The Adelaide suburb of Semaphore is a seaside gem that is being increasingly discovered by grey nomads seeking the perfect base from which to explore the city of churches.
About 15 kilometres to the north-west of the CBD on the LeFevre Peninsula, Semaphore boasts white sandy beaches, calm clear waters, a spacious foreshore, a fishing-friendly jetty, a colonial era fort, and much, much more. A stroll along the foreshore path leads to the jetty which was built in the mid-19th century and stretches nearly 600 metres out to sea.
This is the perfect place to cast a line or to simply gaze out at the tankers that appear on the skyline, or to look out for the many small yachts or windsurfers who make this lovely corner of the world their playground. Just opposite the jetty is the gloriously wide Semaphore Road, which is very much the social heart of the suburb. It is lined on both sides with cafes, pubs, and an interesting variety of shops and boutiques. The Semaphore Street Fair is held annually on the last Sunday in November and is the perfect showcase for all that the community has to offer.
The historic buildings and monuments on the street simply serve to emphasise the traditional suburb’s seaside village atmosphere. There are tin-ceilinged cafes and some lovely and lively historic pubs. What is now the Semaphore Palais Hotel was the Palais bathing pavilion back in the 1920s. Then there’s the Timeball Tower, the oldest working carousel in the southern hemisphere.
Other heritage-listed structures include the World War 1 memorial clock built in 1925, the water tower, the customs boarding station, the library and the post office. The historical piece de resistance though is Fort Glanville Conservation Park which incorporates a functional 19th century fort. Completed in 1882, it is said to be the first colonial fortification built in South Australia and is the best preserved and most functional in Australia. One of South Australia’s most important heritage sites, the fort and visitor centre is mostly operated by the Fort Glanville Historical Association which holds monthly public open days complete with historical recreations which include drill demonstrations and the firing of the fort’s weapons.
The Fort Glanville Tourist Railway is a well-loved 457mmgauge steam train which runs parallel to the Esplanade connecting the fort to the jetty two kilometres away. It generally runs on Sundays and on school holidays and adds yet another charming element to this special place. There’s also the well-equipped Adelaide Beachfront caravan park here, and there’s spacious parking spots along the Esplanade for those wanting to drive closer to the seafront action.
All this, and the attractions of historical Port Adelaide and of Adelaide itself are just down the road.