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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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