Denial Bay is a small fishing and tourist village that lies on the bay of the same name, only 14 km from Ceduna on the Western Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. The town has extensive European history, first built on in 1889, and now hosts a large expanse of oyster farms, one of the largest on the Eyre Peninsula.
The bay that the town lies on was initially mapped by Matthew Flinders in 1802, as part of a wider attempt to map South Australia’s coastline. Flinders named the inlet “Denial Bay” because of “the deceptive hope we had formed of penetrating by it some distance into the interior of the country”.
The town was established by William McKenzie in 1889 as the first settlement in what was to become the Ceduna area. McKenzie nearly single handedly set up the town, clearing mallee scrub by axe, building a general store and becoming the local harbour master, postman, blacksmith, butcher, saddler and Justice of the Peace, employing up to 30 people at any one time. The town established primarily as a loading and offloading point for the various inland farming activities, and this was done using a unique system based on the rocky floor of the bay’s seabed.
A large wooden platform known as ‘McKenzie’s Landing’ was constructed and at high tide, boats would unload goods onto the platform and at low tides horse and cart would be used to collect the items. The same would be done to load boats. During this peak of activity, a school opened in 1897 and continued operation until 1945. In 1909, a jetty was constructed south of McKenzie’s Landing after a 1905 proposal, and still stands today.
Another piece of history at Denial Bay is the famous dog fence which runs down to the water near McKenzie’s Landing. The town has long since ceased functioning as a port, and today relies on the aquaculture industry, as well as tourism.