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Port Augusta : evolution of a city : building development

In 1854 the buildings in Port Augusta consisted of Elder and Co.'s wooden woolstore, a pub, and a blacksmith's shop/forge made of pine logs (the blacksmith was a man named Kearney).

The pub known as the Port Augusta Hotel was a weatherboard shanty measuring 12 feet 6 inches x 10 feet with an open window onto the street instead of a bar. Mackay built it for George and Thomas Elder but rented it from them and became the publican.

A second hotel, the Dover Castle was licenced in December 1856 by Ebenezer Roberts. This building consisted of corrugated iron and weatherboard.

RJ Anderson in his book Solid town paints a picture of Port Augusta at this time as a rough and ready frontier town.

In 1857 Mr R Russell, who had been one of 26 labourers who built the road through Horrocks Pass in 1854, arrived in Port Augusta on the ship Marion with his daughter Eliza Ann Russell, considered to be the first white female resident of Port Augusta. Eliza undertook housekeeping duties for AD Tassie.

During this time despite R & T Elder building several cottages in the port, dwellings only numbered about 10. During the 1850s Tassie lived in a wooden house thought to be where the Exchange/Fourways Hotel now stands.

The 1860s saw a series of government projects initiated in the area. These included the building of the telegraph station, the post office and the laying of pipes to run water to the Port from Woolundunga Springs in the Flinders Ranges. These works were completed by 1866.

The 1870s through to 1884 heralded a boom for Port Augusta. The telegraph line from Adelaide had been extended in 1865 and in 1870 EM Bagot was contracted to begin work from Port Augusta on the southern section of the Overland Telegraph Line. The Overland Telegraph was completed in 1872 and Port Augusta was incorporated with Thomas McTurk Gibson becoming the first mayor.

In 1877 a company was formed to produce a local newspaper The Port Augusta Dispatch.

Commencement of the building of the Northern railway began in January 1878 and as agriculture was doing particularly well, especially for wheat farmers, the agricultural belt was extended as far as Quorn. To accommodate this wheat boom the railway was diverted from the western plain into the South Flinders by way of the Pichi Richi Pass. This line runs for more than 200 miles inland to Farina.

Through the 1880s Port Augusta experienced a building boom, with the construction of a railway station and the Bignell and Young (later Gordon and Young) complex of buildings including a Bond Store, two storey shop, wool store and residence.

The Bank of Adelaide built a new building in 1881, the Bank of South Australia opened a new building in 1882. A new court house was built in 1884, and a new Customs House was erected of Point Lowly stone in 1885 (now demolished to make way for the Woolworths supermarket). A post and telegraph office were constructed in 1885 and the National Bank built a new two storey stone building in 1886 (located between the Exchange and the Great Northern Hotels).

A World port : Port Augusta the magnetic city ...images
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