The Port Elliot Maritime Heritage Trail is a self-guided walk that highlights Port Elliot’s role as the first seaport for the River Murray trade. Development of the river as a significant inland transport route involved by-passing the hazardous Murray Mouth and constructing a rail link (the first public railway in Australia) between Port Elliot on the coast and the Port of Goolwa on the Murray.
From 1851 to 1866 more than 500 vessels used the areas facilities as a seaport. Unfortunately the wrecking of seven vessels, between 1853 to 1864, confirmed Horseshoe Bay’s growing reputation as a ‘ship-trap’, resulting in nearby Victor Harbor replacing Port Elliot as the coastal outlet for the River Murray trade.
Four of the vessels wrecked within the bay (‘Harry’, ‘Josephine Loizeau’, ‘Lapwing’ and ‘Flying Fish’) are often exposed within the surf zone at Horseshoe Bay and continue to interest many visitors on the beach. Mystery surrounds the exact location of the remaining shipwrecks; the ‘Emu’, ‘Commodore’ and ‘Athol’ sites which are thought to lie outside Horseshoe Bay are yet to be located.
For more information on the trail a brochure is available and five interpretive signs have been placed on the foreshore of Horseshoe Bay.