The Limestone Coast Road Trip takes you along the scenic route from Mount Gambier to Adelaide. South Australia’s Limestone Coast region stretches from the Victorian Border to Kingston SE and as far inland as Bordertown.
Along your Limestone Coast road trip you’ll find stunning coastline, beautiful beaches, delicious seafood and wines, not to mention geological wonders like caves, sinkholes and volcanoes.
We did this road trip in reverse, so we drove from Mount Gambier to Adelaide, in October 2023. In this post you’ll find all our top tips for things to see and do on this epic South Australian Road Trip.
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Getting to the Limestone Coast
The Limestone Coast is only few hours drive from Adelaide in South Australia, so this is the ideal road trip for a long weekend. If you’re driving from Melbourne to Adelaide, a detour into the Limestone Coast is a great way to spend a couple of days.
From Adelaide head south east along the Princes Highway (M1) towards Mount Barker and Melbourne. At Tailem Bend turn south along the A1 Princes Highway towards Kingston SE.
If you’re coming from Melbourne or the Great Ocean Road, take the M1 Princes Highway towards Warrnambool and continue towards Mount Gambier.
Best time to visit the Limestone Coast
If you want to see the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier in all its blue glory, the best time for a Limestone Coast Road Trip is in the summer months from November to March. Summers in South Australia can be hot and dry, with the maximum January temperature being 39C (102F).
However, the average temperatures are much more pleasant, being in the low 20s (70F). Generally, there will be a couple of very hot days, followed by a cool change with temperatures dropping quickly, then slowly building back up to hot.
Autumn is reported to be a good time to visit, with cooler temperatures and not too much rainfall. We visited in Spring (October) and it was still quite cold, although we had one pleasant day on the beach in Robe.
Where to stay on your Limestone Coast Road Trip
If you’re travelling between Mount Gambier and Adelaide by car, you’ll find plenty of options for motels and guesthouses in Beachport, Robe or Kingston SE.
There are also plenty of caravan parks along this route too, and a few free camps. Check the Wikicamps app for up to date info on the best camps.
The best things to do on a Limestone Coast Road Trip
Mount Gambier is South Australia’s second largest city, and the main hub of the Limestone Coast Region. The city is on a hillside, which is actually a dormant volcano that last erupted almost 5,000 years ago.
The lava and ash from the eruption formed the hill the town is now situated on, and inside the crater is the cities most famous landmark, the Blue Lake. You’ll need to visit on a sunny day in summer to see the Blue Lake looking perfectly turquoise though, the rest of the year it simply looks a dark navy colour.
There are many sinkholes around Mount Gambier, and a couple right in the city. Umpherston Sinkhole is very popular, as it was planted like an English Garden over 100 years ago, and there are steps so you can walk down into it.
Many experienced cave divers come to Mount Gambier as there is a huge network of caves under the city. We chatted with a couple of cave divers there who were telling us at one point in the cave system they can hear the traffic above them!
Even if you’re not a certified cave diver, you can take a 45 minute tour into the Engelbrecht Cave with a local guide, and see where the divers go through a small opening into the water.
Keen snorkelers and divers will love the many sinkholes in the area, from Kilsby’s Sinkhole to the Picanninnee and Ewens Ponds.
Heading north west from Mount Gambier, you will reach the coast at Beachport. Once a whaling station, Beachport is now known for its beautiful beaches, seafood, and tourism. The beaches to the south of the town are popular with tourists, while to the north, the coastline is rugged and spectacular.
At 772m the Beachport Jetty is the second longest jetty in South Australia. You can walk out onto the jetty and even jump off if you dare. The Jetty is a popular spot for fishing, with the possibility to catch Salmon, Mullet or Whiting.
Fishing & Seafood
Beachport is perhaps most famous for seafood, and you can fish from the beach, the rocks, a boat or the Jetty. Beachport is also known for Rock Lobster. You can get cooked, fresh or frozen Rock Lobsters from the Lobster Pot in town during the Lobster season (1 October to 31 May). We bought a cooked lobster and made a delicious lobster and asparagus risotto.
Bowmans Scenic Drive
This short scenic drive takes you from the town, past the very modern looking lighthouse and down the coast to Wooley’s Rock. The last several kilometres of this road are unsealed and slightly rough, but you would be fine in a 2wd vehicle (at least when we drove down here).
There are many places to stop on the way down this road, and beautiful, rugged coastal scenery. Some of our favourites include:
Pool of Siloam
The Pool of Siloam near Beachport is named after the biblical pool where Jesus healed the blind man. The Beachport Pool of Siloam is hypersaline, around 7 times saltier than the sea. Although it is located very close to the sea, its levels do not fluctuate with the tide.
The water appears almost yellow and supposedly has healing properties. It is a popular spot for swimming, though the water was very cold when we were here.
The Bowman Scenic Drive ends at Wooley’s Rock. There is a small carpark here and a park bench. You can walk out to the rock if the tide is low enough, and climb to the top for amazing views and photos.
Beachport Conservation Park
Keen 4×4 drivers will love the tracks through the Beachport Conservation Park. The park covers the area between Beachport and Nora Criena (just south of Robe). There are some lovely camping sites along this drive.
You can visit Lake George and camp on the shores of the lake. You’ll need to get a camping permit from the Visitor Centre in town. The birdlife is prolific on Lake George, and if you’re lucky you might spot an orange-bellied parrot.
When we visited Lake George in October 2023, the water levels were so high it was impossible to drive on the shores, so there was no camping possible.
The town of Robe is a popular holiday spot for people from Adelaide. It’s a fascinating mix of historical buildings and relaxing beaches. Robe has a great selection of cafes and boutiques, and 4×4 beach lovers will enjoy driving along the beach at Long Beach.
The Old Gaol was built in 1860, very soon after the area was settled by Europeans. The foundations and around one metre of the walls are still standing, and there are signs to tell you which rooms were which. We found it interesting that the guards quarters were only slightly larger than the cells.
The Cape Dombey Obelisk is the symbol of the town. It was build in 1953 as a navigation guide for passing ships. A private contractor built the obelisk at a cost of only $460. Originally it was painted white, but ships’ captains complained they couldn’t distinguish it from the limestone cliffs. It was later painted with its distinctive red and white stripes.
The Obelisk sits out on a point overlooking two bays. Access to the Obelisk is now forbidden, with a large fence stopping people from walking across the narrow peninsula. You will need to park at the Old Gaol and walk a couple of hundred metres for the best vantage point.
From the Obelisk, you can walk past the Encounter Monument and up to another lookout. This lookout gives you great views back to the Obelisk and around to Long Beach.
Long Beach is a 10km stretch of white sand beach, where vehicles may drive. We spent a beautiful afternoon here soaking up some sun. The access point is located on the Esplanade, just north of the Discovery Caravan Park.
The sand is slightly soft at the access point, but we didn’t need to let our tyres down. We also saw a 2wd vehicle on the beach. We recommend you do as we did, and walk down to check out the conditions first. There is a carpark just before the beach access point.
In case you’re wondering, like we were, the SE in Kingston SE stands for South East, to distinguish this Kingston from the other town in South Australia with the same name. That one is now known as Kingston-on-Murray.
Kingston SE is home to one of Australia’s “Big Things”, the Big Lobster. Known affectionately as “Larry the Lobster”, this statue is 17m tall and weighs over 7 tonnes. Apparently Larry is quite the social media star, having been photographed over 10 million times. Of course we had to stop for a photo!
You’ll find a quiet beach here, small jetty and ample opportunities for fishing. As you’d expect, there’s a thriving crayfish industry here too.
Kingston SE is the gateway to the Coorong National Park which is known for its birdlife and lake systems. Keen 4×4 enthusiasts will love exploring the trails through here. We drove the 12.5km scenic drive which parallels the main road.
If you are heading north, turn left just after Mike Lake and continue on this road until you re-join the highway just south of Salt Creek. The road was in pretty poor condition when we drove here in October 2023 with corrugations and pot holes.
We stopped for lunch by the Pink Lake (which wasn’t terribly pink). There is a park bench here. There wasn’t really much to see along this scenic drive, and given the condition of the road, we probably wouldn’t do it again.
Essential Info for your Limestone Coast Road Trip
South Australia operates on Australian Central Time which is 30 minutes behind AEST. Daylight Savings time applies from early October to early April.
If you are doing a Melbourne to Adelaide road trip, or if you’ve travelled the Great Ocean Road, there are strict quarantine regulations when entering South Australia. The SA govt website has a full list of the prohibited fruits and vegetables.
Driving on the beach
If you have a 4×4, there are many opportunities for beach driving on the Limestone Coast. We particularly loved spending the day on Long Beach near Robe. The entry and exit to this beach was slightly soft, but very manageable, even in our 4.5T van. We actually saw a 2wd sedan on this beach which seemed to be coping fine.
As with any beach entry, we recommend walking down to check the access point before driving onto the beach, and be aware of the tide times so you don’t get caught out.
Watch our Limestone Coast Road Trip travel film
You can watch our Limestone Coast travel video here or on YouTube
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