Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Peterborough SA


Postcode: 5422

Peterborough is a town in the mid north of South Australia, in wheat country, just off the Barrier Highway. It was originally named Petersburg after the landowner, Peter Doecke, who sold land to create the town. It was one of 69 places in South Australia renamed in 1917 due to anti-German sentiments during World War I.

Peterborough is the seat of the District Council of Peterborough. It is the largest town in the council area. It is bounded by the District Council of Orroroo Carrieton in the northwest, Northern Areas Council to the southwest, and the Regional Council of Goyder to the south, with unincorporated areas to the north and east.

Peterborough is in the state electorate of Stuart and federal Division of Grey.

Peterborough was originally sited at the intersection of an East-West railway linking Port Pirie and Broken Hill, and a North-South railway linking Adelaide eventually to Alice Springs via Quorn, both narrow gauge (3 ft 6 in (1067 mm)) lines.

The line from Port Pirie and Jamestown arrived in 1881, followed shortly after by the line from Terowie in the south. The line to Broken Hill was completed in 1887.

In 1970, the East-West line was converted to standard gauge (4 ft 8½ in (1435 mm)), and the line south of Peterborough to Terowie to broad gauge (5 ft 3 in (1600 mm)). Thus Peterborough became one of three, triple-gauge break-of-gauge railway junctions in Australia.

The broad gauge line to Adelaide, via Burra, was closed in the late 1980s.

The narrow gauge line north to Quorn continued to see grain trains into the mid 1980s as far as Orroroo. In its later years it was used by tourist trains from Steamtown as far as Eurelia. Steamtowns rail operations closed in 2002, however the roundhouse is now used to display the coaches and locomotives that were used by Steamtown.

The town is still served by the twice-weekly Indian Pacific train run by Great Southern Railways, which heads to Adelaide on Sundays and Thursdays, and to Sydney on Tuesdays and Fridays.