For everything about the LIMESTONE COAST you are in the right place. From getting there, to places to visit, to the best accommodation this article summarises all your needs for the LIMESTONE COAST.
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The Limestone Coast is one of South Australia’s true gems. Located in the south-eastern corner of the state, the Limestone Coast stretches northwards from the Victorian border near Mount Gambier, all the way to Bordertown and Kingston SE. It’s a beautiful coastline area with spectacular scenery, incredible wineries, and some fantastic things to do on the Limestone Coast.
The area is the traditional home of the Ngarrindjeri and Booandik people, and was settled by Europeans in the 1840s. Today, over 65,000 people live on the Limestone Coast – almost half of them in Mount Gambier, the second-largest city in South Australia. The climate is quite similar to Adelaide and other parts of southern Australia, though proximity to the coast tends to keep things slightly cooler. So you can expect hot dry summers, and cool wet winters, and overall the Mount Gambier weather is very comfortable for most of the year.
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Getting To The Limestone Coast
Access to the Limestone Coast is typically via car (click here for car hire). Bordertown at the northern end of the region is about three hours from Adelaide, while Adelaide to Mount Gambier is about 5 hours (430 kilometres). Coming the other direction from Melbourne, it’s about 5.5 hours to Bordertown or 5 hours to Mount Gambier. You’ve also got the option of flying to Mount Gambier, with daily services via Regional Express (REX) from both Adelaide and Melbourne. Coach services are also available to Mount Gambier, but bus services across the Coast area are fairly limited – so your own vehicle is highly recommended.
Once you’ve arrived, there are some fantastic Limestone Coast attractions to visit, with a real variety of places and activities. So let’s have a look at things to do Limestone Coast!
Limestone Coast Attractions
A quick glance at any Limestone Coast maps will show you just how many great attractions there are across the Limestone Coast towns and rural areas including wineries, caves and beaches. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights.
As the largest town in the region, there are several Mount Gambier attractions that are well worth visiting. Probably the most famous is the Blue Lake Mount Gambier: a large crater lake on the edge of town. It’s slightly over a kilometre across at the longest point, and estimated at around 75 metres depth. Between December and March, the lake changes to a spectacular shade of cobalt blue (hence the name!). It’s a really striking sight, caused by the change in water temperature over the summer. There’s a great walking trail around the crater rim with some excellent views of the lake. Be sure to check out nearby Valley Lake and Leg of Mutton Lake as well; both have great hiking and climbing trails along with lovely picnic areas.
Elsewhere in Mount Gambier, Umpherston Sinkhole is absolutely worth a visit. Thanks to the easily-eroded limestone that gives the region its name, the whole area is dotted with caves and sinkholes, and Umpherston is one of the best. It’s located right in the centre of Mount Gambier and has a beautiful garden spread out around the base. The beautiful Engelbrecht Cave is nearby, with guided tours of the cave’s dry areas. You can also go cave diving, but it’s recommended for experienced cave divers only.
Another must-visit in the Limestone Coast area is the incredible Naracoorte Caves complex. Located about an hour’s drive north of Mount Gambier, Naracoorte Caves National Park is the site of arguably Australia’s most important fossil discoveries. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, the 28 caves in the national park contain an incredible set of fossils dating back at least 500,000 years. Almost all of the fossils are of extinct species, and they provide evidence of “megafauna” that was once common across the continent.
Highlights here include the marsupial lion, known as thylacoleo carnifex, along with Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), hippo-sized wombats called zygomaturus and diprotodon, and the giant kangaroo. Over 130 species of mammals, birds, frogs and reptiles have been identified in the caves here, which is just amazing. And of course, the caves are home to spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. Access is via guided tour only, so be sure to check times and make bookings via the website in advance.
No trip to regional Australia is complete without visiting a winery or two, and the Limestone Coast is no different. The highlight is definitely Coonawarra wine, with 28 separate wineries and famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Interestingly, the wine-growing region here is actually quite small! It’s a long narrow strip of land, about a kilometre wide and 17 kilometres long, stretched out either side of the highway. Some of the best Coonawarra wineries include Wynns, Zema Estate, Patricks, and Katnook Estate.
One of the best Limestone Coast towns is historic Robe, located on the coastline about 90 minutes drive north of Mount Gambier. It’s a beautiful and quaint little seaside spot, with fantastic sunsets and many historic buildings. Robe is a fantastic spot for chilling out at the nearby beaches, fishing off the jetty, tasting the delicious local crayfish, or trying the ambergris ale at the Robe Town Brewery.
The Big Lobster
Finally, no visit to the Limestone Coast would be complete without a pilgrimage to the Big Lobster. Regional Australia is home to many “Big” objects, like the Big Pineapple and the Big Banana, and the Big Lobster at Kingston SE is one of the largest. Standing 17 metres tall and weighing in at 7 tonnes, “Larry” is definitely worth stopping by for a photo. And of course, the local lobster is fantastic too!
Limestone Coast Road Trip
There’s a couple of different options for Limestone Coast road trips, including both loop routes and continuing onwards to Melbourne.
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Three Day Limestone Coast Loop From Adelaide
Head south-east from Adelaide towards Tailem Bend, then take the coast road south to Kingston SE. Say hi to Larry the Lobster over a delicious lobster lunch, then continue down the coast to explore historic Robe. Consider checking out some of the other fantastic Limestone Coast wineries in the Robe area over the afternoon, or check out the boutiques. Stay overnight in Robe, then head for Mount Gambier the next morning. Do some hiking around the Blue Lake, enjoy the gardens in Umpherston Sinkhole, and stay overnight at Mount Gambier accommodation. Day three, head north and visit a Coonawarra winery or two, before exploring Naracoorte Caves in the afternoon and heading back to Adelaide via Bordertown.
Continuing to Melbourne? Three Days via the Great Ocean Road
Follow the itinerary above, but rather than returning to Adelaide, return to Mount Gambier for a second night. From there, you can carry from Mount Gambier to Melbourne, via the picturesque Port Fairy in Victoria, Warrnambool, and the famous Great Ocean Road.
Limestone Coast Accommodation
The Limestone Coast has a fantastic range of accommodation options, whether it’s luxury stays, glamping, budget motels, or anything in between.
Limestone Coast Hotels
There’s a good selection of Mt Gambier accommodation. If you’re going luxury, consider Colhurst House or Park Hotel Mount Gambier, while if you’re after a motel Mount Gambier, Commodore on the Park is a solid option. And for those on a tight budget, Blue Lake Motel has good prices and good reviews.
For accommodation Coonawarra, Alexander Cameron Suites at nearby Penola is a fantastic choice. If you’re wanting to stay amongst the vineyards, Coonawarra Units is a great stay.
Robe accommodation also has several options; Robe House is quite luxurious, while Lakeview Motel & Apartments is another fantastic choice. And if you’re set on beachfront accommodation, consider Bonnies of Beachport, located in Beachport about 30 minutes south of Robe.
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Limestone Coast Airbnbs
In Mount Gambier, Banella Loft Apartment is a great option right next to Blue Lake, while if you only need a single room, this Private Room is an excellent choice. Or if you’re in a big group, Karno House is a local heritage-listed property that sleeps 11!
Further afield, A Coonawarra Experience in Penola is a beautiful spot to stay, and nearby Nan’s Place is a nice pet-friendly option.
Over in Robe, Trader Jack’s is a funky guesthouse with tons of character, Mrs Banks offers a cosy historic cottage, and Water’s Edge Apartment has great views of the waterfront and the marina.
Limestone Coast Caravan Parks
The best Mount Gambier caravan parks are located south of town, just near the Blue Lake. Check out Pine Country Caravan Park or BIG4 Blue Lake Holiday Park. The Naracoorte caravan park is the Naracoorte BIG4 Holiday Park, though about halfway between Naracoorte and Coonawarra you’ll find the Coonawarra Bush Holiday Park, which has excellent glamping options as well. Or if you’d prefer something coastal, a good Limestone Coast caravan park is Discovery Parks – Robe, located on the beach just outside of Robe.
Limestone Coast Wines
Although Coonawarra wineries are the most famous, there’s plenty of Limestone Coast winery options in several different areas. In Coonawarra, be sure to drop by Wynns, Katnook, Hollick, Di Giorgio, and Zema Estate. Around Robe, Governor Robe is always a good visit. It’s handily located on the main street, along with Karatta Wines. And lastly, in Mount Gambier Herbert Vineyard, Caroline Hills Winery, and Square Mile Estate are the pick of the bunch.
Overall, South Australia’s Limestone Coast is a fantastic place to visit. With outstanding nature, delicious wine, and incredible heritage, it’s definitely one for the bucket list – and highly recommended!