Take three: Limestone Coast

As far as COVID-19 lockdowns have gone, South Australia has been the envy of other states, with its successful fight to quickly stop the spread of coronavirus infections and no restrictions on travel within the state since 11 May.

And while South Australians already know they are onto a good thing, being one of the nation’s best states for domestic travel attractions and destinations, much of the rest of the country is keen to get to the Festival State and start exploring new territories or return to old favourites.

Our friends at South Australian Tourism Commission have put together an amazing Limestone Coast three-day itinerary, home to Mount Gambier’s Umpherston Sinkhole and some of the state’s most spectacular natural wonders.

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Day one – Arrive at Robe

Robe Obelisk, Limestone Coast. Source: South Australian Tourism Commission

Three-and-a-half hours’ drive away from Adelaide or six hours’ drive away from Melbourne lies the seaside town of Robe. Boasting beautiful beaches, a stunning range of boutiques, restaurants and high-end accommodation, Robe has something for everyone, whether you’re arriving in a Range Rover or trusty Commodore.

Stay the night at Aloha Robe and wake up to a morning stroll along Long Beach, a 14km stretch of sandy-white bliss, or drive right onto the sand and spend the day enjoying the surf. Take a quick dip, then stroll along the beautiful Obelisk Coastal Trail, passing Robe’s historic Old Gaol Ruins, jetty and marina.

Cool off at Robe Town Brewery, then grab dinner
Robe is close to a number of great wineries, but for a truly unique drinking experience, you can’t go past the Robe Town Brewery. Under the eaves of the handmade cobbled brew house, beer is made in true ye olde style with straw filtration, wood-fired kettles and open fermentation. Their limited release Moby Dick Ambergris Ale (not for the faint-hearted) is made with ambergris – the secretion that forms in the gut of a sperm whale to assist with digestion. Enjoy. Post-beer, sample the smorgasbord of local seafood on offer (Robe is famed for its crayfish) or tuck into a well-deserved feast at Robe’s Vic Street Pizza.

Day two – Visit Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake and Umpherston Sinkhole

Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier. Source: South Australian Tourism Commission

Spend your morning discovering geological wonders in Mount Gambier, just an hour-and-a-half’s drive away from Robe. Once an active volcano, the 72-metre-deep Blue Lake is now filled with cobalt water, which mysteriously changes shade during spring. Walking trails surround the lake, enticing you to get out of your car and experience its striking blue water up-close.

Mount Gambier’s Umpherston Sinkhole is a beautiful sunken garden, right in the middle of town. Once an underground limestone cave, a giant crater was formed when the chamber’s roof collapsed many years ago. Over time, the sinkhole was transformed into a picturesque garden. It is now blanketed with flowers, plants and lush green grass. Travelling with the family in tow? Here’s our guide to the ultimate family friendly trip to Mount Gambier.

Visit the Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park or the Naracoorte Caves

Naracoorte Caves, Limestone Coast. Source: South Australian Tourism Commission

A trip to the Limestone Coast wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Naracoorte Caves. Join a guided tour, where you’ll be led through underground chambers dripping with glistening stalactites and stalagmites. Feast your eyes on fascinating fossils and limestone formations or kick things up a notch with an adventure caving tour. Afterwards, explore Naracoorte, home to cafes, a popular swimming lake and a heritage trail for history buffs.

Alternatively, explore the spectacular underwater world of the Piccaninnie Ponds, just over 20 minutes’ drive from Mount Gambier. The national park contains three diving hotspots, all fed by crystal-clear natural springs. The ‘First Pond’ is about 10m deep with lush surroundings. The ‘Cathedral’ is an enclosed area with a depth of 35m, while the gigantic ‘Chasm’ is an incredible 100m deep. Please note, you’ll need a diving licence to snorkel or scuba dive.

Day three – Sip and savour the Coonawarra

Brands Laira, Coonawarra. Source: South Australian Tourism Commission

Known affectionately as Australia’s other Red Centre, the Coonawarra’s limestone-rich terra rossa soil produces world famous cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. Despite its small size, the region boasts more than 24 cellar doors. Spend the best part of a day sipping at Rymill Coonawarra, Brands Laira and Katnook Coonawarra Cellar Door.

Taste the legend at Mayura Station

Mayura Station, Limestone Coast. Source: South Australian Tourism Commission

The Limestone Coast’s gentle rolling hills and lush green pastures produce award-winning Wagyu beef of unparalleled quality. At Mayura Station, diners can indulge in The Tasting Room, where they’ll learn tricks of the trade from the chef before tucking into the most exclusive cuts, usually unavailable for purchase in Australia due to overseas demand.

Why not linger longer?
Three days is just enough time to take in the Limestone Coast’s natural wonders, but there’s so much more to explore in South Australia. Continue to feed your curiosity and check out our guide to the best outdoor adventures in the state.

Travelling to South Australia
As of 4 August, travellers from the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland can enter South Australia without restriction.

People from New South Wales and Canberra can enter but need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and be tested for COVID-19.

Victorians still can’t enter South Australia unless they are deemed essential travellers.

Check www.southaustralia.com for regular updates on entry and travel in the state.

Originally published as Limestone Coast three-day itinerary

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