Published on 20 October 2021

Milestone for much-loved jetty

This year marks the centenary of the Port Noarlunga Jetty, the centrepiece of the popular seaside suburb.

Port Noarlunga’s first jetty was built in 1855 to aid the flour mill at Old Noarlunga and the fishing industry that was significant in the area. The jetty suffered significant storm damage over time and was demolished in 1914. Its pile stumps are occasionally visible at low tide south of the present jetty.

By the time the present jetty commenced construction in 1919 the town had transformed into a bustling seaside resort. The jetty, built solely for recreational purposes, was opened on 10 December 1921 by then Governor of South Australia Sir Archibald Weigall with thousands of people in attendance.

Committees of the day focussed on developing the area and beautifying the foreshore. Guesthouses built in the sandhills throughout the area attracted crowds of holidaymakers.

The newly built jetty was battered by storms in 1928. Storms damaged the jetty several times again during the 1950s, and a storm in 1987 washed away the outer 15 metres of the jetty.

The divers’ stairs that the City of Onkaparinga installed in 1997 were dislodged by a storm in 2018. Council has installed new stairs and platforms to give divers and snorkellers easy access to the water at all tide times.

The jetty is encompassed by the Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve, part of the Encounter Marine Park that extends from Port Noarlunga to Kangaroo Island. Line fishing from the jetty is permitted, excluding the end section to protect the reef. 

Port Noarlunga Business and Tourism Association chair Jeanette Howell says the jetty is akin to Port Noarlunga’s “community hall”.

“The jetty is a drawcard in Port Noarlunga. People come to the area to enjoy the cafes and restaurants and enjoy a walk along the jetty after their meal. Families find shelter in the shade of the jetty and let their children play in the shallow water. There are an incredible number of divers and snorkellers in the waters around the jetty, and it’s a popular spot for fishing, as well as being central to aquatic education programs,” Jeanette says.  

The jetty has featured in several television programs and movies, including Australian family fantasy film Selkie released in 2000 and Australian television drama mini-series Deadline Gallipoli first screened in 2005.

A three-day celebration is being planned by the Port Noarlunga Business and Tourism Association from 10-12 December to commemorate the jetty’s centenary. The colourful events across the festival, supported by the City of Onkaparinga, will showcase how the community has used the jetty through the decades.

Tall ship STV One and All will anchor at the end of the jetty on 10 December weather-permitting. Its arrival at the celebration represents the change in transportation in the state from sea to road.

Around the town there will be art, photography, film, snorkelling, fishing and history classes and exhibitions. Local cafes, restaurants and clubs will host ticketed decade-themed dinners on
11 December, with attendees encouraged to dress in the costume of the era.

“There will be beach activities, picnics and plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the activities that happen above, below and on the jetty and in the water,” Jeanette says.

For more information about the event, contact Priya Moyle at [email protected]

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A view from the Port Noarlunga jetty towards the sand dunes with a fisherman and walkers in the 1960s.