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Discover our Past and Our Passions.

The Bay Discovery Centre is a Social History Museum celebrating the cultural heritage of South Australia. The Museum is a haven for history and art lovers and is housed in the iconic Town Hall in the heart of Glenelg.

Getting here

The Bay Discovery Centre is just a short tram ride from the City of Adelaide and caters for individual visitors, coaches, school groups and local history groups.

Opening times

  • Open daily from 10am to 4pm.
  • Closed Christmas Day, New Years Day and Good Friday.
  • Entry is by gold coin donation.


Storm Front - Elements that shape us

18 February - September 2019 Ground Floor Gallery

Due to its coastal location Holdfast Bay has at times wrestled with the forces of nature.
Over the last century storms have created devastation in our community, destroying iconic structures and causing significant damage and loss to families.
Featuring astonishing historic photographs and footage, Storm Front explores how the elements have shaped us.

Open 10am to 4pm Daily
Entry by Gold Coin Donation

Exhibiting with The Bay Discovery Centre


The Bay Discovery Centre (BDC) is situated in the Glenelg Town Hall, and encompasses a Visitor Information Centre, social history museum and ground floor and Mezzanine galleries.

The Centre welcomes approx. 45,000 local, interstate, and international visitors each year.

We are seek expressions of Interest from:

  • Established and mid-career artists.
  • Emerging artists – consideration will be based on proposal and experience.

Short Term Displays

Little River: The Story of Glenelg's Patawalonga

South Australia was settled by Europeans over 180 years ago in Glenelg at the mouth of the Patawalonga River. Little River explores Kaurna history and European settlement, bringing to life an important part of the development of Glenelg and South Australia.

Permanent displays

Violet Rowe Swimwear Collection - Mezzanine Gallery

A snapshot of the evolution of beach fashion and the iconic international and national fashion labels and designers who rose to fame during the 1930s to 1960s. Items in the collection generously donated by collector Violet Rowe.

A Place by the Sea

During the decades following arrival, the European colonisers established Glenelg as a thriving seaport. Glenelg has always been a coastal holiday destination for the people of South Australia, largely developed around the holiday houses built by a cross-section of the community.

Over the years, various attractions have also contributed to the unique seaside atmosphere of the Bay, including the Glenelg Baths, Brighton Bathing Boxes, the Glenelg Pavilion and the Aquarium.

Voyage and Arrival Exhibition

Journey back in time to discover why the City of Holdfast Bay has a unique place in South Australia's history as the site of early European settlement and where the colony officially began.

Colonel William Light - Soldier/Surveyor/Founder of a City

Surveyor General Colonel William Light, the man now known as the Founder of Adelaide, was commissioned by the British Government to select the site where the new official settlement would begin. He explored the coast, including Rapid Bay and Yankalilla, before advising the settlers to disembark at Glenelg, Holdfast Bay.

The Proclamation Exhibition

On December 1836, the Governor Captain John Hindmarsh proclaimed the colony of South Australia at the site now known as The Old Gum Tree.

Jimmy Melrose

A Dashing young Aviator who lived at the Bay.

Between the years 1934 and 1936, Jimmy Melrose found fame with a remarkable career as an acclaimed international aviator and was, according to one national newspaper at the time, "one of the most romantic figures in the flying world of Australia".


Day to day front-of-house operations are run entirely by the Volunteer Team. If you are interested in volunteering at the Bay Discovery Centre, please visit our Volunteering page.

Want to know more about Holdfast Bay history?

Visit the Holdfast Bay History Centre, Brighton or access the History Collection via our Library Catalogue.

I cannot express my delight at seeing no bounds to a flat of fine looking country with an abundance of fresh water lagoons…
- Journal Entry Colonel William Light – Upon surveying Glenelg