Port MacDonnell, South Australia

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Port MacDonnell
South Australia
View West to Port Macdonnell from Racecourse Bay.jpg
View West to Port Macdonnell from Racecourse Bay
Port MacDonnell is located in South Australia
Port MacDonnell
Port MacDonnell
Coordinates 38°03′0″S 140°41′0″E / 38.05000°S 140.68333°E / -38.05000; 140.68333Coordinates: 38°03′0″S 140°41′0″E / 38.05000°S 140.68333°E / -38.05000; 140.68333
Population 623 (2006 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 5291
LGA(s) District Council of Grant
State electorate(s) Mount Gambier
Federal Division(s) Barker
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
17.9 °C
64 °F
10.2 °C
50 °F
700.7 mm
27.6 in

Port MacDonnell is the southernmost town in South Australia. The small port located on the Great Australian Bight in the Limestone Coast region about 477 kilometres (296 mi) southeast of Adelaide and 28 kilometres (17 mi) south of Mount Gambier in the District Council of Grant local government area had a population of 623 in the 2006 census.[1]

Once a busy shipping port, the town now relies heavily on its fishing and summer tourism industries, particularly rock lobster harvest industry, proclaiming itself the "Australia's Southern Rock Lobster Capital".[2]


The area was originally inhabited by the Bungandidj Aborigines.

The first Europeans to see the area were led by explorer Lieutenant James Grant in HMS Lady Nelson on 3 December 1800.[3] In 1860 the area was proclaimed an official port, was given a name, and was surveyed. It is named after Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell who was Governor of South Australia from 1855 to 1862.[4]

In the 1880s, it was one of Australia's busiest ports, shipping large quantities of wheat and wool to Europe.

The port was, however, exposed to the weather and the site of many shipwrecks.[5] Across the border in Portland, Victoria is a much more sheltered port.


The town of Port MacDonnell is set on flat swampy land in a bay between rocky capes of spectacular wave eroded formations the most spectacular being those to the near west at Cape Northumberland. The port's harbour itself is formed by a large artificially constructed rock breakwater, while the coastline is sandy beaches and rock outcrops providing shelter to the port from the rough seas. The rock provides substantial habitat for the southern rock lobster which is the town's main industry and colonies of little penguin.


Cape Northumberland has a prominent lighthouse which dates to 1882. An earlier 1858 lighthouse was the first in South Australia however was demolished after it was in danger of collapse. A monument marks the site.[6]


Port MacDonnell is in the District Council of Grant local government area, the South Australian House of Assembly electoral district of Mount Gambier and the Australian House of Representatives Division of Barker.


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Port MacDonnell (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  2. ^ http://portmacdonnell.sa.au/
  3. ^ "Port MacDonnell". Walkabout. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2006-07-27. 
  4. ^ "Port MacDonnell". Place Names Online. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 2006-07-27. 
  5. ^ "SHIPWRECK LANE.". Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954) (Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 20 December 1940. p. 10. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  6. ^ http://www.lighthouse.net.au/lights/sa/Cape%20Northumberland/Cape%20Northumberland.htm#History