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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
Location in South Australia
Population 13,799 (2018)
Established 1852
Postcode(s) 5700
  • 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
Federal Division(s) Grey
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. 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. Other major industries included, up until the mid-2010s, electricity generation. At June 2018, the estimated urban population was 13,799, having declined at an average annual rate of -0.53% over the preceding five years.


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 following suburbs laid out from east to west - Port Augusta and Davenport on the eastern side of Spencer Gulf and Port Augusta West on the Eyre Peninsula.


It is a natural harbour, which was founded on 24 May 1852 by Alexander Elder and John Grainger who selected the location for the port. Mr. Grainger was a member of Government from Adelaide. 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 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.

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.


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.


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, 2017 (06)
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 warm desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild and damp.

Climate data for Port Augusta
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 47.9
Average high °C (°F) 34.3
Average low °C (°F) 19.4
Record low °C (°F) 11.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 12.5
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Heritage listings

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

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


Electricity generation

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

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.

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.

In 2016, a local community group was lobbying for assistance to replace the coal-fired plants with a solar thermal power station. 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.

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. 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.


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". 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.


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.

See also

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