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Port Noarlunga is an aquatic playground like no other, but dive a little deeper and it offers so much more than you’d ever expect.
Just 33km south of the CBD, where the Onkaparinga River meets the ocean, you’ll find the idyllic coastal suburbs of Port Noarlunga and Port Noarlunga South.
First explored by Captain Collett Barker in 1831, the township was not officially surveyed until 1859.
The site began as a basic shipping port, facilitating the transfer of produce travelling down the River from the upstream market town of Noarlunga. The river route was unsuitable for larger ships, so smaller barges ferried the harvests to the sand dunes. Horse drawn carts were then used to heave the cargo out onto a jetty where the larger vessels took over.
Unlike other coastal hubs, it took some time for the area to shake its industrious reputation and become a serious place to call home. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that tourists truly discovered this secret seaside treasure - but once they did, it boomed.
As the settlement slowly transformed from that of trade hub to tourist town, a new jetty was built - some 300m long, and which still stands today - after the original one was destroyed by storms.
Standing proudly on the shoreline, it features three staggered staircases, making it the perfect launch spot for anyone looking to do a spot snorkeling or scuba diving, or to simply pop down to the shore for a quick dip. Patrolled by two surf lifesaving clubs over the summer months, you can feel confident there’s always a watchful eye while you swim.
And just offshore, the beautiful, protected Port Noarlunga reef - regarded as one of Australia’s best dive sites, and home to a multitude of marine life - can be viewed from the end of the pier. Boasting several artificial reefs, two shipwrecks and a unique, self-guided diving trail, complete with underwater plaques, there’s always something new to discover beneath the waves.
Keen kayakers paddling along the river are also a regular sight in the area, but if staying dry is more your thing, the coast provides a wonderful setting for a relaxing hike, taking in the crisp, clean ocean air. Or maybe cast a line off the jetty into the clear blue waters of Gulf St Vincent - fish for dinner anyone?
Of course, if you’d prefer to indulge in some fresh seafood without the hassle, the local fish ‘n’ chip shop is a popular stop-in and keeps the beach holiday vibe going. The main street is ideal for simply wandering, lined with delightful cafés, bakeries and coffee shops, boutique specialty stores, and of course, the local pub. Or why not take a moment to call into The Arts Centre to experience the intricate work of many local artists.
Families will also find plenty of things to do - the pièce de being the popular Jubilee Adventure Playground, known affectionately by residents as ‘the wooden playground’. With expansive lawns, plenty of shaded areas and custom-built play equipment, the kids can run off their energy while the adults relax with a picnic.
With all the conveniences of suburban life close by and so many of life’s simple pleasures right outside your door, you’ll never tire of calling this place home.
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