Mt Gambier to Murray Bridge

24 March 2016

This morning we were up and away by 8am as it will be a long day today as we make our way from Mount Gambier, along the Great Southern Ocean to Murray Bridge.  We decided to take the coast road and our first stop was Beachport – again we headed for the jetty and found the Waterfront Cafe for breakfast of bacon and eggs on toast.  The cafe was jumping, quite crowded for that time of the morning, and included a number of travellers and locals, a noisy group of young Mums having a meeting, some mornings the yoga group and swimming groups have breakfast. An interesting place!

Considered as one of the most beautiful jetties in South Australia, the Beachport Jetty (above)extends over the waters of Rivoli Bay and offers some beautiful scenic spots across the bay.  Many local anglers come here to fish off the side of the jetty and often fishermen go home with Mullet, Salmon, Whiting and Mulloway.  The cafe where we had breakfast had lots of photos of some gigantic fish caught off the jetty and the Bay. This is the second longest jetty in South Australia. The Beachport Jetty used to stand at over 1.2kms in length, now the jetty stands at 772 metres.











Some interesting posters in the Waterfront Cafe

In 1876, Geltwood, an iron hulled barque was nearing the completion of her maiden voyage from Liverpool (bound for Melbourne) when the ship struck a reef and capsized. The ship was wrecked on a remote stretch of the south-east coast of South Australia; a week after this tragedy occurred, parliament passed a bill to establish a port at Beachport.


The historic museum, formerly a wool and grain store, and Office of the Adelaide Steamship Company

Beachport was named after M.E. Hicks Beach MP and was officially proclaimed a port on the 21st November, 1878. In that year, the lighthouse and two houses on Penguin Island were completed. The first industry in the south-east of South Australia was a whaling station at Beachport, despite a lack of facilities, trade and the handling of cargo developed.

The bay is now home to a thriving fishing fleet and is a popular tourist destination. The main local industries are agriculture, viticulture, tourism, aquaculture, fishing, surfboard manufacturing and kelp fertiliser manufacturing.  Beachport has many historic buildings, so the camera was clicking madly!


Our next stop was the beautiful town of Robe (above) which is situated along the Limestone Coast, on the South East of South Australia.  The heritage centre of seafood, wine and coastal delight, Robe is the preferred destination for visitors who enjoy a relaxing coastal retreat that offers fresh local gourmet produce and wine.  Robe was a busy centre, with lots of quirky shops, galleries and cafes (below) – I could easily spend a week or more in this picturesque town with its well maintained heritage buildings.










Moving on we took a turn to what we thought was Cape Jaffa, but it disappointingly turned out to be a brash new flashy Anchorage Marina, obviously some developer sees some prospects in the area, but unfortunately it was not my cup of tea!  Further along we came to Kingston and there found the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse, originally built out to sea from the Cape Jaffa on the Margaret Brock Reef and opened in 1872.


The historic lighthouse originally was 41 metres high and known as a Wells Screw Pile designed to suit the local conditions. The 8 roomed dwelling accommodated two lighthouse keepers and families with enough stores to last several weeks. The Chance Brothers lantern could be seen for a distance up to 40 kilometres.  In the early 1970’s the Federal Government decided to install an automatic light and hand over the Lighthouse to the care of the National Trust at Kingston. The Lighthouse was moved to Marine Parade Kingston and opened in 1976 as a Museum.

Kingston, located on the Southern Ocean coastline is a historic coastal port sheltered by Cape Jaffa. The district is flat and low-lying, with some areas of untouched Mallee scrub. Kingston is well known for its lobster and other seafood catches. Appropriately, the town mascot is a 17 metre sculptured lobster, affectionately named Larry by the locals. The four tonne sculpture can be found poised above a seafood restaurant and gift shop located at the town entrance.  Kingston was established in 1858. The quality of its harbour was valued by primary producers, the majority of which were sheep and wheat farmers. The Cooke brothers were very influential in the construction of a railway line between Naracoorte and Kingston which originally connected to Kingston’s three quarter of a mile long jetty.


Didn’t find the Big Lobster, but found the lobster shop!

Again this town has some wonderful heritage buildings including an old Wool Store, the Royal Mail Hotel (below left), the original Courthouse (below right) and Kingston Post Office.











On our way to the Coorong National Park, we took a short turnoff to The Granites.  This is near the beginning of the fabulous Coorong “strip”, and we had wonderful views up and down the coast.

It is a long drive along the Coorong National Park, and we stopped at the half way point, Salt Creek Roadhouse, for a sandwich and coffee.  The Roadhouse is a legend in itself as it is the only stop for fuel and food along the Coorong road.








On the drive to Salt Creek there are few opportunities to get to the coast and see the Coorong coastline, however after Salt Creek there are a few spots with wonderful views across the Coorong.  I took a few photographs, but the best way to see the Coorong, I think, would be in a helicopter!  The images do not give credit to this most beautiful coastal area of South Australia.

“The Coorong is a place of tranquility, solitude and wonderment. A place that calms the mind, soothes the soul and appeases the senses. Venture into a timeless, untamed wilderness and marvel at the diversity nature has provided.  The Coorong, derived from an Aboriginal word karangk meaning narrow neck, is one of the most breathtaking national parks in Australia. Be a guest of the Ngarrindjeri people, the traditional custodians of these places for over 6,000 years. The Coorong is of Aboriginal significance and renowned for its archaeological sites.


A series of lagoons is separated by the sand hills of Younghusband Peninsula from the Southern Ocean, a place of beauty where the only sounds are those of the sea and the cries of more than 240 species of native birds many that migrate annually from Siberia, Alaska, Japan and China. Feel stillness and isolation expressed in dry ephemeral salt lakes and ephemeral carbonate lakes.

This natural sanctuary is a breeding ground for giant pelicans, wild duck, shags, ibis and terns. See the changing sky refract off large shallow expanses of water in fascinating ways.”

We loved it!











The road then continued to Meningie, at the end of the Coorong, and set on Lake Albert (above) which joins Lake Alexandrina. Lake Alexandrina is a freshwater ephemeral lake located in the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island and Murray Mallee regions of South Australia adjacent to the coast of the Southern Ocean, about 100 kilometres south-east of Adelaide. The lake adjoins the smaller Lake Albert and together they are known as the Lower Lakes.










It is a very picturesque area with a beautiful park along the Lake frontage, and some lovely historic buildings.



We were coming toward the end of our day’s drive, going through Tailem Bend, and finally to our destination of Murray Bridge.




It has been a long drive today, about 457 kms, so after settling in to the motel we happily drove to the Murray Bridge Hotel for a very nice dinner (Grilled Pork Cutlet for Pete, and Snapper for me) and I am determined to finish my blog for the day before I go to bed!


Tomorrow we will proceed to Mannum where we join the P.S. Murray Princess for a three day cruise along the Murray River – a nice change from driving, and we are looking forward to it.  The Princess will return to Murray Bridge for a short time during the cruise, so we will be able to explore the town then.

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