Brukunga is a small town in the Adelaide Hills, located approximately 40 km east of Adelaide and 4 km north of the town of Nairne. Its name, derived from Barrukungga in the local Aboriginal language, means ‘place of fire stone’[2] or the ‘place of hidden fire’,[3] and is associated with the Kaurna ancestral being Tjilbruke.[3]

At the 2006 census, Brukunga had a population of 579.[1]

Between 1955 and 31 May 1972, iron sulphides (mainly as the mineral pyrite) were mined at the Nairne Pyrite Mine—later renamed as the Brukunga Mine—immediately west of the town, and transported to Port Adelaide for the production of sulphuric acid and superphosphate fertiliser.[4] Oxidation of pyrite in waste dumps and the exposed quarry face led to formation of acid mine drainage containing high levels of cadmium and other heavy metals into the adjacent creek, triggering health warnings by the Environment Protection Agency.[5] Since 1980, rehabilitation of the mine site has occurred, including a lime neutralisation plant to treat acid water before it enters the Dawesley Creek,[6] but concerns over water quality remain.[7]

Revegetation of the site has also progressively occurred since 1988.

The town is also the location of the Country Fire Service training centre.


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). “Brukunga (State Suburb)”. 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  2. ^ SA State Gazetteer > Placenames online Archived 10 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine Site is a searchable database. Accessed 17 April 2012.
  3. ^ a b City of Holdfast Bay > Tjilbruke Heritage & the Kaurna People Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 17 April 2012.
  4. ^ Armstrong, D. & Cox, R. (2005): The Brukunga Pyrite Mine –South Australia A Review of Developments since Closure in 1972 9th International Mine Water Congress Oviedo, Asturias, Spain. 5–7 September 2005, pp 201-207 Accessed 6 December 2011.
  5. ^ Keane, A. (1998): Health warnings over Hills creek water. The Advertiser, 1 August 1998.
  6. ^ “Brukunga Mine Site”. DMITRE Minerals >…> Former Mines > Brukunga mine site. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  7. ^ Milnes, M. (2012): Mine to stay toxic for years The Advertiser, 7 March 2012. Accessed 17 April 2012.