The Little Loo the Government Forgot! Salt Creek, South Australia

Last Updated on January 1, 2016 by Red Nomad OZ

Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse, Salt Creek, South Australia
Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse AND Loo, Salt Creek, South Australia

Maybe Salt Creek’s just off the radar.

Or perhaps someone just forgot about it.

Or possibly there’s a proposal still in the pipeline.

Whatever the reason, Salt Creek has NO public amenities!

Salt Creek at Salt Creek!
Salt Creek at Salt Creek!

Which is weird, because from whichever way you approach it, this small settlement on the coast road (aka Princes Highway) between Adelaide and Mount Gambier giving access to the Limestone Coast is the perfect place to stop for a break.

It’s about 2 ½ hours drive south of Adelaide.

It’s about 2 ½ hours drive north of Mount Gambier.

And it’s just about the only place to stop along the section of the ‘Highway’ (either an overgenerous description or blatantly false advertising) that passes through the Coorong, longest, thinnest National Park in Australia. Or maybe anywhere!

Coorong Waterways and Dunes, Salt Creek Loop Track, South Australia
Coorong Waterways and Dunes, Salt Creek Loop Track, South Australia

That means even travellers with no plans to STAY in Salt Creek often stop to have a look. And Salt Creek, first oil exploration site in Australia and home of world exclusive mineral Coorongite, has enough facilities to make your stay – however long that may be – worthwhile.

Oil Exploration Relic, Salt Creek, South Australia
Oil Exploration Relic, Salt Creek, South Australia

It’s also gateway to The Coorong, a 150 km long waterway between the coastal dune system of the Younghusband Peninsula and the mainland, is a wildlife wonderland, fisherfolk paradise and 4WD Adventureland.

So why isn’t there a public loo at Salt Creek?

Taking a break from driving every 2 hours or so is a commonly accepted road safety strategy. So it makes sense that a government committed to reducing the road toll would factor that into their action plan.


And ensuring there are actually rest stops along Australia’s vast road network inviting enough for traveller to actually want to take those breaks every couple of hours is a logical progression.


And where does the average person head first when they stop after two or more hours on the road?

Yep, the loo.

Right??? Or is that just me?!

But that’s where Salt Creek’s Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse comes in.

Along with fuel and food – including the famous Coorong Mullet – it’s got accommodation and a campground. There are walking trails and a self-drive loop track that takes you on a tour past some historic sites and right up close to the Coorong itself.

Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse Dunny, Salt Creek
Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse Dunny, Salt Creek, South Australia

And there’s a loo.

But tragically, although it’s at the recommended distance for a break, and despite government commitment to reducing the road toll by (in part) reminding travellers to take rest breaks and make rest stops every couple of hours, this particular loo isn’t publicly funded by ANY level of government.

Shelducks on the Coorong, South Australia
Shelducks on the Coorong, South Australia

SO … the cost of providing a loo at the most logical rest stop on the Coorong has been picked up by the Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse where owner Dove and his staff clean the loos; provide (and replenish) loo paper and hand towels; and arrange and pay for septic pumping (we’re not in the city here, folks).

What’s wrong with this picture?

Maybe it’s just expected that a small business in an out of the way settlement picks up the tab for underfunded government policy. That’s a big ask – especially when many travellers who stop don’t want anything except a dunny break, which puts Dove and the Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse out of pocket.

I’d like to think there’s a government department somewhere that IS responsible for a coordinated approach to to developing a national network of roadside rest stops and loos. I’d also like to think that instead of pushing the costs of maintaining a loo down to small business, they just forget about Salt Creek.

Remains of Jetty, Salt Creek Loop Track, South Australia
Remains of Jetty, Salt Creek Loop Track, South Australia

Yes, this might just be the little loo the government forgot.

But until it ‘remembers’, if you stop in Salt Creek to use the dunny, make a small donation to loo maintenance, or buy something – like fuel, or a drink; a magazine, or a postcard. Or a Coorong Mullet Burger!

Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse and Loo, Salt Creek
Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse and Loo, Salt Creek

That way the little loo the government forgot will be there next time you want to use it!

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  1. I really like your post (also think that loos are indispensable in tourist places). Lets hope it’ll change and next time you go to Salt Creek you will see there will be all the necessary facilities! Perhaps your post will start the change? 🙂

    1. The trouble with this one is that it looks like a public loo, Malinda! So lots of people (me included) just assume that. The owner has a sign inside now with all the facts about cost etc, which says that only 1 in 15 people who stop actually come into the roadhouse. Will be interesting to see whether it’s got a ‘customers only’ policy next time I go there – the owner doesn’t want to do it, but the cost might mean he has to!

    1. Hahaha, I know I can rely on you to keep your mouth shut, Bob! But unless BK starts up a Coorong Mullet burger option, I bet anything you like that the Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse would stay in business 😀

  2. Here in Europe they often charge–usually 50 eurocents–to use the loo. In exchange, it gets cleaned regularly! Some petrol stations charge the same 50 cents, but they give you a coupon for 50 cents credit in the shop. That way either you pay for the loo or you buy something. It makes sense to me!

    1. The shop credit thing is a great idea, Rachel! I’ve seen that as part of an admission charge – ie if you pay the charge, you get the same amount of credit in the gift shop, but never in an Aussie loo! But I wonder if the cost of administration for such a small amount of money is worth it??

  3. I have seen some tour leaflets that tell us how much time it takes to the next toilet break in the tours. They were almost funny because the tour schedules were ridiculously tight, so I just laughed at them. But Australia is so vast. And no-loo traveling is not because of the tight schedule. It’s a big problem! I’m not laughing!!

    1. I’m not laughing either, Kozue! Travelling is just NO FUN without regular loo breaks!! I also don’t see the point of building a rest stop with a shelter, picnic table, sometimes a barbecue – but NO LOO! If I came across that, I’d just keep going to the next town – because I’m sure no one would want to see me squatting by the picnic tables, right?!!

  4. It is fair enough to consider it a road safety issue and so over to the roads authority or local council, which is possibly not flush with funds…..sorry about that.

    1. If there weren’t already campaigns encouraging travellers to ‘Stop, Revive, Survive’ or ‘Rest if Sleepy’ or ‘Fight Fatigue’ with the 2 hour thing well and truly part of it, I’d probably not have concerned myself with it, Andrew! But the flow on effects of the campaign haven’t been thought through – yes, take a 2 hr break, but the only place to stop is a private business! Oops! They can pay for it with the extra business they’ll generate. What’s the point of having a campaign without the infrastructure to support it? That’s all I’m saying! Have a great weekend!

  5. LOL. OK, with the burger you made me look up “mullet”. I reckon it´s the fish. But it´s also a Vokuhila!!! The most horrible haircut from the 80´s era.
    VOrn KUrz HInten LAng

    Good thing there are people like Dove – If I ever get there I sure will buy something!

    You visited a tad early, btw. I was at the Tat-O-Mat once more…

    1. ‘Mullet’ is also a tragic haircut down here, Iris!! But the ones I’m referring to are a very tasty, smaller fish caught in the Coorong. I hope the Tat-O-Mat gave you something awesome for the weekend!!

  6. Hmm…I think there are a few places when travelling around Australia where the only loos are at the service stations, not just Salt Creek, and yes it is polite to then go into the shop and buy something. I could name quite a few I think right here in WA. A loo is certainly a priority on our radar when travelling, but of course outback we just have to find a bush, or crouch behind the car! Happy travels Red.

    1. I’m happy to squat when I have to, Jill – I know there aren’t many other options in the more remote places!! But pushing the cost of the loo (or anything else) down to small business level anywhere is a problem IMHO. Loos in out-of-the-way servos are, in effect, public loos, so should be subsidised with road safety funding! IMHO again, of course!! Have a great day 😀

  7. We stopped here to use this very loo!!! I can’t believe that it is maintained by the Service Station. This is an outrage!! The Coorong was one of the many highlights of our trip through SA.

    1. There’s a sign in the loo about the cost now, Kathy. Just the sewage pumping is $300 a quarter – that’s a big lump of cash to find for potentially no return except goodwill. I’m looking forward to ‘doing’ the Coorong properly one day like you did – we always seem to be passing through 🙁

  8. Yeah with all the hype from the government and such about stop, revive and survive you thing they would chip in for the cost of maintaining a descent loo, it is the first stop for me when we stop anywhere, we all need a loo break every couple of hours

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head, Jo-Anne! There’s nothing wrong with the road-toll-reduction campaign slogan, but a few extra dunnies along the way would actually make people stop! As I said in another comment, SA is the worst offender, and the cost of this loo in Salt Creek is appalling for a small business to have to bear!

  9. I’ve never been to the Coorong, but if I ever do go, I’ll be sure to buy and donate a large pack of toilet paper.
    It looks like a very pretty area, my sister in law and her family used to holiday somewhere down there. They had a shack somewhere.

    1. We are SO going to stay there sometime, River – we’ve driven through a few times now. Salt Creek is the only place with accomodation, other than a few shacks and a campground or two in the park itself. But the SA government thing of having to book campsites online, sight unseen, puts me off – would far rather camp at Salt Creek and have a Coorong Mullet burger every day (that’s almost a worthy alternative to NO Bakery!)

    1. I think I know of one car that’ll be getting a shewee VERY soon 😀 I always buy something from the shop or servo if I use the loo Fun60, but the total cost has been pushed down to the existing business in this case. I don’t think they should build a public loo, just subsidize the one that’s already there!

    1. South Australia is the worst offender, M! There are quite a few new rest areas – but NO LOOS! What do they expect us to do – squat next to the picnic tables?? Unsavoury, unhygenic AND unhealthy!

  10. Enjoyed your rant about the lack of a public loo. Maybe when you are lobbying for a dunny every two hours why don’t you add a Bakery as well.

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