Just 14km from Adelaide, Semaphore is one of the busiest seaside locations in South Australia. With a wide variety of restaurants, take away food and retail outlets situated along Semaphore Road, together with the wide sandy beachfront; the foreshore car park and picnic areas are often very busy. Semaphore caters to the seasonal tourist influx during the summer months and is host to festivals including the Greek Festival, Kite Festival and the Music Festival each year.
First surveyed in 1849, the region was isolated by swamps in the south and the Port River to the east until 1859 when a wooden bridge, later replaced by the Jervois Bridge, was built. The jetty was built a year later, followed by a road link to Port Adelaide, resulting in an increase in the residential population in the area. The establishment of hotels, churches and schools, which followed, contributed to the growth of the seaside town.
The short 2.6km walk from the Semaphore Jetty to the Largs Bay Pier is a combination of sealed paths and boardwalks or, if you prefer, you can walk along the sand. Your dog can enjoy the walk too, as long as they are on a leash. Playgrounds and toilet facilities are available at intervals along the walk.
If time permits, take a walk along the 585-metre jetty, completed in 1860. The jetty, originally 652 metres in length, overlooks the World War I memorial clock, built in 1925, and the Fort Glanville Steam Train, originally planned to travel from Glenelg to Largs Bay in the 1890s. The railway, which was never completed, now operates as a heritage item by the National Railway Museum. Rides along the 2km track from Semaphore to Fort Glanville are $8 for Adults, $5 for children and $20 for a family of two adults and two children,
Semaphore Esplanade 1930.B5465 State Library of South Australia
The merry-go-round on the foreshore, dating back to 1928, as well as the water slide and amusement park are fun places for children. Leaving the playground, the walk passes the white 1920s building known as the Palais.
The Palais 1929. B48372 State Library of South Australia
The Palais, built in 1922 by the Fricker Brothers, originally consisted of a kiosk, bathing pavilion and dance hall. Although the building later fell into disrepair until the renovations in the early 1990s, the Semaphore Palais and Function Centre is a popular place for music, functions and meals in the Semaphore area.
The walk continues along the boardwalk towards Largs Bay. From the path and boardwalk, men, women and children can be seen enjoying a variety of water sports. In the early days, signs were situated along the coast from the Largs Pier toward Semaphore, instructing Ladies to swim in one section and Men to swim in the opposite direction, as mixed bathing was prohibited. Neck to knee bathers were worn by the women and knee length swimming trunks by the men.
Largs Beach in 1906. B16393/12 State Library of South Australia
Businessmen built Largs Bay, originally known as Margate, primarily due to entrepreneurial speculation. The Largs Bay Land Company purchased a 1.6km frontage in 1881, and by the following year constructed a railway line, the Largs Bay Pier and the Largs Pier Hotel, all of which opened on the same day in 1882. The Pier badly damaged in a storm in 1953; is now one third of the original length.
Used as a historical landmark by sailors and a major port of call for mail steamers in the early times, the hotel has transformed to meet changing times by opening the first drive through bottle shop in 1953. During the 70s and 80s, the hotel became a music haven hosting music icons including Cold Chisel, AC/DC, The Little River Band and The Angels.
Information signs at Largs Bay provide information about the sand dunes in the area, which are part of the Adelaide's Living Beaches Strategy. The strategy, implemented in 2005, replenishes sand to beaches at risk of dune loss, due to erosion, storms and urban development.
The easy short walk is suitable for a wide range of fitness levels. Once on the trail, shade can be difficult to find, so be sure to take water and wear sun protection. The shared use trail is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
Top article with superb pictures.One of my favourite beach areas..but not for swimming.There is a touch of the early 1900's that I like.I wish they would bring back those trams soon...they are not only good to look at,but are great to travel on and do not pollute.