Located 385 km south-east of Adelaide, Beachport is a seaside town of enormous appeal. There's an air of sophistication about the central area and beyond the town centre it is a typical seaside resort for a relaxed beach holiday atmosphere. The appeal of the town is created by a wonderful mixture of Norfolk pines, pure aquamarine waters, beautiful white sands and a sense of relaxation produced by people swimming, fishing and boating. It is also an important port for the local crayfishing industry.
Now here's a piece of trivia to conjure with. Beachport was not named because of its proximity to the sea. In the earliest days, before European settlement, it was known as 'Wirmalngrang' to the local Booandik Aborigines. The first European into the area was Nicholas Baudin in 1802 who named it Rivoli after the Duke of Rivoli who had helped Napoleon defeat the Austrians at Rivoli in northern Italy in 1796. By the early years of the 19th century the bay was being used by whalers and by 1845 Captain Emmanuel Underwood had built a store and was trading with merchants in Port Adelaide.
One of the characteristics of the area is the shallowness of the waters offshore. This accounts for the town's jetty which, at 772 metres, is one of the longest in Australia. It was commenced in 1878 and the plan was to build it nearly 1300 metres long.
Today the town is sustained by a combination of fishing (this is an excellent crayfish area) and tourism. It is a charming centre with plenty of good walks and interesting historic sites.
Things to do
Old Wool & Grain Store - National Trust Museum
Now a National Trust Museum, the Old Wool and Grain Store is located in Railway Terrace. Dating from the 1879-80 and built of local freestone and limestone quoins. The building was originally constructed as a wool and grain store. The stores were held downstairs and the upstairs was used as a residence. At one point a railway line ran from the store to the jetty. It was restored by the National Trust in 1972. The museum has a good collection of artefacts from the town's whaling and shipping past. It also, for those curious about the drains outside the town, has a special exhibition titled Down the Drain which explains the region's water drainage. For details and opening times (08) 8735 8013.
Pool of Siloam
Located on the Scenic Drive, this is about as close as Australia gets to the Dead Sea. It is fed by underground springs and has a salinity seven times that of the sea. This means that it is popular for therapeutic purposes. It also means that if you are a non-swimmer you will float. You can even lie on your back and read a book.
Beachport Conservation Park
The excellent handout 'Beachport Walking Trails' explains: 'Drive from the jetty with the sea on your left-hand side and turn around the roundabout passing the National Trust Museum and the Beachport Hotel. About 0.7 km from the roundabout you will see a road sign posted to Lake George. Follow this for 5.2 km until the sealed road ends at the boundary of the Beachport Conservation Park.'
The path (taking the right hand fork) follows the edge of Lake George. The park is important as the habitat for Lewin's Water Rail, Rufous Bristle Bird and the Olive Whistler. There are also some particularly important Aboriginal middens in the area.
Penguin Island Conservation Park
Drive to the seaside end of Foster Street and you can walk past the lighthouse to a lookout which looks across at Penguin Island. The lighthouse, which was built in 1878, used to be on Penguin Island but was moved to the mainland in 1960. The lookout, particularly if you have a good pair of binoculars, offers an excellent view of Penguin Island which is characterised by 10-15 metre cliffs and is the breeding ground for silver gulls, little penguins and crested terns. There are also Australian fur seals on the island.
Located 10km north of Beachport this cutting (ie huge trench) took M. B. McCourt three years. The local publicity declares that it is 'probably Australia's biggest engineering feat performed by one person. It took Mr McCourt three years and it did convert a large area of swamp into farmland. There's an observation platform where you can admire the man's tenacity and hard work.
Beachport Walking Trails
There is an excellent brochure listing a number of walking trails in the district which have been named after local identities. There is Lanky's Walk (named after an Aboriginal tracker and reputedly the last member of the Booandik tribal grouping) which lasts 30 minutes and moves through native bushland to Lanky's Well (where Lanky used to water the police horses) starting from Railway Terrace just beyond North West Terrace. There's Jack and Hilda McArthur Walk around Wooley's Lake which starts at the car park in the Beachport Conservation Park and Wendy's Walk (45 mins) which offers views across the Southern Ocean and starts at the steps opposite South Terrace on Foster Street.
For tourism information, see South Australia tourism website.