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.
In 1884 while laying the mainline through to the eastern state of Victoria, the track laying gang set up camp amongst some native pine trees and naming that particular site ‘Pine Camp’ from then on the local township began to grow.
The name Tailem Bend came from the Aboriginal name for this part of the river called ‘Thelum Ki’ which means bent water, and over the years has had many debates over the origin of it’s name and continues to this day.
The railways began arriving in the town in 1886 with the Inter-Colonial line from Nairne to the border due to the Eastern States linking to the river trade on the mighty Murray River.
Tailem Bend became a proclaimed town on 28 July, 1887. From then on further lines stated to appear, up into the Murraylands, Riverland and down to the South East and by 1925 the workshops at Murray Bridge had been transfered to Tailem Bend.
Some 30 locos had been stationed at Murray Bridge so the workers had to commute between the towns on what was called “The Workies Train” 3 times a day to cover all the rostered shifts thus making Tailem Bend the service centre for the Murray Bridge division of the South Australian Railways.
Housing provided for all different trades and operational workers with over 450 employed in it’s hey day. The influence of the displaced migrants in the 1950s caused another building boom in the town with railway houses being built along with a hospital, all forms of shopping, sporting venues and a great service by rail to city of Adelaide.
Schools were built so children could attend either the State or St Josephs Convent (closed in the 1980s), however when they reached Year 7 they too had to catch “The Workies Train” to attend high school in Murray Bridge. Tailem Bend has quite a few heritage listings namely the Railway Station (built in 1913), the old ferry landing down on the river, the Tailem Bend Hotel in Railway Terrace was first licenced in 1902 and is still serving customers today.
Tailem info Station
The newly formed Tailem info Station provides visitors with rail history of Tailem Bend, as well as tourism knowledge of the local area.
Meningie Cheese Factory Museum
Run by volunteers, this museum contains items of various ages, including antique farming equipment, old-fashioned clothing and classic vehicles.
Historic Tintinara Homestead
Classified by the National Trust, the Tintinara Homestead is steeped in history of Tintinara’s origins, a popular stop for travellers along the Tolmer Gold Escort Route.
Raukkan War Memorial
A beautiful tribute to local Aboriginal men who fought in service of the First & Second World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Discover Murray War Trail.
A well preserved farm station with buildings dating back to the 1870s.