Cowell Visitor Guide

Cowell’s history begins with the Barngarla Aboriginal people who occupied the area thousands of years prior to settlement, living by the sea in the warmer months and inland during the colder months. They hunted for a wide variety of seafood — mainly fish (Gooya) — and hunted land animals, often wearing cloaks of kangaroo skin with the fur turned inside during winter to keep them warm. The descendants of the Barngarla people were granted native title rights over much of the Eyre Peninsula in 2018. In 1802, Matthew Flinders sailed past and mistook Franklin Harbour for a large lagoon and so decided not to name it. That fell to Governor Gawler in 1840, who named it after Sir John Franklin, Governor of Tasmania and acclaimed Arctic explorer. Ironically, John Franklin was a midshipman on Matthew Flinders’ ship Investigator, which sailed past 38 years before. In 1853, the three McKechnie brothers took up land nearby, which was known as Wangaraleednie Station, paving the way for other farmers to settle in the area. Franklin Harbour grew in importance as sheep and wheat were shipped across the Spencer Gulf. Cowell was gazetted in 1880, when Governor Jervois named the township after brilliant English engineer Sir John Cowell. Today, the town boasts a variety of shops, services, eateries, places to stay, recreation and sporting facilities, boating amenities, and internet access. Cowell’s charm is further enhanced by a wide pine-tree-lined main street, while the architecture is distinctly colonial South Australian. A harbour town anchored in history 2