One of the best fishing destinations in South Australia.
The township of Cowell is ideally located on the shores of Franklin Harbour a 48 square-kilometre natural harbour with calm, fish-filled waters. Cowell and its surrounding waters have developed a reputation for being one of the best fishing destinations in South Australia, with whiting, snapper, snook, tommy ruff, flathead, garfish and squid some of the catch. Crabs can be caught night and day in the shallows, and oysters are now also being farmed in the harbour.
Named after the famed 19th century explorer and former Tasmanian Governor John Franklin, (as a young man he was also a midshipman on Matthew Flinders’ ship “Investigator”) the harbour’s popularity has been backed by many foreshore developments including the deepening of the boating channel, an enclosed tidal aquatic area, sheltered barbecue facilities and a large adventure playground.
Away from the water, Cowell boasts one of the largest jade deposits in the world. This substantial town also has a variety of shops, dining options, telecentre with internet access, accommodation, mangrove walk and sporting facilities.
The new SeaSA passenger ferry departs from Lucky Bay, just north of Cowell.
Turners Oysters & Seafood
Taste an oyster fresh from the holding tank, opened by an expert oyster shucker. Buy open oysters and indulge your taste buds with a glass of wine in the café. Browse the range of locally made condiments and gourmet oyster products, including kebabs, pies, pickled and smoked oysters. Whole and opened oysters and a range of seafood in convenient-sized packs are also available for sale. Turners’ land-based oyster shed tour gives visitors a first-hand insight into this exciting industry. Water-based oyster lease tours and Harbour Eco Tours are also available on request for groups, however advance notice is required. Group bookings and buses welcome. Open by request.
Discovered in the nearby Minbrie Range in 1965, Cowell’s nephrite jade is recognised as the oldest and one of the largest deposits in the world, with a variety of colours and patterns not found elsewhere. A small selection of souvenirs, cut jade, jewellery and colourful marble is available from the Cowell Jade and Gemstone Showroom at the Cowell Jade Motel (open seven days).
Mt Millar Wind Farm
The enormous two-megawatt wind turbines at Eyre Peninsula’s largest wind farm have a blade diameter of 71metres atop an 85metre tower - a total height of 120metres! The free public viewing area, at the top of Range Road, is signposted 17km from Cowell on the Cowell-Cleve Road.
Oyster Farming and Aquaculture Industry
The oyster leases in Franklin Harbour are a burgeoning commercial industry - sample their wares by purchasing fresh oysters and seafood through various outlets in Cowell when in season. Visitors can learn more about the aquaculture industry by taking a tour of the Cowell Area School’s aquaculture facility, where whiting, snapper, trout, marron and yabbies are grown out in tanks. The school offers an accreditation course in aquaculture and has its own research and development oyster lease. To view the facilities during school hours phone (08) 8629 2150.
Franklin Harbour Historical Museum
A comprehensive display of historical artefacts, memorabilia and geological specimens can be found in this former Post Office and attached residence (circa 1888), restored by the National Trust. See noticeboard for opening hours or phone (08) 8629 2019.
This outdoor collection of agricultural equipment includes an extensive display of local farm machinery and a fully restored 1910 Ruston Proctor Steam Traction engine. Located on the Lincoln Highway (en route to Whyalla), just beyond the main street.
Schultz’s Quandong Farm
Enjoy a cuppa with hot scones and delicious home-made Quandong jam, take a free guided tour of the garden featuring native Quandong trees and bird aviaries, or admire the display of famous Cowell Jade and boulder coral from the Franklin Harbour. Open seven days from 8am, the farm can be found on the corner of Smith and Schumann Roads, Cowell. For details phone (08) 8629 2194.
May Gibbs Memorial
A memorial and plaque commemorating the nearby location of the first Australian home of renowned children’s author May Gibbs can be found 10km from Cowell on the Cleve Road. Gibbs spent her early childhood in the area, which is believed to have provided inspiration for her famous ‘Gumnut Babies’ characters and many of her books.
With a safe swimming beach for children and a shop open daily during the summer holidays, Lucky Bay - 16km north of Cowell - is a popular holiday spot.
It is also the departure point for the SeaSA luxury car and passenger ferry service between Lucky Bay and Wallaroo on Yorke Peninsula. The twelve kilometre road from the Lincoln Highway to the Lucky Bay ferry departure is now sealed.
Scenic Drives & Walking Trails
Port Gibbon Coastal Ketches Drive
This scenic drive with interpretive signage incorporates the old shipping port of Port Gibbon, high cliffs; white sand hills and reefs, and starts with a viewing platform that overlooks the oyster farms. Visitors may also catch sight of a small resident Sea Lion colony dozing at the water’s edge - take the short walk from the car parking area. Facilites at Port Gibbon, 20km south of Cowell, include a barbecue and toilet.
For more information contact the Cowell Visitor Information Outlet ph: 08 8629 2019.