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Why Port Adelaide?
Port Adelaide, South Australia may not be your typical coastal destination, but with its deep maritime history, it is the perfect place to spend a day on or by the water.
As the historical nautical heart of South Australia, Port Adelaide has kept so much of its original character and stands proud. And quite rightly so. It played a fundamental role in the development of South Australia. As it continues to develop through the 21st century, it remains true to itself by remaining its charm and quirkiness.
It is the South Australian version of Western Australia’s Freemantle and with more and more investment, it will grow to become a buzzing hub once again. Don’t get me wrong though, weekends and school holidays are popular and events bring the Port alive with an exciting atmosphere.
Where is Port Adelaide?
Approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) northwest of Adelaide CBD. Easily accessible by road, rail and bus, with a station and several bus stops on the main street. Adelaide Metro has a number of network services to and from Port Adelaide daily. Nearby suburbs are also easily accessible by public transport.
There is plenty of free and paid parking around the Port – just be aware of time restrictions. Port Canal Shopping Centre provides national and local shops and an Australia Post. Supermarkets available are Foodland and Coles, with Kmart next door.
How to get on the water?
***Unfortunately the Dolphin Explorer Cruise is no longer in operation in Port Adelaide***
Take a leisurely cruise all year round along the Port River. See how the resident bottlenose dolphins spend their days playing and interacting with vessels that pass through. Jump onboard their fully decked vessel where you can enjoy dining, a full bar, air conditioning, top sun deck and all-round panoramic viewing.
Check out the Dolphin Explorer website for cruise times, availability and purchase tickets online.
These gorgeous inflatable River Cruisers are located just the other of the water in New Port. Enjoy the tranquillity and unique way of soaking up the Port River vibes, with its friendly resident dolphins and ever-changing scenery as the backdrop. Port Adelaide still has such an industrial feel to it, steeped in maritime history, just waiting for it to be explored.
Portobello River Cruises are operated by Portobello Food.Kitchen.Bar; a locally well-known waterfront cafe restaurant. This experience brings their culinary delights to the outdoors, taking alfresco to a whole new level on the water!
Portobello River Cruisers seat from 1 – 6 people with ample space to enjoy the setting. Food and drinks can be pre-ordered from the onboard menu. There aren’t any cooking facilities onboard but trust us, you won’t want them when you see what’s on offer from Portobello! With a range of snacks, platters, pizzas, wine, beers, ciders and soft drinks, there is something for everyone.
The STV ‘One and All’ was constructed in local North Haven and commissioned in 1987. Built with the intention of providing journeys for personal self-discovery and development, young people of South Australia develop skills in an adventurous environment and experience a working sailing ship.
The STV ‘One and All’ training vessel also open its doors to the public who are ready for their next adventure. Learn the ‘ropes’ during Day Sails, Event Sails, Twilight Sails or multiple-day Voyages, or just sit back and relax, enjoying the iconic ships charm. Open Days are held throughout the year to walk the decks and see how it feels at the ship’s helm!
Check out the One and All Ship website for the latest events, sailing calendar and how to become involved.
Port Adelaide Boat Hire is available right in the heart of Port Adelaide. Have a boat licence? Hire one of their popular Barcrushers for an adventure on the water. Or head out in one of their Tinnies for a few hours of exploring and fishing if that’s what you fancy.
Don’t have a boat licence? No problem. Take one of their Boat Tours ranging from 1.5 hours to 8 hours! Play along with the resident dolphins and take on the Shipwreck Adventure, or why not head over to Cape Jervis and Kangaroo Island on a full-day exploration. Port Adelaide Boat Hire also offer boat tuition for anyone looking to improve their boating skills.
If you want to slow down the pace a little, hire a paddleboat or kayak where you can get even closer to the playful dolphins in the Port. Fun for the whole family!
Wanting to head straight out to sea? Check out B.A. Boat Hire from North Haven, just a 10-minute drive from Port Adelaide. Ben and the team offer half and full-day boat hire in a number of different sized vessels, as well as Fishing Charters to go out there and catch your personal best!
Port Adelaide has a number of nearby public boat ramps, accessible for most recreational boats. Find out more by clicking this map below for exact locations, photos, road access, available parking, launching condition, shelter information and facilities:
There is also a smaller boat ramp located in Port Adelaide, on the west side of the Port River, adjacent to the Birkenhead Tavern for smaller vessels such as tinnies, PWCs, kayaks and canoes.
Port Adelaide has a number of public marina pontoons available, situated to the south before the Birkenhead Bridge, and west, situated in Dock One next to the Clipper Ship (see map below for exact locations). These pontoons are open from 7am to 10pm daily and are available for overnight vessel mooring with a maximum stay of three consecutive nights.
For sailing or larger vessels, be aware of the Tom ‘Diver’ Derrick Bridge as you enter Port Adelaide. The bridge clearance is 8.65m from the highest astronomical tide. To head further downstream, the Birkenhead Bridge would need to be opened, with a clearance of 5.4m at the highest astronomical tide. It is advisable to prevent going further than the Birkenhead Bridge unless you are mooring at the Newport Quays marina. For information and bridge opening, phone 1800 018 313 or call on VHF radio channel 68.
What else is there to do?
As featured in the Lonely Planet Australia Guidebook for 2018, this is a must-do to explore the 3 floors of exhibitions, celebrating the history of our oceans, river and dedication to maritime. The museum is connected to the Port Adelaide Lighthouse, which for a small fee, you can climb to the top for some special views of the Port.
The ‘Yelta’, South Australia’s last working steam tug boat is also retained by the museum with voyages during the year. Find out what we thought of an experience onboard this unique vessel. Find out what we thought of an experience onboard this unique vessel.
For more information, see their South Australian Maritime Museum website.
Situated in the Port Adelaide Visitor Information Centre, the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Action Group have set up a display to give visitors a wealth of information. With this newfound knowledge, enjoy a walk around the 3.5 km Anna Reenie Loop Path, where you will find plenty of opportunities to spot some dolphins.
Where to grab a bite to eat?
Forklore Cafe is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast over the water, especially on a weekend, watching kayakers and boaties enjoying the calm waters.
Pancakes at the Port is also a popular favourite for breakfast and lunch with beautiful river views and a menu to keep any sweet (or savoury) tooth happy!
For dinner, there are a number of pubs that line the main street towards the waterfront, but check out the Lighthouse Wharf (Entertainment Book discount available) on the east side of the river, or Birkenhead Tavern on the west for good food with views.
Low & Slow American BBQ is a food truck turned restaurant that is so popular, we recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment. It’s worth it though!
Where to stay?
For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, the closest caravan and camping park is the Discovery Parks Adelaide Beachfront, located just outside of Semaphore.
The newly built Quest Apartment Hotel is becoming a Port Adelaide favourite with leisure and business visitors. As part of the redevelopment of Port Adelaide, it has some great water views over and up the river.
The Dolphin View at Nautical is a modern apartment along the Port River at Newport Quays, with marina views – perfect for relaxing on the balcony and soaking up the atmosphere.
For those on a bit of a tighter budget, the Port Adelaide Backpacker is the ideal location for exploring.
If you are happy to go a little further out of Port Adelaide, Largs Pier Hotel offers stunning ocean views and a lovely restaurant (Entertainment Book discount available) to compliment your stay. Or for something bigger, you’ll find the modern and stylish Port Adelaide Harbourside House, Semaphore Sand n Sea Holiday Home (pet-friendly with a pool) and Semaphore Blue Apartments (with gorgeous beach views) will make it hard for you to leave!
Or check out the suggestions from Booking.com so you have a great stay for the best value for money!
Let us know your thoughts on Port Adelaide below, or share with others what you love to do whilst here!
Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!