Before the Great Western Bridge was built, ferry boats and barges were used to cross the Spencer Gulf. The only other way to get to the other side was by land, around the head of the Gulf, a distance of about 12 kilometres.
The Old Great Western Bridge opened in 1927 and was replaced by the existing bridge in 1972.
The stone used at each end of the old bridge was obtained from the ruins of the historical hotel in the township of Saltia, Pichi Richi Pass. It was widened and strengthened in 1944 to carry the Morgan to Whyalla pipeline, which supplied Port Augusta with its only assured water supply. The old relic seen on the bank is a barge used by workmen while working on the Morgan to Whyalla pipeline.