Freelance writer, born and bred in South Australia.
Published October 15th 2016
Fascinating for all ages
The coastal cliff walk from Port Willunga Beach to Aldinga Beach is one of a kind. Unlike many metro beaches near Adelaide, Willunga Beach is at the foot of some huge rocky/sandy cliffs. The different levels create a miraculously scenic region, but also a fantastic spot for walking.
Historical remains on the beach. Image: Emma Jane Warren
You can either begin the coastal walk at the Port Willunga Beach car park or the Aldinga Beach boat ramp. For me, it was simpler to begin at Willunga as it was closer to my home and hence less driving was necessary. This car park is situated right next to the Star of Greece seaside restaurant.
It is approximately 4km from one beach to the next, making it an 8km return walk. Whether you're on the sand, or on the path, the entire length is very flat. So long as the tide is out far enough, I strongly suggest walking one way on the beach, and the other way on the cemented path along the cliffs. Doing so ensures you get to witness the beach up close, and also from above.
Trekking along the shoreline will give you an unbeatable view and insight into the incredible geology on the coast. The cliffs are overwhelmingly tall at some points, towering over beach goers. The land is shaded in a blend of earthy colours and has some interesting fauna growing out the side. Along the water's edge, there is an array of rock pools that are home to many small marine creatures like crabs and starfish. Unique shells and pebbles add even more character to the fascinating beach.
One small segment near Aldinga Beach is a breeding area for Hooded Plover birds. There are less than 100 of these species left on the Fleurieu Peninsula, so it's important not to harm or come too close to them. I didn't see any on my walk, so consider yourself lucky if you do.
Multiple stairs along the walk to get up/down. Image: Emma Jane Warren
In some sections, the beach does have some soft sand and loose pebbles. If this becomes too difficult to walk along, there are a number of different ramps and stairs which lead up from the beach onto the cliff path. There are around six of these ramps/stairs, placed approximately every 400-700m apart.
It's important to remain wary of some hazards if you are walking on the beach. Firstly, don't get too close to the cliff, as some rocks can crumble down and injure persons that are underneath. Wearing shoes is also a wise idea, as the rocky areas have some sharp parts that might hurt your feet. You should also be conscious of the changing tides, and take note of your nearest ramp to exit the beach if the water does come up too far.
As mentioned, walking on the coastal path on the top of the cliffs can also get you from A to B. The path tracks right alongside the edge of the cliff, next to the Esplanade. Being so high above sea level means you get a far-reaching view of the beach. A great number of seats are planted beside the path, so you can relax with a world-class outlook over the ocean. The path is also open for cyclists.
Getting to Willunga takes 45 minutes driving from Adelaide city. Parking is free and there is no time limit at both Willunga and Aldinga car parks. There are public toilets at both of these car parks, but none in between. The nearest major shopping centre is Aldinga Central on Aldinga Beach Road.
Lookout at Willunga car park. Image: Emma Jane Warren
If you want to walk a longer distance, you can extend your walk in either direction. Going South, you can go as far as Silver Sands Beach (walking along the beach from Aldinga to Silver Sands). Or heading North, it can take you up to Maslins Beach. This entire length is around 8km, or 16km return.