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Beachport
South Australia
BeachportMainStreet.JPG
Main street of Beachport
Population 878 (2011 census)
Established 1878
Location
LGA(s) Wattle Range Council
State electorate(s) Mackillop
Federal Division(s) Barker
Localities around Beachport:
Robe
Nora Creina
Bray Magarey
Beachport Hatherleigh
Rivoli Bay Southend
Rendelsham

Beachport is a small coastal town in South Australia, 379 kilometres (235 mi) south-east of Adelaide, in the Wattle Range Council. Beachport is known for its 772 metres (2,533 ft)* long jetty (the second longest in South Australia behind the jetty at Port Germein), and is located on the northern end of Rivoli Bay. It has a large crayfish fishing fleet. The locality of Thornlea is wholly contained within Beachport.

History

Following the discovery and naming of Rivoli Bay in 1802 by French navigator Nicolas Baudin, a whaling station was established there in the 1830s. The whaling industry soon declined, to be followed in succeeding decades with European settlement of the hinterland by pastoralists. Whaling was then superseded by a booming wool export industry, leading to the necessity for a port. The town was named on 23 May 1878 for the then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Michael Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn.

World War II

Beachport is believed to be the location of the first casualties of World War 2 on Australian soil. On 12 July 1941, a local fisherman discovered and towed to Beachport a German sea mine either laid by the raider Pinguin or the minelayer Passat. The following day, two Able Seamen, Thomas Todd and William Danswan, part of a three-man Rendering Mines Safe (REMS) team, were killed when a wave lifted the mine and caused it to explode on the beach while they were attempting to defuse it. A monument now stands in the town to honour them.

Transport

Beachport was officially proclaimed a port on 21 November 1878. In the same year a lighthouse was erected close by on Penguin Island and a railway to Mount Gambier was completed. A wool and grain store was built in 1879, serviced by the railway, thereby providing a facility to link the export trade by rail and sea. The railway closed in 1956. The old wool and grain store has been preserved and today serves as a National Trust museum.

Heritage listings

Beachport has a number of sites listed on the South Australian Heritage Register, including:

  • Railway Terrace: Beachport Customs House
  • 5 Railway Terrace: Wool and Grain Store
  • Rivoli Bay: Beachport Jetty
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