On our second visit to South Australia, we came from Victoria via the Great Ocean Road, to see the highlights of the Limestone Coast. The Limestone Coast is located halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, and we gave ourselves 8 days to explore this area.
As soon as you cross the border from Victoria to South Australia, you are on the beautiful Limestone Coast. The region stretches from Victoria’s border and continues along the coast to Kingston S.E. It also includes the inland areas of Mount Gambier, with its impressive volcanic craters, the wine region of Coonawarra, to Naracoorte and Lucindale, which is listed as UNESCO World Heritage site, and on to Keith.
From a tourist point of view, this part of Australia is very popular, and is also known as the “Southern Ocean Drive”. In addition to the Limestone Coast, the Southern Ocean Drive also includes the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. In our opinion, this is a road trip that you should definitely take when exploring Australia.
We drove these routes and were absolutely thrilled. The Limestone Coast impressed us with its breathtaking coastlines, prehistoric marsupials, and extinct volcanoes.
Our First Days on the Limestone Coast
We had a week to explore the Limestone Coast. We picked out our top highlights of the Limestone Coast, everything we wanted to see.
Crossing the border from Victoria to South Australia quite late, so we spent the first night in Browns Bay, close to the border. We found a great campsite directly at the beach. Ok, it wasn’t a campsite, but rather a parking lot by the sea. But it was free, the toilets were new and clean, and we could hear the sound of the ocean at night.
And after a very restful and quiet night, we continued the following morning.
Mount Gambier and the Volcanoes
Ironically, our first stop on the Southern Ocean Drive did not take us along the sea, but inland. Because we wanted to scout out the area around Mount Gambier.
The drive there first led us to the Little Blue Lake. An ancient collapsed volcano has formed a refreshing pool that is framed by ten-meter-high limestone cliffs. At the right time, the water is cobalt blue and beautiful for taking photos, especially if you have a drone. In addition to the attraction of taking beautiful photos, Little Blue Lake is also a very popular spot for swimming. For us, it was too cold to jump in during the Australian winter, and we were content just to marvel at this little natural wonder before continuing to the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier.
Blue Lake is an extinct volcano that changes color from deep blue to turquoise at certain months of the year. We were there in May, and the lake was submerged in a deep beautiful blue.
Mount Gambier is the second-largest city in South Australia. Not only does it have the biggest attraction Blue Lake, but also several sinkholes.
Sinkholes in Mount Gambier
Due to volcanic activity in the area 5000 years ago, Mount Gambier is full of sinkholes and caves. In addition to Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake, of the countless possibilities, we picked out two of the more famous ones to see.
We visited the Umpherston Sinkhole, which is located in a park and quickly accessible (and free of charge). The Umpherston Sinkhole is not filled with water and is more like a sunken fairytale garden. The rock walls are covered with climbing plants, and you walk through fragrant and colorful hydrangeas when you walk down into the grotto itself.
We also drove to the Englebrecht Cave, which, unlike the Umpherston Sinkhole, is filled with water and costs admission. The Englebrecht Cave cannot be explored on your own, and you must book a tour. You can even dive in the cave! However, since we were already short of time, we decided to skip this one and continue so that we could see Robe.
Tip: Once a year, from May to June, you can see the Ghost Mushrooms in Glencoe Forest, just outside Mount Gambier. They glow like fireflies, neon yellow at night, and look beautiful.
Our Highlights in Robe
Robe was on our list because of two things: the Cape Dombey Obelisk, which can be found on the Welcome to South Australia sign, and the Robe Golf Club. Arriving, we first searched a café. We wanted to go to the Mahalia Coffee Roastery, which unfortunately was closed. So, we stopped at The Drift and enjoyed a very good cup of coffee. We liked it here so much, and the coffee was so fantastic, that we decided to stop again on our next visit to Robe.
Robe Golf Club
Jess, the manager of Robe Golf Club, welcomed us very warmly and she told us about the history of the golf course. Founded in 1924, it was first a 6-hole golf course, whose fairways ran parallel. Over time, two more 6-hole courses have been added, making Robe Golf Club special. This way everyone can choose between 6, 12, or 18 holes according to time, skill, or fitness.
We decided to play 12 holes so that we could have a little more time to explore the town of Robe afterward. We played the Dunes Six (holes 7-11) first, followed by the Ocean Six (holes 1-6). I have to admit that we were both absolutely amazed at how excellent the courses were. Our favorite was the Dunes Six. It was great fun, and if you’re a passionate golfer, Robe Golf Club has to be on your list!
Robe Golf Club
73 Morphett St, Robe SA, 5276
Mobile: +61 427 440 479
The Cape Dombey Obelisk
After our fun round of golf, we drove to the Cape Dombey Obelisk. We have a photo of us in front of the Welcome to South Australia sign, where the obelisk is featured. So we really wanted to take a selfie in front of the real Obelisk. It was already late, so we drove past the Robe Gaol Ruins and went straight to the obelisk. To our horror, the entire obelisk was sealed off! And the fence was so high that it was impossible to take a picture with us in front of it.
We walked part of the Coastal Trail that leads from the obelisk to an observation deck to enjoy the scenery. What a view!
Robe Coastal Trail
The Robe Coastal Trail is a trail that goes from the lighthouse to the Gaol Ruins and the Obelisk, to the town center. And also, from Guichen Bay to Long Beach. The route can be completed in about two hours.
Additional walking trails are the Scenic Trails, Heritage Trails, Mountain Bike Trails, and the Little Dip Conservation Park Trail.
Robe Gaol Ruins
The Robe Gaol Ruins is a former prison that is located almost directly at the parking lot to Robe’s Coastal Trail and the Cape Dombey Obelisk. We almost overlooked the ruins. Not much remains of the former prison, and unfortunately, you hardly find any information on site about the history. Maybe we should have visited Robe’s Historical Interpretation Centre to learn more.
We find that we are always attracted to lighthouses. Do you feel the same way? If there is a lighthouse, you can be sure that we will try to get there. As a coastal town, Robe of course also has a lighthouse. And what a great one! I found the Robe Lighthouse to be simply fascinating, and we have never seen such a modern and different lighthouse before.
Another thing we love are jetties. Walking over the water, watching fishermen, and seeing seagulls circling above you is one of our favorite things to do. Therefore, the Robe Jetty had to be on our list of highlights while in Robe!
More in Robe Town
You see, the highlights of this small coastal town are huge. And what else you definitely have to do before you finish your Limestone Coast trip is to drink a cold beer at the Robe Town Brewery. Walk along Robe Beach. Eat fresh seafood at the historic English-style pub Caledonia Inn with locals. Enjoy a coffee at Mahalia Coffee while the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans awakens your senses. And finally, to work on your tan on Long Beach.
We have to say that Robe was our favorite place on the Limestone Coast. To really immerse ourselves and enjoy the coastal vibes, we could have easily spent at least a week here alone!
From Robe, we continued to Kingston SE, 45 km away. We had found an extraordinary deal. One night at Kingston Foreshore Caravan Park was only $10 in low season!!
We drove straight there and loved the location, cleanliness, and of course the price. We stayed here 2 nights and explored the area of Kingston on foot.
Just around the corner is the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum. On display is the lighthouse from 1872, which once stood at Cape Jaffa on the Margaret Brock Reef. In 1973 the lighthouse was donated to the National Trust of South Australia and is now in Kingston SE. Tours are offered at certain times so you can learn more about the history and see the lighthouse from the inside.
We continued walking along the promenade, and after a few minutes, we were in the city center, where we had a coffee at the Cafè Bliss. The building of the café is part of the historical walk that can be done here. The story of the building is told on small display boards.
If you are interested, you can read the brochure with the architectural monuments of the city here.
Larry, the Big Lobster
When we drove along the east coast of Australia, we often saw really large statues. A giant banana. A giant mango. And a huge shrimp, and so on. After seeing so many, we knew that this must be a thing in Australia! It’s a pity that we didn’t take pictures of all the big statues in Australia. Otherwise, our collection of “Australia’s biggest things” would be pretty big!
A two-minute drive from Kingston’s center is Larry. Larry the Big Lobster is another of the “big things” in Australia. He is a 17-meter-high lobster, and this time we stopped to take a photo.
And from now on, we will take pictures of all the “big things” 😊
After leaving Kingston SE, we stopped at The Granites in Coorong National Park. Coorong National Park stretches from Kingston all the way to the Murray Estuary, at a length of almost 200 km! Even if this is technically no longer part of the Limestone Coast, we would like to mention it due to the proximity to Kingston SE (you drive just 20 km). The beach invites long walks, and anyone who is a fan of shells and likes to collect them should stop here. The highlight of the Granites, as the name suggests, are the rock formations that can be admired along your walk. You can also drive directly on the beach in your car. Without 4WD, however, we did not dare to do that.
Coonalpyn Silo Art
Our Limestone Coast loop also took us to Coonalpyn, which we really wanted to see because of the Silo Art. You can find artistically painted silos that are worth a stop all across Australia. We realized how many there really are during our now one-and-a-half-year long trip through Australia.
Naracoorte UNESCO Caves
One of the world’s greatest sites for fossils, the Naracoorte Caves is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first time that we heard about the Caves was as we were visiting the SAM, the South Australia Museum in Adelaide. While there, we had seen the Australian megafauna that used to roam this part of the world. Extinct marsupials such as Diprotodon, and Zygomaturus trilobus, the scientific names of the giant ancestors of modern-day kangaroos and wombats, many scientists believe became extinct after the arrival of the early Aboriginal Australians, some 50,000 years ago! But it was the Thylacoleo Carnifex, the marsupial lion, that captured the curiosity of James.
James absolutely loves this stuff, and he is like a kid in a candy store whenever we find museums with anything related to natural history. So, you should have seen his eyes sparkle with delight when I told him that the caves where many of these extinct animals were found were directly on our Limestone Coast tour.
The Naracoorte Caves is actually a very large area and includes many caves such as the Stick-Tomato Cave, the Alexandra Cave, and the Victoria Fossil Cave. But we were specifically there to see the famous marsupial lion, so we booked the Victoria Fossil Cave. James, our guide, told us how 2 explorers in 1969 squeezed through a hole in the rocks and discovered a chamber that was full of fossils of skulls and jaws. We marveled at the stalactites and stalagmites of the caves. But the highlight was when we arrived at the location where the marsupial lion was found.
The Victoria Fossil Cave is an active dig site and seeing the fossils lying on the ground was fascinating.
Coonawarra Wine Region
In the heart of the Limestone Coast lies the Coonawarra Wine Region, famous for its good Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Those who come to the Coonawarra wine region are spoilt for choice. Please scroll all the way down for a list of wineries.
We were surprised by how beautiful the entire Limestone Coast is. The small coastal towns each had something special. We loved strolling around, breathing in the fresh sea air, and watching romantic sunsets. Our highlights were the coastal town of Robe and the UNESCO Naracoorte Caves.
Where is the Limestone Coast?
The Limestone Coast region is in Australia, on the southeast coast of the state of South Australia. The coastline stretches from Victoria’s border to Kingston SE. The Limestone Coast also includes the inland area of Mount Gambier, with its impressive volcanic craters, the wine region of Coonawarra, Naracoorte, and Lucindale, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and on to Keith.
How to get to the Limestone Coast?
Car: from Victoria via the Great Ocean Road, or inland via Casterton and Penola.
From Adelaide via Coorong National Park on Princess Highway, or inland via National Highway 1.
Bus: Premier Stateliner from Adelaide to Mount Gambier, or the V-Liner from Melbourne to Mount Gambier.
Flight: from Melbourne or Adelaide to Mount Gambier by Regional Express (REX).
What are the most popular places along the Limestone Coast?
The most popular places are Coonawarra, Mount Gambier, Naracoorte, Penola, Robe, and Kingston SE.
What are the top highlights on the Limestone Coast?
- Blue Lake and Sinkholes in Mount Gamber
- The coastal town of Robe
- Heritage Trail in Kingston SE and Larry, the Big Lobster
- The Granites
- Coorong National Park
- UNESCO Naracoorte Caves
- Coonawarra Wine Region
What types of accommodations are found on the Limestone Coast?
On the Limestone Coast, you will find everything your heart desires; from glamping to camping, and from Airbnb to luxury hotels.
How long should you calculate for the Limestone Coast?
The loop is feasible in a week. However, if you like to spend your holiday without haste, you should definitely plan more time.
List of Wineries
Balnaves of Coonawarra
15517 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 2946
The Blok Coonawarra
15535 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 2734
15459 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 2229
Brand’s Laira Coonawarra
14860 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 3260
DiGiorgio Family Wines
Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 3222
Flint’s of Coonawarra
360 Flint Road, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 5046
Racecourse Road, Penola/Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 2318
15025 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 3130
Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 0300
Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 5071
Ladbroke Grove Wines
5277/LOT 2, Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 3777
Leconfield Coonawarra Cellar Door
15454 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 2326
2131 V&A Lane, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 3055
Parker Coonawarra Estate
15688 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 3525
Patrick of Coonawarra
15598 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 3687
McLean Road, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 3211
Raidis Estate Coonawarra
15741 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8737 2966
14830 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 3331
Wynns Coonawarra Estate
77 Memorial Drive, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 2225
The Menzies Vineyard Retreat and Wine Room by Yalumba
15542 Riddoch Highway, Penola/ Coonawarra, SA 5277
Phone: +61 8 8737 3603
Zema Estate Wines
14944 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra, SA 5263
Phone: +61 8 8736 3219