Port Wakefield, South Australia facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsPort Wakefield
Uniting Church at Port Wakefield
|Population||560 (2016 census)|
|Time zone||ACST (UTC+9:30)|
|• Summer (DST)||ACST (UTC+10:30)|
|Location||99 km (62 mi) North West of Adelaide city centre via|
|LGA(s)||Wakefield Regional Council|
Port Wakefield (formerly Port Henry) is a town at the mouth of the River Wakefield, at the head of the Gulf St Vincent in South Australia. It was the first government town to be established north of the state capital, Adelaide. Port Wakefield is situated 98.7 kilometres (61.3 miles) from the Adelaide city centre on the Port Wakefield Highway section of the A1 National Highway.
Port Wakefield is a major stop on the Adelaide – Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide – Port Augusta road routes. Travellers between Adelaide and any of the Flinders Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula or the Nullarbor Plain will likely travel through Port Wakefield. Due to its strategic location, Port Wakefield is known for its roadhouses and trucking stops. Just north of the township there is a major forked intersection where the Yorke Peninsula traffic diverges west onto the Copper Coast Highway from the main Augusta Highway. The intersection is notorious for road accidents and traffic delays, especially at the end of holidays and long weekends.
The town was originally named Port Henry by William Hill. The name of the town was, around 1849, changed to Port Wakefield, after the Wakefield River.
The Port and the Railway
In 1848, the Patent Copper Company agreed to build and operate a smelter at Burra. Seeking to reduce cartage costs, a track was surveyed to its port established at the mouth of the River Wakefield. By securing leases of the appropriate Crown Land, the company obtained a monopoly of the port. The Government declared the track the Great Western Road. The wharf was constructed along the bank of the river and cargo was transferred between the wharf and ships at anchor in the Gulf on lighters.
With the opening of the railway from Adelaide to Gawler in 1857, the Copper Company's traffic came to a sudden end, leaving only pastoral produce to flow to the port. Mixed farming was established on lands opening up by the Government along the River in the mid-1860s and this called for improvement in transport to the Port.
William Hanson, Manager for Railways, selected a route for a horse-drawn tramway terminating at Hoyles Plains, later renamed Hoyleton. The enabling Act provided for a tramway of 28 miles 41 chains (45.9 km) in length to a gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in), the first line in South Australia built to that gauge. Subsequently, the Government agreed that the line should be operated by a private body. The successful tenderer was one Paul Badcock who opened the line to traffic on 4 January 1870. Horses were worked in three relays between the stations on the route.
The choice of gauge was influenced by the argument that costs varied with the cube of the gauge. As this railway had its own port, it was not expected to link up with any broad gauge railways which avoided of course any break of gauge problems.
Following a surrender of the lease, the line was taken over by the Government at the end of 1870.
On 1 March 1876 the line was extended from Hoyleton to Blyth. Steam locomotives were subsequently obtained and, by August, 1876, the entire line was being worked by steam power. The line was extended at the other end from Port Wakefield to Kadina on 9 October 1878.
In 1927, these railways, and the remainder of the Western system that grew from them, were converted to the broad 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) gauge.
Port Wakefield is a major stop on the Adelaide – Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide – Port Augusta road routes. Just north of the township there is a major forked intersection where the Yorke Peninsula traffic diverges west onto the Copper Coast Highway from the main Augusta Highway. The intersection is notorious for road accidents and traffic delays, especially at the end of holidays and long weekends.
Located thus, Port Wakefield is known mostly for its roadhouses and trucking stops, including Shell, United, Tucker Time and BP. Travellers between Adelaide and any of the Flinders Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula or the Nullarbor Plain will likely travel through Port Wakefield.
Port Wakefield has several adjacent beaches and caravan parks. Accommodation is available at several places in town, including the Port Wakefield Motel (located just off the highway) and the Port Wakefield Caravan Park.
Port Wakefield, South Australia Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.