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My Backyard: Clayton Bay & the Southern Fleurieu


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After living in the heart of Adelaide’s East End for many years, artist-designer Annabelle Collett decided to “bite the bullet” and make her home in the quieter environs of Clayton Bay on the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula.

Here, she explains the attractions of the area and reveals some of its best-kept local secrets.

 Why did you decide to move to Clayton Bay and what is it you like about living there?

I moved to Clayton Bay because my house “found” me while I was searching online for about a year. It met all my requirements, so the notification kept appearing as I looked around many regional districts.

I wanted a change of environment, and had enjoyed living in the Southern Fleurieu many years before. Prior to this, I lived in in Rundle Street in Adelaide’s east end for 15 years.

Although I wasn’t sure about moving here, I bit the bullet and turned a big page in my life. I have not regretted this move at all. I was delighted to find an amazing group of interesting people living in this region; with artists, anthropologists, environmentalists and other assorted characters.

The ever-changing landscape enlivens me; the water, the skies, the air and the scenery all feed my imagination and give me peace of mind.

Annabelle Collett in her studio.

Annabelle Collett in her studio.

What are some of your other favourite places in the Southern Fleurieu region?

I am halfway between Goolwa and Strathalbyn, and go to either town for different purposes. Goolwa is alive with artistic activities with Signal Point Gallery and the South Coast Regional Arts Centre. The Just Add Water program has injected huge cultural change in the region and given artists, like myself, many opportunities.

Strathalbyn has a great antique street and several op shops that I constantly visit to look for “found objects” to use in my art.

The marina at Goolwa. Photo: Graham Scheer/SATC

The marina at Goolwa. Photo: Graham Scheer/SATC

What are three things that visitors to the region must see/do?

A trip on the water is a delightful experience. Paddle steamers and various other historic boats chug around the riverways, over to the Coorong and around, for very scenic day trips.

The annual Winter Solstice bonfire on the foreshore at Clayton Bay is a great evening of fun and spectacle. Enjoy mulled wine and homemade goodies while watching some giant yabby or fish effigy burn on the hugest bonfire. Yeh.

The Antiques Fair, held annually in Strathalbyn (this year on August 15 and 16), is a goldmine of interesting objects for any collector, and draws huge groups of buyers and sellers from far and wide.


Strathalbyn has plenty of of antique and second-hand stores. Photo: Mike Annese/SATC

Where are the best places for a drink or a bite to eat?

The most delicious restaurant in this region is Bombora. It’s housed on the edge of Goolwa Beach, where the scenery complements the yummy food, great staff and informed wine list. Local dishes include Coorong mullet and local mulloway. They also have great cakes and coffee.

The Steam Exchange Brewery makes delicious beers and spirits, and is housed at the historic wharf precinct of Goolwa.


Chef Joel Cousins at Cafe Bombora. Photo: Philip White

What is the Southern Fleurieu’s best-kept local secret?

There’s great fresh fish for sale from the Joneses at old Clayton, and the full moon at Point Sturt and the Finniss Ball are a few local secrets. But ultimately, we always confer that Clayton Bay itself is the best kept secret – always followed by “but don’t tell anyone”!

Annabelle Collett has worked full time as an artist/designer/craftsperson for more than 35 years, in a constant exploration that has engaged her in a variety of disciplines, applications and collaborations. She utilises methods and skills from both art and craft arenas to make sculptural elements; her principal medium is fabric, but sometimes she works with plastics, mosaic, metal, other fibres and found objects.

More My Backyard articles:

The Riverland – by winery owner Jenny Semmler
Copper Coast – by Kernewek Lowender executive officer Rosemary Cock

Barossa Valley – by Hentley Farm chef Lachlan Colwill
Yorke Peninsula – by singer Ronnie Taheny
Clare Valley – by Good Catholic Girl Wines head girl Julie Barry
Eyre Peninsula – by Boston Bay Wines’ Tony Ford
Kangaroo Island – by artist Janine Mackintosh


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