Here’s six reasons you need to get to one of the most underrated off-road destinations in the country:
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South Australia often gets overlooked as a 4X4 destination, often thanks to places like the Cape, the Kimberley, the deserts and Fraser Island. The thing is, apart from the magnificent Gawler and Flinders Ranges, the South Australian Limestone Coast is one of the most picturesque and scenic locations on the planet. Even better, it’s a deadset four-wheel driver’s paradise. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the images over the next few pages and tell me you don’t want to go there. It really is that good.
The Limestone Coast has beach driving that is as good as it gets. If you’re into your fishing, diving, relaxing on the sand or sampling some of the freshest seafood and nicest wines, all sourced locally from the region, then this is the place for you. The area boasts inland lakes, World Heritage-listed caves, lagoons and one of the most scenic stretches of sandy coast you can imagine. Head due south and you won’t hit land until you reach Antarctica!
The history of the area is fascinating. From the local Ngarrindjeri people’s connection to the land to where Australia’s first saint, Mary MacKillop, got her start, the area has plenty of cultural significance. As for the geography, old volcanic craters have formed numerous inland lagoons and the limestone base rock has been eroded over the years to form an intricate cave network. And as for the beach driving – come prepared or your 4X4 may be doing its best impression of this old fishing boat…
This is why they call it the Limestone Coast. The delicate and highly erosive rock really dictates the area’s features, and nowhere is this more evident than at Tantanoola Caves. This natural wonder is a must-see, boasting brilliantly coloured and stunningly developed stalactites. Apparently they’re so well developed due to the lack of bats living in the caves – they drink the moisture thus preventing the generation of fresh mineral structure. The caves even feature ocean fossils and seal bones from when the caves were underwater. The word ‘spectacular’ simply doesn’t do the place justice. If you’re in the area, don’t go past.
At 42 Mile Crossing, there are campsites that offer views that will blow your mind. Many of them are perched on rocky outcrops offering views for miles out to sea. When we went, we were literally the only vehicle on the beach – it doesn’t get any better! It would be too easy to spend a couple of days here with the family, neither getting restless nor wanting to leave at the end of it.
If you haven’t already been, you’ve probably still heard of the Robe/Beachport area – and there’s a good reason why. Head down through Little Dip Conservation Park and past Nora Creina and you’ll find out why this place is a sand-driving Mecca. The dune system is simply amazing and will test your skills behind the wheel to the limit. Fraser Island? Never heard of her…
The Piccaninnie Ponds are a true wonder of the world… not that you’d know about it. On top they look just like any other body of fresh water. But the real beauty is found beneath the surface. It’s over 100m deep thanks to the permanent spring that is constantly eroding the underwater limestone cavern as it fills it up. The rock also acts as a filter for the water, resulting in amazing clarity with visibility in excess of 40 metres. Ask any diver, they’ll tell you that’s bloody impressive!
The 3m tall plants, that are only able to survive thanks to the clarity of the water making photosynthesis possible, are jaw-dropping. There’s even the odd perch or eel swimming around to keep you mesmerised. To experience the expansive cave system you will need a current Cave Diver’s Certificate… it can be a dangerous pastime if you don’t know what you’re doing (but geez, it’s well worth it).