Penola and Coonawarra combine cultural heritage with historic charm, yet also remains highly progressive thanks to an electic mix of cafes, galleries and boutique-style shops. Artists, winemakers, and other creative types affectionately calls this region home, but Penola is perhaps best known for its former residents. Particularly Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, who is Australia's first Saint and co-founded the Congregation of the Sister of Saint Joesph with Father Julian Tension Woods.
Penola is located approximately 390kms South of Adelaide and 424kms West of Melbourne, Penola is in the East of the Wattle Range Council area. It is 50kms from Millicent and 80kms from Beachport. The local industries are agriculture, viticulture, horticulture, forestry, natural gas, tourism.
Scottish born Alexander Cameron, a pastoral pioneer who squatted in the area in 1845, formally founded Penola as a private township in 1850. He invited Mary MacKillop to Penola as governess to his children. Cameron also invited Christopher Sharam to Penola, as his bootmaker. Sharam built his slab cottage in Petticoat Lane in 1850. Another prominent figure in Penola's history was Scottish born John Riddoch, who settled in the area in 1861. His crowning achievement was the establishment, in 1890, of the Penola Fruit Colony, which became known as Coonawarra in 1897.
It was in Penola that Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop set up the Sisters of St Joseph, an organisation which through her generous and life long good deeds. Mary MacKillop became Australia's first Saint on October 17th 2010. While visiting Penola be sure to view the Woods MacKillop Schoolhouse built in 1867, the Memorial Park, Father Woods Sculpture Park and the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre.
Penola is a town that has a unique yet rich history including the many wineries located throughout its localities. These vineyards and wide range of wineries has ultimately helped to diversify the pastoral economy of the area with an agricultural industry. Penola is a fantastic and thriving inland township that is will provide a warm and welcoming reception to all those who visit.
Coonawarra is part of the Limestone Coast Wine Region. Its secret lies in the magical marriage of rich red terra rossa soil, porus limestone, pure underground water and a long cool ripening season.