February 20, 2020 / By Jacqueline Alanne
Ahh, Port Elliot. Considered by many the precious, historical and picturesque sister of nearby Victor Harbour, the long history of the town and its quaint streets and adventurous layout make it both a wonderful escape for South Aussies and visitors alike. Originally settled in 1854 with the idea to make Horseshoe Bay a main harbour, the plan was quickly aborted but the settlement remained, and what’s left makes for a great combination of delightful bays, historic landmarks and great walks. Below are my top tips on the best places to explore and things to do on your trip to Port Elliot.
Port Elliot’s picturesque bays can be enjoyed at any time of year, as long as you dress appropriately. In summer remember to slip-slop-slap, and in the cooler months rug up in a jumper and head out to enjoy the great outdoors! Boomer + Knights beaches, while not ideal for taking young children swimming due to wild and rumbling waves, offer a coastline that's purely majestic. Enjoy exploring the rocky pools and sandy slopes as you take in the view out to the Bluff, or take a surfboard down to Knights beach and try your luck catching a wave. Located South-West of The Strand, Knights beach is best accessed via Hutton st, while the main carpark of Boomer beach is accessed from Railway terrace, via Carfax street or Bennett road. It’s great to walk from either of these points to the other, and back!
Of course the most well-known of Port Elliot's beaches is Horseshoe Bay; a perfect beach for everyone. Its protected cove provides small waves for beginner beachgoers, boogie boarders and bodyboarding. Complete with two parks, a fishing jetty, a caravan park, a bowling club, tons of showers for rinsing off, and of course, the iconic Flying Fish café, it's the perfect spot to spend a few hours or the whole day. Grab drinks, cones of Squid and chips for the ultimate beach lunch, or bring an esky and make it a cheap day out! Horseshoe Bay is located South East of the main street of Port Elliot, The Strand, via Young, Freeling or Murray streets.
Explore the heart of town
The historic main street of Port Elliot is short but special, and will force you to walk slowly and take it in! Begin at the Southern point at Freeman’s lookout on the coast, and head North towards town. Make sure to stop into Thunderbird for a delicious coffee, or peruse their fabulous menu and wine list and make a booking for dinner. No trip to Port Elliot is complete without also visiting Port Elliot Bakery, arguably the best bakery on the Fleurieu. Make a turn right onto North terrace and enjoy a sneaky sausage roll, kransky or Berliner donut!
Also an absolute must-visit is South Seas Books and Trading, located down the other end of North Terrace but definitely worth the walk. The bookshop is one of the best in South Australia, with everything from the latest releases to one-of-a-kind special interest books (check out the collection on surfing!), and across the road is their clothing and homewares shop that's eclectic and fun (above).
If you're travelling with family, add on a trip on the historic old Cockle Train that travels between Goolwa and Victor Harbour, stopping in Port Elliot. Jump off on Flinders Parade in Victor to make the most of the epic playground by the beach. Here you’ll find ANOTHER historic old train - but this one has just the shell remaining, and is perfect for exploring! While you’re in this neck of the woods, take the horse drawn tram over to granite island. While the fairy penguin population might have diminished, you can still walk around the island and enjoy the views back along the coast.
Take a walk
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to stretch your legs, Port Elliot is a great destination for coastal walks, with the Knights Beach to Horseshoe Bay route as significant to locals as Bondi to Coogee is for Sydneysiders. The walk is gently undulating, and will take you past a number of bays and local landmarks. Either begin at Flying Fish cafe on Horseshoe bay or at Knights beach. Along the way, you’ll pass Green and Rocky bays, which feel like undiscovered secret beaches. Adjacent to Horseshoe Bay you will pass Lady Bay, where ‘in the olden days’ ladies were expected to enjoy the beach in separation from the men on Horseshoe! Stop at the historic Obelisk and Freemans lookout. If you want to keep going when you get to Horseshoe bay, head East through the caravan park and around the coast in the direction of Middleton, where you’ll find more gorgeous and wild beaches to explore.
Port Elliot is a great little town to visit, and is truly what you make it. Whether you decide to spend your days on the beach and walking the trails, or enjoy the shops and cafes, its charm will win you over before you can say "Take me back to the bakery for a second vanilla slice"!
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