Located approximately 300 kilometres from Adelaide, Stenhouse Bay was the most southern settlement on Yorke Peninsula until the 1970s. It was the hub of a prosperous mining industry with a community of around 500 residents. Today, the only signs that there was ever a township in the district are a jetty and some old mining implements, which remind us of where South Australia's primary source of gypsum once came from.
Stenhouse Bay is simple to get to by road via Port Wakefield, Ardrossan, Minlaton and Warooka. It serves as the entry point to Innes National Park, which is best discovered on foot along the many bushwalking trails. These trails range from easy one-hour walks to moderate four-hour hikes, so there's something for everyone.
Access to the jetty and old mining implements is from the Stenhouse Jetty car park, reachable by any two-wheel drive. I had no problems at all with my little old Toyota Corolla. A stroll along the two-kilometre Stenhouse Bay Lookout Walk will reward you with spectacular views over Investigator Strait. It's definitely one of the best views I've experienced here, and I'm sure the series of seven lookouts will take your breath away too. The walk is well-marked and dotted with interpretive signs explaining the history of the area.
Back in the mining days, before the depression hit in 1930, a building boom fueled demand for the gypsum found at Inneston. Trolleys filled with gypsum was hauled from there to the Stenhouse Bay jetty by diesel locomotives. Then, for efficient shipping, the gypsum was lowered down a chute and moved along the jetty to waiting ships.
Investigator Strait was the natural thoroughfare for ships carrying passengers and cargo to/from interstate and overseas. However, the use of this narrow waterway came with a cost. Over 70 lives were lost from 26 shipwrecks in the strait. You can learn more about the ships' graveyards and their abandoned vessels by following the Investigator Strait Shipwreck Trail. The graveyard of one ship, the Hougomont, is located in the waters around Stenhouse Bay.
I love your historical articles Audrey. Stenhouse Bay rang a bell in the memory banks. We visited the area many years ago when stopping to 'boil the billy' on the cliff tops overlooking the jetty. Sadly, as it seems, that was all we saw of the area. Neil.