Melrose is the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges. It is in the shadow of Mount Remarkable, 265 km north of Adelaide. The first European explorer in the area was Edward John Eyre in 1840, closely followed by settlers coming to farm the area. Copper was discovered and mining started in 1846, but it was not economic, and ceased in 1851. The mine was opened again three more times, the latest closure was in 1917.
Today, Melrose is the base for visitors to the Mount Remarkable National Park and centre for the local farmers.
When it was opened in 1848, the police station in Melrose was the base of the largest police district in the world. A constable, two troopers and an Aboriginal tracker were responsible for an area extending to the Timor Sea.
The first explorer into the area was Edward John Eyre who discovered, and named, Mount Remarkable (960 metres) during his epic journey into northern South Australia in 1839-40. on 27 June 1840 Eyre wrote in his journal: ‘From our present encampment a very high and pointed hill was visible to the NNW. From the lofty way in which it towered above the surrounding hills I named it Mount Remarkable.’
When Melrose was eventually surveyed it was in a country that was already well known and this undoubtedly helped to get the remote township off to a good start. As far as can be determined the town was named after George Melrose. The story that Melrose used to tell was that he had looked after a sick surveyor who promised that the next town he would name the next town he surveyed after his benefactor. Another version asserts that there were a family named Campbell who settled near Mount Remarkable in the 1840s and named their camp after Melrose in Scotland.