clean white sand on the beach, and there is good fishing in the bay. Already a Broken Hill organisation has applied for permission to bring 200 holidaymakers to the camp at Easter.

It is this treatment which is winning for the Broken Hill Associated Smelters directorate and management the loyal cooperation of their employees.

Family group at Weeroona Holiday Camp.jpg 1920sFamily group at Weeroona Holiday Camp      1920s

Weeroona Holiday Camp was constructed by B.H.A.S. across the gulf at Point Lowly in December 1918. The camp was intended as a low cost and recuperative holiday destination for smelter workers and their families. In 1928 B.H.A.S. offered the camp to the Port Pirie Town Council who accepted the offer amidst some opposition. It was relocated to Mount Ferguson (now Weeroona Island) where it re-opened in November 1929.

Source: Nyrstar Port Pirie Collection

Do you know anything about the Weeroona Holiday camp?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s