Port Augusta


Port Augusta
South Australia
Jacaranda Time Port Augusta.jpg
View across Spencer Gulf to Mount Brown
Port Augusta is located in South Australia
Port Augusta
Port Augusta
Coordinates32°29′33″S 137°45′57″E / 32.49250°S 137.76583°E / -32.49250; 137.76583Coordinates: 32°29′33″S 137°45′57″E / 32.49250°S 137.76583°E / -32.49250; 137.76583
Population13,799 (2018)[1]
  • 322 km (200 mi) from Adelaide via Australian National Route A1.svg
  • 470 km (292 mi) from Ceduna via Australian National Route A1.svg
  • 542 km (337 mi) from Coober Pedy via Australian National Route A87.svg
LGA(s)City of Port Augusta
State electorate(s)Stuart[3]
Federal division(s)Grey[4]
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
26.3 °C
79 °F
12.2 °C
54 °F
214.1 mm
8.4 in

Port Augusta is a small city in South Australia.[5] Formerly a seaport, it is now a road traffic and railway junction city mainly located on the east coast of the Spencer Gulf immediately south of the gulf's head and about 322 kilometres (200 mi) north of the state capital, Adelaide. The suburb of Port Augusta West is located on the west side of the gulf on the Eyre Peninsula.[6] Other major industries included, up until the mid-2010s, electricity generation. At June 2018, the estimated urban population was 13,799,[1] having declined at an average annual rate of -0.53% over the preceding five years.[1]


The city consists of an urban area extending along the Augusta and Eyre Highways from the coastal plain on the west side of the Flinders Ranges in the east across Spencer Gulf to Eyre Peninsula in the west. The urban area consists of the suburbs, from east to west, of Port Augusta and Davenport (on the eastern side of Spencer Gulf), and Port Augusta West on the Eyre Peninsula.[7]


Port Augusta is part of the Barngarla Aboriginal country.[8]: 230  Its original Barngarla name is Goordnada.[9]: 78 

It is a natural harbour, which was proclaimed on 24 May 1852 by Alexander Elder (brother of Thomas Elder) and John Grainger, having discovered it while aboard the Government schooner Yatala, captained by Edward Dowsett.[10] The port was named after Augusta Sophia, Lady Young, the wife of the Governor of South Australia, Sir Henry Edward Fox Young. Lady Young was the daughter of Charles Marryat Snr., who had been a slaveholder in the British West Indies.[11][12] Her brother was the Anglican minister Dean of Adelaide Charles Marryat.

Flora and fauna

Marine species include resident species and migrating visitors. Occasional sightings are made of whales, sunfish, swordfish and turtles.[13][14][15][16]


According to the 2016 Census, the population of the Port Augusta census area was 12,896 people, making it the third largest urban area after Whyalla and Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula. 49.3% of the population were female, 83.7% are Australian born and 19.2% were Aboriginal.[17]

The most popular industries for employment were Technicians and Trades Workers (16%), Community and Personal Service Workers (15.4%) and Clerical and Administrative Workers (13.8%), while the unemployment rate is approximately 7%. The median weekly household income is A$789 or more per week, compared with $924 in Adelaide. 17.4% of the population identify themselves as Catholic, while a higher 26.2% identify with no religion at all.[18]


Spencer Gulf is a natural barrier to land transport, so Port Augusta has naturally become the "crossroads of Australia". It is at the junction of major road and rail links.[19]


Port Augusta is located at the eastern end of the Eyre Highway to Perth and at the northern end of the Augusta Highway to Adelaide. It is situated at the southern end of the Stuart Highway to Darwin. Virtually all road traffic across southern Australia passes through Port Augusta and over the Joy Baluch AM Bridge across the top of Spencer Gulf.


Port Augusta railway station
Port Augusta railway station

In 1878, the town became the southern terminus of a proposed North South transcontinental line, headed for Darwin 2,500 km (1,600 mi) away. This 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow gauge railway was later taken over by the Commonwealth in 1910 and later renamed the Central Australia Railway. In 1929, it was extended to its last terminus at Alice Springs.

Between 1913 and 1917, a 2,000 km (1,200 mi) long east–west transcontinental railway (the Trans-Australian Railway) was built from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. This was built to standard gauge as part of a long term plan to harmonise gauges between the mainland states, causing a break-of-gauge at Port Augusta until the standard gauge track was extended to Port Pirie in 1937.

The standard gauge Adelaide-Darwin railway was finally completed in 2003. Port Augusta is a stop on the Indian Pacific transcontinental train service on the Sydney–Perth railway and on The Ghan service between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. One service a week for each train in each direction serve the station.

In the 1990s, the narrow gauge line between Port Augusta and Quorn was re-opened as the Pichi Richi Heritage Railway.


Port Augusta is served by Port Augusta Airport. Sharp Airlines used to connect the city to Adelaide twice daily, however this service ceased to operate on 31 May 2017.


Port Augusta has a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh);[20][21] however, some authors define it as semi-arid steppe climate (BSk).[22][23] In terms of vegetation the same is given as desert, although counterintuitively the city maintains with governmental aid with some plants adapted to aridity.[24] Considered desert also by the city hall.[25] Summers are very hot and dry, while winters are damp with generally mild days and cool nights.[23] A record high temperature of 49.5 °C was recorded on 24 January 2019.[26]

Climate data for Port Augusta Airport, Port Augusta West
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 49.5
Average high °C (°F) 34.3
Average low °C (°F) 19.5
Record low °C (°F) 11.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 12.3
Average rainy days 3.4 2.8 3.5 4.1 7.6 11.2 10.9 8.2 5.7 5.2 5.4 4.7 72.7
Source 1: Bureau of Meteorology[27]
Source 2: Bureau of Meteorology[28]


Electricity generation

From the mid-1920s, the town was supplied with direct current electricity, which changed to alternating current in 1948.[29][30][31]

Electricity was generated at the Playford B (240 MW) and Northern power stations (520 MW) from brown coal mined at Leigh Creek, 250 km to the north. The only coal-fired electricity generating plants in South Australia, in 2009 they produced 33% of the state's electricity, but over 50% of the state's CO2 emissions from electricity generation.[32]

Playford B has not been operational since 2012. In October 2015, Alinta Energy announced the permanent closure of both Northern and Playford B in early 2016, following which the Northern Power Station went offline on 9 May 2016.[33][34]

In 2016, a local community group was lobbying for assistance to replace the coal-fired plants with a solar thermal power station.[35] The premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill announced on 14 August 2017 that construction would commence in 2018 and was expected to be completed in 2020. The Aurora Solar Thermal Power Project is expected to cost A$650M to build, including a A$110M loan from the Federal Government, and deliver 150MW of electricity. SolarReserve has a contract to supply all of the electricity required by the state government's offices from this power project.[36]

Arid-zone horticulture

Separately, Sundrop Farms has a combined solar power tower, greenhouse and desalination plant which is used to produce tomatoes near the old power station site.[37] It opened in October 2016 and produces 39MW of thermal energy from over 23 000 mirrors and a 127 metres (417 ft) tower, used for heating, electricity, and desalination to irrigate tomatoes in greenhouses. Sundrop has a 10-year contract to supply Coles Supermarkets with at least 15,000 tonnes of truss tomatoes per year.[38]


Port Augusta has been able to capitalise on the growing eco-tourism industry due to its proximity to the Flinders Ranges. The Pichi Richi Railway is a major drawcard, connecting Port Augusta to Quorn via the Pichi Richi Pass.

Within Port Augusta is the City of Port Augusta's Wadlata Outback Centre, providing tourists with an introduction to life in the Australian outback. The centre recorded over 500,000 visitors in 2006. North of the town, on the Stuart Highway, is the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, a unique and award-winning garden, opened in 1996, which "showcases a diverse collection of arid zone habitats in a picturesque setting of more than 250 hectares".[39] The gardens have a cafe/restaurant with views across the saltbush plains to the escarpment of the Flinders Ranges. The PACC annual report shows more than 100,000 people visited the gardens in 2006.

Southwest of town is the El-Alamein army base.

Proposed multi-commodity port

In February 2019, the site of the former Playford power stations was sold by Alinta Energy to Cu-River Mining as a prospective port development site. The company intends to construct a transshipment facility suitable for the export of iron ore, wheat and other commodities.[40]


The major publication of the town is The Transcontinental, a weekly newspaper that was first issued in October 1914, and whose office is located on Commercial Road. In 1971, a brief experiment, known as the Northern Observer (7 July – 30 August 1971), occurred when The Transcontinental and The Recorder from Port Pirie were published under a combined title in Port Pirie.[41]

Historically, the town also published the Dispatch (1877–1916), which, as was common at the time, evolved through a series of name changes: Port Augusta Dispatch (18 August 1877 – 6 August 1880);[42] Port Augusta Dispatch and Flinders' Advertiser (13 August 1880 – 17 October 1884); Port Augusta Dispatch (20 October 1884 – 16 March 1885); and, Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (18 March 1885 – 21 April 1916). For a short period, due to the short-lived discovery of gold at Teetulpa, a sister publication Teetulpa News and Golden Age (1886–1887) was also printed by the Dispatch.[43]

Another publication. the Port Augusta and Stirling Illustrated News (1901) was also printed briefly in the town by James Taylor, but was stopped so he could focus on his printing business.[44]


There are six public primary schools:

  • Augusta Park Primary School,
  • Carlton R-9 School,
  • Flinders View Primary School,
  • Port Augusta West Primary School,
  • Stirling North Primary School and
  • Willsden Primary School.

There is one secondary school, Port Augusta Secondary School, located on Stirling Road. There is one private school for reception to year 12 students called Caritas College.

Port Augusta also has:

  • Port Augusta Special School,
  • OAC:Port Augusta School of the Air
  • The University of Adelaide and
  • TAFE (tertiary technical college), Port Augusta Campus.


State and federal

2006 state election[45]
  Labor 62.3%
  Liberal 30.7%
  Family First 3.0%
  Greens 2.3%
  Democrats 1.3%
  Independent 0.3%
2007 federal election[46]
  Labor 53.99%
  Liberal 31.4%
  Family First 4.47%
  Greens 3.86%
  National 3.32%
  Independent 1.69%
  Democrats 1.27%

Port Augusta is part of the state electoral district of Stuart which has been held since 2010 by Liberal MP Dan van Holst Pellekaan. The seat is held by a margin of 1%. In federal politics, the city is part of the division of Grey, and has been represented by Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey since 2007. Grey is held with a margin of 8.86% and is considered safe-liberal. The results shown are from the largest polling station in Port Augusta – which is located at Port Augusta TAFE college.


Port Augusta is in the City of Port Augusta local government area. The City of Port Augusta is believed to have had the longest serving mayor in Australia, Joy Baluch, who died after 30 years of service on 14 May 2013.[citation needed][47] The council is based at the Port Augusta Civic Centre; prior to 1983, it operated out of the now-disused Port Augusta Town Hall.

Heritage listings

Port Augusta has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

  • Beauchamp Lane: Port Augusta Waterworks[48]
  • Beauchamp Lane: Beatton Memorial Drinking Fountain[49]
  • Beauchamp Lane: Gladstone Square Bandstand[50]
  • 9 Church Street: St Augustine's Anglican Church, Port Augusta[51]
  • Commercial Road: Old Port Augusta railway station[52]
  • 52 Commercial Road: Port Augusta Institute[53]
  • 54 Commercial Road: Port Augusta Town Hall[54]
  • 34 Flinders Terrace: Port Augusta School of the Air[55]
  • 1 Jervois Street: Port Augusta Courthouse[56]
  • Stirling Street: Port Augusta railway station[57]
  • off Tassie Street: Port Augusta Wharf[58]
  • 12 Tassie Street: Bank of South Australia, Port Augusta[59]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18: Population Estimates by Significant Urban Area, 2008 to 2018". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2018.
  2. ^ Australia Post – Postcode: Port Augusta, SA (26 June 2008)
  3. ^ "District of Stuart Background Profile". ELECTORAL COMMISSION SA. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Federal electoral division of Grey, boundary gazetted 16 December 2011" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  5. ^ Cat. No. 3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics. Accessed 10 August 2012.
  6. ^ Boating Industry Association of South Australia (BIA); South Australia. Department for Environment and Heritage (2005), South Australia's waters an atlas & guide, Boating Industry Association of South Australia, p. 209, ISBN 978-1-86254-680-6
  7. ^ "Port Augusta Structure Plan: A section of the Far North Region Plan" (PDF). Department of Planning and Local Government. 2010. p. 8. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  8. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2020), Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond, Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199812790 / ISBN 9780199812776
  9. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad and the Barngarla (2019), Barngarlidhi Manoo (Speaking Barngarla Together), Barngarla Language Advisory Committee. (Barngarlidhi Manoo – Part II)
  10. ^ "SA Memory: Port Augusta". State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  11. ^ Coventry, CJ (2019). "Links in the Chain: British slavery, Victoria and South Australia". Before/Now. 1 (1). doi:10.17613/d8ht-p058.
  12. ^ "Charles Marryat". Legacies of British Slave-ownership database. University College London. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  13. ^ "BABY TURTLE CAUGHT AT PORT AUGUSTA". Port Lincoln Times (SA : 1927 - 1954). 19 November 1942. p. 4. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  14. ^ "PORT AUGUSTA, June 6". South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1868 - 1881). 13 June 1868. p. 7. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  15. ^ "PORT AUGUSTA, FEBRUARY 4". South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889). 12 February 1870. p. 3. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  16. ^ "PORT AUGUSTA, SEP. 15". Bunyip (Gawler, SA : 1863 - 1954). 17 September 1880. p. 3. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  17. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Port Augusta". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 21 March 2020. Edit this at Wikidata
  18. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Port Augusta (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  19. ^ "Attractions". Port Augusta City Council. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  20. ^ Specht, R. L.; Rundel, P. W.; Westman, W. E.; Catling, P. C.; Majer, J. D.; Greenslade, P. (6 December 2012). Mediterranean-type Ecosystems: A data source book. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 98. ISBN 978-94-009-3099-5.
  21. ^ "Port Augusta climate: Average Temperature, weather by month, Port Augusta weather averages - Climate-Data.org". en.climate-data.org. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  22. ^ Rickard, Simon (2011). The New Ornamental Garden. Csiro Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-643-09596-0.
  23. ^ a b "Port Augusta, South Australia Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Bush garden battling a crippling cash drought for desert garden". www.adelaidenow.com.au. 21 June 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  26. ^ Adelaide now hottest capital city on record as temperatures soar throughout SA ABC News, 24 January 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  27. ^ "Port Augusta Aero". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  28. ^ "Port Augusta, South Australia December 2019 Daily Weather Observations". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  29. ^ "ELECTRIC LIGHT FOR PORT AUGUSTA". Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931). 30 March 1923. p. 8. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  30. ^ "Port Augusta Proceeding With Power Changeover". Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954). 8 July 1948. p. 9. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  31. ^ "Advertising". Transcontinental (Port Augusta, SA : 1914 - 1954). 2 April 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  32. ^ The Climate Group Greenhouse Indicator Series: Electricity Generation Report 2009
  33. ^ SA's coal era ends, but what's next? InDaily, 9 May 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  34. ^ End of an era: final day of coal-fired power generation in Port Augusta ABC News, 9 May 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  35. ^ Michael Slezak (23 March 2016). "Port Augusta 'busting a gut' to reinvent itself as a solar city when coal-fired power is switched off". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  36. ^ "Solar thermal power plant announced for Port Augusta 'biggest of its kind in the world'". ABC News. 14 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  37. ^ Fairfax Regional Media (24 March 2016). "Solar tower reaches new heights". The Transcontinental. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  38. ^ Staight, Kerry (2 October 2016). "Sundrop Farms pioneering solar-powered greenhouse to grow food without fresh water". Landline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  39. ^ "About the Garden". Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden. Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden. 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  40. ^ Candice Prosser (1 February 2019). "Shipping to return to Port Augusta with new port project". ABC News. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  41. ^ Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: M-N". guides.slsa.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  42. ^ "Port Augusta Dispatch (SA : 1877 – 1880)". Trove. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  43. ^ Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: T-Z". guides.slsa.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  44. ^ Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: O-R". guides.slsa.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  45. ^ Port Augusta West Polling Booth Archived 15 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, District of Stuart, House of Assembly Division First Preferences, 2006 State Election. Retrieved on 26 June 2008.
  46. ^ Port Augusta East Polling Booth, Division of Grey, House of Representatives Division First Preferences, 2007 Federal Election. Retrieved on 26 June 2008.
  47. ^ Outspoken Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch dies after breast cancer battle adelaidenow (News Ltd.) Accessed 17 May 2013.
  48. ^ "Former Port Augusta Waterworks workshop, storeroom, stables and courtyard". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  49. ^ "Beatton Memorial Drinking Fountain, Gladstone Square". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  50. ^ "Gladstone Square Bandstand". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  51. ^ "St Augustine's Anglican Church". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  52. ^ "Curdnatta Art Gallery (former first Port Augusta Railway Station)". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  53. ^ "Port Augusta Institute". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  54. ^ "Port Augusta Town Hall". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  55. ^ "Former Port Augusta School of the Air". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  56. ^ "Port Augusta Courthouse". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  57. ^ "Second Port Augusta Railway Station". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  58. ^ "Port Augusta Wharf". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  59. ^ "Seaview House (former Bank of South Australia Port Augusta Branch)". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  60. ^ "America's Best, Britain's Finest: A Survey of Mixed Movies" – Google Books, John Howard Reid, pub. Lulu.com, March 2006. ISBN 9781411678774, p. 241[self-published source]

External links

  • Big Stories, Small Towns – Online documentary featuring video, photos, digital stories and archival film from Port Augusta