|Boats on the
edge of Lake Albert
Important transport centre built on a cliff
overlooking the Murray River.
Located 99 km east of Adelaide and 21 metres
above sea level, Tailem Bend is one of those
Australian towns where no one really knows the
origins of its name. Some people argue that it
is a corruption of the Ngarrindjeri word 'thelim'
meaning 'bend' (as the town is located near a
very major bend in the river). Others insist the
origins go back to Donald Gollan, one of the
early European settlers, who called his property
'Taleam'. Still others say it has something to
do with cutting tails off sheep and others argue
that it was Aboriginal advice on how to get
cattle to swim across the Murray 'bendem tail,
boss' which sounds truly dubious.
Prior to European settlement the area was
inhabited by the Ngarrindjeri people (they are
the same people who fought over secret women's
business at Goolwa). They made bark and reed
canoes, lived on the fish and the animals which
came to live beside the river.
The Ngarrindjeri people were decimated by the
arrival of Europeans. The combination of
smallpox (which raged all the way up the Murray
River) and massacres saw the numbers drop
The first European into the area was Captain
Charles Sturt who, being assigned to solve the
great mystery of why so many rivers flowed
westward from the Great Dividing Range (often
known as the question of whether Australia had
an 'inland sea') rowed a whale boat down the
Murrumbidgee in late 1829 and reached the
present site of Tailem Bend in early February
before entering Lake Alexandrina, at the mouth
of the Murray river, on 9 February, 1830.
Following Sturt the whole area along the
Murray was opened up particularly by overlanders
who moved sheep and cattle across the land. By
the 1840s there was a ferry across the Murray
River at Wellington which meant that the more
difficult terrain, particularly the high cliffs,
around Tailem Bend were overlooked in the
development of the river bank.
The town's real roots lie in the railway. It
is essentially a railway town was created when
the railway came through the area in 1886. The
town was proclaimed in 1887. If you doubt the
importance of the railway try and think how many
towns you have visited where the railway line
(and the attractive local railway station) run
alongside the main street.
Things to see:
Town, Tailem Bend
Old Tailem Bend Pioneer Village
Located on the South Eastern Freeway 5 km north
of Tailem Bend this is a very extensive historic
village which contains more than 70 old
buildings including corner stores, emporiums,
dance halls, hospitals, dentists, chemists,
barbers, butchers, bakers, saddlers, clock
shops, bootmakers, pubs, stables, police
stations, coach and bike shops and the Cobb & Co
terminus. Peter Squires, who created the town,
writes: 'I started building Old Tailem Town in
1982 after visiting Swan Hill's village in 1971.
I gathered buildings from a 150 mile radius and
put them together in a form of an old town
depicting the times from 1920 to 1960.' The
buildings include the Long Flat Town Hall
(1905), Murray Bridge Railway Administration
Office (1906), Wolseley Methodist Church (1900),
Langhorne Creek bakershop (1920), Wattleford
Methodist Church (1900), Peake Railway Station
(1906). Details (08) 8572 3838, open 10.00 a.m.
- 5.00 p.m. daily.
Station, Narrung between Tailem Bend and
Built in 1876 at Narrung this beautiful
Victorian mansion is a reminder of the wealth
that was generated in the area at this time.
Today it is still a working farm being operated
by the descendants of John Bowman who
established it as a sheep and cattle station.
The outbuildings resemble a small village and
include substantial stables, a coach house,
barns, a woolshed and the manager's
accommodation. It is open for tours and
overnight accommodation. Bookings are essential.
Contact (08) 8574 0043.