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The location was originally called “Deception Bay” by the Government Auctioneer, Robert Cock and a Dr. R. G. Jameson, who in 1838 explored the land surrounding “a beautiful semi-circular bay.” They explored for 40 kilometres inland but did not find fresh water. They felt they had been deceived by the beautiful surroundings – hence the name.

It was the original landing spot for early settlers and their stores which were brought over by ketch. Because of the tidal inlet, it was once known as “Salt Water Creek.” The present name “Coobowie” is the name the aborigines knew it by which means “Wild Fowl and Water.”

It is here where Inspector Tolmer, of the South Australian Police Force, captured 3 bushrangers who had escaped from Tasmania after shooting 2 policemen. They had boarded a whaler and when the vessel was in the vicinity of Kangaroo Island, they had stolen a boat from the ship. After investigation Tolmer captured the men and they were transported back to Tasmania where they were subsequently hanged.

The old causeway, built in 1878 at a cost of $1080, shortened the journey around the bay by 7.2 kilometres. The town was officially dedicated on 7 January 1875.

(Information sourced from