Hidden behind the front gates just out of Tailem Bend is a surprisingly large pioneer village – Old Tailem Town, full of interesting history and plenty of old buildings to explore.
Review by Claire Davill
South Australia’s Old Tailem Town has been run as a pioneer village for nearly 40 years now – and it’s all thanks to Peter Squires, who inherited the property from his grandfather. Now in his 80s, Peter still runs the village, with many of its 110+ buildings salvaged from all over Australia and reconstructed on the property. History buffs and kids who like “old stuff” will absolutely love wandering around here.
Peter wants everyone to be able to see history preserved, and says “our children should step out of their modern world for a short time and experience the lives our grandparents once lived.”
Old Tailem Town certainly does that! If you’ve visited Sovereign Hill in Victoria’s goldfields, you’ll see the similarities here. Old Tailem Town is a considerably less flashy affair, and there aren’t organised activities. The beauty of the place is that you can explore it at your leisure, enter a lot of the buildings and experience what life was like through simple recreations of all sorts of cottages, shops and modes of transport.
When you first drive in, you’ll see a huge line of old trucks to explore and an old train sitting under an arbor of railway signals. A large old building with a long verandah forms the entrance, and from here, you really can’t tell just how much sits behind it! After purchasing your tickets you’ll be given a map to take with you, and then you’re off to explore at your own pace.
It’s really interesting to see the different types of historical buildings here, from different time periods and with different construction methods. There are old limestone buildings, wooden cottages, corrugated iron buildings, and even a cottage with walls made of cow dung!
Cottages are furnished with all the trappings of yesteryear, and you can walk right in and immerse yourself in many of the cottages.
There’s also plenty of shops, from old mechanics and saddlers, to a post office, hospital, dentist, school, church, chemist, dressmaker and many, many more.
There are old train stations and train carriages, sheds full of old cars and horse carts, old petrol bowsers and even an old Balfours pie cart.
Small unsealed streets wind through all the buildings, and many of the cottages have small gardens growing drought-tolerant plants and fenced yards, adding to the realism.
The reception building sells a small range of souvenirs, biscuits and cold drinks, and there are toilets available just inside the village.
Don’t forget to check out the trucks, train and “whispering dishes” in the carpark area before you leave!
Entry Prices (as at February 2024)
- Adult – $28
- Pensioner – $25
- Students over 16 – $23
- Children 4-15 – $10
- 1 Adult & 1 Child – $33
- 1 Adult & 2 children – $48
- Family (2 adults and up to 4 children) – $66
- Children under 4 free
Old Tailem Town hosts night time ghost tours through Adelaide Haunted Horizons . Old Tailem Town also host school excursions. If you’d like some extra education during your visit, you can download their activity sheet from the website before you go.
Things to Consider:
- This place is surprisingly big! Allow at least a couple of hours to really explore everything.
- Because you are allowed to explore at your own pace, and have access to a lot of the property, there are some hazards. There are sharp and rusty implements about, and old furniture and fine china table settings in some buildings. Young children will need to be closely supervised.
- It can get quite hot here in summer, so bring water, hats and sunscreen with you. There is quite a lot of shade to retreat to if you need it. Some cottages can get quite warm inside.
- The village is flat and mostly stroller friendly. The whole property is dog friendly as well, you are welcome to bring your dog in with you as long as it is leashed.
- There are a lot of old mannequins used in the buildings, which can unnerve some kids. We found that entering a building first and letting kids know where they are, lessened the “surprise” factor!
- Only small snacks and drinks are available for sale here, bring your own picnic or stop in at Tailem Bend for food before or after your visit, such as the Tailem Bend Bakery.
8552 Princes Highway, Tailem Bend (about 4km north west of the township)
Open 9am-4pm, 7 days a week (closed Christmas Day)
For more information and all enquiries please visit the Old Tailem Town website
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post and our review is done completely independently.
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