Discover the history and indigenous heritage of Port Lincoln
The Eyre Peninsula is the traditional home to the Barngarla (Port Lincoln area), Nauo on the Southern Side, and Wirangu peoples further up the far west coast.
When Mathew Flinders first arrived in the area he was greeted by the Barngarla people, they believed they were the spirits of the ancestors returned from their islands, the Barngarla people helped show the first settlers where to locate fresh water which saved them from perishing. The traditional Barngarla name for Port Lincoln is Galinyala, it means place of sweet water.
The Barngarla people lived by the coast and inland which they visited seasonally and for special purposes. They have a strong connection to the sea and they fished for a wide variety of seafood — mainly fish (gooya) — and hunted land animals like kangaroos, emus (warraidya), birds (irda), snakes and lizards. A favourite food of the Barngarla people were the Nondo beans (acacia seeds) from the Wattle trees and Karkalla (pigface) plants. Barngarla people wore cloaks made from kangaroo skin, with the fur turned inside during winter to keep warm.
The Barngarla people’s dreaming includes stories that are Barngarla local stories and universal Dreamtime stories that link into other places and other tribes like the seven sisters stories. These stories connect to the moon, stars, landscapes and islands.
Pioneer settlement and maritime history
Port Lincoln is steeped in maritime and pioneering history and has many interesting museums, galleries, and installations.
In 1802, Mathew Flinders named Port Lincoln after his native county of Lincolnshire in England after he sailed his exploration vessel HMS Investigator into the harbour.
Under immense pressure from the first South Australia Governor, Sir John Hindmarsh to find a capital for the 'New British Provence of South Australia’, Colonel William Light once considered Port Lincoln as the State’s capital.
Eventually, Adelaide won out—mainly due to more accessible fresh water—but boatloads of first settlers began arriving in Port Lincoln from 1839 onwards. In October of that same year, 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 began in 1880, and the Municipality of Port Lincoln officially proclaimed in 1921. As the town grew and became a prominent agriculture and commercial port, and growing centre for aquaculture, city status was granted to Port Lincoln in early 1971 with the proclamation read at the opening of the tenth annual Tunarama Festival.
Today, visitors of the Port Lincoln region can check out the many monuments, memorials and museums that tell the pioneer and maritime history of Port Lincoln region including the Axel Stenross Maritime Museum, Mill Cottage Museum, Railway Museum, the RSL military memorabilia display, Settlers Cottage Museum and Tod Reservoir Museum.