Limestone Coast

If you are driving to Adelaide from Victoria, the Limestone Coast  – with its wineries, beaches, golf courses, abundant birdlife, ancient landscapes  – makes for a great diversion.  South Australian Tourism Commission  website has some useful  info.  Here are our tips:

  • Start at Penola.  This is the centre of the Coonawarra wine region, famous for its ‘terra rossa’ soil and great reds.  It must be the easiest wine region in the country to visit; the 20 odd cellar doors are all lined up along a 15 km stretch of road.  We recommend you start with Wynn’s (the oldest winery in the region) and Magella (because their wines are wonderful!)  – and then just carry on to your heart’s desire.
  • Penola is also where Saint Mary McKillop did her work. She is Australia’s only saint and was a bit of a firebrand – a thorn in the side of the church. There is a little interpretive centre at her old school that tells her story.  Worth a visit.
  • Penola also has good coffee shops, some interesting shops (Local Images gallery, great bric a brac store), some good places to eat (try Piper’s – in an old church just off the main road) and a good visitor information centre for the region.
  • Go to Robe – a delightful , well-kept, historic, coastal village.  Again lots of little places to shop. We love Retail Therapy for clothes, Loaves and Fishes for home wares, Whistling Fish for books. Sails is good for dinner, great bread from The Providore, locally ground coffee from Mahalia’s (a bit out of town), fresh meat from Robe Fresh.  And good seafood of course – including (in season) crayfish caught out in the bay.  One of the chief attractions is the beautiful Long Beach  – miles and sweeping miles of sand and dunes.   You can drive on the beach- so if your car is up to it (4WD to be on the safe side) you can drive along a few miles and have the place to yourself!  Be warned though – the water is cold!!
  • Go fishing.  Ask at the Boat Haven for fishing charters.  If you ask in a loud voice you may even get an offer from one of the local professional fisherman to join them on their regular run.  Again be warned, once you’re out of the bay the ocean is formidable – and they don’t turn back if you find you’re not feeling up to it.
  • Go walking. Lots of lovely coastal paths.  If you like cemeteries, the Robe one is worth a stop.
  • From Robe visit Nora Creina (quirky beachhouse settlement on private land, lovely bay, good snorkelling), Beachport (jetty fishing, beautiful ‘back beaches’, bird filled Lake George and the reputedly health-giving ‘Pool of Siloam’), and the Little Dip Conservation Park (dense coastal scrub, abundant birdlife, dramatic coastline, walking and driving tracks).  Stop off at the Visitor Information Centre in Robe for more details and maps.
  • Explore the limestone caves that give this region its name.  Experienced cavers can go diving.  Less experienced can get the idea by snorkelling at the beautiful Picaninnie Ponds near Mt Gambier.  And in Naracoorte, the World Heritage listed Caves are an absolute must.  There are dinosaur bones!!
  • Play golf. The Limestone Coast is a golfer’s paradise.  Great courses at Keith, Bordertown, Robe and Beachport. Even better courses at Lucindale, Naracoorte, Millicent and Mt Gambier (Attamurra course).  There’s a whole holiday right there!
  • If you head on to Adelaide via the inland route, take a break at Keith. Firstly because of the award winning Henry and Rose Cafe– one of the very few places on the road from Melbourne to Adelaide where you can get a good coffee.  Great for a morning tea stop (if you time it right you can get muffins hot from the oven) or for lunch.  Keith is also worth a stop to pick up supplies; it has a great butcher selling farm-fresh local meat, two excellent bakeries and a fabulous produce shop (think sauces, chutneys, biscuits, jams) in the main street The Purple Paddock. It’s a good stop for kids too. Just down the road from Henry and Rose you’ll find a little green playground/park with a rotunda and a push pull train that wears children out before the last 2 hours of the journey.  And in the other direction, and also walking distance from Henry and Rose, there is another Retail Therapy – sister shop to the one in Robe.  Something for everyone!
  • If you choose the coastal route instead you will be following the Coorong – an extraordinary wetland filled with sand dunes, birds and beaches.  (You might remember it, and its pelicans, from the beautiful SA film Storm Boy.)  Stop along the way at a roadside kiosk to pick up some Coorong Mullet.
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