People in Adelaide have had a long love affair with the River Torrens. It was an essential water supply in the early days of the colony, but it served other purposes too. The river was a popular place for anyone dumping rubbish, and brickworks in Bowden and Brompton needed water from the river to ply their trade.
Best of all, the River Torrens was a place for bathing and swimming in the 19th century. Swimming competitions were frequently held near the swing bridge at St Peters, attracting plenty of participants and spectators. But anyone who went skinny dipping in the Torrens was punished severely if caught.
Swimming Competition on the River Torrens 1949 (Image: State Library SA B-7798-555)
Fast forward to the 21st century and most people wouldn't even consider swimming in the River Torrens. It's not safe in the water due to the occasional algal blooms, and pollutants are still common enough to discourage the average person from entering the water. The river is nevertheless an attractive feature for the city, pleasant to cruise on Popeye or a pedal boat.
Despite this, the government is focused on "activating" the River Torrens, and instructed their minions at Renewal SA to populate the river bank with more people than ducks. A $108,000 tender was issued for 405 tonnes of sand plus all the other things needed to create a new Urban Beach Adelaide at Pinky Flat. While some critics expressed reservations about the "crazy brave ideas", a legion of Renewal SA workers soldiered on with the heroic cry "ours is to do or die".
This summer, Pinky Flat on the Adelaide Riverbank will be transformed into a sandy oasis for Adelaide's first Urban Beach. So, slide on your shades, grab the sunscreen and get some sand between your toes at Urban Beach. Enjoy sumptuous summer foods, splash about in the water play area, and have go at summer sports such as beach volleyball, netball, badminton, table tennis and Frisbee golf; or try your hand at a game of totem tennis, Bocce or even Finska".
Also contemplated are a kids play area, swing tennis, and yoga, pilates, tai chi demonstrations or classes. In reply to a question on Facebook, Renewal SA took a firm stand: "there won't be swimming at the Urban Beach, just like similar urban beaches in Europe. However, there will be sand between your toes, plenty of summer activities like volleyball, cricket, BBQ Buoys, Paddle Boats, yoga, places to relax, entertainment, summer food and drinks".
This free Urban Beach has something for everyone. By day there's free fun for kids and family entertainment at shady Pinky Flat, across from the Adelaide Convention Centre. If the food trucks at the beach don't grab you, you can even pop across to the new foodie heaven at Home Ground cafe court.
Once the shadows lengthen and the sun goes down, the romantic pull of the beautiful River Torrens parklands will attract a younger crowd. The attractions of trendy locally produced alcohol, tasty food and live entertainment will be sure to bring a fun-loving clientele, perhaps from the nearby Adelaide Oval.
The First Visitors Duck Down to the River Torrens Beach
At the time of writing Urban Beach was not finished, and only one young family had ducked down to check progress and get their feet in the sand. Brightly coloured beach huts awaited fitting out, the paddling pool and deck were inviting, while the sand volleyball court looked ready for a game. This new Adelaide attraction is open until the end of January 2018. Come on down to check it out, or check the Urban Beach Adelaide Facebook page or the website to see what's on at this new Adelaide attraction on the river bank.
Why would I out go to the "city beach" in the middle of summer when I can't even swim there....a so called beach for 2 months of the year....really....and where do we park....as the trains from my area are unavailable. I won't be visiting the city beach I will be frequented the real beach called grange.