Yarta Purtli

A step back in time…

Pre 1882 the complex was used as the Troopers Barracks and Police Barracks.  Goats, cattle and sheep could also be found in the area! 

‘The sheep watering at the standpipe troughs in Port Augusta was to prove a problem as the township grew, where cattle also were brought, and became a nuisance in the heart of the town.’  Our Place in the Sun (McLellan, A), p152

‘Goats used to camp in hundreds on the site’.  Our Place in the Sun (McLellan, A), p118.

In 1869, there was a suggestion to enclose the area, which was known as the ‘Waterworks reserve’, with a stone wall, and to build workshops, troughs, a residence and public baths.

In 1882 the workshop, storeroom and stables building were erected.  The ‘residence’ (now the Cultural Centre office) was erected pre-1881.

The Barracks area was used as a horse stable for many years.  It also stored the petrol supply for Police, stock inspector, as well as the Engineering and Water Supply Department (EW&S) in 1948, and was a storage area for EW&S Vehicles. 

Gallery 1 (our larger gallery space) was a Blacksmith’s Shop and Workshop in 1882, and afterwards was used by the Waterworks department until 1972.  From 1976 – 2006, Gallery 1 was the Magistrate’s Library, Waiting Room and a public toilet!

Gallery 2 (our smaller gallery space) was used as a workshop and storeroom for the Waterworks for many years.  From 1976-2006 it was the Magistrates Court.

The Cultural Centre office was a former residence for the Superintendent of the Waterworks and was built in 1880.  In 1976/77, the building formed part of the local court complex, and was used until 2006. 

The ‘Green Room’ was one of the first buildings on the Waterworks Reserve in 1875.  It was a public bath-house and at some stage believed to be Cobb & Co resting rooms. 

In 1949, the Green Room and the adjoining rooms (now ‘dressing rooms’) were the kitchen, bathroom, store room and pantry area of the Superintendent’s Residence.

In later years, the Green Room was the Magistrates’ Chambers.

The Office Courtyard was once home to grapevines, a nectarine tree, aviary and garden when the Superintendent of the Waterworks lived here.

These buildings were State Heritage listed and listed by the National Trust in 1981.

Acknowledgement:  Thank you to Shirley Mundy (a longstanding Cultural Centre volunteer) who researched the history of the Cultural Centre buildings which has enabled us to create this history factsheet.





The Port Augusta Cultural Centre – Yarta Purtli that you see today was developed in 2008 as part of the State government’s Regional Centre of Culture program which involved funding from all levels of government, including Port Augusta City Council.  ‘Yarta Purtli’ is a Nukunu word for ‘place of the stars’. 

It is a multi-purpose centre consisting of an art gallery, the Barracks entertainment venue, Institute Theatre, and meeting rooms