Last Updated on August 25, 2020 by Red Nomad OZ
The Limestone Coast is WAY too big for one blog post – that’s why you’ll find Part One of my Limestone Coast Beginners Guide HERE!
In Part One, there’s 6 SUPER cool natural Limestone Coast attractions close to Mount Gambier – best place for the amazing volcanic activity that helped make the region what it is today!
In Part Two (below) I’ve got 6 RED HOT Limestone Coast things to do along the coast, in the Southern Ports Highway towns Beachport and Robe, and further south in the Southern Rock Lobster capital and largest lobster fleet of Australia – Port MacDonnell, my personal favourite!
So if you’re ready for wild and rugged coastline; amazing sunsets; heritage trails and hikes; endless deserted beaches; bizarre rock formations; scenic drives; and some AWESOME lighthouses, you’ve come to the right spot!
Just sit back, relax and discover 6 MORE wonderful Limestone Coast attractions!
1 South OZ’s Southernmost Point
Cape Northumberland‘s rugged rocks and sensational scenery, with nothing between you and Antarctica except 5700 km (that’s a LOT of miles!) of Great Southern Ocean is as far south as is possible in South Australia!
By day, explore the Heritage and Nature Park for eroded rocks in fantastic shapes; magnificent coastal scenery north to Cape Douglas and south to Port MacDonnell; and a short walk to the site of the old lighthouse – it’s REALLY obvious why it was moved back up behind the point!
The shape of the Cape is perfect for watching sunrise (so they tell me), but I caught a killer sunset over the sea instead! After sunset, wait on the viewing platform until it’s dark for the Little Penguins (Eudyptula Minor) – only penguin to breed in Australia – to come home from eating their body weight in fish.
You’ll even get to see them if you’re smart enough to bring a torch or spotlight that actually works – like we didn’t!!
Cape Northumberland is a great place to explore – take the drive north along the coast to Finger Point for beaches, surf breaks, part of the Admella Shipwreck Trail (see below) and a lookout back to Mount Gambier. There’s even a signboard with the bizarre story of how this rugged part of the coastline became a firing range!
2 Do a Lighthouse Crawl
There’s a LOT of shipwreck sites along the Limestone coast so it’s no wonder there’s also a high concentration of lighthouses!
Start at Cape Northumberland (see #1). One of the noticeboards tells the tragic tale of Ben Germein, Cape Northumberland’s first Lighthouse Keeper, and don’t miss the walking trail I mentioned above!
A little further north, the Cape Banks (named for botanist Joseph Banks) Lighthouse near Carpenter Rocks at the southern end of Canunda National Park is such a toxic shade of orange it hurt my eyes. It’s also part of the Admella Discovery Trail (see below) and the coastal scenery is stunning.
Then it’s 45 minutes or so to Beachport at the northern end of Rivoli Bay – walk up to the lighthouse overlooking Cape Martin and Penguin Island or view it from several vantage points along the Bowman Scenic Drive (see below).
Robe, about half an hour further north on Guichen Bay, has a VERY modern lighthouse on a VERY rugged stretch of coast with another 30 shipwrecks. But it’s overshadowed somewhat by the VERY distinctive Cape Dombey Obelisk! The Obelisk was used to store rockets – essential for getting life lines to ships wrecked in the bay.
Head north and go right past the Cape Jaffa turnoff, because the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse is now at Kingston SE! It’s a distinctive and decorative little lighthouse on the esplanade amidst the houses and holiday shacks and it’s open during school holidays!
The next lighthouse is 183 km further north at Point Malcolm, near Narrung on the cusp of Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina. Technically, it’s not on the Limestone Coast, but it IS the Southern Hemisphere’s only inland lighthouse!
(BONUS: Read more about the Narrung lighthouse and other notable South Australian Lighthouses HERE!)
3 Walk the Shipwreck Coast at Robe
The Limestone coast is wild and rugged! A walk in high winds with lashings of rain really adds to the atmosphere, the coast is STILL wild and rugged even when it’s fine! But there’s more than rugged rocks to see along the coast and Robe has one of the BEST selections of walks.
There’s an excellent hiking trail from the Breakwater to the Obelisk at Cape Dombey, then along the cliffs – there’s the lighthouse, water-sculpted rocks out to sea, the Blowhole and the old Gaol Ruins.
From the Robe marina, follow the coast track past Town Beach and along the cliffs to Fox’s Beach and the Outlet. Or take a walk out the back of Robe to Beacon Hill Lookout for a panoramic view over the town.
For a change of pace, head out of town to Little Dip Conservation Park and take a walk all the way around Freshwater Lake, with different woodland habitats and beautiful spring wildflowers. And snakes … even though I didn’t see any on this trip 😀
4 Drive the Limestone Coast!
Follow the Admella Discovery Trail‘s 21 markers that tell the sad story of the SS Admella, wrecked off Carpenter Rocks in 1859 with 89 deaths. But it’s not just a tale of South Australia’s worst maritime disaster, the 130 km (~80 miles) self-drive tour is a great way to discover lots of Limestone Coast attractions!
For a cool coast experience without the history lesson, take the Bowman Scenic Drive from Beachport. What’s NOT to love about this awesome drive with lookouts, surf and fishing beaches, blowholes, rock formations and the Pool of Siloam – 7 times saltier than the sea?
PS There’s a cool Scenic Loo there too!!
5 Explore the Coorong
It’s about 130 km (~80 miles) from one end of the Coorong to the other – making it Australia’s longest, thinnest National Park! If you’re travelling to or from Adelaide, leave enough time to stop and take a look because it’s one of the more unusual Limestone Coast attractions, or make an early start if you’re planning a day trip!
The string of salt lakes separated from the ocean by the massive dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula is formed by the Murray-Darling – Australia’s biggest river system – as it flows into Lakes Alexandrina and Albert before reaching the sea up the coast at Goolwa.
The Princes Highway runs alongside the Coorong between Kingston SE and Meningie at the northern end. Other than the natural attractions there’s the Heart of the Coorong Roadhouse at Salt Creek where signs and leftover machinery mark Australia’s first oil exploration site with some interesting facts about the area. Take the walk from the roadhouse, or drive the coastal loop for more historic remains and to see the waterways and dunes up close.
Drive through to the sea from 42 mile crossing – walk the last part if you’re not in a 4WD – or via a couple of other 4WD only crossing points. Take the track in to Jack Point to see one of Australia’s largest Pelican breeding grounds. Find a quiet spot for fishing – Coorong Mullet is a South Australian delicacy – but if you’re out of luck, head back to the Roadhouse for a Coorong Mullet burger!
(BONUS: Read about the Little Loo the Government Forgot at Salt Creek HERE!)
6 A Day at the Beach
Limestone Coast attractions include so many beaches choosing just one could be tricky! So visit a few from my selected favourites – or discover your own!
For deserted beaches choose anywhere between the amazing stretch of deserted beach behind the coast car park at Piccaninnie Ponds (see Part 1), the collection of holiday shacks and a Scenic Loo at another long stretch of deserted beach at Brown’s Bay, the Port MacDonnell safe swimming beach protected by the breakwater, and several surfing and swimming beaches en route to Finger Point north of Cape Northumberland.
For wild and windswept, try anything in Canunda National Park (see Part 1) north of Carpenter Rocks, or play it safe at Southend‘s spectacular protected swimming beach where the national park ends.
For a dash of danger, head to the other end of Rivoli Bay, where Beachport’s Bowman Scenic Drive beaches have jagged rocks and undertows – but are perfect for fishing, especially at the Salmon Hole!
For a popular holiday spot, take the coast road from Beachport and Robe and stop at Nora Creina beach. Further north, Kingston SE‘s beaches on Lacepede Bay are perfect for swimming and fishing, and for a cool beach 4WD experience, head 20 km north of Kingston for a LONG stretch of beach at the Granites, a random collection of boulders!
There are a LOT more Limestone Coast Attractions – like wineries; parks and reserves; historic buildings and museums; bird- and wildlife watching; and dining experiences – but we’re out of time! And that’s the fun of exploring, anyway – visit my 12 Limestone Coast attractions and I’ll guarantee you’ll discover more regional delights that’ll make it even more special for YOU!
Limestone Coast FAST FACTS:
WHERE: South East South Australia, from Meningie and the Coorong National Park at its northern tip to Port MacDonnell in the south. Mount Gambier is the largest centre.
HOW to get there: Self-drive from Adelaide to Mount Gambier (~450 km); or Melbourne to Mount Gambier (~450-550 km) – distances vary depending on route taken. Coach from Adelaide or Melbourne. Fly from Adelaide or Melbourne. Hire cars available.
WHEN: All year round. Average maximum temperatures range from 14°C in winter to 30°C in summer.
WHERE to stay: There’s a range of accommodation throughout the Limestone Coast – campgrounds, caravan parks, motels, apartments, B&Bs etc. We stayed in Mount Gambier, Port MacDonnell and Robe which were central to the attractions we wanted to see.
- The Ultimate Beginners Guide to the Limestone Coast – Part One
- Limestone Coast, South Australia
- More Limestone Coast Photos on Flickr HERE