Tailem Bend – Great cliff-top town overlooking the Murray
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. Prior to European settlement the area was inhabited by the Ngarrindjeri people. They made bark and reed canoes, and lived on the fish and animals residing beside the river.
Following Captain Charles Sturt, the whole area along the Murray was opened up 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 – created when the railway came through the area in 1886. The town was proclaimed in 1887. If you doubt the importance of the railway, recall how many towns you have visited where the railway line (and the attractive local railway station) run alongside the main street.
A lower Murray town at the junction of the Dukes and Princes Highways in South Australia’s Big River Country, Tailem Bend is dominated by the river and the railway which was for so long its lifeblood. Its importance as a railhead and workshop in the state’s railway network may have diminished with the passage of time, but gandy dancers are still thick on the ground and the views across the Murray as the river takes a sharp bend toward Wellington 11km to the south are as enchanting as ever.
On the northern side of the Wellington Ferry you’ll discover the beautifully restored Pangarinda Botanic Garden. Perfect for natural lovers and birdwatchers its a great place to see how nature can be restored to a damaged envrionment.
Riverfront caravan, camping and boating facilities make fishing, strolling and bird-watching a joy. Houseboats moor at a pontoon and cliff steps lead directly to a comfortable watering hole and a choice of restaurants. A short drive out of town on the Princes Highway takes you to Old Tailem Town, a pioneer village whose 90 restored buildings vividly capture the early days of Mallee settlement. A scenic drive and ferry crossing leads to Jervois and the chance to taste some of the south-east’s finest cheeses.