Woorabinda Hostel (and Campsite) was established by the government in 1968 at Woorabinda Lake near Stirling. It operated as a temporary hostel for boys who were wards of the State and a holiday camp for disadvantaged children and families, including Aboriginal children from Northern South Australia. It later also operated as a respite home for families in need. In 1993 Woorabinda ceased to operate as a Home for children. It was sold to Stirling Council in 1995.
In 1966 the Government purchased 23 acres (9 hectares) of land near Stirling in the Adelaide Hills with the idea of establishing a permanent departmental campsite for children who were wards of the State. This campsite was set on Woorabinda Lake which had been constructed in 1922 by the South Australian Railways Department to supply water to the Aldgate Station for steam trains. In 1968 a small cottage on the site was remodelled in order to make it suitable for use as a temporary hostel for working boys. Boys and staff from the McNally Training Centre completed much of the remodelling work and campsite development. The first children moved into the Woorabinda Hostel at the end of 1968. Mrs E V Johnston, the first superintendent of the home, and her husband were not salaried staff of the Department but were provided with accommodation in the furnished cottage and a subsidy for each of the boys placed under their care.
From 1970, after the erection of camp huts and an ablutions block, children from various institutions run by the Department also attended holiday camps at Woorabinda. This included boys from Brookway Park. Woorabinda was later used as a respite home for families in need and also continued as a holiday camp run by the Department for disadvantaged children, families and community groups. This included many Aboriginal children from the north of the state. Woorabinda was offered for sale to the Stirling Council in July 1993. The Council leased the property in May 1994 and bought it in June 1995.
Sources used to compile this entry: George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005, http://nunku.org.au/resources/.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 11 February 2011, Last modified: 7 November 2017