Penola is located 51km north of Mt Gambier, not far from the Victorian state border. The little township secured a calling card on Australia’s tourism circuit when Mary MacKillop was recognised as the first Australian Saint through canonisation in the Roman Catholic Church.

Sister Mary of the Cross MacKillop found her calling here where she worked tirelessly and selflessly alongside Father Julian Tenison Woods developing a school and working in education and social welfare. Her compassion and devotion and the remarkably giving life Mary led can be discovered here at the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre.

penola-saint-mary-mackillop Mary MacKillop’s life is documented and displayed in the interpretive centre and a replica classroom has been set up in the original schoolhouse where Mary taught and lived in the 1960’s. The interesting and educational centre dedicated to Australia’s first Saint is open daily from 10am to 4pm and a nominal entry fee applies.

This lovely town offers this unique shrine to a remarkable woman so worthy of remembrance. Mary’s story is an extraordinary part of Australian history and Catholic Education. If you’re in the region on your travels do yourself a favour and visit the Mary MacKillop Centre. Learn the story of compassion, devotion and selflessness and get a real feel good out of the accomplishments of a gone but not forgotten Saint whose impact will last a lifetime.


Penola also offers the Coonawarra experience, one of South Australia’s most acclaimed wine regions. Boasting at least 10 wineries within 5km of the town centre, it’s the perfect place to base yourselves and explore the scenic countryside, vineyards and indulge a bit. This state is famous for its wineries and there are certainly plenty to explore here.

This historic township in the heart of wine country is a breath of fresh air. Wide open spaces, grapevines galore and plenty to tempt the tastebuds.

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Destinations in South Australia




Eyre Peninsula

Flinders Ranges


Kingston SE

Lincoln National Park

Murray Bridge

Nullarbor Plain


Port Augusta

Port Lincoln

Port Pirie

Rapid Bay


Streaky Bay

Tailem Bend

Victor Harbour

Yorke Peninsula

Return from Penola to South Australia