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Nestled between a long sandy beach and towering cliffs, Rapid Bay is 105 kilometres south of Adelaide and reached by a steeply descending road from the main Normanville-Cape Jervis Road.
Rapid Bay is well known for its very long jetty. While the original jetty built in 1940 is closed to the public, a new jetty (opened in early 2009) is now available for use. Take a stroll along the jetty and enjoy the fishing or the beautiful views. Rapid Bay is also known for its imposing cliffs, caves and beach.
At Rapid Bay, you'll also find an important South Australian landmark - a boulder on which Colonel Light carved his initials after he first stepped ashore. It's reported that he said "I have hardly seen a place I like better".
Rapid Bay was named after the brig HMS Rapid in which Colonel Light and his staff came to South Australia, discovering Rapid Bay in 1830 en route to Glenelg. The HMAS Hobart was scuttled off Rapid Bay in November 2002 which has created an even more exciting dive experience for dive enthusiasts.
Rapid Bay features in Kaurna Aboriginal Law creation myth, most notably in relation to creation ancestor Tjilbruke (also Tjirbruki).
Colonel William Light made his first landfall on mainland South Australia at Rapid Bay on 8 September 1836. The site was named after Light's ship, the 162 ton brig Rapid. To mark this historic landfall the Colonel's initials, "W.L.", were carved into a large boulder – a replica is visible in the township, while the original is stored in the South Australian Museum, in Adelaide. The first European child born on mainland South Australia was delivered at Rapid Bay on 7th Novomber, 1836. His name was John Rapid Hoare.
For a short time Rapid Bay was considered a potential site for the new state capital, but with the discovery of the Adelaide Plains it faded into quiet obscurity. BHP established a limestone mine here in the early 1940s, establishing the town in its current layout.