Early history shows that Thevenard began as a farm owned by a Mr and Mrs Smith. But the story goes that they were not happy living there and one day, when they saw a boat come into Murat Bay, they "jumped up from the breakfast table, left the house, boarded the boat and never returned." In the early years, Thevenard peninsula was used by Afghan camelleers to graze animals after bringing wool from Tarcoola and outlying stations.
Thevenard was surveyed as a town in 1915. The West Coast Sentinel, 25 October 1922, says "Mr Scott Griffiths, the appointed Town Planner, is here with chief surveyor Mr McNamara, to plan out Cape Thevenard township... Cape Thevenard is destined sooner or later to be the busiest and most important overseas port of the West Coast. Mr Scott Griffiths was a successful prize winner in the designs for the Federal Capital site."
The construction of the port was authorised in 1914 and started in 1916, when a contract was let to Messrs Stone and Siddeley to construct a concrete jetty 375 mts long, the first of its kind in Australia. The reinforced concrete caissons for the jetty were cast on the beach and floated into position. It was completed in 1920. The steamer Walcheren was the first ship to load there, with a cargo of 5000 tonnes of wheat.
From the late 1920s, the Greek community has played a big part in the development of Thevenard. Greek influence was in Thevenard from the 1920s, when they came across to work scrub clearing with axes for farmers and also worked on the Tod River pipeline.
They saw the opportunity to start a fishing industry and many took up fishing for a living and from this, many big name SA fish processing businesses began. Greek culture was very strong in the early days, typified by Greek men who would gather at the Greek Cafe. Today the Greek community has greatly declined as many have moved away as fishing decreases. Up on the hill, at the back of Thevenard on Kent Street, is the Greek Club and Church. The original hall was built in around the old one, which was pulled down once the other was complete.
The distance from Adelaide made it impossible to sell fish outside the area until some form of refrigeration was obtained. The ketch Wookata provided this when it began operating in 1909. There was no local cold storage for fish, so fishermen did casual fishing for local markets when there was no ship and intensive fishing when the Wookata was in port. J Hill formed the company Marine Foods Ltd and opened a fish factory in 1940. Eventually Harry Paul bought out Marine Foods, and other processing plants started. Today there are two fish processing factories at Thevenard. The fishing industry is now carefully controlled and fishing licenses are not easy to obtain.
Silos were first erected in 1960-61 by Dillingham Constructions and, over the next 20 years, the whole system was built and now has a carrying capacity of 233,000 tonnes and bunkers which can store 120,000 tonnes. Wheat, barley and oats are exported all around the world from farms in this district.
ABB Grain, a listed company directed by growers, receives, handles, stores and exports the majority of the State's grain harvest, on behalf of the grain industry. Ship loading facilities at Thevenard can handle around 1000 tonnes per hour.
As you start your visit to Thevenard, you travel along the coast, following the railway line, past the Ceduna Area School on the left and on the right is the Rock Jetty boat launching area. To the left, over the railway line, is the Koonibba Aboriginal Football oval and clubrooms. The road that passes there also leads down to the fish processing factories, the fishermen's slipway and mooring area.
Back on the main road, as you travel towards the jetty, you pass the Thevenard Football oval and clubrooms, Thevenard Hotel and ABB Grain, silo, salt and gypsum works. From the jetty you see two islands on the left, the smaller is Goat Island and the larger, St Peter Island.
Fish processing factories started in 1940 and are situated on the south-eastern coastline, following along from Bergmann Drive, overlooking the fishing fleet which moors in the bay. Fish factories are generally open seven days a week from 6.30am to 6.30pm, and you are welcome to buy fresh or frozen fish when workers are there.
The monument on the right, as you drive down the jetty, was donated by the Dutch people of South Australia, commemorating the voyage of Thyssen in 1627. The crane nearby was originally used on the Denial Bay jetty.
It is believed that Thevenard's Pinky Point, on the Ceduna side of the Thevenard Jetty, may have been named after a small marsupial called a "pinky", the Australia Bilby, seen in large numbers before the area was developed.
A large look out platform has been constructed on the Point providing a great view over the wharf and to the islands beyond. Disabled access provided.
Also at Pinky Point is the Lighthouse Memorial to those lost at sea. Created and funded by the Thevenard Rate Payers Association, a ceremony is held each year at the Memorial to remember those lost at sea.
Gypsum and salt works are in evidence by the stockpiles which are on either side of the entrance to the jetty. Salt is on the right and trucked down from Penong when a shipment is needed. Gypsum is in huge stockpiles on the left, brought down by train from Lake McDonnell, Penong, on a daily basis.
This group was formed in October 1994 and since then, has brought about significant changes to the appearance of the town. Once having a purely industrial image, and in danger of losing its identity, Thevenard now has become a great place to live. The Group's objectives are to co-exist with the various industries - gypsum, grain, salt, railways, fishing and fish processing, fertilizer shipping and road transport - and to improve the general aesthetic appearance of the town, thus making it more attractive for residents, industry and tourists. Many improvements have been made, including murals and artwork, parks and gardens and plans are underway for future projects.