Arno Bay is a small fishing and tourist town on the east coast of Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, located on the Lincoln Highway about half way between Whyalla and Port Lincoln. First proclaimed under the name Bligh in 1883, the current name dates back to 1940. It is a recreational town with a number of marine and nature based attractions, including fishing, surfing and swimming.
The area which is now known as Arno Bay was opened up by pastoralists in 1863, with the area being named ‘Salt Creek Cove’ in these early days Of the variety of ventures that occurred before the town was built, the sinking of ‘The Arno Bay Mine’ was possibly the least successful, with water halting all operations. The small town was initially proclaimed in 1882 by G.H. Ayliffe under the name of ‘Bligh’, after Captain William Bligh, although locals resisted the name change, continually referring to the town as ‘Arno Bay’ until the official name change.
The town was expected to become a port and a jetty was built in 1880 in anticipation of this. The port was not huge, but nonetheless continued importing fertilizers and exporting cereal crops that were being grown in the district. By 1911, the town had grown substantially, with a school, post office, hotel and new hall established in this period.
The town continued to grow as a port until the point where it was exporting 11 000 tonnes of grain in 1940. In the same year, the decision was finally made to alter the town’s official name to ‘Arno Bay’, named after a sandhill well and not the Italian ‘Arno River’ as had been suggested. The period of high export came to an abrupt end in 1963 when the storage silos were built, and ocean shipping became redundant to the large trucks that were now the main mechanism of transport.
This signalled the end of Arno Bay as a port, causing the population to drop slowly, eventually leading to its current position as a tourist fishing town.