Semaphore is a north-western seaside suburb approximately 14km from Adelaide. Semaphore s white sands, family-friendly shallows and colourful foreshore make for a classic Adelaide beach escape. Semaphore beach is deep and white and backed by low dunes rather than tall buildings, so you get a sense of being miles from anywhere.

Semaphore's history isn't confined to a museum. Even from the end of the jetty you can see the Timeball Tower, the oldest working carousel in the southern hemisphere, the glorious 1920s Palais bathing pavilion (now the Semaphore Palais hotel), historical buildings along Semaphore Road and the Ozone Theatre building.

Semaphore Road  one of Adelaide s widest boulevards  is finding a new sense of style. Funky boutiques have opened their doors alongside famous 'old salt' pubs. Contemporary cafes are serving beneath the tin ceilings of century-old buildings. Indulge in high quality food in a beachside atmosphere, where fine dining and great pubs mix with quirky cafes and good old-fashioned fish and chips.

The Semaphore Street Fair on the last Sunday in November sees the community get together on Semaphore Road to celebrate everything Semaphore! Other events in Semaphore include the Summer Carnival on the foreshore during the summer school holidays, Semaphore Summer Twilight Markets Friday-Friday nights, January - March each year; New Year's Eve and Australia Day fireworks, Greek Festival in January, and Semaphore Music Festival (October Long Weekend), Seaside Carols in Semaphore in December and Semaphore hosts Australia s largest kite festival at Easter.

Location: 14 km north-west of Adelaide.
How to get there: by car, via Semaphore Road; by rail, take the train to Semaphore station.

Click on or tap an attraction or place of interest to read the description. Click or tap again to hide the description.

Semaphore Beach

Semaphore Beach is known for its deep ribbon of white sand, family-friendly shallows and a colourful foreshore that make for a classic Adelaide beach escape. The beach is backed by low dunes rather than tall buildings, so it does not have a built-up feel. Behind the beach is 2 kilometres of public space preserved for recreation, offering mini-golf, water slides, a vintage carousel or ferris wheel, and a steam train that travels along the shoreline. Semaphore Road, one of Adelaide s widest boulevards, is home to funky boutiques, old pubs and quirky cafes. Semaphore's beach is the busiest of those on the LeFevre Peninsula, as it is the most convenient beach to people living in the northern suburbs of metropolitan Adelaide. There are large car parks on the foreshore to accommodate visitors. During weekends of the summer months the beach is patrolled by the Semaphore Surf Life Saving club, with the swimming flags often being placed 50m south of the jetty or outside the club at Point Malcolm (1.5 km south of the jetty). Walking along the historic jetty is popular and the jetty is the focus of cultural events, such as the annual Kite Festival and Greek Festival.

Largs Bay

Largs Bay, to the north of Semaphore on LeFevre Peninsula, is 16km to the north-west of the Adelaide CBD. A sailing club and a jetty are present on Largs Bay Beach. The Heritage-Listed Largs Pier Hotel Motel on the Esplanade is one of South Australia's most unique hotels. It was used as a historical landmark in earlier times by sailors. These days Largs Bay is essentially a residential suburb, with a minor harbourside presence on the eastern shore of the suburb. The eastern side of the suburb, by the Port riverside is the location of three shipping berths, which are used by Caltex, BP and Mobil vessels.

As its name suggests, Largs North is to the north of Largs Bay. The eastern side of the suburb, by the Port riverside is known as Snowden Beach and is the location of a sulphuric acid works, which is connected to a freight railway. There is a swinging basin in the area, and it is the site of Port River Sailing Club and Port Adelaide Rowing Club.

On 23rd December 1882 the Largs Bay seaside resort was opened. Prior to that, the limitations of Port Adelaide's shallow Inner Harbour and lack of a deep sea harbour near Adelaide had caused frustrations in the Colony. Various grandiose schemes had been mooted, but none had eventuated. This grand develpment put Largs Bay on the map. Deep-sea ships anchored in the Bay and launches brought passengers, freight and mail to the jetty. Largs Bay jetty was an impressive 640 metres in length and the railway line was connected all the way to the end. Special mail trains ran from Largs Bay jetty to the Adelaide GPO. The new efficient service led to Largs Bay playing a strategic role in Australia s postal system which became even better as more intercolonial railways were built. Largs Bay was kept busy with shipping until Outer Harbor was built by the South Australian Government in 1908.

How to get there: The 157 and 333 buses service Military Road, while the 150 services Fletcher Road. The suburb is also serviced by Largs and Largs North railway stations on the Outer Harbor railway line.

Fort Glanville

Fort Glanville Conservation Park is a registered heritage conservation area in Semaphore Park, South Australia, a seaside suburb of Adelaide, that incorporates a functional 19th century fort. The fort was built after more than 40 years of indecision over the defence of South Australia. It was the first colonial fortification in the state and is the best preserved and most functional in Australia. Fort Glanville was designed by Governor Major General Sir William Jervois and Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scratchley, both important figures in early Australian colonial defence. When built it was designed to defend both Semaphore's anchorage and shipping entering the Port River from naval attack.

Construction of the fort began in 1878. It was officially opened in October 1880 and completed by 1882. Due to changes in the Port River and shipping movements, Fort Largs surpassed it for strategic importance by 1890. By the close of the 19th century, the fort was largely unused and had no defence significance. It was briefly used for military purposes during World War I and World War II, though not for its original defensive role.

The fort retains its original 19th century cannons and three have been restored to working condition. Fort Glanville Historical Association operates the park under license and conducts open days in the park, recreating the past operation of the fort including military drill and the firing of period weapons. It is the most complete 19th Century fort in Australia, and one of very few in the world that remains in original condition.

Location: 359 Military Road, Semaphore Park, SA.
Contact: (08) 8354 4644.

Semaphore Landmarks

The Semaphore jetty, which was completed in 1860, once stood at 652 metres in length, but today is 585 metres. It overlooks the Fort Glanville steam train, which operates as a heritage item by the National Railway Museum. A World War I memorial clock was built in 1925 at the landward end of the jetty. In 1928, a merry-go-round, the largest in Australia, was constructed, driven by an electrical lift motor and gearbox, unlike the predominantly steam-driven machines of the era. An octagonal brick tower with two metre thick walls was erected in Blackler Street in 1880 to maintain a water supply when the Jervois bridge had to be raised for passing ships. It was in use until 1972 after which it was converted into a residence. The birthplace of Sir Ross Smith, the aviator who flew from the United Kingdom to Australia is preserved to this day, at 36 Newman Street.

Fort Glanville Tourist Railway

In the late 1890's a Military Railway was designed to run from Glenelg along the foreshore to Largs with the aim to link both Fort Largs and Fort Glanville. Part of that railway was rebuilt a century later as a tourist railway. Operated by National Railway Museum volunteers, the 457 mm (18.0 in) gauge passenger train follows a 2 km coastal route from the Semaphore Jetty to Point Malcolm and the adjacent Caravan Park. The return journey takes nearly about 40 minutes. The service operates from 11 am to 4 pm on weekends from October to April.

How to get there: by road, north east from Adelaide along Port Rd or Torrens Rd, left into Grand Junction Rd; by rail, train to Glanville Station. Walk to Semaphore Beach along Semaphore Rd.

History of Semaphore

When the Semaphore area was surveyed for sale in 1849, Le Fevre Peninsula was virtually an island of sandhills and tidal swamps. Just two years later Mr. George Coppin, the 'Father of Australian Theatre', built a two storied timber hotel, The Semaphore, on the southern corner of Blackler Street and The Esplanade. He erected a very tall flagpole to signal the approach of ships and new customers to the White Horse Cellars, his other hotel in Port Adelaide. The area around his beach inn took the name he conferred on it  The Semaphore.

By 1856 an official Government signal station had been set up at the corner of Semaphore Road and The Esplanade. Signalmen on watch recorded the identity, arrival, departure and destination of all ships in the Gulf. They also relayed information on water depth, tides and instructions for loading and discharging cargoes. Maritime pilots had to live within one mile of the station, and each had a personal flag which summoned him when a ship required a pilot. The Signal Station grew increasingly complex over the years and became a picturesque landmark.

Semaphore's importance as a communications centre was confirmed when a Telegraph and Post Office was established in 1856. The Time Ball Tower was erected in 1875 adjacent to the Signal Station. Before wireless time-signals were invented these towers were found at all main ports throughout the world.

The district was very isolated until a precarious wooden bridge, later replaced by the Jervois Bridge, was opened in 1859. The Semaphore Jetty was completed in 1860, but it was two years before the bridge and jetty were connected by a hard-surfaced road. Many early settlers were seafarers, a significant number of them Cape Horners. The bridge/road link meant that Port Adelaide businessmen could commute to the seaside village and many built large homes in Semaphore. The entrepreneurial sap began to rise: churches, halls, private schools and pubs flourished. Semaphore developed into an affluent suburb

In 1917 an electric tram service from Port Adelaide was inaugurated. The 1920's were boom times during which the Palais dance hall and picture palaces attracted large crowds. Mid-century, a change occurred in Semaphore s fortunes. The tram service ceased in 1935, the functions of the Signal Station and Time Ball Tower were transferred to Outer Harbour, and the grand old jetty was much shortened by severe storms. However, Semaphore was still a very popular destination in spite of motor cars making holidays further afield possible.

The inertia of the past few decades has preserved this charming village in solid Victorian condition. Today it is a fascinating place of history and heritage. New life has once again stirred the vibrant Semaphore community spirit, with unique shops and cafes.