My first impression of Kingston in the south east of South Australia was that of a very tidy town that has done a great job with its marketing, brochures and information for visitors.
It also has one of the best off grid, RV parking spaces of any I’ve stayed in before. Despite the gloomy weather when we stayed, the town was colourful, friendly, has a lot of great boutique shopping, cafes, two hotels and a wine region on its doorstep.
I mean, even the town’s rubbish bins look terrific!
Firstly the RV Park is in a fabulous location, on the beachfront and directly opposite the jetty. There is loads of space for caravans, big rigs and camper vans and for $15 payable at a pay station, you can stay for up to 72 hours. We took advantage of this and stayed two nights in this comfortable and quiet park.
There is also a caravan park in town, and it’s on the beachfront if you want to stay longer, and both of these parks are council owned. You do have to display your permit to park and a council officer came around to check while we were there. There is a dump point in this park too.
The RV park is next to a very tidy town park which has toilets, a playground and some terrific art including a wall surrounding the rotunda which was painted by Marciano Arents of Senman Creations, who also painted a mural on the wall of the local museum.
A sand sculpture also sits in this park, commissioned for the inaugural Sea and Sand Carnival which was held in February this year. It was designed and created by Peter Redmond of Sandstorm Events Australia. This incredible artwork, made with 5 tonnes of compacted sand is called ‘DJ TuneA’ and is expected to last where it sits for 6 to 12 months.
Apart from this character, Kingston is well-known as home to another even bigger critter, Larry the big lobster. Australia has a penchant for ‘Big things’ and this imposing one, built in 1979 stands 17 metres tall. There is a takeaway food shop behind Larry and there’s hardly a traveller passing through Kingston who doesn’t stop to take a photo of this giant, which was voted the winner in a poll of Australia’s favourite big thing.
Another big attraction is town is the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse which sits on the foreshore, Marine Parade, overlooking the bay. This lighthouse used to sit on a reef 8 kilometres out to sea from Cape Jaffa which is 20 kilometres south of Kingston.
When a new lighthouse was built in Robe to replace this one, it was removed from its original platform in 1974 and reconstructed where it now stands, the first time a lighthouse has been shifted from a site at sea and rebuilt on land. The lighthouse is open to the public for tours during school holidays and by arrangement at other times.
A short stroll from the RV park is the Royal Mail Hotel, a great spot to spend a bit of money from what you’ve saved on the cheap accommodation. The outside of the building doesn’t hint at what amazing décor is inside. There are a couple of different dining areas with wonderfully bold colours and wallpapers used to decorate them, plus a bar and bistro. They sell locally made wines as well, from Cape Jaffa and Mount Benson wineries.
There are self-guided walks to take around town and lovely shops to browse and buy in and there are a couple more unique artworks to find. A large mosaic mural called ‘Lifetime of friendship’ celebrates the contribution by ladies of the CWA (Country Womens Association) to the town.
This organisation ceased operating in Kingston in 2019 and the mural shows women over the eight decades that it ran, and all of the activities and contributions they made over the years. This is another fabulous mosaic mural created by Michael Tye, which was completed in 2021.
The other amazing artwork is called ‘Wind Dance’ and was painted by Sarah Boese in December 2020. The mural acknowledges the local nature, Aboriginal culture and lifestyle with a heron, a bird important to the Meintangk people, spider orchids and fish kites that refer to the kite festival that takes place in Kingston.
It’s a beautiful piece but what makes it different is that you can also download an app where augmented reality brings the mural to life, animating and highlighting parts of it.
Kingston was a really welcoming little town that we needed more time to explore fully and we will return to do just that one day.