Ella explores the Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserv

Published on 14 January 2019

Enjoy a beach break at home

The beaches are more beautiful than Bondi and the marine life more diverse than the Great Barrier Reef, but there’s a lot more that makes Onkaparinga’s blue boundary unique.

Where else can you snorkel with over 200 different marine species, surf on coveted reef breaks and paddle a kayak on either the ocean or the river — all within a few kilometres of each other?

The rhetorical question is posed by Chris Campbell, who confesses to a strong bias towards Onkaparinga after travelling and living in iconic coastal locations around the world until eight years ago when he made Port Noarlunga home.

“It is the best place in the world to live,” he says. “We have a Mediterranean climate so there are not too many days when you can’t be on — or in — the water.”

Chris’s bias is affirmed by the thousands of international visitors who have patronised his business, Easy Kayaks, telling him that Onkaparinga’s diversity and accessibility makes it unique in the world. Who could disagree, when bathing and boating are popular along the region’s 31 kilometre blue boundary and there are a lot more water activities on offer.


Starting at Lonsdale you can walk your dog off-leash 24 hours a day; at Port Noarlunga Reef you can snorkel with Zebra fish; or kayak to Southport where you can paddle upstream along the Onkaparinga River floodplain to historic Old Noarlunga. Or, continue along the coast where pristine sand dunes give way to ochre-coloured cliffs and protected waters change to curling Mid Coast surf breaks. If agility on a board is your goal, there are surf schools to help you ride these famed waves in no time.

As you near Moana the beach widens and firms, allowing car access to while away summer days in comfort; and a few protected coves southward is Port Willunga, where you’ll find the relic of an historic jetty and a popular dive site, the 1888 shipwrecked Star of Greece, which is part of Adelaide’s Underwater Heritage Trail.

Accessible from the shore is the Aldinga Aquatic Reserve, with its low-profile rocky reefs and expansive seagrass meadows that stretch seaward to provide dramatic diving opportunities.
This watery wonderland has been identified as being of fundamental importance to the entire Gulf St Vincent’s ecosystem. Aldinga Beach is also home to unique birdlife, with a ­stints, pelicans and cormorants.

At the end of the day, throw in a line at Sellicks or throw down your towel to watch the daily splendour of the sun setting over the ocean.

“It is a really nice lifestyle here,” Chris says. “This is a rare gem of an area.”