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Port Willunga's Beachside Wildlife

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by Barry Silkstone (subscribe)
I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet. Visit my blog naturallysouthaustralia.com
Published December 7th 2016
Fish, Food and Wildlife
The shallow water close to the beach is surprisingly warm for this time of the year and very clear. I can easily make out the silvery shapes of mullet feeding on the sandy bottom a good ten metres further out to sea. Near a little outcrop of rock, a shore crab has emerged. My shadow passes over the little crustacean and it quickly disappears into the safety of its burrow.

South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, Seniors, Port Willunga, SA beaches, shore crab
Shore crab


I am snorkelling off Port Willunga just a few metres from the beach. It is mid week and the late morning sun has cleared the clouds and brought out a few keen swimmers. A couple of fishermen are casting for salmon trout and yellowfin whiting further up the shore. I spend a few beach more minutes in the water then change in the public facilities close to the shore and take a short walk up the hill to the Star of Greece Cafe for a superb seafood lunch.

South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, Seniors, Port Willunga, SA beaches, star of greece
Star of Greece Cafe


Below the car park that services the beach and restaurant, a small creek empties into the sea. It flows through a dense patch of coastal scrub which is home to a variety of small birds including blue wrens, singing honeyeaters, wattle birds and wagtails. The ruins of a classic old farmhouse sit in the middle of this reserve. I spend the next twenty minutes resting against a crumbling wall with my camera on my lap watching for geckos and other small lizards that often inhabit such places.

Singing honeyeater


The silence is broken by the agitated twittering of blue wrens in the undergrowth. The birds are always vocal but this seems a little more strident than usual. I scan the area with my long lens and pick up a nankeen kestrel perched high in a pine tree at the entrance to the reserve. The raptor takes to the air and circles over a patch of scrub about thirty metres from me. With its powerful talons extended it suddenly dives into the low grass by water. The sortie is unsuccessful and the bird settles on the ground shaking its feathers before returning to its observation post in the tree.

South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, Seniors, Port Willunga, SA beaches,
Old ruins in scrub


South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, Seniors, Port Willunga, SA beaches, nankeen kestrel
Nankeen kestrel


From the scrub, I follow a sandy path back down to the beach then walk south along the foreshore until I reach the old jetty. Set below limestone cliffs which are undercut by a series of hand-hewn caves that once housed fishing boats, the combination of natural and human elements create one of Adelaide's most picturesque landscape images. I step back into the sea to take my picture trying to incorporate all of these features.

Cliff, cave and jetty


Good food, a wonderful beach, marine life, a bird of prey and some fascinating historical scenery; few places can offer so much in such a small and easily accessed area. Surely Port Willunga is one of Adelaide's best day trip destinations.

Footnotes:
Suitable for families
Toilet facilities
Cafe and restaurant
About an hour's drive from the CBD
Walk to the beach and scrub area is paved but quite steep

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Why? A place to enjoy a variety of activities from lazing on the beach to searching for wildlife
When: All year
Where: Port Willunga
Cost: None
Your Comment
Great work Barry, I don't know how you manage to catchso much!
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11027) 678 days ago
fantastic article Barry!
by Paula McManus (score: 3|3049) 673 days ago
Beautiful photography of a beautiful place
by kayh6 (score: 0|2) 671 days ago
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