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Limestone Coast drive

Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Limestone Coast stretches from the Glenelg River on the Victorian border to Port MacDonnell, Robe, Tailem Bend and across to Bordertown.

It took the forces of the ocean and movement of tectonic plates 26 million years to forge the Limestone Coast. These days it has pretty port towns and watersports are the order of the day, along with volcanic craters, mountain lakes and the Naracoorte Caves.

The same natural forces created the Coorong National Park with its sandy coast and lagoons. They also created the "terra rossa" soils at Coonawarra, which provide the ideal environment for producing world-class wines.

Beachport, the Limestone Coast's unofficial gateway, is on the north-western tip of Rivoli Bay, 385km south-east of Adelaide. The charming town is enhanced by clean waters, white sand and towering Norfolk pines. Its 772m jetty, one of Australia's longest, stretches into the shallow waters. Its construction began in 1878.

The town has interesting walks, historic sites and swimming, fishing and boating are enormously popular and it is an important crayfishing port. There are some interesting things to do around Beachport — the Bowman Scenic Drive, Canunda National Park, fishing at the Salmon Hole and the Pool of Siloam which is seven times saltier than the sea. It's said to have therapeutic qualities.

The Old Wool & Grain Store Museum was recently awarded the honour of Best Volunteer-Operated Museum in Australia.

Just off the beaten track is Little Dip Conservation Park. The 14-kilometre park is popular with 4WD enthusiasts and campers. The area was originally set aside to conserve the small lakes inland from the Robe Range. It also conserves a large area of coastal dune systems, the rugged and beautiful coastline and part of Lake Eliza's foreshore. Aborigines lived in the area from at least 10,000 years ago and middens of shellfish remains are reminders of the past.

Robe is also a fishing port and has a distinctive combination of historical buildings, fishing fleets, lakes and dense bush. It lies on the southern shore of Guichen Bay which was named by the French explorer Nicolas Baudin when he charted the coast in 1802.

It is one of South Australia's oldest towns, named after South Australia's fourth governor, Major Frederick Robe, who chose the site as a port in 1845. It soon became the state's second-busiest port after Adelaide. Many roadside inns were built to cater for bullock teamsters transporting horses, sheep and wool. The Bush Inn is still standing.

During the Victorian gold rushes around 1857, more than 16,000 Chinese people landed in Robe and travelled overland to the goldfields. Victoria had a landing tax of £10 per person — more than the cost of the voyage — and the immigrants landed in South Australia and walked 320 to Ballarat or Bendigo.

Long Beach is a 17km stretch great for surf fishing and safe swimming. If you are in a hurry you may want to think it over — the speed limit is 25km/h and it is policed.

Kingston South East is another substantial fishing and lobster port on the Limestone Coast. To prove it, visitors are greeted by a Big Lobster, one of those quirky "bigs" Australians love to build.

A highlight of the town is Kevin Geue's Tractor Museum. It's said his vast collection of vintage and restored tractors is the best in the world. Tractors have always been in his blood — two are road registered and he drives one in the Christmas parade, complete with reindeer and a Santa float.

The collection of around 160 tractors is housed in three sheds measuring 42 square metres. Many of the tractors were rundown and unloved, donated and even purchased. Kevin restores and breathes new life into them. There is also a fine collection of chainsaws and automobile bits and pieces.

Upstairs is where the "women's stuff" is kept, including things such as cabinets, sewing machines, hair brushes and other historic paraphernalia. Kevin's wife takes care of that part of the operation.


South Australia's Limestone Coast.


Best Western Australia has a range of hotels and motels on the Limestone Coast starting at $110 a night.

For further information

Beachport Visitor Information Centre
Millicent Road
Beachport 5280
Ph: (08) 8735 8029
Fax: (08) 8735 8309

Robe Visitor Information Centre
Mundy Terrace
Robe 5276
Ph: (08) 8768 2465
Fax: (08) 8768 2863

Caledonian Inn
1 Victoria Street
Robe 5276
Ph: (08) 8768 2029
Fax: (08) 8768 2636

Kingston SE Visitors' Centre
Littles BP Roadhouse
1 Princes Highway
Kingston SE 5275
Ph: (08) 8767 2404

Kev's Kollection — Tractor Museum
43 Cooke Street
Kingston 5275
Ph: (08) 8767 2261

The Big Lobster
Princes Highway
Kingston 5275
Ph: (08) 8767 2555

Best Western
Ph: 131 779

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