Port Pirie is one of South Australia’s best-kept secrets. Just a short detour from National Highway One, the town is nestled at the base of the picturesque Southern Flinders Ranges.
South Australia’s first provincial city, Port Pirie has taken a leading role in South Australia”s agricultural and industrial development. It’s also rapidly gaining kudos for its diversity of tourism experiences.
The multi award-winning Port Pirie Regional Tourism and Arts Centre is a must for all visitors. Open daily, it features a fibreglass model of the longest white pointer shark ever landed in South Australian waters (at Germein Bay). “Shakka”, a 23-year-old female shark, drowned after becoming tangled in the anchor rope of a local fishing boat. Her original jaws, pectoral fin, vertebrae and deformed teeth can be viewed up close.
The centre is also home to the Pirie Rail Express, a 1.2 kilometre “ride-on” miniature railway that takes visitors on a replica journey from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. The centre also has a beautifully landscaped indoor model rail layout, featuring 1000 feet of track. Both the miniature and model railways are operated on the first and third Sunday of the month by enthusiastic volunteers, who are always keen to impart their railway knowledge.
Co-located at the centre is the Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery. Open daily, it features two great art galleries, hosting major touring exhibitions from the National Gallery of Australia and the South Australian Touring Exhibitions Program. It also features pieces from the Southern Flinders, Mid North and Yorke Peninsula.
In keeping with the city’s railway theme is the engrossing National Trust Museum. Housed in the stunning former Ellen Street Railway Station; it offers great insight into the history of a city that was once one of the nation’s busiest railway centres.
Visitors can celebrate Port Pirie’s industrial success, with a tour of the world’s largest lead smelter. It is an expansive facility that continues to dominate the city skyline. Tours run on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and bookings can be made at the Tourism and Arts Centre.
Tagged the “City of Friendly People”, Port Pirie took its name from the schooner “John Pirie”, which drew into the inlet in 1845 to load sheep from the surrounding pastoral districts. The city continues to have a strong focus on the waters of Spencer Gulf, with great on and offshore fishing. It has two fully-equipped launching ramps and extensive car/boat parking facilities.
Pretty picnic areas, children’s playgrounds and fun public art can be found at Solomontown Beach and also at parks dotted around the city (particularly Memorial Park).
Seven-day shopping and a wide range of accommodation options (from budget to caravan parks, cabins and motels), make any stay in Port Pirie a breeze.
Permanent tourism facilities are enhanced by regular special events, including the Port Pirie State Masters Games, Smelters Picnic, Southern Flinders Live Music Festival, Blessing of the Fleet and the Tripolis Yachting Classic.
Port Pirie Australia