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Adventure Kayaking SA: The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and Ships Graveyard

Home > Adelaide > Adventure | Sport
by Beach Gal (subscribe)
Adelaide-based writer with a passion for good coffee, beach walks, bike riding, the great outdoors and writing about my experiences!
Published April 30th 2012
A three-hour guided kayaking trip through the Dolphin Sanctuary and Ships' Graveyard, just north of Port Adelaide, is a great way to experience the outdoors.

Kayak tours by Adventure Kayaking SA where all the organising is done for you - launches at Garden Island Reserve Boat Ramp on the Port River. Our guide Tom, gave us quick, on-land 'how to' instructions which covered sitting in the kayak, steering, handling the oars, some paddling technique and we were off.

The Dolphin Sanctuary is home to a pod of 30 bottlenose dolphins. We saw three including a baby and while kayaks are excluded from moving closer than 50 metres to dolphins, they often move closer to the kayaks. We were struck by the abundant bird-life on the water, which included cormorants, ibis' and pelicans to name a few.

After about half an hour, Tom led us into the shallow, shady area of the mangrove creek. This narrow waterway, covered with a canopy of mangrove trees was a pleasant change from the open expanse of the river. Our guide explained the nature of the system and its environmental significance as a fish breeding area.

Next up, we headed to the spectacular Ships' Graveyard! The iron hull of the 49 metre-long Santiago is still almost intact and stands high above the water level. Built in Scotland in 1856, it has remained in its final resting place since 1945.

Not quite as impressive, but also full of history is the wreck of the Dorothy H Stirling. Originally 81m in length, this ship was abandoned during the Great Depression and gradually broken up and stripped of its valuable wood. Visible today at low tide are the remains of the iron strutting which would have formed the hull.

Following a close-up paddle around the wrecks we headed back to base. All up - a great experience. The paddling would rate as gentle exercise and the pace - slow enough to be comfortable for novice kayakers.

Cost: The Adventure Tour (3 hours)
Adults: $70
Concession: $50
Child: $40
Family Special (2 Adults and 2 children): $180

The Family Tour (2 hours)
Adults: $50
Concession: $40
Child: $25
Family Special : $130

Kayak Hire and self-guided tour per person (3 hours)
Adults: $45
Concession/Children: $30
Family Special: $120
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Why? Exercise and enjoy the great outdoors
When: On Request
Where: Garden Island Reserve Boat Ramp
Cost: Adventure Tour - 3 hours, Adults, $70 - Children $40 - Family (2 Adults and 2 Children) $180
Your Comment
My partner and I have done this and thoroughly enjoyed it.
It was a great day, fantastic experience and we got to see quite a few dolphins, some only a few metres away from us.
I highly recommend it!
by VTN (score: 2|220) 2947 days ago
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