Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Port Neill SA

Port Neill

Postcode: 5604

Port Neill is a small coastal town on the eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia about 3km off the Lincoln Highway between the major towns of Whyalla and Port Lincoln. It is 576 km by road from Adelaide.

The town offers protected beaches for swimming, as well as providing a venue for fishing, boating, sailing, skiing or skin-diving.

Matthew Flinders passed by and reported on 7 March 1802 of ‘low front land, somewhat sandy, with raised land inland and of a barren appearance, its elevation diminishing to the northward.’

The explorer, Edward John Eyre passed through the area in 1840. The first settlers arrived in 1873 when John Tennant and his son Andrew took up land around the bay, then known as Mottled Cove.

The town was first called Carrow and was gazetted in 1903 and laid out in 1909. However, some confusion was caused by the similarity of the name to the town of Warrow and the town was renamed Port Neill on 19 September 1940. The name of the town honours a Warden of the Marine Board, Andrew Sinclair Neill.

The first jetty was built in 1912 to ship wheat and wool from the district. Shipments continued until 1970 when shipments by road to Port Lincoln’s larger harbour facilities and grain silos commenced.

The Lady Kinnaird Anchor and a World War II cannon are situated on the foreshore lawns which provide an ideal family picnic spot. The Lady Kinnard was an iron barque carrying a load of wheat from Port Pirie to the United Kingdom which struck rocks off Cape Burr on January 20, 1880 and foundered and broke up. All aboard were rescued. The timbers from the vessel were salvaged and used to support a large galvanised roof to collect rain water into tanks for the use of wayfarers and travelling stock. These tanks became known as the Lady Kinnaird tanks and were situated a few miles north of Port Neill.

The Port Neill jetty and a goods shed indicate the town’s past as a once busy seaport.