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Port Neill, SA

Small and charming Eyre Peninsula coastal holiday town.

Port Neill is a small coastal holiday town located on Spencer Gulf in an area known for its incredibly white sands and aquamarine seas. Historically a grain port, today the town is a small, out of the way, place far removed from the pressures of more modern communities. The quiet beauty of the town and its easy laziness make it ideal for fishing from the jetty, swimming in the quiet waters and walking along the beaches.

Location

Port Neill is located on Spencer Gulf 261 km south-west of Port Augusta and 568 km west of Adelaide.

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Origin of Name

Originally known as Carrow (reputedly a Nawu word for the local water soaks) when it was gazetted in 1903, the town was renamed Port Neill on 19 September 1940 to honour the Warden of the Marine Board, Andrew Sinclair Neill.

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Things to See and Do

Port Neill Hotel
One of the town's most prominent buildings is the old Port Neill Hotel (a rather ordinary hotel) which was built in 1911 but, because the settlement was so small, was not granted a licence until 1912. The owner, a Mr Habib, paid people to live in tents and humpies to increase the population so that the size of the town could justify the granting of a liquor licence.

Vic and Jill Fauser's Museum
Opposite the Port Neill Caravan Park is the private museum of Jill and Vic Fauser which has an impressive array of historic equipment from the early farming days on the Eyre Peninsula. It has the world’s only complete collection of Blackstone Oil Engines as well as restored motorbikes, a vintage car, steam and stationary engines, farming machinery, memorabilia, dolls and toys. There is also a display of tractor seats. It is located at 25 Peake Terrace.

Historic Anchor of Lady Kinnaird
On 19 January 1880 the Lady Kinnaird left Port Pirie for England with a cargo of 8,400 bags of wheat (35,568 bushels). That night, just after midnight on 20 January, it struck bad weather and sank off Cape Burr near Port Neill. A local shepherd found the crew who had all managed to reach the shore. Nearly 100 years later the Society for Underwater Research in Adelaide located the wreck and the anchor was raised and brought to Port Neill where, after months of treatment against rust, it was mounted on a cement block. It was unveiled in 1980 and can be seen near the jetty. "The timbers from the ship were salvaged and used to support a large galvanised roof from which rain was collected into tanks for the use of travelling stock and wayfarers. These tanks were known as the Lady Kinnaird tanks and were situated a few miles north of Port Neill."

Port Neill Jetty
Work began on the Port Neill jetty in 1911 and was completed in May 1912. The cost was approximately £7,000 and at the time a cargo shed, stacking area, rail tracks, super shed and wheat shed cost an additional £2,200. Like all the jetties around the coast of the Eyre Peninsula it was constructed primarily to ship wheat and receive goods needed locally. As the district's agriculture expanded it began to handle wool and barley. The jetty was extensively repaired in 1962 and again in 1968.

Lady Kinnaird Walking Trail
One of the best ways to soak up the peaceful ambience of Port Neill is to take a leisurely 4.5 km stroll on the Lady Kinnaird Walking Trail which starts at Byrnes Bay, runs the length of Main Beach and then crosses Back Beach and Surfers Beach before reaching the golf course. At the golf course there is a seat that overlooks teh site of the wreck of the Lady Kinnaird.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Eyre Memorial
Located 10 km west of Port Neill (ask at the Caravan Park for directions) a plaque has been erected on The Bluff where the explorer, Edward John Eyre, spent the night.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was occupied by the Nawu Aboriginal people.

* The first European to explore the coast was Matthew Flinders who reported on 7 March, 1802 that he had passed country characterised by "low front land, somewhat sandy, with raised land inland and of a barren appearance, its elevation diminishing to the northward."

* In 1840 the explorer Edward John Eyre passed through the area.

* In the 1840s Governor Gawler sailed up the coast of Spencer Gulf. He mentioned Mottled Cove, the large open bay upon which Port Neill is located.

* The area around Port Neill was first settled in 1873 when the pastoralist John Tennant and his son Andrew took up land around the bay. At the time the whole area was known as Mottled Cove.

* On 20 January 1880 the Lady Kinnaird left Port Pirie for England with a cargo of 8400 bags of wheat. That night it struck bad weather and sank off Cape Burr near Port Neill. A local shepherd found the crew who had all managed to reach the shore.

* The township was gazetted in 1903.

* Port Neill was laid out in 1909. At the time it was known as Carrow.

* The first jetty was built in 1912.

* On 19 September 1940 the town was renamed Port Neill thonouring a Warden of the Marine Board, Andrew Sinclair Neill.

* Grain silos and bulk handling facilities were established at the port in 1970. Grain is now trucked to the Port Lincoln grain terminal.

* The anchor of the Lady Kinnaird was raised and brought to Port Neill where, after months of treatment against rust, it was mounted on a cement block. It was unveiled in 1980, exactly 100 years after being sunk.

* Today Port Neil is a popular seaside holiday destination.

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Visitor Information

There is no official Visitor Information but the Port Neill Caravan Park, 1-20 Peake Terrace, should be able to help. Tel: (08) 8688 9067.

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Useful Websites

There is an official website - http://www.exploreeyrepeninsula.com.au/destinations/eastern-eyre/port-neill - with a small amount of information about the town.

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