Port Lincoln

Port Lincoln is a city on the Lower Eyre Peninsula in the Australian state of South Australia. It is situated on the shore of Boston Bay, which opens eastward into Spencer Gulf. It is the largest city in the West Coast region, and is located approximately 280 km as the crow flies from the State's capital city of Adelaide (646 km by road). In June 2018 Port Lincoln had a population of 16,326,[1] having grown at an average annual rate of 0.55% year-on-year over the preceding five years. The city is reputed to have the most millionaires per capita in Australia.[7] The town claims to be the "Seafood Capital of Australia".[8]

Port Lincoln
South Australia
Port Lincoln
Port Lincoln
Location in South Australia
Coordinates34°43′56″S 135°51′31″E
Population16,326 (2018)[1]
 • Density119.78/km2 (310.23/sq mi)
Area136.3 km2 (52.6 sq mi)[2] (2011 urban)
Time zoneACST (UTC+9:30)
 • Summer (DST)ACST (UTC+10:30)
  • 280 km (174 mi) from Adelaide
  • 649 km (403 mi) from Adelaide via
LGA(s)City of Port Lincoln
RegionEyre Western[3]
State electorate(s)Flinders[5]
Federal Division(s)Grey[6]
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
21.3 °C
70 °F
11.4 °C
53 °F
389.7 mm
15.3 in
Localities around Port Lincoln:
Boston Boston Port Lincoln (water body)
Duck Ponds Port Lincoln Port Lincoln (water body)
Tulka Port Lincoln (water body) Port Lincoln (water body)
FootnotesAdjoining localities[4]

History and name

The Eyre Peninsula has been home to Aboriginal people for over 40 thousand years, with the Barngarla (eastern Eyre, including Port Lincoln), Nauo (south western Eyre), Wirangu (north western Eyre) and Mirning (far western Eyre) being the predominant original cultural groups present at the time of the arrival of Europeans. (Tindale 1974 in DEH 2004a; SATC 1999).

The original Barngarla name for Port Lincoln was Galinyala.[9]

Matthew Flinders was the first European to reach Port Lincoln under his commission by the British Admiralty to chart Australia's unexplored coastline. On 25 February 1802, Flinders sailed his exploration vessel HMS Investigator into the harbour, which he later named Port Lincoln after the city of Lincoln in his native county of Lincolnshire in England.[10] A couple of months later on 19 April, Nicolas Baudin entered the same port and named it Port Champagny.[11]

Sealers had visited the area around 1828 and the mainly French whaling ships were fishing the local bays and island regions by the 1820s and up to the 1840s. In 1836 Governor Sir John Hindmarsh, the first Governor of South Australia, gave instructions to Colonel William Light of finding a capital for the 'New British Province of South Australia'. He'd been in the colony for four months and in all that time he'd been trying to find a right place for a harbour, and a right place for a settlement.

With boatfuls of immigrants set to arrive and impatient settlers already camping at Holdfast Bay, Rapid Bay and Kangaroo Island, Light was under immense pressure to identify a location with a suitable harbour, sufficient agricultural land and fresh water.

After assessing a number of other potential locations, Light was ordered by England to consider Port Lincoln as a possible site for the capital. While Thomas Lipson had arrived in Port Lincoln earlier and approved of its 'beautiful harbour' and 'fertile land', Light was unconvinced from the beginning as he faced fierce westerly gales, ill-placed islands and rocky reefs on arrival.

Light decided it might be dangerous for merchant ships trying to enter the unfamiliar territory after a long voyage and that there was not enough of what he thought was good agricultural land, and not enough fresh water to sustain a city so he decided to choose Adelaide as the most suitable place for settlement.

Port Lincoln however, proved popular with pioneers and developers, with the first settlers arriving on 19 March 1839 aboard the ships Abeona, Porter and Dorset. On 3 October 1839 Governor George Gawler proclaimed the whole area from Cape Catastrophe to the head of the Spencer Gulf as one district, which he named the District of Port Lincoln.

Local Government formally began on the Eyre Peninsula on 1 July 1880 with the establishment of the District Council of Lincoln. The township of Port Lincoln naturally was included in that area. On 18 August 1921 the Municipality of Port Lincoln was formally proclaimed.

In 1840 one year after settlement, the population of Port Lincoln was 270. There were 30 stone houses, a hotel, blacksmith's shop and a store in the Happy Valley area. Around this time, Edward John Eyre explored the peninsula that was subsequently named in his honour.

In early 1842, local Aboriginal resistance to the British invasion and settlement became so successful that it prompted the near abandonment of Port Lincoln. As a result, Governor George Grey ordered a detachment of the 96th Regiment of the British Army under the command of Lieutenant Hugonin to enforce control in the area. After an initial defeat at Pillaworta, the 96th in combination with the Mounted Police and armed settlers were able to restore full British authority by the end of 1843. A section of Native Police were later deployed to the area to maintain this control.[12]

By 1936 the population had grown to 3200 and the town had a first class water supply. The port had become the commercial pivot for the area, providing for its many agricultural and commercial requirements. City status was granted to Port Lincoln on 21 January 1971 and the proclamation was read at the opening of the tenth annual Tunarama Festival on the Australia Day weekend.

Water supply

The lack of a reliable surface water supply was a factor preventing Port Lincoln from being proclaimed the colony's capital city in the 1830s. Even as a small town, Port Lincoln outgrew its fresh water supplies. It is now largely dependent on water drawn from groundwater basins in the south of the peninsula.

The southern and western parts of the Eyre Peninsula region also share this resource via the Tod-Ceduna pipeline. The Iron Knob to Kimba pipeline completed in 2007 provides limited transfer capacity of River Murray water into the Tod-Ceduna system. Following the development of a long term water supply plan for Eyre Peninsula, the South Australian government is progressing detailed investigation of augmentation options. These including seawater desalination.[13]

Formerly a potable water resource fed by the Tod River, the Tod Reservoir was taken offline in 2001–2002 due to concerns about rising levels of agricultural chemical contamination and salinity.[14]

Heritage listings

Port Lincoln has a number of places listed on the South Australian Heritage Register, including:

  • Dorset Place: Old Mill Lookout [15]
  • Hawson Place: Hawson's Grave [16]
  • 152 Proper Bay Road: Arrandale [17]
  • Railway Terrace: Port Lincoln railway station [18]
  • 36 Washington Street: Port Lincoln Police Station and Courthouse [19]
  • 20 Windsor Avenue: Ravendale House [20]


At June 2018 Port Lincoln had an estimated urban population of 16,326.[1] Aboriginal people make up 5.6% of Port Lincoln's population.[21]


Port Lincoln has a contrasting coastal landscape, ranging from sheltered waters and beaches, to surf beaches and rugged oceanic coastline. The Great South Australian Coastal Upwelling System brings cold, nutrient-rich water into nearby waters of the Great Australian Bight and Spencer Gulf. These upwellings support lucrative fisheries, including that of the southern bluefin tuna and sardine.[22]


Port Lincoln has a warm-summer mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csb), bordering on a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification: BSk), with warm, dry summers and mild, moist winters. January temperatures average 16 to 26 °C (60.8 to 78.8 °F), while in July temperatures range from 7 to 16 °C (44.6 to 60.8 °F).[23] Winter days are cool and cloudy, with frequent light drizzle and showers. Cold fronts cause periods of heavy rain and colder temperatures in winter, and violent storms can occasionally roll in from the southern ocean. Summers are mild to warm with cool sea breezes keeping the temperatures generally below 30 °C (86.0 °F). However, on rare occasions a severe blast of heat from the deserts to the north can cause several days of temperatures well over 40 °C (104.0 °F). Rainfall in summer is limited to very infrequent showers or thunderstorms and sometimes during summer, no rain occurs at all. Snow has never been recorded and frost is a very rare occurrence, usually happening only on clear winter nights away from the coast. Extremes have ranged from 48.3 °C (118.9 °F) to −0.3 °C (31.5 °F), while the wettest month on record was June 1981, recording 200.4 millimetres (7.9 in).[24]

Climate data for Port Lincoln Airport, North Shields
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 48.3
Average high °C (°F) 26.1
Average low °C (°F) 15.8
Record low °C (°F) 8.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 15.2
Source: [25]


Port Lincoln is located in the federal Division of Grey, the state electoral district of Flinders and the local government area of City of Port Lincoln.[5][6] [4]


The economy is based on the huge grain-handling facilities (with a total capacity of over 337,500 tonnes), the canning and fish processing works, lambs, wool and beef, and tuna farming for the Japanese market.[26] Home of Australia's largest commercial fishing fleet, Port Lincoln now has a thriving aquaculture industry that farms the following species: southern bluefin tuna, yellowtail kingfish, abalone, mussels, oysters, and experimentally, seahorses and spiny lobsters. Before the advent of aquaculture, the main fishing was for southern bluefin tuna. Frank Moorhouse recommended the South Australian government lend the Haldane family 20,000 pounds which they used to build a super vessel. The MFV Tacoma was Australia's first purpose-built tuna fishing vessel. It revolutionised the industry and began catching the fish off the coast of Port Lincoln in the early 1950s.[27]

The city also functions as a regional centre for government administration, corporate services and commerce to Eyre Peninsula; however, many state government functions are gradually being withdrawn as they become more centralised in Adelaide. During the early years of this century, housing demand has led to a boom in property development, both residential and commercial.

A proposal by Centrex Metals to export iron ore through an expanded facility at the existing Port Lincoln wharf was approved by the South Australian Government c. Oct 2009.[28] The proposal was abandoned by the company following strong public opposition. The chief public concern was the potential harm that spillage or dust plumes might cause to the profitability or reputation of the region's dominant seafood industry.[29][30]


Port Lincoln is a centre for tourism, due to the scenic beauty and coastal locality. Ready access to both Spencer Gulf and the Great Australian Bight mark Port Lincoln out as a blue water playground for yachting, scuba diving, shark cage diving and game fishing. Lincoln National Park, Coffin Bay National Park and Kellidie Bay Conservation Park are within easy driving distance.

Panorama of Boston Bay, with Port Lincoln in the right third of picture.


Port Lincoln railway station is the terminus of Eyre Peninsula Railway, a narrow gauge (1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)) railway which consists of three lines; Port Lincoln to Kevin, Cummins to Buckleboo and Yeelanna to Kapinnie.[31][32]

Port Lincoln was also the port terminus for the privately owned standard-gauge Coffin Bay Tramway that operated from 1966 to 1989 to carry lime sand to the port at Proper Bay on the south side of the town for BHP. It was used as flux in blast furnaces.[33]

Port Lincoln Airport is located a few kilometres north of the city. Regional Express and Qantaslink provide multiple daily flights to the state capital of Adelaide.

The Port Lincoln Bus Service operates Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm with separate morning and afternoon services. The morning service runs to a fixed route timetable and services Lincoln North and Lincoln South.

Long distance bus services are operated by Stateliner with multiple daily services to Adelaide and Port Augusta.


The book Blue Fin by Colin Thiele was set in Port Lincoln, with the movie of the same name filmed in nearby Streaky Bay.

Some of ANZAC Cove scenes in Gallipoli were also filmed near Port Lincoln.

The first edition of Australian Survivor, the Australian version of the popular US television series, Survivor, was filmed at Whalers Way, south of Port Lincoln, in 2001.

The Discovery Channel documentary series Tuna Wranglers (2007) and Abalone Wars were both filmed in and around Port Lincoln.

Port Lincoln was visited in 1939 by English travel author Eric Newby, while he was crew in the 4-masted barque Moshulu, which anchored outside of Boston Island. Moshulu had taken 82 days to sail to Port Lincoln from Belfast in ballast (a fast passage for a windjammer), but there was no grain to be had there, even though Moshulu waited at anchor for most of January. The crew was given shore leave in Port Lincoln, encountering large amounts of Australian wine. Moshulu eventually carried on to Port Victoria for cargo. During the 1939 season, Passat and Lawhill were also present at Port Lincoln. Newby wrote about his experiences on the round-trip from Ireland to South Australia in his book The Last Grain Race (1956), and several pictures of Port Lincoln as it appeared in 1939 are included in his photo-essay of his voyage, Learning the Ropes.

On the TV show Neighbours, the Brennan brothers, Tyler, Mark and Aaron, are originally from Port Lincoln.[34]


Historically, South Australia's first rural newspaper, the Port Lincoln Herald, owned by Robert Thomas, was published on 10 April 1839, before ceasing publication in September 1840.[35][36] According to the first edition, "...The object of the proprietors...is to promulgate just accounts of the capabilities of the only safe and commodious harbour yet known within the territories of South Australia."[37] Only six issues were released, with the first edition being printed in Hindley Street, Adelaide, and the second issue arriving seven months later, after being printed in a hut at Port Lincoln.[37]

The Western Weekly News (22 March 1902 – 1904)[38] was also briefly published in the town, as was another short lived, but outspoken publication, called Challenger (28 May 1932 - 4 June 1934), a sister publication of the West Coast Recorder.[39] The town was also the base of the Port Lincoln, Tumby and West Coast Recorder (22 July 1904 – 6 October 1909),[40] later known as the West Coast Recorder (1909-1942), which was then absorbed by the Port Lincoln Times. These days, Port Lincoln has one local newspaper (the Port Lincoln Times), a Rural Press publication first issued on 5 August 1927. It is published on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is printed in Murray Bridge at the high-tech Rural Press printing centre.

Port Lincoln has two local commercial radio stations, 89.9 Magic FM and 765 AM 5CC (the first local commercial station) broadcasting out of their Washington Street studio. It is also served by ABC West Coast SA on 1485 AM which broadcasts out of the Civic Centre on Tasman Terrace. It's also served by Triple J and ABC Radio National from Tumby Bay and satellite uplink from Melbourne respectively. ABC News Radio is also available on 91.5FM. It also receives KIXFM 87.6.

Free to air TV stations available in Port Lincoln are ABC, SBS, Southern Cross GTS/BKN (formerly Central Television), the Nine Network and Southern Cross Ten. Also available is Foxtel pay TV.

Twin towns

Port Lincoln is twinned with:

Notable people

See also


  1. "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18: Population Estimates by Significant Urban Area, 2008 to 2018". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2018.
  2. "2011 Census Community Profiles: Port Lincoln". ABS Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  3. "Eyre Western SA Government region" (PDF). The Government of South Australia. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  4. "Search result(s) for Port Lincoln LOCB (Record No.SA0040601) with the following layers being selected – "Suburbs and Localities", "Local Government Areas", "Counties" and "Place names (gazetteer)"". Property Location Browser. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  5. "District of Flinders Background Profile". Electoral Commission SA. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  6. "Federal electoral division of Grey" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  7. http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/swimming-with-bluefin-tuna-lucrative-starter/2008/04/24/1208743153757.html
  8. City of Port Lincoln website (Retrieved 2013-12-01)
  9. "Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, Chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide [...] told NITV: 'I urge Australia to define the 330 Aboriginal languages, most of them sleeping beauties, as the official languages of their region. [Australia should] introduce bilingual signs and thus change the linguistic landscape, of this beautiful country. So, for example, Port Lincoln should also be referred to as Galinyala, which is its original Barngarla name '", article by Sophie Verass (NITV), Indigenous meanings of Australian town names, 10 August 2016.
  10. Flinders, Matthew (1966) [1814]. "Chapter 6". A Voyage to Terra Australis : undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802, and 1803 in His Majesty's ship the Investigator, and subsequently in the armed vessel Porpoise and Cumberland Schooner; with an account of the shipwreck of the Porpoise, arrival of the Cumberland at Mauritius, and imprisonment of the commander during six years and a half in that island (Facsimile ed.). Adelaide; Facsimile reprint of: London : G. and W. Nicol, 1814 ed. In two volumes, with an Atlas (3 volumes): Libraries Board of South Australia. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  11. "Timeline". Encounter 1802–2002: Flinders, Baudin, and the discovery of the 'unknown coast'. State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  12. Foster and Nettelbeck (2012). Out of the Silence: The History and Memory of South Australia's Frontier Wars. Wakefield Press. pp. 43–54. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  13. Government of South Australia, BUILDING South Australia "Regional Overview – Eyre & Western" (2010) Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  14. "Eyre Peninsula Water Supply Final Report 85th Report of the Natural Resources Committee – Under the lens" Parliament South Australia, 2013
  15. "Former Windmill Base (sometime Pioneer Mill Museum)". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  16. "Hawson's Grave, Hawson Square". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  17. "'Arrandale' (Dwelling, Cottage and Stables)". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  18. "Port Lincoln Railway Station". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  19. "Port Lincoln Police Station & Courthouse". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  20. "Dwelling ('Ravendale House')". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  21. Population 2011 Census Australian Bureau of Statistics
  22. Ward, T. M., McLeay, L. J., Dimmlich, W. F., Rogers, P. J., McClatchie, S., Matthews, R., Kämpf, J. and Van Ruth, P. D. (2006), Pelagic ecology of a northern boundary current system: effects of upwelling on the production and distribution of sardine (Sardinops sagax), anchovy (Engraulis australis) and southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) in the Great Australian Bight. Fisheries Oceanography, 15: 191–207. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2419.2006.00353.x
  23. "BOM".
  24. "BOM".
  25. "Monthly climate statistics – NORTH SHIELDS (PORT LINCOLN AWS)". Commonwealth of Australia , Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  26. Tim Treadgold, The future is Fish: Japan's taste for tuna is creating millionaires in a tiny Australian town" Forbes Magazine, 22 May 2006
  27. "Three Men and a Boat". 7 April 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  28. Pt Lincoln ore exports win approval – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  29. ABC West Coast SA "Port fishermen protest against mineral exports" (2008-06-13)
  30. Company defends Lincoln ore export plan – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  31. Knife, Peter (2006). Peninsula Pioneer. Wahroonga: Peter Knife. pp. 162, 173, 321. ISBN 0975783505.
  32. Railway Museum celebrates 90th anniversary of building Port Lincoln Times 2 May 2017
  33. Buckland, J. L. "A Standard Gauge Industrial Railway in Mothballs" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, August 1977 pages 184-189
  34. Tyler Brennan biography at The Perfect Blend
  35. Port Lincoln herald. Adelaide : George Dehane. 1839.
  36. "Port Lincoln Herald - Trove List". Trove. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  37. "SA Memory - Port Lincoln Herald". www.samemory.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  38. The Western weekly news. Port Lincoln, S. Aust. : T. and J. Borthwick & Co. 1902.
  39. Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: C-E". guides.slsa.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  40. Port Lincoln, Tumby and West Coast recorder. Port Lincoln, S. Aust. : A.J. Hannagan for the proprietors, D. Drysdale & Co. 1904.
  41. Fenn, Kate. "Lincoln's Twin Towns". City of Lincoln Council, City Hall, Beaumont Fee, Lincoln. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  42. "Sprint Prince Chalmers, 15 & A Boy Called Kyle, Cracks Thorpey Mark Then Goes 49.6". SwimVortex. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  43. "Australians at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics: Cyclists". Australian Sports Commission. Archived from the original on 20 January 2000. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
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