Drive along South Road until you are about 60 kilometres south of Adelaide and you will find yourself in the main street of Myponga, a town with history, scenic beach views and the engineering achievement of the Myponga Reservoir.
The original inhabitants of the area were the Kaurna people, from which the name of Myponga, meaning high cliffs, has its origin. The rich grazing and dairy country and undulating hills make way for the main street of the small town.
The Myponga market is a feature in the main street, housed in the building formerly used by the award winning Myponga Co-op Cheese and Butter Factory. The market, open on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays, is an interesting collection of treasures old and new. Local artists display unique paintings and sculptures, other stalls sell bric-a-brac, books, records and crafts. There is even a sausage sizzle near the entrance.
The Myponga General Store, home of the Sand Pit diner, the Country Picnic Bakery and the Smiling Samoyed Brewery make up the trading nucleus of the town centre. The award-winning brewery, founded in 2012 by Simon Dunstone and Kate Henning, is open to visitors on Friday to Sunday and public holidays.
Myponga was the site of the Australian Festival of Progressive Music, more commonly known as the Myponga Rock Festival in 1971. Headlined by Black Sabbath and Daddy Cool, the three-day festival was organised by Adelaide entrepreneur Hamish Henry and attended by 15,000 people. Australian bands including Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and Spectrum were also featured acts. Cat Stevens was also scheduled to perform but failed to appear at the festival.
Situated 12 kilometres from the town centre, Myponga beach occupies a small valley moulded by the Myponga Creek. The 450 metre rock-strewn beach, protected by 50 metre high cliffs, which form a boundary at each end, is home to beachside holiday houses and a favourite for fishing and kayaking. Children would enjoy playing in the shallow pools and swimming in the central portion of the beach, although the unpatrolled beach with rocks and rips could be dangerous for swimming further out.
Travelling to the beach from the town centre, along Reservoir Road provides stunning views of the Gulf of St. Vincent. The dirt section has hairpin bends, corrugations, a steep drop from the narrow road and surprisingly a speed limit of 50km per hour. Along Sampson Road, near the beach sits an old ruin, although there is no sign to indicate its identity. The Brooklyn Farm Bed and Breakfast, owned by Heather and Rob Thompson is also located on the road to the beach.
The beach, reported to be the site of the first European settlement on the Fleurieu Peninsula, has not been without tragedy and drama. The Hewett family, early settlers in the peninsula built a homestead from stone pulled from the cliffs by a six bullock dray. Unfortunately, a particularly heavy load of stone pulled the bullock back over the cliff and into the sea.
The remains of the jetty, built in 1860, stand as a reminder of the misfortune that occurred there. During the official opening, a woman with a baby was on the overcrowded jetty, when she was accidentally pushed off the jetty onto the rocks. The baby survived, unfortunately the woman died.
The jetty, used for the shipping trade for 30 years, exporting livestock, wheat and local wattle bark for leather tanning, was destroyed by bad weather in 1900.
From the lookout on Reservoir Road, the expanse of deep blue water surrounded by the deep green pine trees and orange tones of the earth, set against the vast cement dam wall is quite impressive. The view of the Myponga Reservoir overshadows the innovation and engineering required to build the 49-metre high and 220 metre long curved wall. Driving along the road that travels on top of the curved wall, it is comforting to know that there are 60,000 tonnes of concrete and a 17 metre thick base to separate the cars from the water.
Opened by Governor Sir Edric Bastyn, in 1962, the reservoir is fed by the Myponga River and other rivers in the 140 square kilometre catchment area. The reservoir can hold up to 26800 mega litres of water and rarely drops below half full. Giant pipes carry the water over, under and through the hills to the southern beachside suburbs and towns in the Fleurieu area and as far as Happy Valley.
Myponga offers a variety of activities for all the family, for a quick stop on the way to Cape Jervis or for a little longer, perhaps in one of the holiday rentals at the Myponga Beach.