Robe is one of the oldest towns in South Australia, founded by the colonial government as a seaport, administrative centre and village only ten years after British settlers formally established the Colony of South Australia.

Robe was named after the fourth Governor of South Australia, Major Frederick Robe, who chose the site as a port in 1845.

The town was proclaimed as a port in 1847. It became South Australia's second-busiest international port (after Port Adelaide) in the 1850s. Robe's trade was drawn from a large hinterland that extended into western Victoria, and many roadside inns were built to cater for the bullock teamsters bringing down the wool, including the 'Bush Inn' still standing on the outskirts of Robe.

Exports included horses, sheep skins and wool. The Customs House is listed by the National Trust of Australia. This is depicted on Governor Robes’ front wine label. A stone obelisk was built on Cape Dombey in 1852 to assist ships to navigate safely into the bay. 

Even so, there have been a number of shipwrecks along the coast in the area. 

During the Victorian gold rushes around 1857, over 16,000 Chinese people landed at Robe to travel overland to the goldfields, as Victoria introduced a landing tax of £10 per person (more than the cost of their voyage) to reduce the number of Chinese immigrants. The immigrants then walked the 200 miles (320 km) to Ballarat and Bendigo.

Today, the township of Robe is a charming seaside town, rich in seafaring history, with extraordinary events and wonderful sites. Special care has been taken to restore most of the original buildings.

By walking the streets and visiting these buildings one can relive Robe’s pioneering history. Robe offers an amazing shopping experience, and to match this with award-winning local wines, quality regional produce and a vast collection of fresh seafood (southern rock lobster in particular), it is easy to see why it is now proclaimed “South Australia’s favourite seaside town!”