Penola is a fascinating, historic and picturesque country town that is the service centre to the Coonawarra wine region.
Penola was founded in 1850 by Scottish born Alexander Cameron paving the way for future generations and known by his contemporaries as the 'King of Penola", with Founders day celebrated annually on April 4th.
Another prominent figure in Penola's history was Scottish born John Riddoch who had a profound impact on the district. He established the Penola Fruit Growing Colony in 1890, renamed Coonawarra in 1897, built "Yallum Park" a two storey mansion in 1880 and opened or laid foundation stones for many early buildings in the district.
Mary MacKillop, now known as Saint Mary of the Cross Mackillop, is Australia's first Saint. Together with Father Julian Tennison Woods founded the religious order, the Sisters of St Joseph, in Penola 134 years ago. In 1867 the Woods MacKillop Schoolhouse was established for the children of the of the district. The Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre was opened in 1998.
Poets, Adam Lindsay Gordon, William Ogilvie and Penola born John Shaw Neilson left behind a legacy of poetry inspired by their experiences of rural life in the district. The winning entries of the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art competition are on display at the Visitor Information Centre, free of charge.
Take a stroll around Penola and admire the many National Trust buildings and privately owned residences that provide a postcard reminder of a by-gone era.
|The John Riddoch Centre|
The John Riddoch Centre is the ideal place to start your Penola and Coonawarra adventure. This centre incorporates the:
This small cottage is Penola's first house, built in 1850 by Christopher Sharam, who came to Penola to set up his blacksmiths business at the request of Alexander Cameron. A static Interpretive display at the rear of the cottage tells the story of the family and is free of charge.
Heritage listed and National Trust owned
Petticoat Lane, the oldest residential part of Penola, allows you to wander through historic timber and stone cottages which retain much of the charm and character of yesteryear. Red gum kerbing as well as rose and lavender plantings enhance the lanes character as an example of days gone by.
State Heritage area
|Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre|
Built in 1998 it houses displays, photographs and artifacts detailing the lives of Mother Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods, in particular their lives in Penola in the 1860's. Also includes a shop with mementos, cards and books; research and video rooms; refreshments; toilets and disabled access.
Open 7 days 10am - 4pm, Closed Good Friday & Christmas Day
Telephone (08) 8737 2092
School children: $1 per student
Afternoon tea: $4 per person
Light lunch: $12 per person
Guided coach tour of historic Penola: $2 per person
Price includes access to the schoolhouse.
|Woods MacKillop School House|
Commissioned to be built by Father Julian Tenison Woods the Schoolhouse was first used in 1867, after being completed in May of that year. Mary MacKillop taught and lived in the building in 1867. The building was used as a school until 1885, after which it was used for parish functions and dances.
Access through the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre.
Located 8kms west of Penola this magnificent Victorian mansion was built between 1878 and 1880. Now owned by Andrew and Ann Clifford, this mansion boasts the biggest collection of original William Morris wallpapers in Australia and has extensive gardens.
Please check if Yallum Park is open with the Visitor Centre telephone at (08) 8737 2855 or 1300 045 2855.
|Greenrise Lake Recreation Ground|
Surrounded by red gum country, 1km south of Penola, a picturesque setting with BBQ's and toilet facilities.
|Penola Conservation Park|
Situated 10km west of Penola off the Robe Road, the park is home to 370 species of plants and 97 species of birds. The park protects a remnant of the river red gum lined swamps that were once wide spread in the Limestone Coast. Vehicle access to the picnic area only. A sign posted interpretive walk guides visitors 2.5kms around the park and across the boardwalk.
|Penola Forest Information Bay and Arboretum|
Located 15km south of Penola, the information bay provides information on forestry in the South East. A 20 minute walking trail extends through the Arboretum planted in 1934.
Art galleries, antiques, gift shops, cafes and specialty shops, open 7 days, provide variety in a relaxed atmosphere.
One of Penola's newest attractions is Penolarayia, a fantasy model railway display - ideal for children and adults of all ages. For more information go to www.penolafantasymodelrailway.com
For maps or for more information, please contact the Penola Coonawarra Visitor Information Centre, located in Arthur Street, Penola. Telephone: (08) 8737 2855 or 1300 045 2855.