Tennyson dunes is a coastal area located between Grange and West Lakes Shore. It's one of the few Adelaide beaches that have survived largely free of development, although some houses have been built right on the dune system.
The huge rolling sand dunes at Tennyson were seen as rather remote before the early 20th century. The only sign of civilisation in the area until the 1880's was the Military Road connecting Glenelg to Fort Glanville and Fort Largs. The road was important to the defence of South Australia but was frequently covered in sand drifts, much to the inconvenience of travellers.
Estcourt House 1900 (Image: State Library SA B41005)
With the 1880's came a burst of development at Grange, Semaphore and Largs Bay, and one of the developers built the grand mansion Estcourt House in the Tennyson dunes. Despite this, no other housing was built in the area for many years due to the swampy nature of the marshes inland. Unfortunately, development has continued to the present day, with ugly mansions being built only recently on the Tennyson dunes.
As late as 1962, an aerial photo of what was to become West Lakes shows the barren area inland, although clearly houses had been built along the dune system at Grange to Tennyson by then.
Aerial Photo of West Lakes 1962 (Image: Atkins Photography, Darian Smith Collection)
The Tennyson dunes remained largely intact despite the massive development at West Lakes which changed the environment forever. The beach and dunes ecology has survived substantially, leaving the flora and fauna to flourish. For more about the history of Tennyson dunes see this fascinating article.
For decades the conservation minded residents of the western suburbs have worked to protect the Tennyson dunes, and give the native flora and fauna a chance to thrive. They have held working bees to plant native vegetation, and remove invasive species. Their efforts seem to be working, because it's still possible to see Painted Dragon lizards scurrying across paths. Snakes still live in the sandhills too, while predatory birds still prey on unsuspecting small animals.
The Friends of the Tennyson Dunes group formed in 1995 and worked relentlessly since then to protect their beautiful natural environment. This year on September 24 they are again holding their free Tennyson Dunes Open Day. It's a family day of fun things to do, with guided walking tours, talks by expert coastcare volunteers, nature play and other activities for kids.
All of the activities are free things to do, but many of the guided tours must be booked in advance. These were so popular last year that they booked out in advance so please book early to avoid disappointment.
Colourful Native Pigface Flowers at Tennyson Dunes
My favorite beach in the 1960's..use to see trotters there.Must take another look..do not remember now where I parked my car...it was just a little park right on the beach.Hardly any one ever went there.Some time white crabs would line the beach...was told not to eat them...because they might be toxic...so never did.