Life Trading Places 2016 Australia’s best seachange towns No.9: Port Elliot
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Australia’s best seachange towns No.9: Port Elliot

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The South Australian town of Port Elliot brings together idyllic coastlines, old-world charm and some of the state’s most sought after culinary treats.

It is an eclectic mix of history and modernity, shaped around the picturesque Horseshoe Bay.

The area was settled as a seaport in 1851, connected to the Murray River port of Goolwa via a horse-drawn railway – the first in Australia to run on an iron track.

port elliot sa trading places 2016 at a glanceBut it soon became known as the ‘ship trap’ after numerous vessels were lost in treacherous conditions as they sailed into port.

Driving into the township today, it is clear this long history is thoroughly embraced.

“We have developed our own character and our own sense of identity,” says Kate Cotellessa, who moved from Adelaide in 1990 to take over the Port Elliot Caravan Park.

“Its natural, beautiful coastline and the fact that it retained the really quaint township feel to it and vibe, and it doesn’t have those franchises that a lot of other towns are developing.”

Local resident Lorraine Pomery, whose family has lived here since 1853, says there is a strong sense of community in the town, which also offers retail stores, restaurants, wineries and other first-class produce, whale watching and surf beaches.

“It has kept the atmosphere of the old world – it is a very pretty place,” she says. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Inland from the town is a high-production agricultural zone that sprawls into the hills.

With a population of nearly 2000, it has a mild climate throughout much of the year, averaging in the mid-20s throughout summer and around 15 degrees in winter.

An oddity you will notice on any weekend or public holiday is a queue of people stretching along the main street. Their goal – some of the best Cornish pasties and vanilla slices known to man.

“They have got probably one of the busiest bakeries in Australia … I can’t believe the length of the queue,” Alexandrina Council mayor Keith Parkes says.

“We pride ourselves in our council area on the retention of the heritage quality of our towns and the history that is behind them and Port Elliot is an outstanding example of that.”
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Video: Valentin Ioja
Photos: Alexandrina Council | Getty
Reporting: Emma Manser