What is a Stobie pole?

When you are in South Australia, you will most likely hear people mentioning Stobie poles. People often talk about these poles as being ‘deadly’ or ‘killers’. If you are wondering what they are, but were too afraid to ask – here’s your answer.

Stobie poles are actually power poles made of concrete enclosed in two metal braces which look a bit like they have come from railway lines. They were invented back in 1924 by an engineer at the Adelaide Electric Supply Company. His name was James Stobie and he used the materials that were readily available because termite resistant timber was not easy to find in South Australia.

Read more about Stobie poles here.

Stobie poles are incredibly strong and this is a problem when they are hit at high speed by vehicles. Many people have died or been seriously injured by the impact of their vehicles as they have hit one of these immovable poles – hence the reason for them being referred to as ‘deadly’.

In recent years many poles have been decorated with art work to improve their sombre and dated appearance, and in many Adelaide suburbs they are being removed altogether and electric cables are being placed underground. It is likely that the Stobie pole will not be missed but will be remembered as a South Australian invention and icon.

The photo on the left below is an example of a decorated Stobie pole in Hawker Street Brompton. The pole on the right is a standard lightweight pole which has replaced some of the Stobie poles in Adelaide suburbs.

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