Our Vision

for the Port River and Barker Inlet ecosystem

A planned future that prioritises a healthy estuary and a safe community, and that generates a strong sense of social pride.

Planned Future

The Estuary’s future is purposefully planned and governed collaboratively.

It is managed within a framework that enhances the Estuary's environmental and social assets, in a context of growing industry and increasing population.

Existing impacts, future threats, and climate related risks are proactively managed and responsively mitigated.

Pathways to a Planned Future

A Commissioner for the River

A long-term plan for the resilience of the Estuary

Commitments by Governments

Send an email to State Government expressing your support for a governance structure and long-term plan for the Port River:

Monitor: Separate Plans

Multiple agencies have plans that will impact on the Estuary, with unknown outcomes for the Estuary and the community.

Flinders Ports has completed a 50-Year Master Plan for its ports, AGL is developing a renewable energy hub on Torrens Island, Commonwealth agencies – ANI and the Australian Submarine Agency – lead the development of the naval precinct.

The State Government develops a Twenty Year Infrastructure Strategy and the State Government’s urban planning strategies generate considerable infill development with pressures on the environment.

Planning for sea-level rise involves Commonwealth, State and Local Government agencies.

The broader community has a right to be informed about and contribute to planning that will impact the community’s aspirations for the Estuary.

Identified Need: Governance Structure

The need for a governing or oversight body for the Port River and Barker Inlet has been repeatedly raised over the past 20 years.

In 2000 the Barker Inlet and Port Estuary Committee (BIPEC) was formed, with members from state and local government agencies, industries, and representatives of wetlands management, to implement an integrated approach to management.

In 2004 BIPEC called for a formal management body to take an ecosystem level approach to improve the health of the region and for that body to develop an Action Plan. Subsequently BIPEC was discontinued, no Action Plan developed and responsibility for management continues to be shared by a variety of agencies and different spheres of government.

More recently, in their 2022 interim report, the Select Committee on Dolphins in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and Port River recommended the establishment of a transparent governance framework to provide clarity of regulatory authority of the Sanctuary.

In Action: Governance Planning

The City of Port Adelaide Enfield has initiated a collaborative project to develop a potential governance model for agreed planning for and investment in managing the risks of coastal flooding in the Port River system.

Federal funding has been secured to employ a program manager through to June 2025, to work with State and local governments, with industry, community and other stakeholders.


Healthy Estuary

The web of life within the Estuary – from microorganisms to dolphins – is supported by minimising the risks from human harm and global warming, and by conservation and restoration efforts.

Pathways to a Healthy Estuary

Minimising risks and harm

Conservation and Restoration

Mobilising support

Donate to support Friends of Port River, a local, volunteer led non-profit, with all funds supporting education and research about, and advocacy for, the Estuary.

Join the Friends mailing list to stay up to date with the Friends activities and how your donation is contributing.
In Action: Save St Kilda Mangroves

The Save St Kilda Mangroves Alliance has developed and is promoting its Community Vision and Strategic Plan.

It seeks the closure of the salt fields, restoration of the mangroves and wider ecosystem, pursuit of Blue Carbon opportunities and protection of migratory shorebird habitat together with research and monitoring.

The Save St Kilda Mangroves’ Community Vision and Strategic Plan and ECF’s Vision are mutually supportive, with the St Kilda Mangroves Strategic Plan providing a detailed blueprint for the north eastern area of the Estuary.

Current Opportunity: Post Penrice waste

The Penrice soda ash factory in Osborne was closed in 2014 when the company went into liquidation.

The factory processed soda ash and sodium bicarbonate for over 80 years and generated waste byproducts that included calcium chloride, ammonia, and insoluble residues, which were pumped into the Port River.

The Government of South Australia also allowed Penrice’s white calcite to form waste piles on Government land, on both sides of the River.

Since no use has been found for the calcite, it is proposed that the State Government offer a significant prize for a cost effective solution to allow the land to be remediated for environmental restoration.

In Action: Port River Shellfish Reef Restoration

The Port River Shellfish Reef Restoration project began in 2016 and was coordinated by ECF until 2022, when OzFish assumed leadership of the restoration of native oyster reefs to the Port River.

Funds through the Commonwealth’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program will support restoration of native oysters and mangroves in the inner harbour of the Port River in 2024 and 2025.

Current Opportunity: Safeguarding Mutton Cove

For many years Mutton Cove, on the northern boundary of ASC (Australian Submarine Corporation) bore signs declaring it a Conservation Reserve and a Friends group worked hard weeding and revegating the area.

After the seawall protecting Mutton Cove from the Port River was breached in May 2016 it became known that the area was Crown land but not a Reserve.

In 2016 Mutton Cove was mostly samphires, with mangroves along a tidal creek, fed from pipes into the River. In 2023 it’s now a mangrove forest. While some of the seawall remains at the northern end, the area is regularly flooded from the River and the surrounding banks are eroding, endangering nearby infrastructure.

With the expansion of the defence industry nearby, it is imperative that this important environmental area is protected, and its natural assets, such as its native flora and fauna and walking tracks, can be appreciated by the public and those working nearby

Safe Community

The community is protected from the increasing risks of flooding from storm surges in the Estuary, extensive rain that challenges stormwater systems, and sea-level rise.

Pathways to a Safe Community

Urgent action

Planned protection and resilience

Keeping people from harm

Be better informed through the City of Port Adelaide Enfield’s Flood Awareness Map:

In Action: Flood Planning

The City of Port Adelaide Enfield and State Government have, since 2005, studied the potential impacts of sea-level rise and flooding on the Port River.

The studies identified planning, protection and monitoring measures that are needed to mitigate the risks of sea-level rise and coastal flooding, with some protection measures needing to be planned by mid 2020s and built by 2030.

In 2022 CSIRO, Value Advisory Partners and the University of Adelaide collaborated with the Council and State Government agencies to develop initiatives and investment cases for coastal protection infrastructure as part of efforts towards greater national resilience.

In 2023-24 updated sea-level rise mapping is being undertaken by the Coast Protection Board, City of Port Adelaide Enfield, Flinders Ports and University of Adelaide (utilising UNHaRMED), to inform an investment case(s) to the State and Commonwealth Governments for protection along the Port River.

In Action: Constructed Wetlands

Before European settlement, the Port River was fringed with intertidal wetlands. Some of these historic wetland areas have been restored for the purposes of managing and treating stormwater.

The constructed wetlands at Barker Inlet, Magazine Creek, and Schroder Park (adjacent to the Adbri Cement Plant) improve the water quality of stormwater discharging into the Port River and Barker Inlet and can also protect infrastructure by absorbing water during high tides and storm surges.

Constructed wetlands also restore other ecosystem services provided by naturally functioning wetlands such as wildlife habitat, attractive landscape features, and eco-tourism.


Proud & Connected

The Estuary is recognised as a national example of an urban waterway that celebrates and shares its Indigenous and environmental heritage and knowledge.

It is supported by a proud local community that cares for the health and well-being of the Estuary.

Pathways to a Proud & Connected Community

Celebrating heritage and sharing knowledge

Committed community

Enhancing perceptions of the Port River and local community

Contact the Mayor, City of PAE to express your support for a Swimming Pool in the Port River:

Current Opportunity: Port River Swimming Facility

The Port River is a ‘Swimmable River’ and ECF and the North Haven Surf Life Saving Club have, since 2020, been collaborating to achieve a swimming facility in the Port River.

ECF raised funds for a Coastal Engineering Scoping Study which recommends a beach entry pool, with walkways on 3 sides, at the northern end of Cruickshanks Corner.

In Action: Yitpi Yartapuultiku

Yitpi Yartapuultiku (Soul of Port Adelaide) is a new cultural destination in Port Adelaide that will open in 2025.

Yitpi Yartapuultiku is a place where Aboriginal culture, environmental sustainability and community collaboration will meet, boosting tourism and enabling authentic experiences and opportunities to learn about Aboriginal culture.

Yitpi Yartapuultiku will offer a family friendly park, facilities for events, conferences, meetings and showcase South Australia’s largest Living Shoreline.


to get involved, stay connected and drive positive change

Connect with these organisations to support the Estuary:

Port Environment Centre

A community driven, local environment centre with a wide ranging program of events and activities

Friends of the Port River

An offshoot of Estuary Care Foundation, focused on advocacy, community engagement and environmental monitoring for the Estuary

Whale & Dolphin Conservation

Working worldwide to protect whales and dolphins, including the Port River Dolphins

City of Port Adelaide Enfield

Local government for the southern section of the Estuary, including the inner harbour

Save St Kilda Mangroves

A coalition of local, national, and international organisations representing environment, industry, science and community

OzFish SA

A not-for-profit organisation focused on restoring habitat to support fishing.

Responsible in SA for Seeds for Snapper and Port River Shellfish Reef Restoration

Friends of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary (FAIBS)

A not-for-profit organisation which engages the community in appreciating, understanding and protecting migratory shorebirds which feed in the northern sections of the Estuary

National Parks & Wildlife Service

Responsible for SA's national parks and conservation reserves including the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary and the Torrens Island Conservation Reserve.

City of Salisbury

Local government for the northern section of the Estuary, including St Kilda

Further Links & Resources

Check out this extensive list of environmental organisations with connections to the Port area!