Minnipa, Eyre Peninsula and the Railways

Minnipa is a small town (population under 200) on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, 250 km from Port Lincoln and 180 km from Ceduna. It is located in the centre of a vast low-rainfall wheat belt, and the surrounding countryside is gently undulating but broken by numerous wind-shaped granite outcrops.

In the early years of this century, the South Australian Railways built a network of 3 ft 6 in (1067mm) gauge developmental lines known as the Port Lincoln Division (see www.peninsula-pioneer.com for details). The coming of these lines facilitated the opening up of large areas for agriculture. While only a small town, Minnipa was important as a major railway centre. The Eyre Peninsula 'main line' between Port Lincoln and Thevenard was effectively worked as two separate sections, with Minnipa as the boundary. In the days when passenger services were provided, Minnipa was also the terminus of the 'local' railcar from Port Lincoln. Thus Minnipa saw a frequency and variety of workings which was out of all proportion to its size as a town.

When the railway was opened to Minnipa on 5 May 1913, the town consisted of two tents. Development of the surrounding districts followed the railway, and accelerated after the opening of the water pipeline from the Tod River scheme in 1925. By 1960, Minnipa was the major railway centre between Cummins and Thevenard.


Railway Terrace, Minnipa, in 1974. The railway station is behind the trees to the left. Photo: Alex Grunbach


This 1953 map shows the Port Lincoln Division at its maximum extent. The strategic location of Minnipa between the ports of Port Lincoln and Thevenard is apparent.