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Stopping off at quirky towns.
Stopping off at quirky towns.
South Australia never looked so pretty.
Driving along the beach looks mad fun.

Best Western Drive, SA

Thursday, October 18, 2001
See what South Australia has to offer ... buckle up, put your fave CD on and cruise along the coast of SA.

Among early European arrivals into South Australia was a group of 800 German farmers and artisans. Mostly Lutheran, they landed between 1838 and 1841, escaping persecution because of their disapproval of the Prussian treatment of their church. By 1850, a second group of 5400 hard-working Germans settled, with more arriving the following decade. They found the soil and climate in the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley were similar to the prolific wine growing areas of their homeland, and Hahndorf was founded in 1839.

Hahndorf is the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia and around 2000 people live there. They even have a Burgermeister, who is the town's goodwill ambassador. During WWI, the Lutheran school was closed and the town's name changed to "Ambleside". It went back to "Hahndorf" in 1935.

Its main street is lined with craft shops, galleries and eating places, and being so close to Adelaide, it is always buzzing with visitors. The Hahndorf Academy was established in 1857 and houses several original works of Sir Hans Heysen. His watercolours captured the light and colour of the countryside, and his works became internationally sought after.

Next stop is Strathalbyn on the Angas River. Scottish immigrants established the town in 1839, and it is also a treasured heritage town. St Andrew's Church is larger and more decorative than most country towns' places of worship.

Strathalbyn's old courthouse and police station is now a National Trust museum with exhibits of the town and its Celtic heritage. The town also has antique shops, arts and crafts galleries, and walking tours take place showing points of history.

Wellington is a sprawling hamlet on the Murray River, 33km from Murray Bridge. It was first settled in the 1840s and was the main crossing on the overland route to Victoria. Now, you can take your car across the river by ferry, and at the marina you will see a cluster of houses, jetties and boats. It is a laid back place and popular with retirees and those who want a quiet holiday.

On the road to Meningie, you pass Lake Alexandrina and a lake which turns pink in certain weather. Meningie is on Lake Albert, a large arm of Lake Alexandrina, and was established as a minor port in 1866. It has a fishing industry and a significant Aboriginal population. It's a good place for fishing, four-wheel driving and just exploring.

A little further on is the Coorong wetland, a saltwater lagoon. The Coorong National Park is a wilderness area, home to crimson lagoons, rare birds, the beautiful, sandy Ninety Mile Beach, and is rich in Aboriginal culture. Pods of Southern Right Whales occasionally turn up to rest and feed.

At Coorong's southern end is the 1850s fishing and holiday town of Kingston. Crayfish and wine are two of the main products of Kingston, and are growing industries. Excellent views of the area can be had from the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse, which was built in 1869 and moved to Kingston last century.

Robe is another fishing port and holiday town. It was founded in 1845 and was once the third most important port in South Australia, as wool from the region was taken there for export.

In the late 1850s, the Victorian gold rush saw many settlers in Robe, who wanted to avoid paying Victorian tax. Ten thousand people arrived, and in 1857 the South Australian government slapped on their own tax. The town population dwindled as a result. Now, around 750 people live there, but on Boxing Day the population jumps to around 10,000!

Location

South Australia, from Adelaide to Robe.

More information

Best Western: Ph: 131 779
Website: Best Western

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