Port River Exploration – Adelaide

Port River Exploration

Explore the working inner harbour of Port of Adelaide including
Fisherman’s Wharf, Hart’s Mill and docks.
Dolphins can sometimes be seen in the basin.

Paddle overview : Swan Alley Creek

Swan Alley Creek from Garden Island

Nearest Town Port AdelaideView in google map
Paddle Distance Various
Paddle Time Approx 2hrs (and up to a half day)
Difficulty Easy – Moderate
Launch Aquatic reserve boat ramp
Facilities Parking available, public toilet at Snowdon’s Beach
Waterway type Visit BOM for weather conditions
Flatwater conditions.
Caution: Keep clear of and always give way to large vessels using the Port River.
Launch site Snowdon’s Beach: GPS: 34.8204 S; 138.5098 E

From Victoria Road (A16) turn into Willochra Street, after crossing the
railway line turn left onto George Robertson Drive, follow this road round
(RHT) to the boat-ramp and parking area.
From Victoria Road (A16) turn into Willochra Street, after crossing the
railway line turn left onto George Robertson Drive, follow this road round
(RHT) to the boat-ramp and parking area.
Cruickshanks Beach: GPS: 34.8386 S; 138.5049 E
Explore the inner Port of Adelaide including Fisherman’s Wharf, Hart’s Mill
and docks from Cruickshank’s Beach. Access to the beach is from the
eastern end of Semaphore Road. Adequate car parking and launch from sandy beach. Dolphins will sometimes be seen in the basin
The Birkenhead Tavern is also close by on Riverview St.

Parking Extensive parking available (free)


Parking available, public toilet at Snowdons Beach

Trail Notes

Paddle south to the heart of the working inner harbour. Be aware of other large vessels and keep clear of them.

Approximately 4 kms north on the Port River is Mutton Cove Conservation Park (Point A GPS: 34.7744 S; 138.5124 E) where walking tracks take you to the Excelsior shipwreck (see Points of Interest).

It’s an easy paddle across the Port River to the North Arm and the Ships Graveyard (approximately 3kms to Santiago Shipwreck). See related paddle trails for more details.

Venture across the harbour and past Hart’s Mill and Fisherman’s Wharf to the old clipper ship The City of Adelaide (Point B GPS: 34.8415 S; 138.5079 E ).

Always check wind and tides before departure

Caution: Keep clear of and always give way to large vessels using the Port River.

Points of interest

Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is a marine protected area located on the east coast of Gulf St Vincent in and adjoining the north-western part of the Adelaide metropolitan area. It was established in 2005 for the protection of a resident population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). It is a real delight to encounter these wonderful creatures when you paddle in this area – something that happens quite frequently.

Hint: Some of the sanctuary’s resident dolphins have even been given names, like Twinkle and Hunter. You may like to familiarise yourself with their unique markings and see how many you can recognise on your next visit.

Mutton Cove Conservation Reserve (Point A: GPS: 34.7744 S; 138.5124 E)


Mutton Cove Conservation Reserve is on the LeFevre Peninsula adjacent to the Port River. The reserve is part of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary. The area has been significantly degraded since European settlement. It is last remaining biodiverse area of salt marsh and Grey Mangrove (Avicenna marina) woodland including several species of samphire. With periodic breaches of the seawall at Mutton Cove, inundation is occurring more readily and the damage becoming more and more progressive. Friends of Mutton Cove aim to preserve the diverse vegetation of Mutton Cove and to protect the habitat of native birds, reptiles and migratory birds.

The corroding shell of the screw steamer Excelsior (1897 – 1945) also sits in the Mutton Cove Conservation Reserve, and the paddle steamer the Jupiter can be seen where it was abandoned nearby around 1945.

City of Adelaide ship (Point B: GPS: 34.8415 S; 138.5079 E)

The City of Adelaide is the world’s oldest surviving clipper ship. Built in Sunderland, England, and launched on 7 May 1864 it was used for transporting passengers and goods between Britain and Australia. Between 1864 and 1887 the ship made 23 annual return voyages from London and Plymouth to Adelaide, South Australia playing an important part in early immigration to Australia.

The City of Adelaide was returned to Adelaide in recent years. The creation of a maritime precinct within Port Adelaide’s inner harbour is planned to include the City of Adelaide and several other historic vessels and to tell this important story to young and old, as part of the state’s living history.


Hart’s Mill:

The Hart’s Mill complex has its origins in the construction of a multi-storey flour production facility at Prince’s Wharf in 1855. Captain John Hart, for whom the mill is named, was the major shareholder in its establishment and operation. An English mariner who arrived in Western Australia in 1829, Hart spent the next decade operating coastal trading vessels in Australian waters.

Hart invested in the shore-based whaling station at Encounter Bay and managed the facility between 1839 and 1846. He retired from the sea completely in 1846 and moved to Adelaide.

Hart was a parliamentarian during the 1850s and early 1860s and served as South Australia’s Premier (a title he introduced) during the years 1865-66, 1868 and 1870-71. More information available on the History Hub website.

Hart’s Mill is a prominent landmark in Port Adelaide’s history and the precinct is now evolving into an energetic community hub.


Fisherman’s Wharf:

The Fisherman’s Wharf markets established over 20 years ago, occupying a waterfront site near the Lighthouse at Port Adelaide. They provide a vibrant mix of stalls, sights, food and sounds for the whole family to enjoy. A visit to the Fishermen’s Wharf Market, which is open on Sundays and Public Holidays, is a delightful part of experiencing the numerous attractions of the vibrant and historic Port Adelaide area.

Other locations in this region