Port Elliot, South Australia

Coordinates: 35°32′04″S 138°40′44″E / 35.534569°S 138.67876°E / -35.534569; 138.67876
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Port Elliot
South Australia
Horseshoe Bay Panoroma.jpg
Horseshoe Bay taken from Freemans Nob, facing towards Commodore Point
Port Elliot is located in South Australia
Port Elliot
Port Elliot
Coordinates35°32′04″S 138°40′44″E / 35.534569°S 138.67876°E / -35.534569; 138.67876[1]
Population2,102 (2016 census)[2]
EstablishedBy 1852 (town)
9 September 1993 (locality)[3][4]
Time zoneACST (UTC+9:30)
 • Summer (DST)ACST (UTC+10:30)
Location84 km (52 mi) from Adelaide
LGA(s)Alexandrina Council[1]
RegionFleurieu and Kangaroo Island[5]
State electorate(s)Finniss[6]
Federal division(s)Mayo[7]
Mean max temp[8] Mean min temp[8] Annual rainfall[8]
20.6 °C
69 °F
10.3 °C
51 °F
551.7 mm
21.7 in
Localities around Port Elliot:
Hindmarsh Valley Mount Jagged Middleton
Hindmarsh Valley
Port Elliot Middleton
Encounter Bay
Encounter Bay Encounter Bay Encounter Bay
FootnotesAdjoining localities[1]

Port Elliot is a town in South Australia toward the eastern end of the south coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is situated on the sheltered Horseshoe Bay, a small bay off the much larger Encounter Bay. Pullen Island lies outside the mouth of the bay. At the 2006 census, Port Elliot had a population of 1,754,[9] although this section of the coast is now built up almost all the way from Goolwa to Victor Harbor.

Lady Bay is a small bay at the south-western end of Horseshoe Bay, past the jetty.[10][11]


Horseshoe Bay was proclaimed a port in 1851, and the settlement above the bay was named Port Elliot in 1852 after Charles Elliot, the Governor of Bermuda who was a friend of the then Governor of South Australia, Sir Henry Young. The location had been previously known as Freeman's Knob; the aboriginal name for the area may have been "Witengangool".[12]

Freemans Nob was used as a lookout post for shore-base bay whaling stations in Encounter Bay in the late 1830s.[13] The area was also used as a place to launch boats in 1842 for Hargan and Hart's whaling station at Rosetta Head.

The port was established to provide a safe seaport for the Murray river trade which terminated at Goolwa as the Murray Mouth was deemed too treacherous and unpredictable for safe navigation. Goods and passengers were carried between Goolwa and Port Elliot on the first public railway in Australia completed in 1854.[14]

The government works to establish the port included Australia's first reticulated water supply, from wells at Waterport (about 1 km north of the bay) to tanks above the jetty which provided fresh water for ships as well as for the town. In 1864 after a number of disastrous shipping losses in Horseshoe Bay the railway was extended to Victor Harbor which provided safer access for ships. Port Elliot's role as a port ended, with the bay and jetty being left to the fishermen and beachgoers. The importance of the rail link between the river and the sea soon also ended with the building of a railway between Adelaide and Morgan which enabled river traffic to offload freight and passengers over 260 kilometres (160 mi) further upstream and rail them directly to Adelaide. The towns of the southern Fleurieu coast – Victor Harbor, Port Elliot, Middleton and Goolwa – were spared any further commercial or industrial development, and became a popular holiday destination with many guest houses, camping parks and 'weekender' houses and shacks. The nearby early subdivisions of Waterport, Louisville, Findon, Ville St.Louis and Elliot Town are now all considered part of Port Elliot.[citation needed]

The beaches of Port Elliot and Victor Harbour have been facing rising seas and more has to be done to stop this.[15]

Recent times[edit]

Today, Port Elliot is a quiet township with two hotels, three churches, six coffee shops, no fast food chains, and is a popular holiday destination close enough to Adelaide for day trippers and even commuters. The continuing expansion of the Greater Adelaide metropolitan area together with ongoing improvements to the road links between the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide has brought an influx of "seachange retirees", driving up house and land prices, and adversely affecting the ability of local young people and families to remain in the area. Employment prospects are largely limited to hospitality work, aged care and the building trades which continue to benefit from rapid growth in the region.[citation needed]

In 2007, Port Elliot became the focus of unwanted media attention due to the murder of 15-year-old Carly Ryan at Lady Bay. On 21 January 2010, a 50-year-old man from Victoria was found guilty of the murder while his son was found not guilty.[16]

Little penguin colony[edit]

Little penguins once bred at Freeman's Knob. In 1981 a dog attack left at least 10 adult penguins dead and numerous eggs broken and empty. It was posited that this event may have rendered the colony extinct.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "Search results for 'Port Elliot, LOCB' with the following datasets selected - 'Suburbs and Localities', 'Government Towns', 'Counties', 'Local Government Areas','Postcodes', 'SA Government Regions', 'Gazetteer'". Location SA Map Viewer. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Port Elliot (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 20 April 2018. Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ "Proclamation (re " An Act for regulating the Sale of Waste Lands belonging to the Crown in the Australian Colonies,")" (PDF). The South Australian Government Gazette. South Australian government. 22 April 1852. p. 241. Retrieved 15 August 2018. portions of Crown Lands will be offered for sale by Public Auction, at the Court House, Adelaide, on Wednesday the twenty-sixth day of May, 1852" including the "Township of Port Elliot
  4. ^ Mayes, KIm (9 September 1993). "GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES ACT, 1991 Notice to Assign" (PDF). The South Australian Government Gazette. South Australian Government. p. 1101. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Fleurieu Kangaroo Island SA Government region" (PDF). The Government of South Australia. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  6. ^ "District of Finniss Background Profile". Electoral Commission SA. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Federal electoral division of Mayo, boundary gazetted 16 December 2011" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Monthly climate statistics: Summary statistics Victor Harbor (Encounter Bay) (nearest weather station)". Commonwealth of Australia , Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  9. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Port Elliot (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Port Elliot". Visit Alexandrina. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Lady Bay". Google Maps. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  12. ^ "A Worthy Colonist". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 17 March 1914. p. 10. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  13. ^ Kostoglou, Parry; McCarthy, Justin (1991). Whaling and sealing sites in South Australia. Fremantle, WA: Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology. p. 45.
  14. ^ The Centenary of the Goolwa – Port Elliot Line Strempel, A.A. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, May, 1954 pp. 49–62
  15. ^ "Sea surge sending either bowls or beaches to the wall". Archived from the original on 31 October 2021.
  16. ^ "Man found guilty of murdering Carly Ryan". Australia: ABC News. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Penguin colony attacked". Victor Harbour Times (SA : 1932 - 1986). 12 August 1981. p. 1. Retrieved 21 April 2020.

External links[edit]

Media related to Port Elliot, South Australia at Wikimedia Commons

Further reading[edit]