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Gulf St Vincent

Coordinates: 35°S 138°E / 35°S 138°E / -35; 138
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Gulf St Vincent
Gulf St Vincent is the easternmost of the two inlets
Gulf St Vincent is located in South Australia
Gulf St Vincent
Gulf St Vincent
Coordinates35°S 138°E / 35°S 138°E / -35; 138
River sourcesBungala, Dry Creek, Field, Gawler, Gilbert, Light, Little Para River, Onkaparinga, Patawalonga, Port, Sturt, Torrens, Wakefield
Basin countriesAustralia
Max. length138.9 km (86.3 mi)[1]
Max. width61.15 km (38.00 mi)[1]
Surface area6,800 km2 (2,600 sq mi)[2]
Average depth21 m (69 ft)[2]
Max. depth40 m (130 ft)[3]
IslandsGarden Island
Troubridge Island
Torrens Island
Gulf St Vincent (foreground) and Yorke Peninsula, facing south west

Gulf St Vincent, sometimes referred to as St Vincent Gulf, St Vincent's Gulf or Gulf of St Vincent, is the eastern of two large inlets of water on the southern coast of Australia, in the state of South Australia, the other being the larger Spencer Gulf, from which it is separated by Yorke Peninsula. On its eastern side the gulf is bordered by the Adelaide Plains and the Fleurieu Peninsula.


The St Vincent basin is formed from Cenozoic sediments deposited over, and surrounded by, Proterozoic and Paleozoic rock. [5] Around 55 million years ago Gondwanaland broke up and Australia separated from Antarctica, causing a number of basins to form along the southern Australian coastline. Around 40 million years ago a number of blocks formed with the Mount Lofty Ranges rising to the east of the St Vincent basin. At the end of the Last Glacial Maximum around 10,000-15,000 years ago, the sea levels rose and covered the St. Vincent basin.[6]


To the south it is defined by a line from Troubridge Point on Yorke Peninsula to Cape Jervis on Fleurieu Peninsula. Its entrances from the southwest are from Investigator Strait, and to the southeast from Backstairs Passage, which separate Kangaroo Island from the mainland.[2] Adelaide lies midway along the gulf's east shore. Other towns located on the gulf, from west to east include Edithburgh, Port Vincent, Ardrossan and Port Wakefield and Normanville.


The Aboriginal name given to it by the original inhabitants of the area, the Kaurna people was Wongajerla,[7] also spelt Wongga Yerlo[8] or Wonggayerlo, meaning "western sea".[9]

It was named Gulph of St. Vincent by Matthew Flinders on 30 March 1802, in honour of Admiral John Jervis (1st Earl of St Vincent)[10] who won a naval victory off Cape St. Vincent, Portugal. It was shortly afterwards (after his meeting with Flinders at Encounter Bay on 8 April 1802) mapped by Nicolas Baudin, who named it Golfe de la Mauvaise[7] or Golfe de la Misanthrophie.[11] In the following year Louis de Freycinet renamed it Golphe Josephine to honour Josephine Bonaparte.[12][7]

Due to Flinders' lengthy imprisonment on Mauritius during his return to England, the publication of Baudin's map preceded that of Flinders by three years.

The Adelaide Desalination Plant which is located on Gulf St Vincent's eastern shore in Lonsdale, supplies the Adelaide metropolitan area with desalinated water from the gulf. It officially opened in 2013.[13][14]


The Gulf teems with crustacea and polychaeta, as well as various species of sea squirts and sea urchins. The benthos is a soft sediment shelf, with species of zosteraceae around the mouth of the Port River. The cardinalfish genus Vincentia takes its name from Gulf St Vincent where the type specimen of its type species was collected.[15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hydrographic Department, Ministry of Defence (reproduced by the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service) (1983). Gulf of St Vincent and approaches (chart no. 1762).
  2. ^ a b c Bye, J.A.T. (1976). "Chapter 11:Physical oceanography of Gulf St Vincent and Investigator Strait". In Twidale, C.R.; Tyler, M.J; Webb, B.P (eds.). Natural history of the Adelaide Region. Royal Society of South Australia Inc. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-9596627-0-2.
  3. ^ South Australia. Department of Marine and Harbors (1985), The Waters of South Australia a series of charts, sailing notes and coastal photographs, Dept. of Marine and Harbors, South Australia, pp. Chart 21, ISBN 978-0-7243-7603-2
  4. ^ "Place Name Search: Gulf St Vincent". Geoscience Australia. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  5. ^ M. F. Glaessner. "IX. The St. Vincent Basin". Journal of the Geological Society of Australia. 5: 115–126. doi:10.1080/00167615708728486.
  6. ^ SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COAST PROTECTION BOARD. "The Adelaide Metropolitan Coastline" (PDF). South Australian Department of Environment and Water.
  7. ^ a b c Gulf St Vincent: A precious Asset (PDF). Friends of Parks Inc / Friends of Gulf St Vincent. 2009. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-646-52043-8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Tjilbruke Story". Port Adelaide Enfield. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Wonggayerlo 'Western sea' (Gulf St Vincent)". City of Charles Sturt. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  10. ^ Matthew Flinders. "South coast. Gulph of St. Vincent". A voyage to Terra Australis. State Library of South Australia. p. 180. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  11. ^ Dutton, Geoffrey (1960). Founder of a city: the life of Colonel William Light, first Surveyor-General of the colony of South Australia, founder of Adelaide, 1786-1839 ([New] ed.). Rigby (published 1984). pp. 146–147. ISBN 978-0-7270-1913-4.
  12. ^ Eric Wolanski (editor), Estuaries of Australia in 2050 and Beyond, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, p.155 (ISBN 9789400770188 & ISBN 9400770189)
  13. ^ "Adelaide Desalination Plant (ADP)". SA Water. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Adelaide Desalination Plant (Port Stanvac)". ACCIONA Australia. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  15. ^ Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara (31 May 2018). "Order KURTIFORMES (Nurseryfishes and Cardinalfishes)". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Retrieved 23 September 2018.

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