The Turbulent History of Glenelg's Beloved Jetty

Old Jetty

Adelaide’s beaches are known for their famous jetties, but none more so than Glenelg. The Glenelg Jetty is the centerpiece of this bustling coastal town, with many visitors and locals taking in its charm and enjoying the blazing sunsets from the end of the walk. But this Jetty is more than meets the eye and has a quirky history behind it.

The Jetty first came to life in 1857 but wasn’t completed until 1859. While this may seem a slow process, the Jetty in its first years of life was not only used by fishermen, but also served a purpose as a port, accepting freight from cargo ships and even a post ship operated by P&O. It was also during this time that a steamer ran between Glenelg and Kangaroo Island. 

Old Jetty 2

To be able to accommodate for the ships, the original Jetty was a whopping 380 metres long – these days the Jetty reaches 215 metres. At the end of the Jetty, stood a lighthouse built in 1872, but only a few short years later, it caught fire and was cast out to sea to save the rest of the jetty. A new lighthouse was built 2 years later, along with a kiosk, public baths and even an aquarium.

Sadly, in 1943, the kiosk was struck by a freak cyclone, and a large portion of the Jetty was washed away and later deemed unsafe. Council began plans for a new jetty, stronger than before, but decided it should be made smaller, as its use as a port was no longer needed. This is the Jetty that we know and love today.

These days, the Jetty is a hotspot for tourists, and keen fisherman, often catching small whiting and crabs from the furthest part of the walk. Talks are still being held within the within the community as to whether or not we can revive the Jetty’s former glory, so stay tuned in the months and years to come.