Wild Nordics

Adventures, Passions, and Surviving Finland

Beachside Airstrips from South Australia

By on 26/03/2023

Compared to the other Australian states, South Australia is not much for building Airstrips close to the beach but I managed to find a few. I will cover 3 in this article. Be sure to check out also nearby Wedge Island which made it on the short list of the 22 best Beach Airports Down Under.

I should have probably also included Port Lincoln Airport, Ceduna Airport and Adelaide Airport in this post as they are pretty close to the beach, but I will save those additions for another day.

Let’s jump right in to what South Australia has on offer.

Finders Island Airstrip – Great Australian Bite, South Australia

Not to be confused with the Flinders Island belonging to Tasmania, this Finders Island is 32 km off the coast of Elliston, South Australia, 398 km northwest of Adelaide. The island is 3642 hectares in size and is mostly wilderness.

The island and airstrip are privately owned by the Woolford family since 1978. Prior to that the island was used for sealing, whaling and farming by various groups since the 1820’s.

The Woolford family now operate Flinders Island Eco resort and just did a deal with the Australian Government to put most of the island under a Conservation Agreement. This secured them $2.67 million in funding that will be used to erradicate Ferrel cats and rats on the island which have been wreaking havoc on the bird population. The government will also introduce certain native Australian endangered species.

Private Aircraft or Boat charter are the only ways to get to the island. The grass runway is about 800 m long. If you wish to visit, get in contact with the resort owners to get permission. From the airstrip it is less than 100 m to the beach.

As you can see from the picture, the beaches are gorgeous and it is more than likely you will have the island to yourself if you book the retreat.

Elliston Airport – Great Australian Bite, South Australia

Elliston Airport is located 149 km northwest of Port Lincoln and 368 km from Adelaide. This little airport is situated on the outskirts of a lovely beachside community which is home to 377 people. The airport is used for Royal Flying Doctors medical flights, charter and private flying.

The town was established here in the 1840’s around Waterloo bay which was used as a protected harbor for ships to load wool and grain from surrounding farms.

Elliston Airport has an ashphalt runway which is 1200 m long by 18 m wide. There is aircraft parking at the south end of the runway.

The town currently does not charge landing fees but they ask that people contact them in advance as a courtesy and they will provide additional information. Contact details can be found in the Australian ERSA.

Just a short 1.5 km walk from the airport you will find the white beaches of Warterloo Bay. There are lots of nice places to stay and a few restaurants in the local town.

Thistle Island Airport – Spencer Gulf, South Australia

Thistle Island is located on the west side of the opening of the Spencer Gulf and is 214 km west of Adelaide. The closest city is Port Lincoln 43 km to the north west. The island is 17 km long and 4 km wide at it’s widest point. It was named by explorer Matthew Flinders in honor of one of his crewmen, John Thistle who drowned nearby.

Settlement of the island was unsuccessful in the early colonial times but a whaling station was set up there in the 1930s and today there are holiday homes on the island. As of 2014 the Australian Navy has set up an Acoustic range to further develop techniques for detecting submarines.

The dirt airstrip on the island is 1400 m long and 16 m wide which is plenty long enough for GA aircraft. It is taken care of by the local residents of the island.

Here is a great blog post where you can read more about the island and the runway through the adventures of John Langmead. As you will see from his post, the nature on the island is spectacular.