Historic Penola is rich in tradition and full of hidden treasures worth exploring. As you wander through the township the many National Trust buildings and privately owned residences provide a postcard reminder of a by-gone era.
Penola was founded in 1850 by Scottish born Alexander Cameron, a pastoral pioneer who squatted the area in 1845 and founded the town in 1850.
Blessed Mary MacKillop, anticipated to be Australia's first Saint, together with Father Julian Tenison Woods founded the religious order, The Sisters of Saint Joseph, in Penola 134 years ago. In 1867 the Woods MacKillop Schoolhouse was established for the children of the district, Mary MacKillop taught in this historic building. The Mary MacKillop Penola Centre was opened in 1998.
Another prominant figure in Penola's history was Scottish born John Riddoch. Settling in the area in 1961, he had a profound impact on the district. His crowning achievement was the establishment of the Penola Fruit Colony in 1890, renamed Coonawarra in 1897. This sowed the seed of Coonawarra's internationally renowned quality wine. The two-storey mansion "Yallum Park" was completed for John Riddoch in 1880 and many of the early buildings in the district were opened or had their foundation stones laid by this man of vision. He was a local Member of Parliament for many years and the Riddoch highway is named to acknowledge his contribution.
Famous colonial 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.
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 lane's character as an example of days gone by. Petticoat Lane is a State Heritage Area.
The co-location of the John Riddoch Interpretive Centre and the Penola local history collection enables further development and promotion of the district and highlights the historical significance of this area to the Region and State. Furthermore it will promote the concept of Penola as a place of historical significance, a place for research and further expand and promote the many facets of tourism in the district. It is along with the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre a primary focus for information sources of the Penola District with this increased access and proposed archival storage facilities
At present there is information available in the following formats:
To contact the Local History Group please phone
the Penola Coonawarra Visitor Information Centre on 08 8737 2855
The Penola Branch of the National Trust of South Australia owns and maintains a collection of items and eight historic buildings, the majority of which are situated in State Heritage Area, Petticoat Lane.
By preserving history in the form of these buildings, some of which are commercially leased, the Branch maintains a strong and viable position.
With a membership of 32, meetings are held monthly and new members are always welcome.
For more information Please Call 08 8737 2855