Site History

For over a century Port Augusta’s strategic location at the head of Spencer Gulf made it a port for the export of wool, wheat and minerals from the surrounding inland areas.

However with the decline in wheat growing after 1884 and the construction of the Great Northern Railway there was a decline in the port’s activities. Freight which had previously been transported via ship was instead taken by rail to Adelaide, bypassing Port Augusta. From 1908, provision ships arrived with railway materials such as sleepers and coal from New South Wales until 1955 when road transportation took over. Diesel trains also meant that coal imports from NSW were no longer necessary.

Wheat and wool were still exported from Port Augusta, but instead of special ships being put on, regular visiting vessels took it to Adelaide for transhipment.

From 1942, coal from Leigh Creek was exported from the port. The former Port Augusta Power Station, comprising the Northern Power Station and Playford B Power Station, was commissioned in 1954. The facility was coal fired, using coal delivered by rail from the Leigh Creek Coal Mine.

In the 1950s, shipping services continued to decline until the port facilities finally closed in 1974.

In 2000, ownership of the 1,100-hectare site transferred from the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA) to Alinta Energy and then to the Flinders Power Partnership. Leigh Creek coal mining operations ceased in November 2015, with coal stockpiles utilised for power generation until the power station was closed on 9 May 2016. Flinders Power Partnership was responsible for the closure and site remediation works at the Port Augusta Power Station and the Leigh Creek Coal Mine.

Throughout the site closure and remediation works, Flinders Power Partnership worked with the local community to manage and minimise impacts on surrounding land and the neighbouring township of Port Augusta. An extensive rehabilitation program, under the supervision of the Environment Protection Authority of South Australia and a Site Contamination Auditor, was completed prior to the sale of the site.

Today, the former power station land is leased by Port Augusta Operations for the purpose of developing and operating Port Playford.