Where can you climb an extinct volcano, go underground and see the bones of extinct animals, swim at beautiful beaches, visit the home of a saint, float in a salty lake and sit back and enjoy fine wine and food? The Limestone Coast of course.
We discovered this area a few years ago and I personally can’t wait to go back. Our family had a wonderful time – despite the searing heat – and it is a place I will happily return to.
The Limestone Coast stretches from Tailem Bend and the Coorgong in South Australia, down to the Victorian border and the beautiful Glenelg River. It includes Mt Gambier and the famous Coonawarra wine region.
Its famous beaches include Robe and Beachport and the Naracoorte Caves are renowned for the ancient fossils of Gondawandaland.
The following are just some of the family friendly activities you can enjoy on a holiday on the Limestone Coast:
The renowned Coonawarra wine district is well-known for its reds, although it does produce white varieties too. At just 20km in length, it is the perfect size to try a few wines with the kids getting too upset.
One of the cellar doors we enjoyed was The Blok, but given our visit was a few years ago, I am not up on the latest information and advice. Instead, I recommend visiting the Coonawarra Vignerons’ website, where you can also search for wineries with children’s activities and toys.
A visit to the Coonawarra should include a stop at Penola. This small town become famous for its connection to Australia’s first Saint, Mary McKillop. You can visit the Mary McKillip Penola Centre. This town is also about history and you can visit the state heritage listed, Petticoat Lane, while those with an interest in model trains will love Penola Fantasy Model Railway.
The main reason to visit Naracoorte is the Naracoorte Caves World Heritage fossil site. What makes this place so special is that for the caves acted as pitfall traps when animals fell through holes opening down into the caves.
Their bones became fossils and today we now have a record of the ancient mega fauna that once roamed the area. These megafauna have been reconstructed in the fff.
Depending on the age of your children, I would recommend including the Victoria Fossil Cave and the fossil centre at a minimum. Alexandra Cave is probably suited to younger children.
You can learn more to help plan your visit here.
Naracoorte is also home to one of the best public swimming pools I have ever seen – and our family loved it. It is the Naracoorte Swimming Lake, which is a massive man-made pool, seven times the size of an Olympic swimming pool. And amazingly, it is free! (open from 1 December to end of March)
Any families with an interest in geology will love this area, with past volcanic events responsible for some amazing formations. There are so many places of interest, including Mt Gambier’s Blue Lake, Cave Gardens and Umpherston sinkhole.
You can also climb an extinct volcano at Mount Shanck. We climbed this steep track with our children and I must admit, I was holding on tight to them at the top – but the view back down into what would have been the crater is amazing.
Anyone interested in learning more about this area, which is part of the Kanawinka Geopark, should check out this website.
Pool of Siloam
If you’ve ever dreamed of swimming in the Dead Sea, there is an Australian answer – albeit a lot smaller.
The Pool of Siloam at Beachport is a small salt lake, which is said to be seven times more salty than the sea, and have therapeutic benefits. The high salt content makes swimming very easy, making it a fun place for adults and children alike.
The Limestone Coast has a number of seaside towns for you to stay and explore, including Robe, Beachport, Kingston SE and Port MacDonnell
They are home to many parks, playgrounds and even skateparks. They all have their special features, such as Kingston’s giant fibreglass Larry the Lobster, Beachport’s 772 metre jetty, Port MacDonnell’s petrified forest, the Cape Jaffa lighthouse and long-time family holiday favourite, Robe.
Where to stay:
Firstly, check out our family friendly accommodation, including the lovely Beachport cottage, Arndel’s Beach Cottage. This cottage is set up for comfort and style and at an affordable rate that does not increase at peak periods.
You can also check out the official Limestone Coast tourism website, which has more information on attractions and where to stay.
Photos provided by the South Australian Tourism Commission (my own camera got left at home during our holiday to this area).