Embrace a slower pace on South Australia’s Limestone Coast
From sparkling lakes and sinkholes to mysterious underground caves and spectacular mountains, SA’s Limestone Coast is world-famous for its incredible geological attractions that have been millions of years in the making. Little wonder this popular regional destination embraces a slower pace of living, encouraging locals and visitors alike to nurture amongst nature when you visit the Limestone Coast.
Walk the walk
‘Reconnect, Reflect, Renew’ is walking guide Natasha Dawson’s mantra for 2022 as she calmly leads a new generation of pilgrims along the path she dubs a taste of the ‘Aussie Camino’. Tracing the steps of a young Mary Mackillop’s journey to sainthood, the story begins at windswept Port MacDonnell and follows the backroads and mountain paths of an ancient volcanic landscape all the way to Penola. The gentle meander grants precious time to breathe, inviting walkers to connect with themselves, others and the glorious outdoors.
“How often do you permit yourself time to pause, think and reflect?” Natasha asks. “To slow down, unplug, work through that mind chatter and just really see the landscape as you are moving through it is really healing and rejuvenating.”
Natasha has worked as an environmental educator in the south-eastern corner of SA for two decades, developing an intimate knowledge of the region from Keith all the way to the Victorian border. The Taste of the Aussie Camino is one of several tailored journeys offered by her company Walk The Limestone Coast, with a four-day Walking, Food, Wine, Nature journey from Naracoorte to Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park also exceptionally popular. “The best way to gain a deeper understanding of a place is to walk it, tread lightly, explore culture and history, support communities and share with others,” Natasha says. “People tell me it leaves them feeling relaxed but also energised – it’s restorative for mind, body and soul.”
At Bool Lagoon near the World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves, safari guide Abigail Goodman also invites small groups to ‘connect to the joy of nature’, exploring precious areas of remnant vegetation that provide critical wildlife habitat. A trained ecologist, Abigail peppers her South East Safari walking tours with fascinating facts and stories about the frogs, bats, plants and birds spotted along the way, from the elusive Australasian bittern to the marvellous migratory waders who have flown in all the way from Siberia to catch their breath and breed. “This area is very close to my heart – it’s been my training and it’s also where I spend my spare time, so it really makes sense to share it with others,” she says.
Abigail also runs guided tours through Storm Boy country at Butcher Gap Conservation Park, with the coastal scrub between the Coorong and Robe featuring samphire flats, salt lakes and glades of tea tree. “Visiting these places is always a treat, and it gives people a solid appreciation of the environmental factors that drive the ecology of wetlands and coastal habitats,” Abigail explains. “It’s difficult to care about things that you haven’t experienced, and hopefully it creates a flow-on effect when it comes to day-to-day decision making that impacts the planet.”
Wine and dine when you visit the Limestone Coast
The Limestone Coast’s rich, fertile landscape also gives rise to some incredible food and wine, with Coonawarra, Wrattonbully and the breezy Mount Benson among the local jewels. The Coonawarra Wineries Trail is a great way to self-discover a place often referred to as Australia’s ‘other’ red centre, with a comfortable walk, cycle or Segway ride through the vineyards giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse of six different wineries.
The variety of tailored experiences being offered to cellar door visitors is growing by the season, and many now involve collaborations with local creatives. At Robe florist Rebecca Starling’s popular flower school, participants can enjoy tasting flights from the award-winning Woodsoak Wines while learning to make flower crowns, wreaths and hand-tied bouquets using blooms freshly-picked from Rebecca’s farm. “It’s loads of fun, therapeutic and a time for us all to just breathe and get lost in amongst stunning flowers and wine,” says Woodsoak’s Sonia Legoe.
In the regional centre of Mount Gambier, artist Julia Reader’s sell-out classes cover all the fundamentals of watercolour for beginners, paired with local wines for the ultimate paint and sip experience. “All materials are supplied – all you have to do is organise a group of friends or family to share the evening with, and it can be as serious or as casual as you like,” Julia says.
Visit the Limestone Coast and stay awhile…
And for those visitors to the Limestone Coast who would like to linger even longer enjoying the region’s relaxed vibe, there are accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. Pine Country Caravan Park has introduced glamping within walking distance to the iconic Blue Lake, while the up-market Padthaway Estate in the Tatiara heartland offers self- contained accommodation a short stroll away from its Landaire cellar door located in 170-year-old stables. Boutique hotel Delgattie Estate is another recommended stay, offering energising packages to bring balance to both body and mind. At the beginning of this year, the grand country manor located in the heart of Mount Gambier introduced SlowFlow Yoga + Brunch sessions in its spacious grounds as an opportunity for travellers and locals to connect. “While we have all been navigating a new style of living this past two years, it’s become evident that the need to slow down and take a moment was well and truly overdue,” says Delgattie’s Kate Sutton. Breathe in….and let it go when you visit the Limestone Coast.