It is just 15km from Millicent, a pastoral and timber town on the Princes Highway central to Tantanoola Caves. The caves have access for people with disabilities.
The Living History Museum in the Millicent Tourist Complex offers an extensive collection of horse drawn vehicles, a maritime room, a T-class locomotive, farm machinery, Aboriginal ice age cave art and history of the drainage of the region.
For travellers on the Princes Highway, Mt Gambier is not just the Blue Lake; it also offers some of Australia's most interesting attractions as well as being South Australias largest regional centre.
Centrally located between Melbourne and Adelaide, the city of more than 28,000 people has many quality motels, hotels and caravan parks welcoming travellers.
The award winning Lady Nelson Visitor Information Centre is an excellent starting point for visitors.
Its displays provide an insight into the 1800s, through the impressions of Lieutenant James Grant who first sighted the area from his tiny brig the Lady Nelson.
A scale replica of the brig stands outside the centre.
Port MacDonnell Adam Lindsay Gordon's cottage
The quality of local produce is reflected in restaurant menus that offer crayfish from Robe, Beachport and Port MacDonnell, wines from the Limestone Coast and meats and cheese produced from lush local pastures.
Mt Gambier is committed to heritage and the establishment of public gardens.
Commercial Street, Mount Gambiers main street, boasts classic architecture in buildings like the Old Town Hall while the Cave Gardens in the heart of the city is a beautiful place to spend time.
The Crater Lakes precinct that incorporates volcanic craters like the famous Blue Lake are essential viewing for visitors. Take the walk to the peak of Mount Gambier and have a chat to the man in the tower who can supply you with binoculars to take in the views.
The Valley Lake Wildlife Sancturary provides an excellent environment to stroll around the lakes edge. Kangaroos, koalas and emu and other native birdlife are always in the area.
Umpherston Sinkhole, on the east side of town , is a striking sight by day and a place to feed possums at night.
Places to stay:
Limestone Coast Tourist Park is located just off the Jubilee highway coming into Mount Gambier. The park is on a hill which is terraced at several levels to give magnificent views over the town. All sites are grassed and have their own ensuite bathroom. The park also has well equipped and comfortable family cabins and motel type units.
Pets are welcome and there is a large area at the top of the park where you can exercise your dog.
Mount Gambier Central Caravan Park is located right in the heart of the shopping precinct on both sides of Krummel street, and so is very popular with overseas tourists. The park offers excellent cabins and spacious sites for motorhomes.
The Big4 Blue Lake Holiday Park is located right at the magnificent Blue Lake, with excellent accommodation and facilities.
Things to see and do:
The famous Umpherston Sink Hole is just up the road towards the town, and is well worth a visit. Also known, as The Sunken Garden this was once a cave formed through dissolution of the limestone. The sinkhole was created when the top of the chamber collapsed downwards. Now the topsoil down on the floor of the cave forms the perfect environment for the sunken garden. Umpherston Sinkhole is open at all times and from dusk each evening the area comes alive with possums as they venture into the floodlit gardens to feed..
A visit to the Limestone Coast would not be complete without exploring the magnificent Caves.
The Princess Margaret Rose Cave is one of the most spectacular limestone caves in Australia and features an array of semi-translucent and back lit stalagmites and stalactites up to six metres long. You can drive to the caves, or Glenelg River Cruises in Nelson offer a leisurely cruise on the magnificent Glenelg River. They offer an optional Princess Margaret Rose Cave tour.
Days of operation vary seasonally so it is best to check in advance with the Nelson Visitors Centre on 08 8738 4051.
Engelbrecht Cave Tour (from Mt Gambier tourism). This huge complex of limestone caves under the city was first explored around 1884. Cave divers who have undertaken intense training regularly explore this site and have provided maps showing the extent of this underground cave system.
45 minute guided tours, take visitors down intotwo of the chambers where divers enter the water to dive under the city. See how caves are formed and how the underground water filters through the tour down into two of the chambers where the divers enter the water to dive under the city. Watch a short video on cave diving. Ph:08 8723 5552
When shopping in the Limestone Coast and SA, you will need to bring your own shopping bags, or be prepared to purchase them at point of sale, as supermarkets and shops no longer provide plastic or other bags of any kind free of charge.
Coorong where the pelican nests
A guided tour of Coorong National Park will help visitors identify the many shore bird species that migrate to shallow, linked lagoons that lie behind sand dunes, sheltered from South Ocean breakers.
The biggest breeding colony of Australian pelican nests in the Coorong, which stretches 145km from the mouth of the River Murray to just north of Kingston.
The 47,000-hectare park is home to about 90 species of waterbirds and shore birds, 21 species of seabirds, 33 species of birds that migrate annually from Siberia, Japan and China and 14 protected species.
Visitors can camp, canoe, sail, walking, 4WD or fish for mulloway, flounder, salmon and bream. A camping permit is required. Information on Aboriginal heritage is available through Camp Coorong, south of Meningie, from the Ngarrindjeri people.
Poltalloch Homestead, an 1876 Victorian historic mansion, located 37km south of Tailem Bend, still operates as a farming property, and is a well-known BB with wonderful bird watching and other nature activities.
Tailem Bend on the Murray
Tailem Bend, on the Murray River, is often referred to as the northern gateway to the Limestone Coast. Originally a sheep run with railway marshalling yards, the town is now known as a popular tourist stopover. The pioneer village Old Tailem Town, just north of the town, is a must-see.
Must see and do
Suggested by Limestone Coast Tourism
World heritage listed Naracoorte Caves and other underground secrets at Tantanoola and Princess Margaret Rose Caves, about 18km south of Rennick on the Victorian side of the border. Princess Margaret Rose Caves tours start from 10 am Victorian time. There is also a sealed route from Mount Gambier via Main Rd.
Mount Gambiers mysterious Blue Lake.
The Wonambi Fossil Centre at Naracoorte.
Aboriginal midden heaps in the Coorong National Park.
Bool Lagoon and the Coorong - both havens for migratory birds and home to a large number of native birds.
The Sheeps Back Museum, Naracoorte, and Millicent Museum.
Padthaway the centre of one of Australias premium wine areas.
Elegant mansions, old station homesteads, colonial and federation buildings and pioneer cottages.
Buy a fresh lobster straight off the boat at one of the regions coastal ports.
Try superb wines grown in the terra rossa soil of Coonawarra or one of the other cellar doors of Mt Benson, Mount Gambier, Wrattonbully or Padthaway.
Australias only known colony of white kangaroos can be found at Bordertown.
Editors Note: GoSeeAustralia thanks Limestone Coast Tourism for their assistance with words and pictures for this feature.