South Australia’s Limestone Coast is a region internationally renowned for its diverse natural wonders and dramatic contrasts.
Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that it is also known as the ‘Shipwreck Coast of Australia’, for the cliffs, reefs, islands and outcrops of rock that make it so beautiful also make it a dangerous place to sail. More than 100 vessels and 200 lives have been lost along this stretch, which continues to draw new visitors each year. With natural attractions that range from ancient caves to fertile lagoons, the Limestone Coast is a fantastic destination for anyone wishing to experience the sublime.
One of the first natural wonders that any visitor to the Limestone Coast will tell you about is the Blue Lake at Mount Gambier. The lake sits within the crater of a dormant volcano; and between December and March, its waters turn a stunning, almost cartoonishly bright shade of blue.
Numerous viewing platforms surround the lake, from which you can look down and wonder over this liquid gemstone. Walking trails – such as the popular Volcano Discovery Trail – are also worth exploring, and there are options for camping, hiking and picnicking around the lake.
Not far from Mount Gambier, nature continues to astound at the famous Naracoorte Caves, South Australia’s only World Heritage–listed site, which doubles as the Wonambi Fossil Centre. Stretch your optics back more than 200,000 years to a time when nature truly ruled the Limestone Coast.
The Naracoorte Caves were once home to many species of now extinct animals, including Australian megafauna – giant mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles that often met their end in the deep pitfalls of the caves, where their skeletons and fossils now remain. Life-sized models of extinct animals greet visitors who venture below ground, among them the Diprotodon optatum – the world’s largest marsupial, which weighed up to 2800 kilograms.
If you’re hoping for a little more sunlight than the caves will afford you, be sure to stop in Robe, a town renowned for having one of the most spectacular beaches in Australia’s southeast. The pristine Long Beach stretches for more than seven kilometres, along which many secluded areas for swimming and surfing can be found. Alongside the beach, Little Dip Conservation Park extends for 13 kilometres along the coast south of Robe.
Within the park, you can experience more of the wonderful variety that nature has to offer along the Limestone Coast. The park is famous for its rich diversity of scenery, including both freshwater and saltwater lakes, wetlands, giant coastal sand dunes and ancient middens made by the Indigenous Bunganditj people.