The 7.6km walk from Henley Square to Moseley Square in Glenelg is a walk of contrasts, from sand dunes, sculptures and wind turbines to cafes and amusements, the stroller and dog friendly walk is an educational and cultural learning experience along the South Australian Coast.
A 7.5km bus trip from Adelaide will get you to the town of Henley Beach, first established in 1860. Back in 1883, the Henley Beach Horse Drawn Tramway linking Adelaide to Henley would have been the best way to reach Henley Beach. The electric tramline replaced the original line in in 1909, until the bus replaced it in 1957.
Horse Tram 1890. B14981. State Library of South Australia
The walk starts from Henley Square, in the heart of Henley Beach, where families and friends meet for coffee or a meal from a variety of cafes and food outlets. Since opening in 1979, the square has become the central point between the beach, the local shops and residences. The modern look of the square is in contrast to the older buildings such as the Ramsgate Hotel, built in 1897. The information signs describing the coastal gardens are very different from the signs of 1882 used to define the separate areas of the beach to be used by male and female bathers.
Henley Beach 1924. B2411 State Library of South Australia
Henley Beach has a wild side too! In the early 1960s, Henley and Grange Council became the first council to allow bikinis on the beach and in 1959, the famous pole sitters competition, part of the annual Henley Carnival, broke all records when they stayed on top of their poles for 15 days.
Walking Trail at Henley Beach. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Near the square is the Henley Jetty, built in 1883, which was partially funded by public subscription from a population of 134 residents. Following the coast park trail, the walk progresses past the Henley Surf Lifesaving Club rooms, the oldest club in South Australia, along the sealed shared use path with a wooden balcony overlooking the waves. Seats at regular intervals provide a place for a rest break or admire the view; alternatively the wooden staircases allow access to the beach for a swim or to continue your walk on the sand. While on the path, keep an ear out for cyclists.
Walking only on the path or on the beach is important to the environment, particularly for the conservation of the sand dunes. Information signs along the trail provide information about the Adelaide's Living Beaches Strategy 2005 -2025. Recognising the importance of the sand dunes in the protection of the coastline, the Government initiative is designed to replenish and relocate sand to areas where erosion and human impacts have changed the dynamics of the coast. Operating as a buffer against wind damage during storms, sea spray and intrusion of salt water, the sand dunes act as a reservoir of sand, maintaining, replenishing and protecting the beach during times of erosion.
The trail continues towards West Beach, a hive of activity where small boats are launched. The West Beach Surf Life Saving Club, established in 1956, provides a service to the community and a place for water sports to be enjoyed. The West Beach Surf Cafe, situated in the clubrooms on the edge of the sand, provide pet posts for dogs walking with their owners, making it an ideal place for coffee or a light meal. Car parking is also available for customers.
A memorial for Nicholas Peterson, who was the victim of a fatal shark attack in 2004, aged just 18 years, reminds us all how the sea can be both beautiful and dangerous.
Memorial for Nicholas Peterson. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Children and adults might be surprised to find wind turbines near the trail. As art of the trail, four types of turbines have been selected to harness the motion of the wind. The wind turns the turbine blades, which rotate a shaft connected to a generator, which then transforms the wind power into electricity.
From the trail, the high-rise buildings of Glenelg come into view. As the first site of the South Australian mainland settlement in 1836, Glenelg has a rich history evident in buildings such as the Town Hall, formerly the Institute in Moseley Square, opened in 1877 and the Jetty built in 1857. Today, Glenelg is home to the fourteen-storey Atlantic Tower, with a revolving restaurant, built in the 1970s and the fifteen-storey Stamford Grand hotel, built in 1990 and the twelve storey Liberty Towers built in 2004. This mixture of old and new, together with the whimsical amusement park and the Beach House, make Glenelg a unique and interesting attraction to many people.
The walk ends at Moseley Square in Glenelg. Located at the end of the busy Jetty Road, with its shops and restaurants, Moseley Square is a place where children can enjoy playing in the fountain and visitors can enjoy a walk along the jetty. It is the site of the War Memorial and the terminus for the tram from Adelaide.
Although there are no significant inclines, whether you choose to walk from Glenelg or from Henley, the 15km return walk does require a moderate level of fitness. Sun protection is essential as shade is not always available. Make sure you have enough water, although there are places to purchase drinks along the trail. Dogs are welcome on the trail, provided they are on a lead.