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Marion Bay

Marion Bay, on the very 'foot' of the Yorke Peninsula, is recorded as being named after the steamer Marion which was wrecked on a reef (now known as Marion Reef) near the Althorpe Islands. However the South Australian State Gazetteer suggests that the bay was shown as named prior to the shipwreck.

Like many towns, the population of the Marion Bay area developed in response to economic opportunity. Gypsum, a mineral used as an ingredient for plaster, was discovered in the area, and William Innes (after whom the mining village and the National Park are named) formed the Australian Gypsum and Whiting Company in the 1880s, to mine the gypsum leases in the area.

As a substantial jetty was necessary to support the export of the large quantities of gypsum being mined, the Marion Bay jetty was built in 1889. Unlike other jetties on the Yorke Peninsula which were built for the export of primary produce, Marion Bay jetty was constructed with wooden tramway tracks, along which the gypsum was transported from the Inneston mining operations, located in what is now known as Innes National Park.

Image: Railway track used to transport gypsum at Marion Bay

When operations were taken over by Mr A.A. Hassell in 1898, the original wooden tramway tracks were replaced with steel rails, and steam locomotives and side tipping trucks were installed to carry the gypsum down to the jetty. By the 1920s grain, wool and salt were also being shipped from Marion Bay. In 1930 nearby Stenhouse Bay took over the shipment of gypsum from lower Yorke Peninsula.

By 1970 Inneston had become a ghost town as mining operations ceased. Today the partially restored Inneston village and the stately heritage-listed Stenhouse Bay jetty provide excellent insights into the mining history of the region.

Other mining that has taken place on the Peninsula includes copper (Moonta Mines), lime (near Stansbury), dolomite (Ardrossan), and salt (Edithburgh and Price).

Marion Bay has now developed into another popular holiday town on the Yorke Peninsula, offering swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, and bushwalking in Innes National Park.

Further reading: 

Carmichael, Ern, The ill-shaped leg : a story of the development of Yorke Peninsula , Fullarton, S. Aust., 1973

Collins, Neville C., The jetties of South Australia: past and present, Woodside, S.A.: Neville Collins, 2005, page 119

Nelson, Keith Kitchener. The history of Marion Bay, Inneston and Stenhouse Bay, 1922-1939 [Warooka, S. Aust.: Warooka District Council], c1994

Parsons, Allan, Yorke Peninsula ... a resident's views , Yorketown, S. Aust. : A. Parsons, 1987


Gypsum at Marion Bay
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Holiday photographs : Marion Bay
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Ketch 'Reginald M' at Marion Bay
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Workers shovelling gypsum at Marion Bay
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