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Port Pirie

Port Pirie

[pir-ee]
Port Pirie, city (1991 pop. 14,110), South Australia, S Australia, on an inlet of Spencer Gulf. It is a railroad center and has uranium refineries and smelting works for the silver-lead mines at Broken Hill. Silver-lead ore and refined lead are exported.
Port Pirie (post code: 5540) is the sixth most populous city in South Australia after Adelaide, Mount Gambier, Whyalla, Murray Bridge and Port Augusta. It is a seaport located on the east coast of the Spencer Gulf, and is a located 224 kilometres north of Adelaide

The settlement was founded in 1845 and is the site of the world's largest lead smelter, operated by Nyrstar. It also produces refined silver, zinc, copper and gold.

Geography

Port Pirie is at an elevation of 4 metres above sea level. It is located approximately 8 km inland, on the Pirie River, which is a tidal saltwater inlet from Spencer Gulf. It is located to the east of Spencer Gulf and is to the west of the Flinders Ranges.

Weather

Port Pirie exists in a semi-arid location, outside Goyder's Line. Port Pirie is surrounded by mallee scrub. Average temperatures vary from 16.4 °C to 31.8 °C. Its average annual rainfall is 345.2 millimetres.

History

Prior to European settlement, the location that became Port Pirie was occupied by the indigenous tribe of Nukunu. The location was called 'Tarparrie', which is suspected to mean "Muddy Creek". The first European to see the location was Matthew Flinders in 1802 as he explored the Spencer Gulf by boat. The first land discovery by settlers of the location was by the explorer Edward Eyre who explored regions around Port Augusta. John Horrocks also discovered a pass through the Flinders Ranges to the coast, now named Horrock Pass.

The town was originally called Samuel's Creek after the discovery of Muddy Creek, by Samuel Germein. In 1846, Port Pirie Creek was named by Governor Robe after the John Pirie, the first vessel to navigate the creek, transported sheep from Bowman's Run near Crystal Brook. In 1848 Matthew Smith and Emanuel Solomon bought 85 acres and subdivided it as a township to be known as Port Pirie.

The government town was surveyed in December 1871 by Charles Hope Harris. The thoroughfares and streets were named after the family of George Goyder, Surveyor General of South Australia, with the streets running parallel and at right angles to the river. In 1873 the land of Solomon and Smith was re-surveyed and named Solomontown. On September 28 1876, Port Pirie was declared a municipality, with a population of 947. Port Pirie was proclaimed a city in 1953, becoming the first provincial city in South Australia.

Smelters were built in 1889 and it became the biggest lead smelter in the world by 1934, primarily due to the presence of the Broken Hill Associated Smelters (BHAS). Originally established in 1915, the smelter processed ore from the Broken Hill lead and zinc.

Port Pirie was declared South Australia's first provincial city in 1953, and today it is South Australia's second largest port and is characterised by a gracious main street and some interesting and unusual historic buildings.

Residents

According to the 2006 Census the population of the Port Pirie census area was 13,206 people. Approximately 51.8% of the population were female, 86.9% are Australian born, over 92.7% of residents are Australian citizens and only 2.6% were native born indigenous people. The most popular industries for employment were Basic Non-Ferrous Metal Manufacturing (9.7%), School Education (6%) and Health (5.4%), while the unemployment rate is approx. 11%. The median weekly household income is AUD$608 or more per week, compared with $924 in Adelaide. 27.1% of the population identify themselves as Catholic, while 23.7% identify with no religion at all.

Railways

The first railways in Port Pirie were of the narrow [3' 6"] gauge

From 1938 to 1970, Port Pirie had the dubious distinction of being a break-of-gauge railway junction between railways of three different gauges:

The original railway station was in Ellen Street, with firstly narrow and then additionally broad gauge, tracks running down the centre of the street from 1875 to 1967.

Between 1960 and 1980, Port Pirie had a bogie exchange between standard and broad gauge tracks.

In 1970, the line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill was converted to standard gauge. The change created new three-gauge stations at Gladstone and Peterborough. In 1982, the line to Adelaide was also converted to standard gauge, and Port Pirie became a single gauge station. Changes to the National railway system made the Port Pirie platform redundant and in 1992 the baggage room was converted to an Art Gallery. In 1994 a major refurbishment was undertaken and the Regional Tourism and Arts Centre was created. It now includes an Art Gallery, an Award winning Tourism centre, a bus terminal, a Training Restaurant housed in an old sleeper car and a model Train track 1 kilometre in length showing the trip from Port Pirie to Broken Hill.

The Great Southern Railway trains, The Ghan and the Indian Pacific still stop at Port Pirie, although at a halt in the suburb of Coonamia, some 5 km outside of the centre of the town, which avoids a reversal of direction. There are two services for each train each week in each direction.

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Culture and education

Port Pirie is home to the National Trust Historic and Folk Museum and Memorial Park. Every September and October it hosts a popular country music festival.

It has significant Italian & Greek communities.

Port Pirie is the main centre for the Mid North area. Many towns in the area rely on Port Pirie for shopping and employment. It also has many educational institutions such as John Pirie Secondary Schools (years 8-12), St Mark's College (Reception-year 12), many preschools and primary schools, Mid North Christian School (years 8-12) and a TAFE Campus (Adult Education).

The Keith Michell Theatre, within the Northern Festival Centre is named after the actor Keith Michell, who grew up in Warnertown, 5 kilometres from Port Pirie.

Industry

The main industries are the smelting of metals, and the operation of silos to hold grain.the silos have been closed

Port Pirie's main employer is Nyrstar Limited, which has the world's largest lead smelter in the town. It has operated since the 1880s. The Stack, which can be seen miles away is 205 metres tall, and is the tallest structure in the state. Zinifex formed a joint venture with Umicore to form Nyrstar, which will own the smelter, and eventually be spun out of the parent companies.

Flinders Industrial, a new industrial estate, is currently in its second stage and is planned to be home to the new council depot. Plans are to build a sulphuric acid plant here for the benefit of the Nyrstar Smelter. This project is currently shelved and deemed not feasible.

Lead smelters are responsible for several environmental problems, especially raised blood lead levels in some of the town population. The problem is particularly significant in many children who have grown up in the area. There is a government project to address this. Nyrstar plans to progressively reduce lead in blood levels such that ultimately 95% of all children meet the national goal of 10 micrograms per decilitre. This has been known as the ten by 10 project. Community lead in blood levels in children are now at less than half the level that they were in the mid 1980's.

Higher concentrations of lead have been found in the organs of bottlenose dolphins stranded near the lead smelter, compared to dolphins stranded elsewhere in South Australia . Health impacts of these high metal concentrations for the dolphins are unknown.

Politics

State & Federal

2006 State Election
  Labor 60.2%
  Liberal 28.8%
  Family First 5.7%
  Greens 3.4%
  Democrats 3.4%
2007 Federal Election
  Labor 58.79%
  Liberal 28.02%
  Family First 5.18%
  Greens 4.29%
  National 1.46%
  Democrats 1.38%
  Independent 0.89%

Port Pirie is part of the state electoral district of Frome, which has been held since 1993 by former Liberal Premier, Rob Kerin. The seat is held by a margin of 6.8%. In federal politics, the city is part of the division of Grey, and has been represented by Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey since 2007. Barker is held with a margin of 8.86% and is considered safe-liberal. The results shown are from the largest polling station in Port Pirie — which is located at the SA TAFE Campus.

Local

Port Pirie is in the Port Pirie Regional Council local government area (along with some of the sparsely inhabited areas around it).

Waterfront development

The PPRC, with the State Government are creating a waterfront which will revitalise the area from the Main Road boat ramp up to the area off Ellen street. Plans are to build parks, bikeways, bistros, A large playground (largely funded by Zinifex) and retail. The development has already started and is estimated to cost nearly $3m. But the development has been delayed due to some teenage hooligans messing with cement. The council's comment was "Maybe next year".

See also

References

External links

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