Fabulous Fleurieu – Goolwa and Port Elliot
I’ve just paid another visit to the fabulous Fleurieu region in South Australia discovering more things to see and do in the restful havens of Goolwa and Port Elliot. So close to Adelaide they are easily visited in a day trip or better still for a quick weekend away, but to really live the lifestyle of the locals stay a few days to unwind, chill and soak it up.
Staying at the best location for views and proximity to the beautiful Horseshoe Bay in Port Elliot you can’t go past the Big 4 Port Elliot Holiday Park. If you pay a slightly higher premium you can have a beachfront position to set up the caravan on a huge site that is wide enough for the van, awning, car and more. Happy hours are that much more happier when you have views like these and get to sleep each night with the sound of waves booming as they crash on the shore.
The park is situated right next to a public park overlooking the bay which is popular with locals and visitors alike with a great lawned area for picnicking, a playground and room to kick a ball. Following on from here lining the sweeping bay is the lawn bowls club, café and more picnic and playground space as well as the jetty and surf life saving club.
If you follow the path next to the surf life saving club you will be at the beginning of the Harbourmasters Walk which is a must do. This stunningly picturesque walk gives you an overview of Horseshoe Bay as it winds its way around the cliff top on an easy gradient walk. As you wander make sure you take the time to stop and rest looking for the resident seal at the breakwater at Lady Bay and pods of dolphins that are always around.
The scenery is breathtaking as you walk past rocky outcrops and bays until you end up at Knights Beach which is always home to body boarders no matter how punishing the waves look. This group were visited by a seal as we were watching. Hard to spot, but the dark suit diving in the middle of the group isn’t wearing a wetsuit but his shiny seal skin.
From the Harbourmasters walk you can then take a stroll down the busy and historical street, The Strand, which has kept a lot of historical buildings and takes you to another era especially when the steam engine pulled ‘Cockle Train’ toots its way through town.
At least a good walk will make you feel slightly better for indulging in all the food choices. Apart from 2 hotels, both of which I can highly recommend, there is a bakery that people literally line the streets to wait for their turn to buy goodies, a top café called Cockles and a gourmet butcher and organic fresh fruit and veg store. There is also a convenient and well stocked small supermarket. If food is your happy place though, make sure you time your visit to this region to include a first or third Sunday of the month and you can take a short drive to Goolwa for their market.
Goolwa is only about 12 kilometres away and you can catch the cockle train, ride the bike trail or take the car to stock up on market produce. While you’re there take in a bit of what Goolwa has to offer like the Fleurieu Distillery which is between the market and the wharf. A good spot to enjoy a single malt whiskey, gin, beer or wine.
The River Murray is only a few steps away and you can wander along the wharf front and see amongst other water craft, the historic Paddle Steamer Oscar W which offers short river cruises and delivers you back to the Wharf Barrel Shed. This is a top spot to spend an hour or two overlooking the river from an outdoor table as you listen to live music and enjoy some local beer and wines.
Taking a train is definitely sounding like a good option at this stage! Being on the river there is a constant view of boats, pelicans and people passing by so it’s easy to spend an afternoon here, but while you’re in Goolwa the next place to visit should be Goolwa Beach. From the beach car park you can see a boardwalk leading up to a lookout which when you reach the top gives you an extensive view along the length of Goolwa Beach. Goolwa Beach can be driven on with a 4wd to reach the mouth of the Murray River where it flows out to the sea. This is an incredibly scenic drive, but do check the tides before you go.
If you’re still up for another walk when you return to Port Elliot, from the caravan park you can take a trail around to Crockery Bay and past more spectacular coastal scenery before ending up at Bashams Beach. All the way along this walk it pays to keep your eyes on the water for more seal and dolphin antics. At Bashams Beach depending on the conditions of the day you may spot surfers at ‘Chicken Run’.
The Fleurieu coast has a number of popular surf spots and some of the spots along this part of the coast are also popular for fishing off the rocks or beaches. Even if you can’t catch a wave or a fish you can always catch a pretty good sunset at the end of the day.