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Top Things to See and Do in Port Elliot

Home > Adelaide > Bakeries | Beaches | Lunch | Places of Interest | Walks | Lists
by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at
Published February 16th 2016
Potter around Port Elliot

With only less than a 90 minute drive south of Adelaide, brings you to the south coast and the attractive town of Port Elliot.

Hugging the shores of Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot was established in 1851, as the result of a need for cargo to be transported between the River Murray and the sea. Transporting the cargo via the Murray Mouth was quite hazardous so the nearest safest anchorage on Encounter Bay was Horseshoe Bay. Hence the development and establishment of Australia's first public railway between Goolwa and Victor Harbor which further led to an influx of settlement.

For many years, Port Elliot remained predominantly a government town as well as a port and then during the late 1800's/early 1900's, like many of the towns along the South Coast, Port Elliot became very much a seaside resort town.

Today a visit to Port Elliot reveals a thriving community with a good mix of holiday homes as well as permanent residents.

Port Elliot
Horseshoe Bay

Food and Drink

Port Elliot offers a good range of places to stop off and refuel, whether you are on a day trip or perhaps a weekend stopover or even longer.

One of the historic pubs Hotel Elliot, dating from 1866, offers a menu which incorporates wholesome classic pub style meals on one of Port Elliot's main thoroughfares, The Strand.

Main courses will set you back between $20 and $32 for dinner and cater well for kids as well as seniors. If it is lunch you are more interested in, prices vary between $20 and $25. The Hotel Elliot is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

The other main pub in Port Elliot, The Royal Family Hotel, dates from 1880 and is reputed to have the best beer garden on the South Coast. Being on the main North Terrace means you can't help but drive past it with its imposing double storey building. Also open 7 days per week for lunch and dinner, main courses for dinner will cost you somewhere between $17 and $36.

One of the unique surprises upon visiting the Royal is their offer of a free courtesy bus which operates along the Encounter coast to Goolwa. This service is run Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings 4.30 pm - 7 pm. Bookings need to be made in advance, and if pre-arranged, lifts can be given along the coast later in the evening. The bus seats 7 people.

The Flying Fish Cafe is renowned for its great food and service and is located down on Horseshoe Bay.

The Flying Fish is open for lunch from 12 midday to 3 pm 7 days a week and for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 pm to 8 pm. They are also open for breakfast 7 days per week and what better way to start the day with a hearty breakfast overlooking the crashing surf at Horseshoe Bay. A full Flying Fish breakfast will set you back around $20.

Arguably one of the best bakeries in South Australia, The Port Elliot Bakery on the main North Terrace certainly deserves a drop-in so as to sample some of the great pastries, cakes, pies and pasties.

Apart from 4 public holidays a year, the bakery is open every day from 7 am until 5.30 pm. Port Elliot Bakery boasts their range of over 250 products to tempt you and the family run business, since 1989 definitely does not disappoint.

One of the great cafes along the main street is Cockles Cafe which offers a good range of gourmet food as well as great coffee.

Cockles are open for breakfast, lunch and now dinner on Friday and Saturday nights and mains will cost you between $14 and $20.

Cockles specialise in gourmet burgers and pizzas.

Port Elliot
Hotel Elliot


If you take a wander down the main street or The Strand you will find some quaint retail outlets which offer anything from homewares to bric-a-brac, including the store Coast by Design.

Coast by Design specialises in homewares and lifestyle ranges of products including furniture, rugs, sofas and cushions, cookware, glassware and a range of women's fashion and jewellery. The sister store is located at Balhannah in the Adelaide Hills.

Port Elliot
Coast by Design


Walking around the town gives you a wonderful sense of heritage with many well preserved old buildings dotted here and there, including the old Post Office, St Jude's Anglican Church and the Old Council Chambers.

You can almost imagine what Port Elliot must have looked like in the heyday of the transport of cargo and passengers with burgeoning industry, including a successful flour mill.

Port Elliot
St Jude's Anglican Church


One of the markets I discovered on my visit to Port Elliot was the Shipwrecks and Sunsets Twilight Market, which only operates two or three times a year during December and January, at Commodore Reserve, overlooking Horseshoe Bay.

The market had a great community feel about it with some excellent crafts, clothing, jewellery as well as food and drink available.

Keep an eye out later this year for the advertising for the event due again in December and January - a great way to spend a balmy night in Port Elliot.

Port Elliot
Shipwrecks and Sunsets Twilight Market


Two walks that I discovered whilst down in the area are well worth exploring, one being the Port Elliot Maritime Heritage Trail .

Around 1000 metres long, which will take you around 30 minutes to walk, several interpretive signs along the way highlight as many as 7 shipwrecks which inhabit the area around Horseshoe Bay, wrecked between 1853 and 1864. It certainly gives you a sense of how treacherous our coastlines have been and can be. Swimmers are even warned about the safety hazards in the Bay which include the remains of shipwrecks becoming exposed in low tide.

The other short walk is known as The Harbour Master's Walking Trail which is 1.8 kms in length.

The walk extends from Horseshoe Bay to Knight's Beach and takes in some magnificent coastal scenery, and can tend to be a bit windy, particularly in the winter months. If you go at the right time, you can capture some great sunset shots on your phone or camera.

This is but a sample of what Port Elliot has to offer you - a great place to spend either a few hours, a full day or even stay over to explore the area further.

Port Elliot
Port Elliot Maritime Heritage Trail

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Why? Port Elliot offers a great mix of beaches, heritage, food and eyecatching scenery
When: Any time including weekends
Phone: 08 8555 7000
Where: Port Elliot, SA
Cost: Dependent on your interests and plans
Your Comment
That is certainly a good round up of sights in Port Elliot. Must be time for another visit.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4145) 1467 days ago
This is without doubt,one of the top spots on the coast close to the city.Ideal swimming end calm the other end dangerous at times with undertow and dumpers.A little known shipwreck lurks underneath the sand about halfway round.If swimming around this part of the beach it is possible you may feel part of it and cut yourself on your legs or feet.Most people though would not go out far enough for this to happen.
by noelp (score: 3|1199) 1465 days ago
One of my favourite spots! Can't wait for my next visit!
by mona- (score: 0|6) 1464 days ago
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