Swan Alley Creek – Garden Island

Garden Island in the North Arm of the Port River provides access to Swan Alley Creek which meanders through the mangroves on the eastern side of Barkers Inlet. This circular route returns to Garden Island Boat ramp.



Port Adelaide (14 km from Adelaide)

Approx. 9-10 km

Approx. 9-10 km

Paddle Time 2 hours to half a day

Difficulty Level

Difficulty Level

Easy – Moderate

Paddling five checks BOM
Paddle SA is the governing body of paddle sport and recreation in South Australia. It leads and supports paddling in South Australia and encourages the safe exploration of our waterways. Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities. Know your ability.
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Paddling Trails South Australia Avenza mapsIf you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive paddling trail maps on hand when you need them. The app uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos, and drop Placemark pins.

Trail Information

Garden Island Boat ramp  GPS: 34.8046 S; 138.5400 E
Launch and exit the same location
Caution: The Garden Island boat ramp is often busy and powered craft may be encountered. Remember to give way to powered craft when in the boating channel.

Trail Points:
Garden Island in the North Arm of the Port River provides access to Swan Alley Creek which meanders through the mangroves on the eastern side of the Barker Inlet. A circular route returns to Garden Island Boat ramp.

Swan Alley Creek is one of a number of creeks that meander into the mangrove forest on the eastern side of Barker Inlet. It branches into a number of smaller creeks and is intersected by the channel alongside the embankment built in the late 1800s to reclaim land to the east but abandoned some years later.

Launch from the Garden Island boat ramp area and paddle around the southern end of Torrens Island. Be aware that this area is shallow, and dries out at low tide.

Once around the point, head in a north by north-easterly direction until you can make out the entrance to Swan Alley Creek (Point A 34.7923 S 138.5513 E). From a distance the line of mangroves is almost featureless. At low tide, keep a bit to the west of the direct track and look for the channel in the shallows.

About 300m from the entrance, on the southern side, is a sandbar. Depending on the state of the tide, it may be the only place for landing for a break. Just to the east is the junction with a southern branch of the creek. Its eastern end is impassable.

About one kilometre from the creek entrance the creek branches in a number of directions (Point B: 34.7924 S 138.5618 E). The first branch on the right heads in an easterly direction and is the continuation of Swan Alley. This connects to the dry creek drain about 1.5k upstream and can be navigated at high tide as far as the trotting track. The second branch on the right also heads in an easterly direction and is the outfall of the Little Para River. It is navigable only a short distance.

The third branch on the right that heads in a north easterly direction is Shooting Creek which can be navigated some distance at high tide. The last branch which heads in a north westerly direction can be paddled to the embankment channel and Burrows Creek except at low tide.

picnicParkingBBQToiletsWalking trails
Toilets, parking, BBQ, shady trees, picnic tables, grassy area and change rooms

Trail 20

Points of Interest

Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is a marine protected area located on the east coast of Gulf St Vincent in and adjoining the north-western part of the Adelaide metropolitan area. It was established in 2005 for the protection of a resident population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). It is a real delight to encounter these wonderful creatures when you paddle in this area – something that happens quite frequently.

Hint: Some of the sanctuary’s resident dolphins have even been given names, like Twinkle and Hunter. You may like to familiarise yourself with their unique markings and see how many you can recognise on your next visit.

Australian Submarine Corporation  The ASC Osborne facility on the Port River was opened in 1989 and South Australia became the established headquarters of the ASC at this time. In June 1987 the ASC had been awarded the $5 billion contract for the design and manufacture of 6 Collins Class submarines – the largest defense contract signed in Australia to that date. The site underwent a $120 million shipyard upgrade in 2007. In 2016 the Federal Government structurally separated the ASC into 3 separate businesses – submarine maintenance, shipbuilding, and infrastructure. Shipbuilding remains the primary activity of the ASC at the Osborne facility.

Torrens Island Quarantine Station:
Not long after Europeans started settling in South Australia it became obvious that seriously ill new arrivals from overseas needed to be segregated from the rest of the population. A practical solution was to quarantine affected passengers for as long as was necessary. The Commonwealth Government took over the administration of the site in 1912, many of the buildings were erected after that time.
Built-in 1879 the Quarantine Station on Torrens Island was isolated, but within reach of Adelaide and so was the first line of defense to stop diseases like smallpox being brought into the colony by ships passengers.
In recent years modern facilities for holding imported birds under quarantine were created. These facilities were closed in 2012 when the quarantine of all animals and birds was moved to Melbourne.
Note: There is no access to the site due to security for Torrens Island Power Station.  The Port Adelaide Maritime Museum sometimes takes tours to the site.

Show us your photos on Instagram: #torrensisland
Torrens Island Storm. Winsor Newton Artists Watercolours on Arches 300 GSM Medium. An impression of a storm approaching the Torrens Island power station at Port Adelaide in South Australia, painted alla prima. 
#torrensisland #watercolour #seascape #storm
Torrens Island Quarantine Station #southaustralia #sagreat #torrensisland
2024 'Scenic Peninsula' Calendars all packaged and ready for delivery! All calendars come with a FREE 5x7" print of the Lefevre Peninsula area (print chosen at random). You can also find our calendars, cards & canvas prints at the Beach Haven Cafe 🥰 #fourteen92productions #photography #adelaidephotographer #localphotographer #lefevrepeninsula #largsbay #semaphore #portadelaide #northhaven #torrensisland #largspierhotel #hartsmill #dronephotography #drone #nikon #mynikonlife #mavicmini #d750 #supportlocalbusiness #secnicpeninsula #supportsmallbusiness #adelaidesmallbusiness #organise #calendar #jetty #sunset #beachhavencafe #smallbusinesssupportingsmallbusiness #localcafe #localbusiness
⚠️ Final weeks of Torrens Island Quarantine Station tours for the 2023 season! ⚠️

Don't miss out - join us for a guided tour of the Quarantine Station, built in 1879 to stop passengers bringing diseases such as smallpox into South Australia. 

The tour evokes the experiences of passengers placed in quarantine from the 1880s to the 1960s. Visit the bathing blocks that separated first- and second-class passengers, the boiler house used to power fumigation, the isolation hospital and the morgue. 

Final 2023 dates: Sunday 17 September, 1 October, 15 October 2023, 11am-12.30pm

For more information and bookings, head to link in bio.

#samaritimemuseum #historytrustsa #torrensisland #quarantinestation #portadelaide #AdelaideBeaches
Second trip to the Torrens Island Quarantine Station.

#torrensislandquarantinestation samaritimemuseum


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Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities.

Know your ability

These are easy to access kayak and canoe trails through the Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula, Riverland, Murray River, and the Coorong.