DAY 7: ADELAIDE – PORT ELLIOT, PRIMO ESTATE, PORT WILLUNGA
My niece Georgia was in town; ostensibly to visit her aunt and two uncles, one of which was me, but was really nursing a bit of a broken heart and in need of some family joy and laughter with us. My sister suggested that we all go,including Dan, for a swim at Port Elliot, a popular seaside town south of Adelaide. This could be followed by a visit to the Primo Estate Vineyard in the McLaren Valley, and then another swim at Port Willunga before the journey home.It all sounded pretty good to Dan and me, so we said ‘Yes’. As we still had the Hertz hire-car we would take that and follow the others; it was also because of the day before when I got a bit lost trying to get to Port Willunga; better to follow.
Port Elliot is a small coastal town, situated in Horseshoe Bay, about 82 kms south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsular. The town was established in 1852, to serve as a port for ships trading with region who were unable to go to Goolwa due to the treacherous waters at the mouth of the Murray River where it meets the Great Southern Ocean. Goods and people were carried between Port Elliot and Goolwa from 1854 on what was then Australia’s first public railway. Port Eliot’s importance, however, was short-lived. In 1864, after a series of shipping accidents around Horseshoe Bay, the railway line was extended to Victor Harbor, which was considered a much safer place for the shipping trade. Since then Port Elliot’s primary function was to serve as a popular holiday place; which it still is today.
People in Adelaide speak of having a ‘shack’ as a holiday place, and/or ‘weekender’, in places like Port Elliot. A ‘shack’? I don’t think so. A ‘shack’ to me is a colloquial working class term for tiny wooden structure, put together with an assortment of second-hand building materials; a ‘shack’ is not the lovely houses and mansions that have sprung up along the coastline. Still they call these houses a ‘shack’; possibly because it feels like they are retaining some of the casual laconic quality of the generations of Australian workers that has basically all but disappeared.
I had heard a lot about Port Elliot and how beautiful it was, with the water being an aquamarine blue. Unfortunately, it was not a particularly pleasant day, overcast and cold; so not sparkling blue water today.
We had parked near the War Memorial Park on the right side above the beach. We then walked down through the park, which was lovely with lots of rosemary (‘For remembrance’), and beautiful old pine trees.
Local servicemen who had died fighting, especially those from WWI were honoured with individual stones lying at the foot of the massive pine trees.
We walked down to the beach via an easy and picturesque pathway at the base of the War Memorial Garden with views over the beach.
I was determined to go in despite the inclement weather – it was a bit cold and overcast, but at least it wasn’t raining. The others waited. We then went to the seaside restaurant, which was very busy, and ordered fish and chips (again – haha); they were delicious.
We then went back to our respective cars, via the War Memorial Park and pathway, and drove to the Primo Estate vineyard in the McLaren Vale.
I was so glad that Primo Estate was on today’s agenda as Dan had not as yet been to a vineyard, one of the main reasons why anyone would come to Adelaide – to visit the exceptional, large and small, vineyards in the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, and the McLaren Vale – and Primo Estate was one of my favourites.
The weather had now considerably changed; it was now sunny with a clear blue sky – and hot. We subsequently drove to Port Willunga – another favourite.
Today Port Willunga is a semi-rural suburb of Adelaide, and a popular swimming and diving place. In the nineteenth century it was a major port, particularly for the fishing industry. It was also the site for a tragic ship wrecking disaster in 1888 when the ship, the Star of Greece went down during a terrible storm with the loss of all lives onboard. The wreck of the Star of Greece lies just off the beach and makes for a popular diving site; alternately you can go and have something wonderful to eat at the fabulous Star of Greece Cafe/Restaurant that sits on top of the small cliff face overlooking the beach, and the site of the shipwreck.
On the actual beach, just a bit further down lies the ruins of Port Willunga’s jetty, which was destroyed in 1915, effectively ending once and for all Port Willunga’s position as mercantile port, and beginning its rise as a popular recreational destination – and it is wonderful!
Cricket on the Beach
And other fun activities
All in all – another very good day, which was effectively Dan’s last day in Adelaide. Little wonder that he later crashed out completely.