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Port Willunga

Home > Adelaide > Escape the City | Family | Free | Fun for Children | Fun Things To Do
by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. If you like my articles, please subscribe and click the link to Like them. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au
Published June 19th 2013
Spend a day, or stay a week
south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, linear park
Port Willunga Linear Park on the Fleurieu Peninsular


Port Willunga is described by Wikipedia as a semi-rural suburb of Adelaide, and in some ways I think that sums up its charms rather well. It's only 40 minutes south of Adelaide by car on the Fleurieu Peninsular, but it feels a world away from the city.

Once described by Travel & Leisure magazine as one of the top 20 worldwide destinations, Port Willunga has an atmosphere of serenity and natural beauty while being close to the buzz of McLaren Vale and the rural areas bordering Willunga.

Historically Port Willunga was important as a working port but now its main attraction is as an unspoilt holiday destination. It makes a very enjoyable day trip with plenty of things to do for children too, but is also perfect as a base for a longer holiday stay.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, aleppo pines
Memorial Avenue of Aleppo Pines


There are a range of accommodation options from cottages to a pet friendly caravan park which should suit most budgets.

Port Willunga can be reached via the Southern Expressway of Main South Road. After passing through Aldinga you will enter the town through a wonderful avenue of hundred year old Aleppo pines casting a thick shady canopy over the road. It's believed that these were planted by school children in the early years of the 20th century as a memorial to our diggers.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, fleurieu peninsular
Port Willunga Beach


Beaches
Walking on the beach at Port Willunga I was struck by its cleanliness and natural beauty. The white sand of the beach was offset by the yellow-gold of the cliffs and the rich blue of the sea. This far south of Adelaide I imagine that the water may be a bit colder than in metropolitan waters.

Cars are not permitted on the beach, and it was only lightly used on a sunny winter day. Fishermen were ankle deep in water while children played in the sand with small family groups. There was also the occasional dog walker, most with dogs restrained on leash.

There was little noise other than the waves lapping the beach, while occasional sea birds called overhead.

For the more daring swimmers, one of Australia's most popular nudist beaches is a short way north of Port Willunga at Maslins Beach.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, jetty
Ruins of the Jetty Built in 1868


Ruins
A couple of hundred metres south of the Port Willunga car park you will see the ruins of a jetty on the beach. These relics of its maritime past date back to 1868 when the second jetty was built to service the port. There are few traces of the first jetty built in 1853 at the end of Port Road.

The wooden piles on the beach are a stark contrast on the landscape, and now attract children who enjoy climbing over them.

Walking the other direction along the beach from the car park brings you to the Port Willunga Linear Park, with a board walk allowing visitors to exit the beach without damaging fragile dunes. There are lots of green coastal native plants, many planted by the Friends of Port Willunga who do a brilliant job of beautifying the area.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, cottage
The Harbour Master's Cottage Ruins


I had seen ruins of a building from the car park, but it took a few moment to find it in the bushland. The ruins are the remains of the old Harbour Master's cottage, built around 1880 and occupied until 1966.

The ruins are one of several in the area, and were the subject of a fascinating publication by Aidan Ash and Flinders University - The Maritime Cultural Landscape of Port Willunga. It makes compelling reading for anyone with an interest in Port Willunga.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, fireplaces
Fireplaces in the Ruins


Shipwreck
The best known shipwreck in the area is the Star of Greece, which can be seen at low tide. It was built in 1868 in Belfast and was blown onto a reef at Port Willunga in 1888 with some loss of life.

It's part of the Underwater Heritage Trail which starts south of Adelaide and ends at Ardrosssan on the Yorke Peninsular.

In good weather the shipwreck can be reached by swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving.

While I wasn't able to discover the name of any other shipwreck, there are believed to have been at least five in the area.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, boats
Caves Used by Fishermen to Store Boats


Caves
Just near the old jetty ruins, you can find several caves hewn into the cliff face. These were used by fishermen to store their boats and nets while in Port. Cutting out the rock must have been hard work.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, restaurant
Star of Greece Early Afternoon - An Hour Later It Was Packed!


Food
While it is the only place for food in Port Willunga, the Star of Greece has two flavours - a restaurant specialising in seafood and other local produce, and a kiosk serving cheaper more casual fare. I've heard many say that the fish and chips from the kiosk is great value, especially if you're on a budget.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, bakery
Home Grain Bakery at Aldinga


However you're not restricted to this choice - Aldinga is only a few minutes drive away and boasts some startlingly innovative food for such a small town. I owe my thanks to the person who left a comment on my article about unusual pie flavours, and was ready for something quite out of the ordinary.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, seafood
Aldinga Bay Seafood


On the day I was faced with an agonising decision - a Moroccan lamb pie (with optional yoghurt mint sauce) from Home Grain Bakery, or a garlic prawn pie from Aldinga Bay Seafoods.

After wavering for some time, I chose the Moroccan lamb pie. I wish I'd had the appetite for both though.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, fishing
Fishing at Port Willunga


A short distance away
Willunga is just a short distance away from Port WIllunga, and is home to the Willunga Almond Blossom Festival.

It boasts a popular Farmer's Market, Courthouse Museum operated by the National Trust, and is one end of the awesome Coast to Vines Trail to Mclaren Vale.

Once at McLaren Vale you are really spoilt for choice by Fleurieu Peninsular attractions. I once counted 45 wineries in the area (although not after I had visited them), and the quality of their reds is legendary. Match that with a delicious range of regional produce designed to tempt tourists, and you may not be able to ride back to Willunga.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, old house
An Old House With a History @ Port Willunga


For more information about the history of Port Willunga see the Onkaparinga Council website. It also provides a useful guide to other attractions in the area.

For information about the nearby Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park, see here.

Oh, and don't forget to come home.

south of adelaide, port willunga, the beach, on the beach, beaches, nudist beaches, caves, ruins, shipwreck, all ages
Port Willunga Beach is Popular With All Ages
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Why? It's a beautiful spot
When: Anytime
Where: Port Willunga, SA
Cost: Free
Your Comment
What an interesting read and such lovely pictures. Always enjoy your articles, Dave. SL
by expre (score: 1|30) 1856 days ago
After your article Dave, I feel like a trip to Port Willunga even in this blooming cold weather. Your photo of the jetty ruins was quite captivating.
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1590) 1853 days ago
Wrecks @ Port Willunga include the "Star of Greece" and the "Ada", part of which is exposed during winter - it is roughly below the Start of Greece Cafe. There is at least one more also
by irvin (score: 0|6) 108 days ago
I would never have given Pt Willunga a second thought as a holiday destination, but now I want to book in some time there. Great, informative article. Thanks!
by lilli (score: 1|73) 1855 days ago
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