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South Australia's first provincial city began in 1845 as a caretaker's humble cottage and three crude woolsheds on the banks of what was then known as Samuel's Creek, on the eastern side of Spencer Gulf. Over the years, Port Pirie has grown to become one of the state's largest industrial and commercial centres. Although a busy industrial city, Port Pirie also has many cultural and heritage highlights and visitors will find much of interest.
The city forms the southern point of the Spencer Gulf triangle completed by Whyalla and Port Augusta. Each year, up to one million tonnes of concentrates from Perilya mines at Broken Hill are railed to Port Pirie. From here they are either exported to other parts of the world, or treated at the company's Port Pirie smelter, the largest lead smelter of its kind in the world.