Sitting right the heart of the legendary Coonawarra wine region, Penola has some of the planet’s best food and wine on tap, as well as a liberal splash of history.
A perfect country town in every sense, you’ll find a beautiful main street lined with boutique shops, cafés and restaurants as well as some of the nation’s most significant national heritage sites, having been home to Australia’s very first Saint, Mary MacKillop in the 1860’s.
Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre.
The perfect spot to start your nostalgic journey into the rich history of the area, the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre is not only a one-stop shop for local information, but also great place to start unraveling the story of Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods, who founded the Josephite Order of the Catholic church in 1866.
Staffed by friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, it’s worth taking some time to mill through the various exhibits, before accessing The Schoolhouse and cottages of Petticoat Lane.
& The Schoolhouse.
Having been canonised in 2010, ‘Saint Mary of the Cross’ MacKillop forged her legacy of childhood education right here in The Schoolhouse, and from humble beginnings in the 1860’s her legend lives on today with the historic (and tiny!) timber and stone cottages of Petticoat Lane seemingly frozen in time.
This is the oldest residential area of Penola, and as you make your way through the historic timber and stone cottages, keep your eyes peeled for stunning rose and lavender displays, with a historic working herb garden still churning out fresh produce for a small coin donation.
Penola Main Street.
Taking a stroll along this laid-back thoroughfare is a genuine rite-of-passage when you’re here, with an eclectic range of second hand and antique shops sitting alongside cosy coffee shops, boutique homewares and gift shops, and even winery cellar doors.
Try Koonara Wines for a little bit of everything, as well as a splash of their amazing local vino when you’re in town.
Royal Oak Penola.
The Royal Oak Penola offers a seasonal menu with all the classics, plus an extensive local wine list that can be added to by grabbing one from the cellar and plonking it on the table, for just a small corkage fee.
Sitting out the back under the shade of the Golden Elm while watching the world walk by is simply food for the soul - and if that’s not enough to grab you, the extraordinary gin menu will!
Pipers of Penola.
At Pipers of Penola you’ll not only find delicious meals made from fresh, local produce but also some of the best chefs in the country.
Housed in a renovated Methodist church, this place is a mecca for foodies nationwide, dishing up anything from local lamb and roast Jerusalem artichoke tortellini to seared whiting and Coffin Bay oysters.
Speak to a Penola Local.
We know visitors have the best time when they have all the information. So, if you have a question left unanswered, then the team at Penola Coonawarra Visitor Centre would love to hear from you!
Penola Coonawarra Visitor Information Centre
Monday - Friday 9am-5pm