Moonta is the first of the towns that make up the ‘copper triangle’ Moonta extends to the coast at Port Hughes that now includes recreational water sports. Moonta is very much a heritage town with dozens of buildings carrying heritage listing.
It is thought that the name "Moonta" is derived from Moontera, an (Indigenous) Narungga word meaning 'impenetrable scrub'
British settlers arrived in the Moonta area in the 1840's, as pastoralists, but there was no significant development until the 1860's, primarily because of the lack of water.
Large and rich deposits of copper were discovered at Moonta in 1861 by shepherds from Walter Watson Hughes' sheep farm. This became a prosperous mine, named Wheal Hughes, with other mines soon to follow. The town was laid out in 1863 and a horse drawn tramway to Wallaroo was established in 1863. The mines at Moonta proved to be the richest mines in the whole of South Australia by 1917.