Cruise along the stunning Limestone Coast in South Australia and you will soon find Robe, a tiny beach side town full of historic charm and character. Located on Guichen Bay, 350 kilometres south-east of Adelaide, the former thriving port has transformed itself into one of South Australia’s leading holiday destinations. There’s something special about Robe which keeps holiday makers coming back for more each season.
Whether you’re looking to swim, fish or simply kick back, relax and watch the world go by, there is something in Robe for everyone. Even fussy foodies won’t be disappointed in the seafood, wine and fresh produce on offer.
Walk along Main Road and marvel at its many historic buildings made of paddock stone. Here you will find Customs House – one of the oldest buildings in Robe, the Old Gaol and Karatta House – the Governor’s former summer residence.
But the real treat in Robe is the nature. Around every corner there are countless places to swim, surf, fish and hike. A great place to start is the picturesque Long Beach, a 17 kilometre stretch of white sand and glistening blue waters. Long Beach is one of the few beaches in Australia where the sand is firm enough to drive on.Take your car down to the access track and go for a spin along its sandy shores before watching the sun set.
If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, head to the Little Dip Conservation Park and do some off-roading on the rocky tracks.
With a population of only 1,500 people, Robe has a surprising number of food options. There is The Pizza Project for casual dining, Sails for something a bit more formal and Robe Bakery and Coffee Lounge for hearty Ned Kelly pies and sausage rolls. Or for the sweet tooths – the Sweet Gallery and homemade ice cream store.
Often referred to as Australia’s rock lobster capital, Robe is home to some great quality seafood. A popular haunt for locals and tourists is Polly’s Fish and Chips on the marina – a no frills style establishment with a rough and ready service policy.
The fish was well seasoned and had a great crispy batter on the outer, but unfortunately it was a little overcooked, giving it a tough texture. Next time I will try Robe Seafood and Takeaway on Main Road.
But we still managed to have our fair share of fun eating fish and chips in the boot of the car.
We then listened to the waves gently crash on the shore, watching the sun go down…
The historic Caledonian Inn and the Robe Hotel have been old watering holes in Robe since the 1800s. Affectionately called “The Cally” by locals, the Caledonian Inn on Main Road was built in 1858 with many of its original features being maintained. The old-fashioned pub has a fun and friendly atmosphere and the rear beer garden is a perfect spot to enjoy a beer or two while watching a live band. When it gets chilly, retreat indoors and sit in the cosy surrounds by the crackling fire.
For the budding wine connoisseur, head to the Mount Benson region, known as “Terra Rossa by the sea”.
Venture off the main street, to the semi industrial, often forgotten, part of town and you will find Mahalia Coffee – an award-winning specialist coffee house.A family run business, Mahalia prides itself in its profile roasting – each coffee origin used in their blends is chosen for its own integral flavour qualities and unique flavour profile. The cafe is also a great spot to pick up some cute tea cups and saucers and unique gifts.
If you are looking for something a bit more mainstream, head to Robe Providore on Main Road – a brunch magnet for locals and tourists alike. The spacious cafe has a rustic, homely feel to it with its recycled timber tables and mismatched coloured chairs. You can expect traditional brunch classics like eggs benedict and smashed avocado and feta on sourdough. There is also a beautiful array of freshly made cakes and pastries on display on the counter. Think raspberry and almond danishes, lemon curd cupcakes and pain au chocolates. Although they looked perfect, unfortunately the pastries didn’t quite hit the mark. Perhaps the end of Easter weekend meant the bakers ran out of butter because the pastries and croissants were an oily mess and lacked the airy, flaky pastry that croissants aspire to.
If you’re looking for a relaxing pit stop between Adelaide and Melbourne, Robe makes the perfect spot. Perhaps try to go earlier in the season when the weather is warmer and the service is friendlier. I got the impression that Robe was well and truly ready for the break.