Penong (including Cactus Beach)
Tiny township on the road across the Nullarbor Plain
The tiny township of Penong is located 73 km west of Ceduna, 543 km from Port Augusta and 854 km northwest of Adelaide. It is a small wheatbelt settlement which is characterised by literally dozens of windmills which pump the local water supply from a large underground basin.
Penong is probably the English spelling and pronunciation of a local Aboriginal word meaning 'rock hole'. The area was settled in the late nineteenth century but the town didn't really come into existence until the arrival of the railway line in 1915.
To the south lie Lake MacDonnell, Point Sinclair and Cactus Beach. Lake MacDonnell is known to have the largest deposits of gypsum in Australia with estimated reserves in excess of 500 million tonnes. The gypsum, which is now railed to Thevenard (see Ceduna), has been mined since 1919. In the early days it was shipped from a jetty at Port Le Hunte. The gypsum, which is used both as a fertiliser and in the building trade, has been laid down to a depth of 4.8 metres.
Nearby is Point Sinclair (Matthew Flinders named it after his midshipman Kennet Sinclair during his 1802 exploration of the coast) a delightful 502 ha area of coastline which provides good surfing, fishing and camping in an area characterised by dramatic cliffs, blowholes and huge sand dunes. Point Sinclair was the first land in South Australia to come under a 1980 Heritage Agreement where, in exchange for not paying rates, a landholder agrees to maintain the native vegetation and allow access to the public.
Just 20 km south of Penong is Cactus Beach which has become well known in surfing communities as one of the best surfing beaches in Australia. Although access to the beach is through private property it is possible to camp for a fee although there is no fresh water on the site. Contact (08) 8625 1036 for more details.
Penong SA 5690
Telephone: (08) 8625 1050