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City to Port: A Railway Across the Torrens

Bonython Park / Tulya Wardli (Park 27)

Did you know our State-owned railways began with the opening of the 12km broad gauge railway between Adelaide and Port Adelaide in 1856?

photo-icon Sketch of Railway Bridge over River Torrens, State Library of South Australia, B 11901, circa 1856
photo-icon Torrens Railway Bridge, State Library of South Australia, B 11707, circa 1872
photo-icon Torrens Railway Bridge, State Library of South Australia, B 62414/1/51, circa 1880
photo-icon Map showing the route of the proposed railway line from Adelaide to Port Adelaide in red ink, State Library of South Australia, BRG 42/119/9, circa 1852
photo-icon Isambard Kingdom Brunel

By 1839, just two years after settlement, the fledgling colony had already established the South Australian Railway Company to explore and promote rail alternatives.

This rail bridge dates from 1856 when the City to Port Adelaide rail project opened and became the first steam powered railway in South Australia and the first government railway in the British Empire.

The famous English engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was enlisted as a consulting engineer to provide the latest technology.

The Kaurna name for Bonython Park, “Tulya Wardli”, means “soldier house”. There are no “s” sounds in Aboriginal languages. When the Kaurna people tried to say the word “soldier” they substituted “s” with a “t”, made with the tongue between the teeth, for the “s”. Thus “soldier” became “tulya”. The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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