Aldinga Beach access; a huge shock for us

After a truly magic two night stay at Rapid Bay, we had one last swim, packed up the camper and headed north towards Aldinga. The coastline on the way is stunning, and not long after we pulled into a Hipcamp property and set up known as Blissful Peace. It was stinking hot, and we decided to head to the nearest beach, completely oblivious to what we were about to see.

Alistair, our Hipcamp host had said to me that after 10AM you’ll struggle to get a spot at the beach, and I didn’t fully process his comment until we came over the top of a crest, and saw Aldinga Beach. Honestly, I have never seen so many cars on a beach in my life, ever. We’ve done Broome in school holidays when its busy, and this made Broome look empty.

Cars on the beach at Aldinga
There were more cars than the eye could see on Aldinga Beach
Aldinga Beach looking the other way
Looking North up Aldinga Beach was even worse

I actually stopped on a gravel patch above the beach to take a photo, as I was so shocked at the number of people and cars on the beach. To start with, there were 3 rows of vehicles as far as the eye could see, all set up next to each other.

Further down (like more than a kilometre down) it narrowed to two vehicles in a row, but there were very limited gaps, with a huge number of jet skis out enjoying themselves, and every possibly make and model of vehicle you could imagine. We’re talking Porsches, 4WD’s, Camry’s, VW Combi vans and everything else.

I made a point of stopping at a lookout later on to get a better shot of how many cars there really are:

Thousands of cars at Aldinga Beach
There must have been thousands of cars

They charge an access fee

If I wasn’t already shocked at the sheer number of people and activity going on, I was left speechless when we rolled up to the entrance and saw a sign saying $8. ‘I think they’re charging to get onto the beach’ I said to Sarah, and she looks equally as puzzled as I do.

We’ve never paid to drive onto a beach in our lives, and I’ve never heard of it either. We pull up out of the way, and have a chat to my folks, who are both as astounded as we were. We agree that with the amazing weather, its not worth driving half an hour to another beach that could be just as busy, and decide to pay the $8 and mingle with the crowds.

As it turns out, the money is split, so 50% goes to the local club doing the collections, and the other $50 goes to the council. I’d estimate there were maybe 1000 – 3000 vehicles on the beach, so you’re starting to talk some serious money collected.

It appears these are not there all the time (and they were gone when we left at 7PM), but its a new thing for us, and I was actually wondering whether they are even legally allowed to charge, given everything under the high tide mark is not council owned. I guess the access to the beach is though, and that’s how they get away with it.

For $8 we weren’t going to complain, and we had a magic afternoon and evening, but it was awfully interesting to see!

Beach pass for Aldinga
The beach pass that you get given
Entry conditions to Aldinga
The entry conditions for Aldinga Beach

Want to see our vlog?

If you’re keen on seeing the madness and the stunning beach, check out our vlog:

YouTube video

Finding a spot

You can enter onto the beaches in a number of places (Aldinga, Silver Sands etc) and the pass that you get allows you to exit one, and drive onto another without any issues. We entered at Silver Sands, thinking it would be quieter being the smaller beach, and drove about half way down before we spotted a bloke who was just finished packing up, and was leaving.

The space was just wide enough for our two vehicles, and we had front row seats to the beach, so we set up the awnings and kicked back. The beach conditions were like concrete, so you’d be forgiven for not reading our Beach Driving post, but most beaches are not like this!

Driving down Aldinga Beach
Trying to find a spot for two vehicles was almost impossible

Watch the tide

We’d not looked too closely too the tide, but once it started rising and making its way towards our wheels we noticed, and had to move the vehicles back. We shuffled back once, and the second time moved them back onto the completely dry sand to be off the road, and not have to worry about it again.

Relaxing on Aldinga Beach
If you park too close to the water you’ll have to move back, like we did

We had unreal weather

I’m not sure how often weather like this comes along, but it was 35 degrees (and still about 32 degrees at 6:30PM), and not a breath of wind around. The water was glassy, went out nice and slowly and was the ultimate place to float around, and help the kids learn to body board the small waves in.

We had an amazing afternoon, and had arranged to bring food down and warm it up in the induction cooktop from our DIY lithium battery.

Amazing weather at Aldinga
We had truly perfect weather
Heating up a curry
Reheating an amazing Malaysian Curry for dinner

It was a bit of fun

Normally we’d do our best to find a beach that had no one else on it, and going from that to Aldinga Beach was quite a shock, but we took it in our strides and thoroughly enjoyed it. People were all out having an amazing time, and we love to see that.

Good times on Aldinga Beach
Everyone was having a ball, which was great to see

We didn’t see a single person doing anything stupid, or that they shouldn’t have been doing (although a few people drove their 4WD’s into the water to retrieve jet ski’s, which is no good for them), which was awesome. I guess being so close to Adelaide, and such a great day it was hugely popular and very packed.

Rusty car coming up from driving in salt water
We saw a lot of people driving their vehicles in like this to retrieve boats and jet ski’s; something we’d never, ever do

We drove back to our camp ground, 7 minutes away by car not long after dinner, and put the kids to bed, all happy that we’d had a great day. It went downhill from there though, with a big upset from our eldest son, but that’s a story for another day.

Our camp at Aldinga
We returned to our camp site after dinner, just 7 minutes away

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  1. Hi Gavan,

    Thanks for your comment, and insights.

    If you look at the post again, you’ll see I originally shared an image of someone driving into the water to retrieve their Jetski, and on our single visit (which was only a few hours long) we saw at least 2 other vehicles doing the same thing (salt water at least over axle height, and some were up to the sills), so please don’t tell me I’m exaggerating. Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    Either way, I couldn’t really care less if they are doing this or not; there are much greater environmental issues and the only harm they are doing is to their own gear. I was just surprised to see it done on a number of occasions on one day, as its not something I would ever consider doing in anything other than a complete bomb of a vehicle.

    I don’t have any issues with people driving on the beach, providing it gets done sensibly, but its interesting (and positive) to hear there aren’t any adverse affects. I was actually very pleased to see so many people out and about, enjoying what Australia has to offer. We live in an amazing country, and if it means everyone has to share a couple of amazing beaches, so be it.

    It was of course, a big shock for us to see a beach so busy (coming from WA), and to have to pay for it, but please don’t take offense by these comments; I was just sharing my perspective.

    All the best in your patrolling; its a beautiful area.

  2. Gavan Kennare says:

    The reason you are charged a fee is because the ‘drive on beaches'(Aldinga/Sellicks and Moana) have to be patrolled and maintained/cleaned. In 17 years of patrolling thiese beaches, i never saw anyone back that far into the water to retrieve a jetski, so don’t exaggerate. As you said, the water is usully like this on hot days and occasionally there will be a dodge low tide. So it goes out stays out for most of the day. A very safe beach for the kids and poor swimmers. One of the reasons for it’s popularity.
    If you had been there 3 weeks later on Australia Day, you would’ve seen it busy. Up to 30,000 people with their flags, bbq,s, etc. Truly an Adelaide iconic thing to do. During the non-daylight saving months, the section between the Aldinga ramp and Silver Sands is closed to vehicles. Hefty fines apply.
    A 3 year study of vehicles on the drive on beaches showed no negative impact. In fact, in that period, the macro and micro-biology inceased during that period. So to summarise, these busy days occur on the hot calm days of summer, particularly during school holidays. But there are other days when you could go down there and just about have the beach to yourself.