Scuba Divers Federation of South Australia
Contributing to the Preservation of SA’s Jetties

Note: For information on specific jetties (Port Noarlunga, Rapid Bay, etc.), scroll down this page.

Jetties provide excellent shelter and habitat for marine life as well as safe and easy access for divers, especially for trainees, open water and night divers. SDFSA monitors and reports on jetty access and use across the State.

As of 2022: The State Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) is reviewing the work that needs to be done to preserve a number of jetties that are in deteriorating condition across the State. As Michael McGuire reported in the Sunday Mail, “Tens of millions of dollars will have to spent on aging and unsafe regional jetties”. In particular, DIT is developing a “comprehensive business plan for jetties at Tumby Bay, Port Germain, Edithburgh, Kingston SE and Rapid Bay”.

Your SDFSA has a seat on the committee working on the business plan, and we have provided as much information as possible on the economic value that diving, freediving and snorkelling contribute to the regions from the use of SA’s jetties, and Rapid Bay and Edithburgh in particular. The data is limited, but we hope that parallel studies into the value of maritime cultural heritage (Straiton, P. 2022. Assessing the Economic and Sociocultural Value of Maritime Cultural Heritage Sites: An Interdisciplinary Pilot Study. PhD thesis submitted to Flinders University., shark diving, including an analysis of the Neptune Islands shark tourism (Huveneers, C. et al. 2017. The economic value of shark-diving tourism in Australia in Rev Fish Biol Fisheries (2017) 27:665–680) and SA outdoor education in general (Marsden Jacob. Revised 2020. South Australia’s Nature based Outdoor Economy Key estimates and Recommendations. Prepared for SkillsIQ ) will be helpful to DIT. In 2020, SDFSA prepared a major submission to the South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) on SA’s jetties.

SDFSA DPTI jetty submission 2020

The SDFSA was invited by DPTI to prepare a written submission on what should be considered in a State-wide jetty management plan. Jetties are important structures for the sports of scuba diving, freediving and snorkelling as locations for training, unique dive experiences, marine citizen science research, and underwater photography. They are also easy dive sites for those with disabilities. The State’s jetties serve a South Australian diving community of 50,000 certified divers. They have the potential to attract thousands more from a global community of 28 million active divers. We have submitted 4 recommendations:

  1. Put in place a standard for a safe and useable jetty and maintain jetties to that standard. That standard should consist of:
  • Safety and accessibility: Good design of wide stairs with non slip treads and handrails, and subsurface platforms; Availability of safety equipment (life buoys, etc.); Discourage the potential presence of sharks (enforcing rules against dumping unused bait, etc.); Clear signage and enforcement of rules (eg, no spearfishing); Consider accessibility for disabled persons taking up the sport.
  • Related amenities to support divers: Adequate parking near jetties, benches for gearing up and places to lock gear trolleys near jetty stairs; Shade/sun protection, seating, toilets and fresh water sources.
  • Ecosystem protection considerations: Enforce littering fines for those who damage the ecosystem by allowing plastic bags and other debris to blow into the water; Consider ecosystem impacts of changes to jetties (damaging ecosystems through the removal of pylons; ensuring jetty surfaces allow light penetration below).
  1. Priority jetties to address: Edithburgh, Port Hughes, Second Valley (stairs, accessibility); Edithburgh and Rapid Bay (amenities), Kingscotte and Vivonne Bay jetties (revitalizing tourism); All jetties, but Second Valley and Rapid Bay in particular (signage).
  1. Address impediments to jetty maintenance: Repair jetties in a timely manner; Consult with stakeholders when major works will be done on jetties that might irrevocably change their character (such as removing pylons or resurfacing with materials that block sunlight to waters below); Put mechanisms in place for long term funding.
  1. Invest in research that will increase our appreciation of the value of the SCUBA industry to the State economy, and find ways to promote SA diving nationally and internationally.

Read the summary and details of our recommendations in the attached report:

SDFSA DPTI jetty submission 2020

Photos courtesy of Chelsea Haebich.

Port Noarlunga Jetty access

Update March 2020: The Port Noarlunga Jetty stairs are installed! The old stairs at the end of the jetty were torn off in storms in November 2018.  These have been removed and placed to the north of the jetty to create an artificial reef and provide a further home for the marine life.  SDFSA worked with the Onkaparinga Council, who manage the jetty, on the design of the new stairs and communicating progress to the diving community at large. The Federation commends Onkaparinga for an excellent outcome, with wide, non-slip stairs, handrail and several platforms that divers and snorkellers can access at different tide levels.

The Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve is one of the most popular dive and snorkeling sites in the state. It is home to Port Jackson shark aggregations as well as a wide variety of marine life. It is used for dive training, night dives, and is one of the sites regularly monitored by ReefWatch SA for the health of habitat, fish and invertebrate populations.

There is a set of steps along the middle of the jetty, but these are more difficult to use and cannot be used for exiting the water at low tide. No work is planned for the foreseeable future to extend the middle stairs to allow safer entry and exits for divers and snorkelers.

Rapid Bay maintenance and upgrades

Update 2022.  The SDFSA President has been invited to sit on a DIT planning committee to advise on work that needs to be done to the old Rapid Bay jetty.

Update November 2021: Commonwealth and Adbri Ltd. to invest in major amenities and upgrades to Rapid Bay. See our story in the SDFSA November Newsletter

Concerns have been raised about divers spearfishing near the old jetty at Rapid Bay. SDFSA understands that the jetty itself is not in the Marine Park designated sanctuary zone; however, because the old jetty is still listed as an official jetty, the rule prohibiting spearfishing within 100 metres of a jetty applies. We encourage divers to inform any spearfishers they see at Rapid Bay of this rule.

Rapid Bay Background

Rapid Bay lies within the Encounter Marine Park and is recognized as one of the premier dive sites in the state, providing habitat for the iconic leafy seadragon among many other species.

The site is popular with divers, snorkelers and fishers, including a growing number of interstate and international tourists looking for the leafy seadragon. The site consists of two jetties (old and new) and extensive seagrass beds. The old jetty is still listed as an official jetty. Both jetties are owned by DTI and the land that the jetties come onto is owned by Adelaide Brighton Cement (Rapid Bay is the site of a former open pit aggregates mine, with the surrounding land still owned by Adelaide Brighton Cement). The District Council of Yankalilla has a 3-way agreement with the State, the company and the Council to enable residents and the general public right of way to use this facility.

SDFSA is advocating for strengthening the surrounding habitat and facilities at Rapid Bay to improve its draw for local, interstate and international divers. SDFSA is encouraging Adelaide Brighton to pursue its plans for revegetation on its land, which will contribute to improving the surrounding marine environment and biodiversity. We are also working with Yankalilla Council on possible improvements to the site. The Council is currently considering the possibility of placing change rooms, toilets, fresh water taps, picnic tables and shade structures for the benefit of divers and other jetty users. They are working with the private landowners (Adelaide Brighton, etc.) to assess whether this is achievable.

Port Hughes and other South Australia Jetties

Other Jetties across South Australia

  • Edithburgh jetty: As of 2022, stairs are in very poor condition. Temporary repairs are being attempted while plans are underway to replace the stairs in future.  
  • Franklin Harbour jetty: The jetty has been closed for repairs in 2018, including replacement of structural supports and installation of new jetty stairs.
  • Port Hughes. The SDFSA keeps in touch with the Copper Coast Council to learn more about council plans for jetty maintenance.
  • Port Giles jetty: Was to reopen for diving and other recreational activities in April 2020 but does not appear to have opened as yet.
  • Port Stanvac jetty: In 2016, Exxon Mobil and the State government began work to tear down the historic jetty, on the grounds that the jetty was not safe, in spite of efforts by the diving and fishing communities to retain the jetty for recreational purposes.
  • Port Victoria jetty: 2020 update:  the ramp has suffered extensive storm damage.
  • Second Valley: Repaired stairs are more difficult to use at lowest tides
  • Whyalla: A new 165m “loop” jetty (with a circular boardwalk in the middle) was completed in 2020 but lacks stairs for diver access.