Peter Squires and The Old Tailem Town – The legends of South Australia


Peter Squires

Just 100km away from Adelaide, located on the South Eastern Freeway, lies one of Australia’s largest pioneer villages. Tailem Town, is a gem not to be missed if you are in South Australia. It is an exact representation of an Australian town between the periods of 1900 to 1960, made up of original historic buildings. Town’s creator Peter Squires, now in his mid-  eighties, spent nearly half  his life building this village which contains more than 100 old buildings, a train station and streets modelled from that era.  Mr. Squires got his inspiration from Pioneer settlement in Swan Hill, which he visited as a 35-year-old in 1971.

Poor marketing is a draw back for this heritage wonder. Most visitors reach here unplanned, lured by the sight of around 20 decommissioned pickup trucks and a railway carriage parked in front, knocked down by curiosity.  No one really expects to see a heritage village behind the single story rundown building covered in dust. The village has almost everything from that era – this definitely is the best way to take a peek back at the life of early European settlers of this great nation. The dentist, milliner’s shop, telegraph station, Churches, Town Hall, baker shop -You name it, Peter Squires got that for you here. He started building Old Tailem Town in 1982 gathering buildings from a 200km radius one by one, bit by bit. He is a legend – An unappreciated one in fact.

Mr Squires began his working life as panel beater and worked in Sydney and New Zealand and eventually ended up in South Africa working for Clow and Company Limited. Those days, ships were not equipped to transport whole cars, so car parts were shipped and they were assembled in South Africa by Clow and Company Limited for the African market. He made a small fortune building cars in South Africa. After his South African stint Peter went straight to England where he sold cars at the Barclay Square Garage. In England, he purchased a yacht and sailed down the African West Coast back to Australia. But things did not go as planned, Mr Squires sold the yacht and travelled back to Australia. When he eventually returned, he hatched the idea to create “Old Tailem Town” at Tailem bend modelled on the Pioneer settlement in Swan Hill. An avid traveller, in his eighties, now Peter is planning for his next trip to India.

This is a must visit spot for any traveller to Australia. Here every building and every street has a story to tell – the story of survival and never say die attitude. If you wonder why we haven’t gone deep into those stories and stopped short by giving minimal description about Old Tailem Town, there is a reason behind it. What is to be seen in person needs to be seen in person.

Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm Allow at least 2 hours for your visit.

Phone: (08) 8572 3838


Location: Old Tailem Town Historical Village, Princes Highway, Tailem Bend SA 5260

Cost: Adult: $22 Pensioner: $20 Children: $8 each. Family inc 2 adults and their own kids: $50

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