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Cradock is a settlement 320 kilometres north of Adelaide on the RM Williams Way in South Australia. The nearest town with a greater population is Hawker which is approximately 20 km away with a population of around 360. Cradock is in the Flinders Ranges Council area, the state Electoral district of Stuart and the federal Division of Grey. The southern part of the locality is in the electoral district of Stuart and District Council of Orroroo Carrieton.
The town was surveyed during November 1878 and proclaimed on 6 March 1879. The locality's boundaries were gazetted on 25 November 1999 and include the Government Town of Cradock and the sites of the ceased Government Towns of Charlcome and Herbert.
After the South Australian government permitted settlers to go into the semi-arid lands north of Goyder's Line Cradock was established in 1879 on a 'grassy flat' of 'strong red loam', by the Wirreanda Creek. Cradock takes its name from the then Governor of South Africa, Sir John Cradock.
Soon after settlement, a school, police station, two hotels, two blacksmith shops and a saddler were operating in Cradock. The "wheat rush" was followed by the failure of four years of crops which led to an increasing despair and a loss of many of the town’s population.