Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Summer Beach Day - Semaphore

15th Jan, 2011 - Well it's been a relatively cool start to the summer this year, and as a result we've not had many opportunities to get to the beach. Which is a shame, as L-kun absolutely loves the beach. It's his #1 favourite place to go. Now for those of you (how to carve up 0.75 readers) who are not from Adelaide, then a little info. Adelaide sits in the Gulf of St Vincent, and as such has relatively calm seas. Definitely not good for surfing (not even body surfing). It is however relatively good water - and relatively warm due to the shallowness of the gulf - though no where near as good as the Queensland beaches which can be fantastic.

The upside is that there are few worries in South Australian beaches as compared to those in Queensland. With the exception of sharks. We have very few shark attacks, but the Great White Pointers do come through every now and again... and Adelaide does not have shark netting. Whilst the last fatal attack was in 2004, the last attack near Adelaide occurred in 2009. It always makes you slightly nervous when stepping into the water. No matter how shallow.

Now our favourite beach is Semaphore... which is actually not the "premier" beach in Adelaide - which is Glenelg. Semaphore is a great family beach. It's safe, there's a rock wall protecting most of the beach, and it's also clean. It's not the place necessarily to be seen, so as a result, the atmosphere is very casual and relaxed. It has also a lot of small attractions near the Palais hotel (more of that later)

For L-kun, it's all about the water however. He may not be able to swim yet, but he's definitely a water-baby.

And we discovered just recently how useful a beach tent can be... great for protecting your stuff from all manner of things, and is always nice to have a retreat from out of the sun. And the sun is something you have to watch out for here. Whilst we're very careful with suncream, L-kun did get a bit red around a spot that was  missed. Tut tut - naughty parents. It is actually fairly serious however... skin cancer is a big killer here in Australia.

T-chan used to be a body-boarder back in Sapporo, but it's been a few years since she's been able to enjoy any sort of surfing. Adelaide - as I said, is normally very flat seas. T-chan is still a beach girl at heart, whilst her husband (that would be me) is definitely a mountain boy. Together it just seems to work out. It would seem however that L-kun has taken after his mother in this respect.

It's funny how children grow in and out of things. This little inflatable monkey was bought last summer - but L-kun had littlle or no interest in it. Now, it's Fun with a capital F!

Seriously, we could spend the entire day down at the beach, and L-kun would not think it was enough. It's always difficult to get him out of the water. Another good thing about Semaphore is the fact that you can go to the amusements up on the fore-shore. Once you can get L-kun's attention however.

L-kun sporting his latest beach-apparel. His Pirate beach towel which was a Christmas present from Auntie. Doesn't look so happy in this photo, but he loves all things Pirate-based. It's hard to believe, but we still have pirates to this day (well, not in Australia - but just to the north in the Malacca Straits). I'm not sure I would be advising it as a career option for L-kun however.

So I mentioned before about the Palais Hotel. It was originally built in 1922 and called the Maris Palais, and contained a number of different functions including a kiosk, tea-rooms, a bathing pavilion and a dance hall. All very civilised as things were back in that era. It then became the local surf-life-saving club, but with the years it fell into disrepair. It then took on a new lease of life when it was renovated as a hotel and function centre in the 90's.... although it still retains much of its charm. It's a great place to grab a cold beer - noting that most of the family beaches are now classified as dry zones (no alcohol can be brought or consumed).

Just next to the Palais is the water slide, ferris wheel and carousel which was constructed in 1928, and apparently is the largest in Australia of it's type. It's still working as well, although when I remember it as a child, my memory is of it standing out in the weather (now its under a shed).

It certainly adds to that old fashioned experience, and some great colour.

Of course - there are some more modern amusements as well. The one that L-kun really wanted to go on was the Jumping Castle. And it was a GIANT jumping castle at that. L-kun went straight for the stairs/ladder to the top of the castle. The operator said that the slide had a 10m clearance... but I'm guessing the height from the bottom of the slide was closer to 7m. Still - that's pretty high for a 3yo.

At the top he had a good long hard look. Hmmm... I know it's only air, but gravity helps me only on the way down... at the bottom all that energy's going to be converted into a whole heap of something.

And after long amount of time, L-kun decided to take the appropriate measures. A belly-slide would solve all of the uncertainty aspects. If you can't see where you're going, it can't hurt you. Weeeeeeeeeee!

L-kun went up quite a few times, but was never quite brave enough to go down on his bottom. Still, I was impressed as normally he wants Daddy to go with him. Without Daddy to help, he did very well. We were of course surprised to see some very small children sliding down face-first... and also some children that got to the top only to discover they could go nowhere and needed to be rescued. All up, life is about making compromises, and as long as you can find a way to go forward (or down) that works for you, then that's all that can be asked. It's pretty good value, as $5 will get you as much time as you (or more importantly your child) wants - L-kun stayed for about 10 mins before he just had to explore somewhere else.

And there was a lot of colour around to keep him occupied. I just love this attraction however that uses old coke bottles as pins. It's so... hmmm.... odd and quaint at the same time. 

And when all is said and done, there's also a great under-cover play area that the children can enjoy as well. It was a great afternoon out and a place we'd definitely recommend to take children to during Adelaide's summer. Hopefully the summer will stay warm enough (it was 32 when we went) for a lot more days/evenings down at the beach.

He also found a slide more his preferred size.


  1. I love the beach! These pictures are great and L-kun looks like he is having so much fun. I can, however, do without the sharks. I'm not sure I'd be able to get into the water if I knew there might be a shark lurking around. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Well - the sharks are not that bad... I mean, you have much more chance of having a car accident on the way to the beach than being eaten by a shark. Having said that... every now and again, you occasionally see dorsal fins - only to realise a moment too late (or is that early) that it's only a dolphin (which are also around Adelaide).