Adelaide’s main port and one of the first areas to be settled during the city’s formative years, Port Adelaide lies to the north-west of the CBD. It exhibits a rich history, outstanding museums and wildlife encounters, and lies adjacent to the picturesque beachside suburb of Semaphore.
Port Adelaide’s streets are lined with atmospheric 19th century buildings that house old pubs such as the Port Hotel, British Hotel and Dockside Tavern, together with craft breweries and independent art galleries. Recent redevelopments have transformed the suburb into a vibrant tourist hub, with an excellent selection of museums that include the Maritime Museum that explores the area’s rich seafaring history, as well as the largest Railway Museum in Australia where old steam engines and historic carriages reside. The recently-built Railways Pavilion allows visitors to ride heritage railway and custom-built narrow gauge carriages, while just to the south of the Railway Museum lies the South Australian Aviation Museum. Old aircraft including a Spitfire Mk VC and a Douglas C-47B Dakota are on display where visitors can watch as ongoing restoration projects are being completed. Port Adelaide’s wetlands house a dolphin sanctuary where Port River Dolphins, together with a vast array of birdlife, can be spotted and is best explored on guided kayaking tours.
Port Adelaide is easily accessed by public bus from North Terrace in the city centre, as well as along the Outer Harbour train line to Port Adelaide’s railway station. While the suburb stretches north along the Port River, most of its tourist attractions are clustered in its southern hub and easily explored on foot.
The Port River was first explored by Captain Henry Jones in 1834, with Colonel William Light doing a more thorough investigation two years later while deciding on a site for South Australia’s port. He faced strong opposition when proposing the city of Adelaide lie at such a distance from what was initially known as the Port Creek Settlement, but the lack of freshwater available along the coast was the catalyst for his decision. For the residents of the port, minimal freshwater and amenities, combined with plagues of mosquitoes and the long distance from Adelaide, resulted in its early nickname of "Port Misery".