Saint Matthew's Church, Poonindie

Travelling north along the Lincoln Highway about 16 kms from Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, you will come upon the small township of Poonindie. Here we have two churches, a school 105 years old and families whose forebears date back to the Mission days. The Poonindie brickworks, long since closed, made and supplied red bricks for the first trust homes in Port Lincoln and Whyalla and for private homes and buildings you can see around Port Lincoln today.

Families with young children are moving in nowadays preferring the quiet country life, at the same time appreciating the chance to have their children educated at a country school.

To the east of the Church the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Community Council manage a 300-acre property, which was dedicated as an Aboriginal reserve when the Mission closed in 1894. Here farming is being carried out as well as environmental activities along the Tod River banks to its mouth and surrounds.

But in 1850 what wonderful pristine countryside Poonindie would have been with the Sheoak clad hills in the west sloping down to the grassy plains and on to the sea. Unhindered by man, the Tod River would have flowed wide, cool and clear and clean.  

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In the late afternoon sun St Matthew's The Altar
  St Matthews late afternoon  St Matthew's wintertime The Altar and the hanging lamps
Inside the Church Beautiful stained glass windows The old school framed in original gate
  Inside of the Church Stained glass windows, the font and organ  Old School framed in the original gate leading to the Mission
Old ration shed and bake oven Poonidie Church lane Nearby Tod River
Old ration Shed & bake oven Poonindie Church lane complete with a pepper tree Nearby Tod River

It was in this spot that Archdeacon Hale established his Aboriginal Training Institution, his vision being to create here a Christian village to educate the aborigines and to teach them to farm the land and to live as English men and women.

In 1854-55 the church was built intended at first to be the school, but on completion it became the church, serving both the mission and the local community. In a parliamentary paper dated April 12 / 1856 Archdeacon Hale stated that although the building was not complete they were able to hold the first divine Service in the loft on May 17 1855. This service heralded the beginning of the Church of Saint Matthew.

When the Mission closed after 44 years and the land was divided and sold, the Church and a small area of land remained the property of the Anglican Church. Throughout the years bands of loyal parishioners have lovingly cared for it. 

Today at Poonindie we are an older congregation in the main and are delighted when young ones come along. Some like to come because it holds a special place in their lives, some because the history appeals to them, some because of family involvement over the years but all because they want to worship and where better than in this little church where services are held at 11.00 am on the third Sunday of each month. The church fills to capacity when lamp lit services are held on Christmas Eve and St Matthews Day.

This heritage listed unique little church with its double chimney, its stained glass windows, its hanging lamps, its loft with its winding staircase, its wealth of history and old world charm is becoming increasingly popular in recent years for weddings and baptisms.

Although the history of St Matthews is important, and holds great interest for people all over Australia, it is foremost in our minds at all times that St Matthews, first of all is a place of worship as it was intended in its beginning on that day in May 1855 when Archdeacon Hale conducted the first divine service upstairs in the loft.