Penola featured as a Top 10 Ag Town

TOWN'S PRIDE: Penola has once again made it to the top 10 for the South Australian Ag Town of the Year Award as it now remains the only Limestone Coast town in the 2024 line-up. (Tyler Redway: 418151)

Tyler Redway

PENOLA has earned a spot with the top 10 finalists for South Australia’s Ag Town of the Year Award.

Penola was one of the record-breaking 73 total towns nominated for the award in 2024, which gathered more than 3600 public votes during the selection process.

Wattle Range Council councillor Emma Castine was born and raised in Penola, which she said had a very strong balance of both agriculture and community.

“We are not necessarily the service town, but we do offer a lot of culture and personal connection where it all comes together,” Cr Castine said.

“I love that Penola has not outgrown its history and with its steady growth levels, it has a really strong sense of community.

“Sometimes it might feel like we are just holding on but in reflection when you drive around the country or travel the world, a town like Penola is just amazingly strong in its community and support of all sorts of agriculture.”

Cr Castine said she was proud to see Penola make the top 10 of the award again after several other Limestone Coast towns had joined it last year.

She said the opportunity to have a town like Penola win a chance to be featured in the SA Life magazine would greatly boost interest for the town’s industry and tourism.

“When you are driving through the region, you can see all kinds of crops growing, there are people moving machinery down the road and the guy from the trucking company could be the same one you see later at the pub, so it all has this nice sense of a community,” she said.

“I think we are very privileged to have someone nominate us, it’s a fantastic effort put up by PIRSA to draw attention to more agricultural towns.

“To have that recognition in SA Life gives towns that much needed push which we do need, so this kind of exposure from winning, or even getting into the top 10, gives us a much needed boost to keep that balance just right for our town.

“It is always tough for agriculture but it pays off because of how great it would be to get more business and attention for our cafes and other local businesses.”

Cr Castine said “at least half a dozen” families had moved to Penola from the bigger cities due to the affordability of land and homes as well as the overall country environment.

“I think it is a great story for people, we are halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne, so when you come here you do it to slow down a bit,” she said.

“People are realising they love it here, so then they start bringing in their own ideas and contributing to the town in their own unique ways.

“You can go and grab a coffee from a shop and then look over to see a farmer moving a herd of cattle, so you don’t get to see that across the rest of Australia and it is so easily accessible to be a part of.”

Penola will now move into the finals along with Kapunda, Bute, Eudunda, Cummins, Gladstone, Kimba, Burra, Laura and Jamestown.

Each town will write and submit applications to the judging panel detailing how agriculture is both promoted and supported for the town’s economy.

The panel will then select three finalists to progress to the next phase of the competition.

The 2024 winner will be announced at the Regional Showcase Awards celebration event on October 24.