Port Augusta - South Australia
About Port Augusta
Port Augusta is the fifth most populous city in South Australia after Adelaide, Mount Gambier, Whyalla and Murray Bridge. It is a seaport and railway junction city located on the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and is located at the head of the Spencer Gulf, 322 km north of the state capital.
It is a natural harbour which was settled on 24 May 1852 by Alexander Elder and John Grainger. The port was named after Augusta Sophia, Lady Young, the wife of the Governor of South Australia, Sir Henry Edward Fox Young.
According to the 2006 Census the population of the Port Augusta census area was 13,257 people, making it the second largest urban area after Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula. 50.2% of the population were female, 85.2% are Australian born, over 88.6% of residents are Australian citizens and 17.3% were Aboriginal.
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 approx. 7%. The median weekly household income is AUD$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.
In 1878, the town became the southern terminus of a proposed North South transcontinental line, headed for Darwin 2,500 km 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, Northern Territory.
Between 1913 and 1917, a 2,000 km 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 it 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 trans-continental train service on the Sydney to Perth railway and on the Ghan service between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. There are two services a week for each train in each direction.
In the 1990s the narrow gauge line between Port Augusta and Quorn was re-opened as the Pichi Richi heritage Railway.
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 the town of Quorn through 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 town, on the Stuart Highway, are the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden. The gardens have a cafe/restaurant with views across the saltbush plains to the escarpment of the Flinders Ranges.
South-west of town, on the El-Alamein army base, is the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre.