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Ports and Exports

Date posted: 03 March 2014

This blog is being written while sitting on the beach at Wallaroo, which is a coastal town on the western side of Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.

The coastline here is extremely entertaining, featuring a large array of grain silos, a massive jetty, export shipping terminals and a bulk export vessel which is docked and being filled, as we watch, with Australian grain.

It really is a sight to see. To set the scene the Wallaroo jetty extends 869 meters into the water. The water at this depth is around 10 meters. The export vessel currently docked at the end of the jetty is called the ‘Aeneas’. This vessel can hold 25,000 tonnes of grain, it is 229m long and 32m wide. Where we are swimming, about 1 km north, there are grain husks floating in the water proving to be a tasty lunch for many fish!

Wallaroo is one of six ports in South Australia which exports South Australian grain. This site has a silo complex designed to accumulate grain from farmers and regional in land silos. Located conveniently at the base of the jetty, the silos can hold around 650,000 thousand tonnes of grain.

Exporters and grain bulk handlers coordinate shipping slots and export opportunities. Once arranged, the grain is moved from the silo to the vessel via an efficient, enclosed conveyer belt system, where the grain is moved directly into a shoot through to the hold of the ship. The grain is then exported around the world.

The export of Australian grain is a major business. According to Primary Industries and Resources South Australia and ABARES:

  • SA farmers produce around 2.3 million tonnes of barley annually and around 80-90% of this is exported.
  • Malt barley is exported to China, Japan, Iran and Syria.
  • Feed barley is exported to the Middle East (including Saudi Arabia) and Japan.
  • Australia has grown to become the second largest supplier of barley to world markets


South Australian grain is exported via large export vessels which depart from the Port Lincoln, Wallaroo, Outer and Inner Harbour (Port Adelaide), Thevenard and Port Giles terminals. Look at the Viterra Shipping Stem, which tracks all the grain vessels entering South Australian ports, and see if you can find the vessel with the largest grain holding capacity, it’s much larger than the Aeneas. Hint, it will be at the port with the deepest water.


ABARES 2013, Australian crop report, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, December, CC BY 3.0.
Marine Traffic
SA Grains Market Overview
Wallaroo Jetty in South Australia

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