Port Elliot Maritime Heritage Trail


View the spectacular coast as you walk this easy self-guided trail. See Australia’s first public railway and read the interpretive signs along one of our most beautiful beaches. You might see dolphins, whales and seals. Catch the Cockle Train from the station to go to Goolwa or Victor Harbor.

Early colonists wanted to bring goods from inland Australia down the River Murray in paddle steamers to the sea. But the river mouth was shallow and dangerous for ships. So a railway was built from the river port at Goolwa to Port Elliot. Ships could then take the goods out from Horseshoe Bay.

More than 500 ships used the port from 1851. Sadly, the bay was a ship trap in strong winds. Seven vessels were wrecked.

Four of the wrecks are often exposed in the surf zone. These are the Harry, Josephine Loizeau, Lapwing and the Flying Fish. The Flying Fish Cafe on the beach front is a reminder.

The other three wrecks cannot be located. These are the Emu, Commodore and the Athol.

The rail line was extended to Victor Harbor and trains run for visitors. The Port Elliot station includes a small museum.