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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
Location in South Australia
Population 2,102 (2016 census)
Established By 1852 (town)
9 September 1993 (locality)
Postcode(s) 5212
Time zone ACST (UTC+9:30)
 • Summer (DST) ACST (UTC+10:30)
Location 84 km (52 mi) from Adelaide
LGA(s) Alexandrina Council
Region Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island
County Hindmarsh
State electorate(s) Finniss
Federal Division(s) Mayo
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
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
Footnotes Adjoining localities

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, 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.


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".

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.

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 beach goers.

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.

Recent times

Horseshoe Bay Panoroma
Horseshoe Bay taken from Freemans Nob, facing towards Commodore Point

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 Southern Fleurieu 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.

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