The scenic fishing port of Robe is a natural stopping point for grey nomads exploring South Australia’s magnificent Limestone Coast.
Situated on Guichen Bay, about 350 kilometres south-east of Adelaide, off the Princes Highway, Robe is one of the state’s oldest towns and boasts a fascinating history, as well as many natural attractions.
At one point in the mid 19th Century, it was South Australia’s second-busiest port after Port Adelaide but its importance slowly declined as the railway passed it by. Today, Robe boasts a permanent population of a little over 1500 but that number swells to many thousands during the summer tourist season. It has shops, cafes, art galleries and a genuinely relaxed ambience.
Grey nomads can relive Robe’s pioneering history by walking the streets and viewing the numerous historical buildings, many of which have been meticulously restored. Highlights include the Robe Customs House, which is an attractive limestone building built in 1863 to cater for the large number of Chinese passing through the port en route to the Victorian goldfields trying to avoid an arrival tax.
The 12-metre-high Cape Dombey Obelisk, which was erected on Cape Dombey in 1852, is also a ‘must-visit’. As well as being used to navigate the entrance to Guichen Bay, rocket lifesaving equipment was also stored here. Rockets carrying baskets used to be fired out to distressed ships and helped save many lives.
Robe is surrounded by beautiful lakes, which offer great opportunities for recreation. The town’s marina is actually housed in Lake Butler, which was once a natural lake where fishermen moored their boats in winter before pulling them up over the dunes to Guichen Bay for summer. A channel to the sea was cut in 1964, making Lake Butler available for safe mooring all year round.
The town, of course, has a proud fishing heritage and is particularly renowned for its crayfish. For grey nomads wishing to fill their freezer, the options for rock, beach, harbour, lake and boat fishing are all close by. The many white sandy beaches – including the 12-kilometre long ‘Long Beach’ – are reputedly among the best in Australia.
Many grey nomads choose to use the town’s caravan parks or nearby camping areas as a base from which to explore further afield, and there is much to see and do. About 50 kilometres away is the coastal town of Beachport and the Pool of Siloam, a salt lake which reputedly relieves sufferers of arthritis and rheumatism. It’s also well worth a drive out to Little Dip Conservation Park, where you can explore the region’s Aboriginal history or take the walking trails around the lakes.
Few travellers miss the opportunity to take a 15-minute drive out to the Mount Benson Wine Region, which is also known as ‘Terra Rossa by the Sea’ and, heading inland an hour or so, is the famed Naracoorte Caves National Park.
Robe is a small town that packs a mighty punch as a grey nomad destination.