Port Noarlunga, South Australia

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Port Noarlunga
AdelaideSouth Australia
The main street
Population 2,549 (2001 census)[1]
Established 1859
Postcode(s) 5167
LGA(s) City of Onkaparinga
Suburbs around Port Noarlunga:
Gulf St Vincent Christies Beach Noarlunga Centre
Gulf St Vincent Port Noarlunga Noarlunga Downs
Gulf St Vincent Port Noarlunga South Seaford Meadows

Port Noarlunga is a suburb in the City of Onkaparinga, South Australia. It is a small sea-side suburb, population 2,549,[2] about 30 km to the south of Adelaide and was originally created as a sea port. This area is now popular as a holiday destination or for permanent residents wishing to commute to Adelaide or work locally. There is a jetty that connects to a 1.6 km long natural reef that is exposed at low tide. The beach is large and very long and has reasonable surfing in the South Port area whose name is taken from its location - 'South of the Port'.[3]

The suburb is bounded to the south by the Onkaparinga River, including a tidal estuary. It is bounded to the west by the Gulf St Vincent and to the north and east by artificial boundaries.


In pre-European times, this area along with most of the Adelaide plains was inhabited by the Kaurna tribe.

The first record of the area was provided by Captain Collet Barker who explored the Onkaparinga River on 15 April 1831 in his search for a Gulf outlet from Lake Alexandrina. In early 1837, while camped by the Sturt River near Marion, South Australia's only two horses slipped their tether ropes during the night and the overseer of stock, C.W. Stuart led an expedition to recover them. Taking a botanist to record the plants encountered, the expedition searched much of present day Noarlunga before finding the horses near the Onkaparinga River. The men being on foot were however, unable to capture them. In June 1837, Colonel William Light led an overland expedition to arrest whalers who had been abducting native women at Encounter Bay, 100 km south of Adelaide. Cresting Tapleys Hill they named the valley Morphett Vale after expedition member John Morphett. They reached the southern end of the Mount Lofty Ranges before impenetrable scrub forced them to return to Adelaide. The following year, John McLaren of the Survey Dept. divided the area south of Adelaide into three districts (B.C and D) based on the reports made by the Stuart and Light expeditions. B and C districts, the present Noarlunga District, was opened to public selection in February 1839 and by 1841 the population was estimated to be about 150.[4] The government town of Port Noarlunga was surveyed and offered for sale on 14 April 1859.[3]

The township was originally settled as a port for the produce from the proposed market town of Noarlunga a few kilometres upstream. The Onkaparinga River mouth proved unsuitable to coastal ketches, so produce was barged down river to the sandhills and then taken by horse drawn rail trucks to the jetty. The current jetty was constructed in 1921 and is the second jetty to have been constructed on that site. The original jetty, 30 metres south of the current jetty, was constructed in 1855, but was destroyed in several severe storms in the early 1900s.[3]

In the early 20th century Port Noarlunga was a popular coastal holiday destination, with the beach proving an attraction with its natural beauty and in summer amusement fairs were run, as well as row boating on the river estuary. Port Noarlunga Post Office opened around November 1909.[5]

With the gradual incursion of urban sprawl, and in particular immigration-fuelled expansion in the 1960s and 1970s, the township eventually became an outer suburb of Adelaide. The South Australian Housing Trust in particular developed housing in the nearby areas of Christies Beach and O'Sullivan Beach and with the extension of the metropolitan rail line to adjacent Noarlunga Centre in 1978 the township of Port Noarlunga had largely lost its attraction as a holiday destination.

It is now largely occupied by permanent residents, although it still retains much of its early village charm. The City of Onkaparinga council has assisted with maintaining this spirit of the old township, working with the State government in the late 1990s to divert through road traffic around the town centre.


Port Noarlunga jetty

The beach and the jetty are the biggest attractions to visitors. The close proximity of a diverse range of aquatic features making this area stand out from other coastal locations. A narrow reef about 400 metres offshore is approximately 1.6 km long and was formed from a consolidated Pleistocene sand dune. The reef runs parallel to shore and has two sections, with the area separating them called The Gap.

In 2012, kayak rentals became available next to the Canoe club on Wearing Street through Easy Kayaks Rentals & Sales, re-creating the fun and recreational experiences of boating on the estuary during the early part of the 20th Century.

There is also a small main street (Gawler Street) that serves visitors and locals in this beach area. It has several cafes, a pub, a fish and chip shop, a surf shop and several other businesses providing services to the locals. The old "Institute" building, built in 1924, is now the community centre.

Port Noarlunga Aquatic Reserve/Underwater Trail[edit]

Port Noarlunga Reef at low tide, view to South from the jetty

The Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve was the first proclaimed reef reserve in South Australia, being established in 1971 to protect the reef life and adjacent river estuary. The boundaries of the reserve were extended in 1993 to include the adjacent limestone reef of Horseshoe Reef at Christies Beach. Fishing is a popular activity from the jetty, however it is not permitted within 25 m from the reef.[6]

It is a popular scuba diving and snorkelling location, with more than 200 marine plant species and over 60 fish species. There is a self-guided diving trail which was established in 1994, which is marked with a series of 12 glass plaques. The plaques indicate aspects of the reef ecosystem relevant to their location.[7]

Port Noarlunga Aquatic Centre[edit]

Since 1976 the Port Noarlunga Aquatic Centre has operated classes for primary school children from throughout the state. The program runs in the first and last school terms each year and provides the opportunity to try waveskiing, canoeing, fishing, snorkelling, sailing, swimming and sailboarding. About 15,000 students have access to this program each year.[3]

Onkaparinga Community Playground[edit]

In the south of the suburb there is a large community playground. This is a community built playground and as such is unique to South Australia. A$250 000 was raised from community sponsorship before the playground was built using community labour over the period of 18–23 June 2002. This project began after research by "Living Neighbourhood" in nearby Christies Beach. There was a public meeting, after which a non-profit incorporated body was formed for the project.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (9 March 2006). "Port Noarlunga (State Suburb)". 2001 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 28 February 2008. 
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (19 November 2002). "Community Profile Series : Port Noarlunga (State Suburb)". 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Retrieved 30 June 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d Martella, L: "Port Noarlunga An Endearing Coastal Town". Lita Martella, 2000
  4. ^ David J. Towler A Fortunate Locality-History of Noarlunga and Districts Published for the City of Noarlunga by Peacock Publications 1986 ISBN 0-909209-11-1
  5. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Aquatic Reserves And Marine Parks - Port Noarlunga". PIRSA Fisheries. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Port Noarlunga Reef Underwater Trail". Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA). Retrieved 4 March 2013. 


Coordinates: 35°09′S 138°28′E / 35.150°S 138.467°E / -35.150; 138.467