A picturesque fishing port and home to a lobster fishing fleet that has developed into a popular holiday resort town.
Where is it?: South east. 385 km south-east of Adelaide on South Australia's Limestone Coast.
The appeal of the town is created by a wonderful mixture of Norfolk pines, pure aquamarine waters, beautiful white sands and a sense of relaxation produced by people swimming, fishing and boating. It is also an important port for the local crayfishing industry.
One of the characteristics of the area is the shallowness of the waters offshore. This accounts for the town's jetty which, at 772 metres, is one of the longest in Australia. It was commenced in 1878 and the plan was to build it nearly 1300 metres long.
A walk past the lighthouse reaches a lookout which has views to Penguin Island. The lighthouse, which was built in 1878, used to be on Penguin Island but was moved to the mainland in 1960.
Old Wool and Grain Store - National Trust Museum: Now a National Trust Museum, the Old Wool and Grain Store is located in Railway Terrace. Dating from the 1879-80 and built of local freestone and limestone quoins. The building was originally constructed as a wool and grain store. The stores were held downstairs and the upstairs was used as a residence. At one point a railway line ran from the store to the jetty. It was restored by the National Trust in 1972. The museum has a good collection of artefacts from the town's whaling and shipping past. It also, for those curious about the drains outside the town, has a special exhibition titled Down the Drain which explains the region's water drainage.
Beachport Walking Trails: There is an excellent brochure listing a number of walking trails in the district which have been named after local identities. There is Lanky's Walk (named after an Aboriginal tracker and reputedly the last member of the Booandik tribal grouping) which lasts 30 minutes and moves through native bushland to Lanky's Well (where Lanky used to water the police horses) starting from Railway Terrace just beyond North West Terrace. There's Jack and Hilda McArthur Walk around Wooley's Lake which starts at the car park in the Beachport Conservation Park and Wendy's Walk (45 mins) which offers views across the Southern Ocean and starts at the steps opposite South Terrace on Foster Street.
The Bryan Brown/Karen Allen comedy, Sweet Talker (1991), was shot in and around Beachport.
Penguin Island Conservation Park: Drive to the seaside end of Foster Street and you can walk past the lighthouse to a lookout which looks across at Penguin Island. The lighthouse, which was built in 1878, used to be on Penguin Island but was moved to the mainland in 1960. The lookout, particularly if you have a good pair of binoculars, offers an excellent view of Penguin Island which is characterised by 10-15 metre cliffs and is the breeding ground for silver gulls, little penguins and crested terns. There are also Australian fur seals on the island.
Woakwine Cutting: In the late 1950s, some landowners used their own ingenuity to make their land useful. 10 km north of Beachport, Grazier Murray McCourt and a friend performed Australia's biggest engineering feat by just two people. Over a period of three years, they dug a deep trench called the Woakwine Cutting which would eventually allow McCourt to convert a large area of snake-infested swamp into farmland. The cutting, which was completed in May 1963, is still operational today.
Beachport Conservation Park: The excellent handout 'Beachport Walking Trails' explains: 'Drive from the jetty with the sea on your left-hand side and turn around the roundabout passing the National Trust Museum and the Beachport Hotel. About 0.7 km from the roundabout you will see a road sign posted to Lake George. Follow this for 5.2 km until the sealed road ends at the boundary of the Beachport Conservation Park.' The path (taking the right hand fork) follows the edge of Lake George. The park is important as the habitat for Lewin's Water Rail, Rufous Bristle Bird and the Olive Whistler. There are also some particularly important Aboriginal middens in the area.
The Pool of Siloam is about as close as Australia gets to the Dead Sea. It is fed by underground springs and has a salinity seven times that of the sea. This means that it is popular for therapeutic purposes. It also means that if you are a non-swimmer you will float. You can even lie on your back and read a book.
Brief history: Within three decades of Nicolas Baudin naming Rivoli Bay in 1802, whalers used the area as a temporary base. In 1845 Captain Emmanuel Underwood built a store from which he traded with merchants in Port Adelaide. The town and its facilities grew up around this store.
Known as 'Wirmalngrang' to the local Booandik Aborigines of the Bunganditj peoples, its original inhabitants. Contrary to what one would expect, the town was named in May 1878 for the then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Michael Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn, and officially proclaimed a port on 21 November 1878.
Beachport is also possibly the location of the first casualties of World War 2 on Australian soil. On 12 July 1941, a local fisherman discovered and towed to Beachport a German sea mine either laid by the raider Pinguin or the minelayer Passat. The following day, two Able Seamen, Thomas Todd and William Danswan, part of a three man Rendering Mines Safe (REMS) team, were killed when a wave lifted the mine and caused it to explode on the beach while they were attempting to defuse it. A monument now stands in the town to honour them.