Touring the Limestone Coast

South Australia is known for many things – great wines, excellent seafood and some spectacular scenery, and on that state’s Limestone Coast you can experience it all.

Stretching from the Victorian border at the Glenelg River and east to Tailem Bend so encompassing the south east of South Australia, the Limestone Coast has plenty for the visitor to experience.

Two of Australia’s premium wine areas, the Coonawarra and Padthaway are situated in this region and are definitely worthy of a visit.

Coonawarra has a type of soil called terra rossa, and it is one of the factors responsible for producing great, award-winning reds, especially cabernet sauvignon.  The soil rests on limestone and pure underground water and that, together with a long and cool ripening season is what makes the wine here so great.  There are a number of good wineries, restaurants and places to stay within the Coonawarra, which make it something of a magnet for true lovers of the grape.

That limestone is also responsible for the Naracoorte Caves National Park, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are a countless number of caves, large and small, within the park and 26 of them contain the fossils on 98 species of extinct prehistoric creatures.  Included here is evidence of a marsupial lion and a giant leaf-eating kangaroo which stood over three metres tall.  These caves also contain the remains of a giant wombat and a giant snake that was so large it could easily swallow a human whole.

There are other caves that are just as renowned for their great beauty, the only single-chamber pink dolomite cave in Australia.     

The town of Mt Gambier is proof that this area was once a hive of volcanic activity, simply because of the three crater lakes that are found within its boundaries.  Of these, the Blue Lake is most famous, simply because twice a year it turns a brilliant cobalt blue colour.

For a small town Penola has had some residents who have made an indelible impact on the Australian way of life.  One of these was the renowned poet Adam Lindsay Gordon, whose bust is also present in Poet’s Corner at London’s Westminster Abbey.  The other resident is Mother Mary MacKillop who became Australia’s first saint, who spent many years teaching in Penola.

The coastal towns of Robe and Kingston are home to lobster fishing fleets, which trawl the cold waters of the Southern Ocean for these delicious crustaceans.  There are many lovely beaches in the area which are ideal for swimming, surfing. windsurfing and sailing.  Close by is the Coorong National Park a 145 kilometre long narrow inland waterway that is ideal for fishing, boating, camping and just relaxing.

The true beauty of the Limestone Coast is in its diversity.  It’s a place where you can be as stylish or a laid back as you like.  It’s an ideal place to getaway in a region of Australia that is relatively unknown but full of very pleasant surprises.

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