Semaphore – A quiet seaside hideaway

Semaphore Beach-side Clock
Not the best day for a trip to the beach
 Okay, I was really not intending on travelling down to Semaphore the last time I was in Adelaide, but it was only because when I was wandering around Glanville with my friend with the intention of visiting the Exeter that he suggested we wander further down Semaphore road to visit a pub that I had not been to in a long time (and one that I never realised existed).
Exeter Hotel - Semaphore
Not as good as its namesake in the city
As I suggested, this was a last minute decision, and since we had not prepared for a beach-side jaunt, and also because it was not the hottest of days, we only spent about an hour wondering around the beach front (and while I had a quick walk down to the beach, my friend remained in one of the shelters watching some woman aggressively throw slices of bread at a group of seagulls).
However Semaphore is not really a mysterious place to me as it used to be our preferred sea-side destination as a kid. That was probably because it was much closer to where we lived than some of Adelaide’s other beach side attractions. Also, because it is one of those places where it can be a little difficult to get to without transport it doesn’t tend to be as crowded as some of the more popular beaches in Adelaide (such as Glenelg which is serviced by a tram, and Brighton which is in walking distance from a railway station).
That doesn’t mean that it has always been cut off from public transport routes (okay, there is a bus that goes down there, but buses don’t count) because when I was a child they had a heavy rail link running from the Glanville railway station, down the middle of Semaphore Road, terminating at the beach. Apparently one of the reasons that the line was eventually removed was due to complaints from local businesses, and apparently it was also due to the problem of having a heavy rail line so close to vehicular traffic. However, one thing I am sure of that was NOT the reason for closing the line was due to lack of patronage.
Semaphore Railway Map
However, while the history is a passion of mine (and here is a video I found of the last train, a steam train, that used the Semaphore Line):
The quality is not that great, but it is a super 8mm
I will move on to some more contemporary discoveries on my journey down here.
As can be expected these days, there is a lot more to the beach than, well, just the beach. If you are looking for a surf beach, unfortunately Semaphore is not the best destination. Being located on the Gulf St Vincent, Adelaide really does not get many (or any) big waves like this one:
Rather you get those small waves that you find in the multitude of ‘soothing wave’ videosdotted across Youtube. However, that makes it a pretty decent beach to take the kids because the water tends to be quite calm, and it is not really all that deep either. Sure, there is a jetty that extends out to the much deeper water (which we would jump off of when we were a lot younger, but it is something that I have since grown out of – why should I jump off of a perfectly good jetty?).
As well as the beach, an amusement park has been built on the foreshore. I am not sure when that came about, but it seems like popular beaches tend to attract these parks (though not all of them because I don’t believe Henley Beach, Grange, or Brighton have amusement parks). The park wasn’t operational when we were there, but that is probably because it was raining.
The other thing that they have is a steam train that runs along the foreshore from Semaphore to Fort Glanville (which was the first fort built in the South Australian colony to defend the entrance to Port Adelaide and the anchorage at Semaphore). The train is basically a tourist train that runs on Sundays and Public Holidays between October and April, and every day during the school holidays (with the exception of the mid-year break).
However, the one thing I like about this place are all the old buildings (but then again I like old buildings) such as the Baptist Church:


Semaphore Baptist Church
Though it is now a dental clinic
The old Odean cinema (which still shows movies):
Odean Cinema - Semaphore
Which is better than those mega-plexes
and the Soldier’s Memorial Hall:
Soldier's Memorial Hall
Which has since been remained to the RSL
As for the amusement park that I mentioned earlier, well if that it your thing (and I don’t mind such places at times, though I prefer to go with friends), then they have a Cyclone:
Semaphore - The Cyclone
Not for the faint of heart
A carousel:
Semaphore - Carousel
I used to call them Merry-go-Rounds
and of course a water-slide:
Semaphore - Waterslide
What sea-side amusement park doesn’t have one – oh, Luna Park
If, after all that, you are a bit peckish, well there is a kiosk next to the railway station, the old Surf Lifesaving Club, and of course, a couple of pubs on Semaphore Road.

Oh, there is one thing I forgot – a map:

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me. All images on this post are © and/or ™ their relevant owners. If you are the owner of any of the images used on this website and wish them to be removed then please contact me.

Semaphore Railway Map source: The Q915 use permitted under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike 3.0.

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