Things to do in Penola
Image credit: With Love Photography
The village of Penola is only a short 10 minutes’ drive from the Redman Cellar Door. Offering historic walks, great food and wine, and home to Australia’s first (and only) saint – Penola has it all.
New to the Coonawarra region? Drop into the John Riddoch Centre to find out more about Penola’s local history.
Where to eat in Penola
It’s a small community, but we’re big on our food! There are some great places to enjoy dining in Penola and a few in Coonawarra to also add to your list. Here are a few of our family favourites.
Fine dining right in the heart of Coonawarra. Situated in a beautifully restored Methodist Church, Pipers offer a seasonal à la carte menu showcasing South Australia’s fantastic regional produce. Their menu is concise but focused with exceptional quality dishes and house made specialties. Their impressive wine list also includes a range of our great regional wineries available by the glass, with a glass of Redman often enjoyed over a delicious meal.
For the classic Australian country pub experience, you can’t go past the Royal Oak Hotel. The hotel dates back to 1848 and holds the distinction of inspiring the town’s name! The team at the Royal Oak are dedicated to working with small local producers and sourcing their food and wine offerings from the Limestone Coast. Their seasonal menu offers outstanding takes on pub classics. You don’t just have to take our word for it – their restaurant recently won Savour Australia’s Award for Excellence!
Upstairs at Hollick is one of the original winery restaurants in Coonawarra and always and enjoyable dining experience. The restaurant features floor to ceiling windows offering views over the vineyard and the broader Coonawarra region. The chefs have created an impressive menu featuring stunning à la carte dining, a degustation option, or the ‘Feed Me!’ experience – a specially curated selection of plates for the whole table.
Cafe in the Vines. Credit: South Australia
If you’re looking for the creature comforts of pizza and wine, look no further than Ottelia + Fodder. Set on a picturesque property lined by tall red gum eucalypts, Ottelia + Fodder is one of our favourite local haunts. Their menu is designed as a series of small dishes made for sharing, and we highly recommend their wood fired sourdough pizzas. Their dishes feature locally sourced ingredients and vegetables from their restaurant garden.
Like us, Ottelia is also part of the Coonawarra Walking Trail.
Places to visit in Penola
A historic town with a huge reputation. Penola has lots of amazing places to stop and enjoy, especially en route to visit some of our wineries.
Step back in time with the beautifully preserved and restored historic cottages and gardens along Petticoat Lane. Part of Penola’s historic walk, the cottages and surrounds provide visitors the opportunity to learn how the early settlers of the region lived. and to read their stories and experiences in the nineteenth century. Their fantastic herb and vegetable garden produce is also on offer to visitors for a gold coin donation.
It’s also the home to the original William Wilson Cottage. William Wilson was credited as one of the Father’s of Coonawarra, a visionary horticulturalist and part of our long family linage who advised pioneering winemaker John Riddoch where to plant the best vines in Coonawarra. Read more about his story.
Mary Mackillop is Australia’s first (and currently only) saint, canonised by the Catholic Church in 2010. She was most widely known for her work in Penola, where she devoted herself to educating children. Located at the entrance to the Petticoat Lane heritage area, the site of the schoolhouse has both religious and historical significance with buildings dating back to 1866.
Mary MacKillop Centre. Credit: South Australia
You’ll find the Penola War Memorial Park right in the middle of town. With neat lawns, large trees, a playground and barbeque facilities, it’s the perfect spot to take a break and enjoy the sunshine. There’s also a skate park nearby.
Also located in the heart of town you’ll find Penola Swimming Pool . It has free entry and has a great kids pool, perfect for a dip in summer.
The Penola Conservation Park is a protected nature reserve with an abundance of native flora and fauna. Each season offers something new to experience for keen bushwalkers and birdwatchers.
North of Penola, the Father Woods Park was established to recognise the work of Catholic Priest Father Woods. In 2010, Victorian artist Kevin Gilders carved an impressive series of sculptures about Woods’ life.
Local Artist Harriet Mort has her paintings showcased at local Images. Her paintings are so popular that she struggles to keep up with demand.
Travelling with kids? They will adore Toffee and Treats of Penola!
Naracoorte Caves. Credit: South Australia
The World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves are estimated to be 800,000 years old and are one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. There are 28 known caves, four of which are open to the public (the others are reserved for research or preservation). The National Parks and Wildlife Service offer self-guided, guided, or adventure caving tours. The caves remain at a cool 17 degrees year-round – making it perfect to visit in any season.
When you’ve finished exploring Penola, why not take the short 10-minute drive along the Riddoch Highway to the Redman Cellar Door? From here you can explore Coonawarra’s finest wine and stock up on all of your favourites while you’re in the region!