Jetties Collect Life

How true this is for both below and above the water. I’m drawn to jetties, there is something that makes them compelling to stroll on and try to see or wonder at the life below them.  They are feats of engineering and have to put up with the harshest of wind, waves and other weather conditions sometimes unfortunately capitulating to the damage of ferocious storms.  I love the repetition of the old weathered, wooden pylons which are great to photograph as are the whole structures for their vanishing point perspectives into the horizon.

In South Australia we are lucky to have west facing beaches on a lot of our coastline so having the sun set behind jetties gives some incredible sunset shots with silhouettes.

A lot of coastal holiday spots get jam packed, especially over the summer holidays with jetties being a huge drawcard for the fishing opportunities. We are lucky to have some of the best caravan parks on prime real estate overlooking these magical beaches with their jetties. They are such family friendly places to go fishing and a great way to while away and hour or more even if the fish aren’t biting.  Rod and reel, handline or crab net can be used and the jetties all have fish measurement stations to check on size and bag limits.

Some jetties also have safe, fenced off swimming areas with floating pontoons to keep swimmers safe from bitey critters which can inhabit our waters. In many country communities, swimming lessons for children are held in these swimming enclosures in summer.  In days gone by diving boards could also be found on some jetties but can be hard to find these days with councils and other authorities in charge of jetties being worried about public liability.  Of course this doesn’t stop the brave, the locals, the young and young at heart from ‘jetty jumping’ still.  It’s a favourite Australian pastime when at the beach.

Most of the metropolitan beaches in South Australia have jetties and no matter the weather they are a mecca for fishers and photographers at any time of the year. I have a few favourite coastal areas to visit where the jetties are a feature of the landscape. These include Port Elliot on the eastern side of Fleurieu Peninsula, to the south of Adelaide and Normanville, on the western side of the same peninsula.  There are a number of jetties in South Australia and other parts of Australia that are iconic in photographs.

Another favourite is Moonta Bay jetty great for fishing, swimming from, jetty jumping and fantastic sunset shots it affords. You can quite often catch squid, whiting, tommies (herring) and blue swimmer crabs, that is unless an occasional seal isn’t cruising by and helping itself first.

Jetties take on a whole new look at night when they are lit up too.

I love the way they weather the storms and the old wooden pylons show their age. These days when jetties have been unfortunate enough to have taken the brunt of a storm and came off worse for wear, the repairs are being done with concrete sleepers replacing the wooden ones of the past.  Hopefully this will cut down on the maintenance that they have to go through every year after winter has done its worst.

You can’t speak of iconic Australian jetties without mentioning the Busselton Jetty in Western Australia. Its claim to fame is being the longest wooden jetty in the world, stretching almost 2 km out to sea. The jetty had to be constructed at such a length because the shallow waters of Geographe Bay restricted ship movement, so a long jetty was built to enable the shipping transport of cut timber to occur. There is a rail line that runs the length of the jetty which today is used for a tourist train to take visitors that aren’t keen or capable of walking the distance.

This is one jetty that definitely collects life and visitors can see all the living and breathing life and colour under the jetty by visiting the underwater observatory at the end of the jetty. My tip to get the best out of a visit to this jetty would be to walk the jetty to the end, there are rest stops and interesting information on the way out and then do the underwater observatory tour before either walking or taking the train back. The underwater tour involves a 20 minute talk by an experienced and passionate guide as you descend down a spiral staircase the 8 metres to the ocean floor.  Along the way you stop at 11 viewing windows where you see the different life forms that make the jetty pylons their home as well as an incredible amount of fish cruising through.  The colours of the corals and sponges have to be seen to be believed as does the colour of the water.  An amazing experience to be able to see the life underwater without getting wet!


Another iconic jetty in Western Australia is the tanker jetty in Esperance. Unfortunately this one is under threat of being partly demolished and replaced with a shorter version of itself. This heritage listed structure is desperately trying to be saved by a dedicated community that is fighting the local council and their plans to change, rather than repair what has been in the past and could be again an iconic tourist attraction. This jetty is only one of three wooden jetties remaining in Western Australia (the others being the Busselton Jetty and the One Mile jetty in Carnarvon). So let’s hope a sense of history prevails and the jetty is saved from demolition.

As the blog title goes, jetties collect life and it’s a shame to think that any of them could be demolished and communities lose the life they bring to a town.





3 thoughts on “Jetties Collect Life

  1. Thanks for the interesting read about jetties. It’s kind of cool to know that jetties can be a huge draw for a lot of fishing opportunities. It would be cool to see just how many people come to a jetty just to fish.


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