Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not take a day trip out on the Port River Dolphin Trail? It's close to the city with plenty of different things to see and do along the way. Plus, you'll learn more about Adelaide's resident bottle-nose dolphins.
The first stop on your trip should be the visitor centre at Port Adelaide and Lighthouse Square on the wharf nearby. Pick up the dolphin trail brochure as it has photos of some of the dolphins so you can tell 'Bubbles' from 'Oriana'. The visitor centre is at 66 Commercial Road, Port Adelaide.
If you happen to be at the wharf on Sunday, try not to get too carried away in the Fishermen's Wharf Market (it's kinda easy to get lost in there).
There's an eclectic mix of housing, commerce and industry along the wharf and surrounds. As you look across the water you might spot the dolphins. If you can't wait, then consider a cruise. Dolphin cruises depart daily from the wharf. We couldn't find the dolphin trail signage along the wharf. If you do, let us know in the comments.
Stop 2. Moorhouse Road
Looking across the Port River to Adelaide's ship yards
Head out of Port Adelaide east along St Vincent street to the Grand Trunkway. This road is a long and bumpy stretch through a heavy industry area and just isn't attractive at all. Just before you reach the North Arm bridge to Garden Island and the looming power station, turn left for the Torrens Island Market (Sunday mornings) carpark. You'll find the dolphin trail sign on the far side of the car park. It's bleak and industrial in this neck of the woods but the water nearby is a popular dolphin hangout. Look for them out on the point and near to the fishing boats moored nearby.
Stop 3. Garden Island
The signs (when they're still there) have heaps of information
Cross the North Arm bridge and head out across Garden Island to what is probably the best place to spot dolphins in the sheltered and plentiful mangrove environment of Angas Inlet. If you are planning a picnic, this is an ideal spot. There's a picnic and BBQ area set in the park surrounding a popular boat ramp and small beach. The Garden Island mangrove boardwalk is a great way to see the inner workings of the mangroves and is popular with fisherfolk. Allow a half-hour or so to walk the boardwalk.
Head back through Port Adelaide for the coastline at Semaphore (also a dolphin hotspot) and cruise north along the Esplanade to Largs Bay Jetty and kiosk. This is an opportunity to take a stroll along the long wooden jetty to enjoy fresh sea breezes and views across the gulf. We couldn't find the sign here either but it's a nice change from the mangrove-ey and industrial surrounds so far on the trail.
A little further north along the coast is the beautiful North Haven Marina. It's a sheltered spot that's popular with the dolphins ( especially in rough weather). Head past the Cruising Yacht Club entrance to the Sailmaster Tavern car park and walk the remaining few metres to the marina. This is a great spot to stop for lunch at one of the restaurants along the waterfront to enjoy the serene (and expensive) views.
On the home stretch now and heading back toward Port Adelaide, turn left off Victoria Road and head for Snowdens Beach. It used to be a bit rough but is now a completely redeveloped, family-friendly area. Although surrounded by industry, it's popular with fisherfolk and is an excellent spot to watch the dolphins frolic in the bow waves of the big ships as they pass.
Another cool spot to check out while you're hot on the dolphin trail is the Outer Harbour area and the breakwater, not far from North Haven Marina. This is right on the shipping channel to the gulf and the breakwater is also home to sea lions.
Adelaide is blessed to have such a fantastic marine sanctuary right on its doorstep, so gather the family and go on a day trip to check it out soon!