Unicorn Brewery Cellars

Useful Information

Location: Burra SA 5417.
(-33.679678, 138.938729)
Open: All year daily 9-17.
Fee: Adults AUD 30, School Pupils (16-) AUD 15, Children (0-15) free, Seniors AUD 25.
Dimension: Ar=2,000 m².
Guided tours:  
Address: Unicorn Brewery Cellars, Bridge Terrace, Burra, South Australia, 5417, Tel: +61-1300-775-540, Tel: +61-8-8892-2154.
Burra & Goyder Visitor Information Centre, 2 Market Square, Burra SA 5417, Tel: +61-8-8892-2154. E-mail:
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.


1873 brewery built.
1902 licensing laws introduced, brewery closed.
1911 buildings demolished.
1913 Brewery Cottage converted into a residence.
1972 cellars opened to the public.
24-JUL-1980 declared a State Heritage Site.
1987 cellars were acquired by the District Council of Burra Burra.
1988 Brewery Cottage bought by Josephine or Vincent Burke.
1989 cellars reopened.


The Unicorn Brewery was built in 1873, with offices, cooper's workshop, malting tower, steam engine and boiler. Huge underground storage tunnels and cellars were excavated to store the beer. This brewery supplied beer for Burra and along the railway line to Broken Hill. The brewer William Banks and his financial backers were counting on the railroad, which made the delivery of machinery and barley much easier, and the transport of bottled and casked beer also. In 1872 the northern areas were opened for agriculture, each new township soon had a hotel or at least a pub, and so the market grew. The new machinery of the brewery and the extensive cellars made the brewery more effective than the others and by 1875 Unicorn was the sole brewery in Burra.

William Banks died in 1878 and the brewery was taken over by an Adelaide Company, and run by the Lockyer family. The Burra Burra Mine closed in 1877, but soon the Silverton and Broken Hill mines were opened and the beer was sold to Broken Hill. The brewery closed in 1902, when licensing laws were introduced, but this was just the last drop.

Later, in 1911, most of the buildings were demolished for their stone. The South Australian Education Department acquired a part of the property for a school building and used the stone for its construction. Only the manager's residence and the cellars remain unchanged. And there are the remains of the walls of the brewery block.

The cellars are 600 m long in total. There are several parallel tunnels, 5 m wide and 4.5 m high, which form a square. The walls are made of natural stone, with barrel vaults and earth flooring. There is also a so-called cold room.

As far as we understand this site actually has no open hours, it is locked. The Burra & Goyder Visitor Information Centre in cooperation with The National Trust of South Australia offers the Burra Heritage Passport. This is actually a key which works with 11 locked sites in and around the city for two days. All the sites are visited self-guided, using this key. It includes a book describing 46 historic sites over an 11 km driving trail.