Thompson Beach is 56 kilometres north of Adelaide…still about an hour in the usual traffic. Follow Port Wakefield Road north then turn left to head through Dublin if you want to reach this little known spot on Gulf St Vincent. It’s an interesting drive out through the green housed ‘food bowl’ of Adelaide at Virginia then a short glide through the feedlots and wheat fields to escape the city. Don’t mind the dump… just keep driving to Dublin. Head west on Thompson Beach Road after turning into Dublin and five minutes or so later you’ll be crossing the salt pans to the tiny township itself.
*Recent Walking SA update on the walking trails at Thompson Beach here.*
It’s not the Gold Coast, but it is nice.
It’s a new settlement born of a subdivision in 1980 and eager beavers moved in in 1992. At low tide you’ll struggle to see the water. It’s nicer than you think but the Gold Coast it ain’t. It’s called the ‘samphire coast’, which is a nice name for mangroves. Most people think of stinky…sticky…muddy mangroves. This isn’t as bad as that. It’s a really open beach and you can drive on it, but the piles of seaweed mean you won’t get far. There’s no big barrier of mangroves and the sand flats stretch to the western horizon. There’s shorebird trails nearby if you like following trails or you could just walk up and down the beach surrounded by gulls and falcons.
Crabbing and fishing.
Thompson Beach is known as a crab raking mecca. Crab raking is when you use a rake with wider gaps and a curly end to flip Blue Swimmer crabs from their weedy hiding places in the water and drop them into a bucket. According to the Thompson Beach Progress Association, you should do it in months with the letter ‘r’ in them. Well, summer and autumn actually. Plenty of fishing sites talk about about using lures for whiting at Thompson Beach. Maybe I’m yet to understand and maybe those reports must be from the local progress association president hoping to drum up tourism. I tried wading and casting popper lures and I got some hookups, but didn’t land any fish. The theory goes that high tides are better for fishing and low tides are better for crabbing. I’ve seen the beach busy with hopeful rakers. If you’re planning to go fishing or crabbing there, size and bag limits apply to crabs and fish in South Australian waters. You can check them here. There’s massive signs anyway (atm) at the beach car parks at Thompson Beach about how to measure crabs. Bring a ruler. Gotta measure stuff these days.
Like a lot of South Australian beaches there’s the usual heaps of seaweed and it’s windy most of the time. I use Willy Weather to check wind reports. I’ll only go out if the winds are rated as ‘gentle’ (under 20 km/h). When you are wading out on the flats even 25 km/h winds are still too windy to see fish. I went there to try some sand flat fishing near my house. Most Adelaideans bypass places like this so close to home when looking for something to do.
It’s a great half day drive to some less traveled places. Thompson Beach does have that ‘less traveled’ beauty about it. The fishing is challenging and the crabbing is pretty good, but I bet it has some sensational sunsets!
Check out more of my articles about things to do around Adelaide here!