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St Kilda, South Australia

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St Kilda
AdelaideSouth Australia
St Kilda adventure playground
St Kilda
St Kilda
CoordinatesCoordinates: 34°43′S 138°31′E / 34.717°S 138.517°E / -34.717; 138.517
Population246 (2006 census)[1]
Location22 km (14 mi) from Adelaide city centre
LGA(s)City of Salisbury
State electorate(s)Port Adelaide
Federal Division(s)Spence
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
22.7 °C
73 °F
11.1 °C
52 °F
430.1 mm
16.9 in
Suburbs around St Kilda:
Barker Inlet Buckland Park Waterloo Corner
Barker Inlet St Kilda Waterloo Corner
Barker Inlet Bolivar Bolivar
Adjoining suburbs[3]

St Kilda is a seaside suburb in Adelaide, South Australia. St Kilda has a small number of houses and a 2006 population of 246. There is a single connecting road to the rest of Adelaide which, where the road enters the suburb's residential area, is surrounded by salt crystallisation lagoons used in the manufacture of soda ash. The inhabited section of the suburb occupies less than 100 hectares along the seafront, with the remainder used for salt lagoons and also settlement ponds of nearby Bolivar sewage treatment works.

What was originally a seaside town was named by John Harvey, the founder of nearby Salisbury, as it reminded him of St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland with its similar abundance of birdlife.[4] St Kilda is an internationally recognised bird watching area with over 100 species of birds feeding in and around the mudflats, salt Lagoons, mangroves and seagrass beds.[5] The suburb is home to a number of tourist attractions, including an adventure playground, tram museum, mangrove forest walk and an abundance of birdlife.


The suburb was originally three low lying islands that were covered in shell grit and saltbush and surrounded by mangrove and samphire swamps. Fishermen had established huts on the islands by 1865 and by 1873 there were 13 huts and a boathouse recorded when the area was surveyed by Thomas Evans.[6] By the 1890s people were visiting the islands attracted to the supposed curative properties of the mangrove mud, using the beach for bathing and fishing for crabs.[6]

St Kilda was proclaimed a town on 31 July 1893 with sales of the first allotments made on the same day.[6] In 1886 it became part of the Munno Para West District Council area, moving to the district of Salisbury on 1 July 1933 along with most of the Munno Para West area.[6] The islands were extensively modified after floods in 1948 and 1957 which cut off St Kilda from the rest of Adelaide. Salisbury council began building up the area, expanding seawalls and reclaiming additional land by dumping of earth spoil.[7]

The St Kilda Hotel, built out of limestone from east of what is now Elizabeth, opened in 1898 with Matthias Lucas as the first publican and remains the suburb's only hotel.[4][7] A school opened in October 1902, where the tram museum is now sited, admitting students in November of the same year. The school was closed from 1917 to 1924 and finally closed permanently in 1949 with students moving to Salisbury North Primary School and the building eventually being used at Virginia Primary School.[8] In 1924 a telegraph office opened in Shell Street and, due to the suburb of St Kilda in Melbourne having the same name, the post office service requested that the name be changed. Over some local objections the name was changed to Moilong (a Kaurna word for Where the tide comes in) but this was reversed after local protests.[4][6] Moilong Telegraph Office opened in 1924, was upgraded to a post office in 1945, renamed Saint Kilda in 1965 and closed in 1974.[9]

St Kilda's population has never been large with 50 non-permanent residents counted in the 1901 census, 68 (including 20 permanent) in 1911, 30 total residents in 1933,[6] 80 in 2002 and increasing to 246 by 2006.[10]


Adventure playground

Shipwreck at the playground
Shipwreck at the playground

St Kilda's adventure playground covers 4 hectares along the seafront and is one of South Australia's best known. The playground has a constructed shipwreck, wooden castle, huge slides, a spiral slide inside a hill, flying foxes and numerous other pieces of play equipment, with South Australian children naming it in 2002 as the best adventure park in the state.[11]

The park was conceived by the Lions Club of Salisbury and funded through club fundraising activities, council matching funding and government employment schemes providing free labour. It was opened by Salisbury mayor Ron White on 24 October 1982 and has had recent upgrades to the park, including a shaded set of equipment shaped like a submarine for younger children, and the building of a small maze.[11]

St Kilda Boat Club and marina

St Kilda has an extensive marina with floating moorings for about 50 boats, two boat ramps and a sheltered channel out into the Barker Inlet, part of Gulf St Vincent. Recently expanded the marina now has hard stands for boats and some slipping facilities.[12]

The boat club was founded as the "St Kilda Boatowners Association Incorporated" in 1964, after permission was gained from the council and landowners to develop St Kilda tidal creek as the area lacked boat launching facilities. The creek was straightened and deepened repeatedly, originally by hand, and a causeway extended out to sea to protect the channel.[13] A new clubhouse was opened by MP Lynn Arnold in 1980 and the latest boat ramp in 2002 by the mayor of Salisbury Tony Zappia.[13]

Saltwater lagoons

Salt lagoon beyond the samphire saltflats
Salt lagoon beyond the samphire saltflats

Large, constructed saltwater evaporation lagoons surround the only road into the suburb. Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) began construction of the Solar Evaporation Lagoons in 1935 using up to 600 workers to dig out the lagoons by hand and then expanded them mechanically after World War II.[14] The lagoons stretch in a broken chain from Dry Creek to Port Gawler alongside the Barker Inlet, and are approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) north–south by 3 kilometres (2 mi) east–west. The lagoons are filled in spring and salt normally harvested in autumn when it is piped as saturated brine solution to Osborne on the Le Fevre peninsula, and used by Penrice Soda Products in the only soda ash production facility in Australia.[14][15] The lagoons proliferate with bird life and have been recognised as a bird sanctuary due to their status as an important breeding and feeding area for species from as far away as Alaska. As of 2006 the Lagoons are operated by Cheetham Salt Limited with 600,000 tonnes of salt used by Penrice in creating soda ash via the solvay process.[16][17]

Mangrove trail and interpretative centre

Under the mangrove canopy
Under the mangrove canopy

St Kilda is adjacent to the mangrove forest bordering Barker Inlet, part of the largest tidal estuary of Gulf St Vincent. Late in the 19th Century embankments were constructed through the mangroves in an effort to reclaim land for pasturing. With the construction of the banks of the adjacent saltfields maintenance of the embankments ceased and the mangroves began to reclaim them. One of these embankments is used as the beginning of a boardwalk through the mangroves which forms a 1.7 km loop[18] through the samphire saltmarsh flats and mangroves reaching the border between the ocean and forest.

The boardwalk was constructed in 1984 by the City of Salisbury to encourage appreciation of the mangrove's ecological importance.[18] On 29 April 1995, South Australian Premier Dean Brown and federal MP Chris Schacht opened the St Kilda Interpretative Centre at the entrance to the boardwalk which showcases the flora, fauna and processes within the mangrove forest.[12][18] Since 1997 the mangrove trail has been privately managed, hosting school visits as well as casual visitors.[19]

The boardwalk is within the barker inlet aquatic reserve, where the taking of crabs shellfish and plants is prohibited and pets are not allowed. The mangroves, saltmarsh and adjacent lagoons form a habitat for over 200 bird species[20] with the mangroves being part of a nursery area for most of the commercial and recreational fish species of Gulf St Vincent.[12] The 2005 Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Act[21] established a sanctuary for the Bottlenose dolphins that live in the inlet and adjacent Port River. The sanctuary's northern extent is the boat channel[22] and dolphins can sometimes be seen at high tide in the tidal creeks passing under the boardwalk.

Tramway museum

Tram 42 ready for boarding
Tram 42 ready for boarding

The Tramway Museum, St Kilda is built on the site of the 1902 school and showcases trams and trolleybuses that were either used or built in Adelaide. The museum is dedicated to preserving and restoring Adelaide’s former transport vehicles. It houses over 30 electric trams, horse trams and electric trolley buses, many of which are restored and operational. Visitors can ride the electric trams along 2 km of purpose-built track that runs between the museum and the adventure playground.[23]

Adelaide's first electric tram on display
Adelaide's first electric tram on display

The first vehicle was a trolley bus donated from the Municipal Tramways Trust in 1958 with others soon following. The museum opened as a static display in 1967.[24] Workshops were built to enable the restoration of the old trams to operating condition. ICI, then operator of the salt lagoons, donated land for the tramway to run next to St Kilda Road. The tramway opened for trials in 1973 and was officially opened in 1974 by Harry Bowey, mayor of Salisbury, and Frank Kneebone, Minister for Lands, to coincide with St Kilda's centenary.[24] In 2001 a large additional museum building was completed to house the increasing number of donated trams.[24]

Flora and fauna


The mangroves found on the coastline of St Kilda consist of a single species, Avicennia marina var resinifera. In the upper intertidal zone mangroves are reduced in size landwards and give way to a variety of samphire species, including beaded glasswort (Tecticornia flabelliformis) and blackseed glasswort (Tecticornia pergranulata) as well as saltbush on the saltflats of the supratidal zone. Nitre bush grows on the highest parts of the seawall and the abundant summer fruits provide a food source for birds.


St Kilda is part of a nursery area for many of the commercially important fish and crustaceans in South Australian including King George whiting, western king prawns and blue swimmer crabs.[25] There are brown snakes and skinks in dense bushes along the top of the embankments.

Each year in late summer thousands of black swans and ducks descend on the area as the inland waterways they inhabit dry up. Waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants, oyster catchers and terns are common often year round. Egrets, ibis, herons and spoonbills feed on the seagrass and fairy wrens, chats, fantails and thornbills feed on insects and plants amongst the samphire. Each September stints and sandpipers arrive from the Northern Hemisphere in a spectacular display.[26] With the abundance of birdlife the area attracts birds of prey with swamp harriers, collared sparrowhawks, black-shouldered kites, kestrels and little falcons are all seen in the skies over St Kilda.[26]

The salt lagoons, mangroves and samphire wetlands are recognised as important areas for migratory birds by their coverage under the China-Australia and Japan-Australia migratory bird agreements.[27] The agreements are treaties created to for the protection of the birds and their environment.


This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (December 2017)
St Kilda suburb layout
St Kilda suburb layout

St Kilda is a flat, low lying suburb mostly less than 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) above sea level, dominated by the salt lagoons managed by Cheetham Salt, and the treatment ponds of SA Water's nearby Bolivar sewage works. The lagoons, ponds and surrounding land are fenced off and generally closed to the public.


St Kilda Road is the only access road and connects to Port Wakefield Road at Waterloo Corner. St Kilda can be driven to from Salisbury in approximately 10 minutes and from Adelaide's CBD in 30 minutes. There are no scheduled bus services with the nearest public transport being Adelaide Metro 900 bus route which passes along Port Wakefield Road, 2 kilometres outside the suburb's boundary.


Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate with St Kilda being slightly hotter and drier than the Adelaide average. Summer daytime temperatures can be expected to exceed 40 °C on 4 days of the year. Conversely, nighttime temperatures in winter are expected to drop below 0 °C on 1 day, although generally the season is mild with moderate rainfall.

Edinburgh RAAF base near St Kilda
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[28]


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "St Kilda (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 28 February 2008.
  2. ^ "Monthly climate statistics: Summary statistics EDINBURGH RAAF (nearest station)". Commonwealth of Australia, Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Search result for "St Kilda (Suburb)" (Record no. SA0064364) with the following layers selected - "Suburbs and Localities" and " Place names (gazetteer)"". Property Location Browser. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Gunton E. 1986, p. 115
  5. ^ Taylor E. (2003), p. 31–32 (100 species referred to here but noted on boardwalk signs as 200 species and elsewhere as 150 species
  6. ^ a b c d e f Taylor E. (2003), p. 4–7
  7. ^ a b Taylor E. (2003), p. 9–11
  8. ^ Taylor E. (2003), p. 12
  9. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  10. ^ Taylor E. (2003), p. 34
  11. ^ a b Taylor E. (2003), p. 27
  12. ^ a b c "Community Facilities > Parks and Reserves > St Kilda". City of Salisbury, South Australia. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  13. ^ a b Taylor E. (2003), p. 21–23
  14. ^ a b Taylor E. (2003), p. 15–17
  15. ^ "Company Overview". Penrice Soda Holdings Limited. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  16. ^ "A taste of the salt making business". Business S.A. Archived from the original on 5 December 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  17. ^ Valentine, Jeff. "Salt". Department of Primary Industries, South Australia. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  18. ^ a b c Taylor E. (2003), p. 28–29
  19. ^ "St Kilda Mangrove Trail". The Advertiser. News Limited. 13 October 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  20. ^ Waanders, P.I. (2004). "A birdwatching guide to South Australia". pp. 2.2.3 St Kilda tidal flats and mangroves. Archived from the original on 15 July 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  21. ^ "ADELAIDE DOLPHIN SANCTUARY ACT 2005". Retrieved 26 December 2006.
  22. ^ "Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, Location and Maps". South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage. 2006. Archived from the original on 20 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-26.
  23. ^ "Adelaide Tramway Museum at St Kilda". Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  24. ^ a b c Taylor E. (2003), p. 18–20
  25. ^ "Barker Inlet – St Kilda Aquatic Reserve" (PDF). South Australian dept of Primary Industries. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2006.
  26. ^ a b Taylor E. (2003), p. 31–32
  27. ^ "SEA Gas Project EER/EIR" (PDF). Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia. p. 57. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 September 2006.
  28. ^ "Climate Averages for EDINBURGH RAAF". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 25 January 2007.


  • Cooper, Roy P. (1978). Birds of a Salt-Field. Melbourne, Victoria: ICI Australia Ltd. ISBN 0-909829-08-X.
  • Gunton, Eric (November 1986). Tracing Our Towns, Stories of Same Named Places in South Australia and the United Kingdom. South Australia: Self Published. ISBN 0-9592094-2-5.
  • Taylor, Edna (2003). The History and Development of ST KILDA South Australia. Salisbury, South Australia: Lions Club of Salisbury. ISBN 0-646-42219-7.

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St Kilda, South Australia
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