A small attractive town 111km south of Whyalla, Cowell is on the shores of Franklin Harbour. Peninsular pincers, which protect the almost land-locked, 48 sq km bay, guarantee safe swimming and fishing for both a large commercial fleet and recreational anglers.
A wide variety of fish including spotted and silver whiting, snapper, snook, tommy ruff, mullet, flathead and garfish, frequent these waters.
Social centre of the town is the stately centenarian, the Franklin Harbour Hotel, which has been welcoming travellers since 1881. The welcome mat, however, belies the hotel site's dark past. The hotel stands on the graves of four Aborigines who were publicly hanged in January 1856 after being found guilty in Adelaide for their part in the slaying of a Wangaraleednie Station shepherd named Peter Brown in 1855.
Fishing, night crabbing and local agriculture apart, Cowell’s prosperity is also anchored by Australia’s one and only jade-mining industry. Discovered in the nearby Minbrie Ranges in 1965, the Cowell jade deposits are recognised as among the largest and oldest in the world and produce a variety of colours and patterns found nowhere else. Rough jade is available for sale at the Gemstone Corporation compound in the township.