Tailem Bend or "Tailem" which in Ngarrindjeri means "Bend in the river" is a town on the Murray River in South Australia and the home of The Bend Motorsport Park owned by the controversial Shahin family. It is located less than 100 km south-east of Adelaide. It is located on the cliffs above the east (left) bank of the Murray River close to where the river empties into Lake Alexandrina.

First people - Ngarrindjeri inhabitants

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. Once written as "Tail'em Bend",[3][4][5] the origin of the town's name is the Ngarrindjeri word "thelim" meaning "bend",[6] associated with the sharp bend that the Murray River makes in this location. Others yet say that original Ngarrindjeri inhabitants called this part of the river ‘Thelum Ki’ which means bent water.

European settlement

In 1884 while building the railway line 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 town was proclaimed in 1887, the year after the railway opened for traffic. At the 2016 census, Tailem Bend had a population of 1,665.


Major industries in the area include pig farming, dairying, grain growing, hay exporting and olives. Tailem Bend is also the head office of the Coorong District Council. The other two minor offices are at Meningie and Tintinara.


Tailem Bend has junctions on both the Adelaide-Melbourne railway and highways linking Adelaide to Melbourne.

The , a cable ferry, operates across the Murray River to Jervois.


Tailem Bend station building in 2010

There are large grain storage silos and bunkers, where branch lines into the Murray Mallee join the main line. The last two branches were the Pinnaroo railway line and the Loxton railway line via Karoonda.[7] The Loxton line was originally one of five branch lines from the Barmera railway line and was the last to remain in service. It was the only branch to be converted to standard gauge (along with the separate Pinnaroo line) when the main line was converted from broad gauge, however they remained as light rail and ballast with low speed limits. They were only used for collection of bulk grain, as the speed limits are too low to be practical for transport of time-sensitive freight. Both closed in July 2015.[8] The Pinnaroo line continues as the original broad gauge into Victoria to Ouyen where it joins the Mildura to Melbourne line. As the South Australian line closed, the Victorian government was upgrading its end of the line for regional freight.[9]

Tailem Bend station was once a significant junction station for passenger trains on the Mallee lines, and home to a locomotive depot.


Tailem Bend is on the Princes Highway 20 km from the end of the South Eastern Freeway to Adelaide. From Tailem Bend, there is a choice of the Dukes Highway as the direct route to Melbourne, the Princes Highway along the Coorong and coast towards Melbourne, or the Mallee Highway east towards Sydney. There is also a road connecting to the Karoonda Highway leading to Loxton and the Riverland. Tailem Bend is a common stopping point for truck drivers travelling to and/or from Adelaide, as there are no fuel or food outlets with truck facilities on the South Eastern Freeway.

The Bend motorsport park

In March 2016, construction commenced on The Bend Motorsport Park.[10] The first Supercars Championship race meeting at the track was held on 24–26 August 2018. The Motorsport park has hosted the 25th Australian Scout Jamboree, which went from 4 to 14 January 2019.[11] The race track also holds an annual racing event called the OTR SuperSprint.[12] It was suggested to be the home of Hotel Quarantine during the pandemic, but ultimately the bid failed.[13]

Old Tailem Town Pioneer Village

Old Tailem Town is a privately owned museum that consists of over 110 historical buildings, including corner stores, emporiums, dance halls, hospitals, dentists, chemists, barbers, butchers, bakers, saddlers, clock shops, bootmakers, pubs, stables, police stations, coach and bike shops and the Cobb & Co terminus. It is said to be Australia's largest pioneer village and it depicts the times from 1920 to 1960 in Tailem Bend.[14][15]

Notable people

Notable people from or who have lived in Tailem Bend include:

See also


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Tailem Bend (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 25 January 2018. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "Placename Details: Tailem Bend (LOCB)". Property Location Browser Report. Government of South Australia. 18 May 2015. SA0035164. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Country Intelligence". The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 - 1954). SA: National Library of Australia. 14 March 1884. p. 2. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  4. ^ "From the Metropolis". The Narracoorte Herald (SA : 1875 - 1954). SA: National Library of Australia. 13 May 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  5. ^ ""Augur" in South Australia". The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 11 May 1889. p. 22. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Tailem Bend, SA - Aussie Towns". Aussie Towns. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  7. ^ Mid North & Murray Mallee map Archived 2 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine SA Track & Signal
  8. ^ Freight Study & Rail Operations Investigation Flywheel Advisory 17 November 2014
  9. ^ Jones, Erin (18 November 2017). "Campaign to reinstate South Australia's regional rail network to help boost employment and create economic benefits for towns". Sunday Mail. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  10. ^ Construction underway at SA Motorsport Park Speedcafe 25 March 2016
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ Kemp, Miles (25 August 2019). "Ford's twin wins drive Holden fans round Bend". Adelaidenow.com.au. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Hotel quarantine in rent-seeking pandemic". Australian Financial Review. 17 February 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  14. ^ "Tailem Bend". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 August 2007.
  15. ^ "Old Tailem Town Pioneer Village – South Australian History Network".

External links