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  • Cool climate vines

    Tour the wineries of the Limestone Coast

    Tour the wineries of the Limestone Coast

    South Australia has always done wine well. While the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale are two regions that has made our state ‘wine famous’, there’s another location that’s nipping at their heels: The Limestone Coast.

    Our slice of coastal heaven is home to the Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Mount Benson, Padthaway and, of course, the Mount Gambier wine regions. With over 40 cellar doors peppering the region, you have a sparkling array of choice.

    Cabernet Sauvignon is a Coonawarra classic. Known for these full-bodied red wines, growers produce interesting blends thanks to the rich, terra rossa soil layered over a limestone bed.

    If you love white wine, you’ll find it here, too. Savvy B‘s shine here, thanks to our cooler coastal wineries.

    Cooler parts of the Limestone Coast wine region allow longer ripening periods to produce more medium weight red wines, and leaner white wines. Warmer, northern regions produce fuller flavoured, bolder whites and reds.

    As well as the geology, the weather and viticulture across the 15,000 hectares of land produces individual wines. As well as Cab Savs and Savvy Bs, other popular grape varieties include Shiraz, Merlot and Chardonnay.

    The best thing about visiting these wineries is the all-encompassing experience. it’s not just about a good drop. The local culinary artisans are just as important. Cheese and coffee are popular in the area, as well fresh seafood. And it all goes delightfully well with the wine that comes out of the region.

    Let’s go through a few of our favourite wineries in the area.

    Coonawarra & Penola

    Be sure to visit Balnaves of Coonawarra, Bowen Estate, Brand’s Laira Coonawarra, Highbank Wines, Koonara Wines, Loaves and Fishes, Parker Estate, Raidis Estate, Rymill Coonawarra, Wynns Estate and Zema Estate.

    Padthaway & Wrattonbully

    Must-tastes include Farmer’s Leap Wines, Henry’s Drive, Jip Jip, Morambro Ck and Mt Monster, Malone Wines, Redden Bridge Wines and Tapanappa Wines.

    Robe, Mt Benson & Cape Jaffa

    See and sample Cape Jaffa Wines, Govenor Robe Estate, Karatta Wines, Ralph Fowler Wines, Wangolina Station and Woosoak Wines.

    Winery Tours Limestone Coast operate around the six separate wine regions of the Limestone Coast. If you like to take it slowly and do your own thing, we can recommend the best wineries based on your itinerary, tastes and available time in the region.

    Red or white, it doesn’t matter. All wine lovers are welcome on the Limestone.

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    Where to wine and dine in Mount Gambier

    Where to wine and dine in Mount Gambier

    If you and your other half are foodies, you’re in the right state. There’s more to South Australia’s food scene than just the capital. For that nice relaxing and fulfilling weekend, nothing beats a trip to the country.

    Escape the bussle and discover Mount Gambier’s bounty. With boutique and picturesque wineries peppered around the region, you’re going to go home with delightfully full bellies. Picture sophisticated dining, casual eateries and mouth-watering delicacies.

    Whether it’s local seafood, succulent meat, fresh fruit, boutique cheeses or all of the above, the region has something tempting for every taste. The rich volcanic soil gives the region’s food unique flavours that are attracting foodies from all over Australia.

    From day drinking, intimate evenings in welcoming pubs, the dining options are endless, in and around Mount Gambier.

    Eat out in the Limestone Coast wine region

    Start your day off at Sorrento’s Café in town. It’s known for its big brekkies with global dishes. On your way to Coonawarra, stop off at Penola and grab a coffee or a morning snack at Vintage Café. The menu is created around locally-grown produce. It’s licensed, so if you’re looking for a cheeky glass of wine, go for it. Drop by Dickins’ Delights before you journey on. This artisan producer makes the finest quality toffee using almonds, macadamia nuts and chocolate.

    Divine Café & Gourmet Deli is another must. Overload your sweet tooth with frappes, iced coffees, chocolates, juices, smoothies, cakes and biscuits. Try Mahalia coffee, an award-winning brand from Robe. There’s also a retail section where you can purchase a range of Limestone Coast and SA produce.

    Once you get to Coonawarra, get ready to swirl and sniff wine glasses. You’ve got a greater cellar door choice than anyone could need here including Blok Estate, Bowen Estate, Brand’s Laira, Digiorgio Family, Highbank Winery, Hollick Wines, and Ottelia + Fodder. Visit two or ten, depending on time and your taste buds’ tenacity.

    In Robe, your dinner plans will be sorted at any one of the little restaurants scattered throughout the beach town. For something a little more upscale there’s Sails at Robe, serving modern Australian food and regional wines. Gather Food and Wine is another fine dining option. If you’re in a pizza kind of mood, you can’t miss the Vic Street Pizza Project.

    For your morning coffee and brunch fix, try Union Café or The Adventurous Spoon. Don’t forget to drop by the Mahalia Coffee store and stock up on that on beans.

    While all of these eateries and cellar doors are popular, be spontaneous and drop into one of the many little undiscovered gems you’ll spot along the way.

    For more places to eat in Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast, come and see us when you check in. We know every restaurant, and probably their chefs, too.

  • Coonawarra Red Wine Centre

    Your Limestone Coast weekend itinerary

    One of the best things about Mount Gambier isn’t the Blue Lake. Yes, it’s gorgeous but it’s only a small part of what makes the region so popular.

    Don’t just come for the day or simply stopover in Mount Gambier. Use it as your basecamp to experience the Limestone Coast. Get a group of friends together and check off all the things to see on the coast.

    Ready for your great south eastern ocean journey? Think of this as your go-to visitor guide for the Limestone Coast.

    Get ready for long weaving roads with beach views, lighthouses, caves, fishing, lakes, and artisan food and drink. It’s the perfect weekend getaway.

    Start your road trip.

    Begin your adventure in Mount Gambier. See the Blue Lake, Umpherston Sinkhole, Piccaninne Ponds and Tantanoola Caves. Spend the whole day there and stay with us overnight.

    Get an early start on your Sunday and drive 30 minutes to Coonawarra. On the way, stop by Saint Mary McKillop Centre in Penola. Once you get to Coonawarra, Australia’s ‘other’ Red centre you’ll have your choice of dozens of charming cellar doors. Some of the popular local cellars are St Mary’s Wines, Wynns Estate, Katnook Estate, Hollick Wines, Bowen Estate and Rymill Coonawarra. Taste some of the local jams, cheeses and wines to curb those mid-morning munchies.

    On your drive to Robe, which takes around 90 minutes from Coonawarra, visit the Naracoorte Caves . Once you’re in Robe, see Long Beach, meander the main street, and take some photos of the beautiful Robe Obelisk.

    If you’re driving back to Adelaide, you’ll need about 3.5 hours from Robe. But, allow for more because you’ll want to stop and take in the unique sights along the Coorong National Park. Jack’s Point Pelican Observatory is one of these hotspots.

    Peckish on the trip home? Stop for a bite at Coorong Wild Seafood in Meningie. Visit the Cheese Factory Museum and take a quick walk to see Lake Alexandrina. For those taking a long weekend, continue onto Victor Harbor, you have plenty to do for the next day.

    Explore the Goolwa Wharf Precinct, take a Big Duck Boat Tour, enjoy views from The Bluff, take the horse drawn tram to Granite Island and join a Spirit of the Coorong Cruise.

    Sound like your kind of trip? It’s easy to do in two to three days from Adelaide or Melbourne.

    Pack your Limestone luggage, weekenders.

  • Main Street of Mount Gambier showing the clock tower that was erected in 1883

    3 free things to do in Mt Gambier

    3 free things to do in Mount Gambier

    Always wanted to see Mount Gambier? Unsure whether you can afford a trip away? So many of us associate travel with being expensive. The thing is, if you do it right, you can spend as much as if you stayed home. Even less.

    Accommodation and sightseeing are two of the main things you need to budget for. While it’s nice to stay in a five-star hotel with a spa, pool and room service, it’s not feasible for many travellers. Ask yourself this: how much time do you really spend in your room? Besides when you’re sleeping, it’s probably only a couple of hours here and there.

    If you can travel for less, you can take more trips. It’s that simple. See South Australia’s second ‘city’, affordably with these tips.

    1. The city centre heritage walk
    Pick up a free map at the tourist information office and enjoy a guided tour of the town’s unique character buildings. There are 16 places of historical significance, so take your time and learn about the history at your own pace

    2. Cave gardens
    This beautifully landscaped space is right in the middle of the town. Formed from a sinkhole, you can follow a walkway down or take in the scenery from a viewing platform above. Every night there is a Sound and light show to enjoy which attracts many tourists into the bowels of the State Heritage listed Cave Gardens. http://stayanotherday.com.au/mount-gambier/

    3. Picnic at Browns Lake
    One of the four craters formed from the volcano , Browns Lake did, in fact, once contain a lake. Now it’s a dried-up bed with lush grass and tall tress – the perfect setting for a relaxing family picnic. Pack your rug, food and some bubbly for the adults, to enjoy a beautiful afternoon in nature. If the kids love sport, don’t forget the football. There’s plenty of room to run around. The park closes at 8.00PM so make sure you plan ahead. http://www.paulhagon.com/playground/nla/geo/pi/nla.pic-an23322397

    And of course, there’s the other attractions which you already know about. The Blue Lake, Umpherston Sinkhole, and Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park…

    At Motel Mount Gambier, we have affordable accommodation for your family. Stay with us and we’ll be happy to give you advice on more free things to do in the area. Get ready for a jam-packed itinerary, you’re going to need a holiday after this holiday.

  • Mt Schank blog photo

    One geological feature in Mount Gambier, only 10 in the world

    One geological feature you must visit in Mount Gambier… only 10 worldwide.

    While Mount Gambier is best known for the gorgeous Blue Lake, there’s one feature that’s just as unique – the Kanawinka Geopark.

    It’s Australia’s most extensive volcanic province, and one of only 10 in the world. We’re lucky to have the first (and biggest) Geopark right on our doorstep, in the south east of our state. Kanawinka Geopark is recognised worldwide as a significant geological area.

    In total, the flows cover an area of some 23,000-square km, extending north to the hills beyond Ballarat. The south-east boasts a small section of the geopark. This area is known as the Newer Volcanics Province, and features nearly 400 individual eruption points, most of which occurred between 4.5 and 2 million years ago.

    The Kanawinka Geotrail

    The craters and limestone precinct, for example, takes in three major sites: Mount Gambier’s Crater Lakes Complex, Mount Schank, and the Mount Burr Range, which includes Lake Leake and Lake Edward.

    Visitors to the Blue Lake can extend the experience by exploring the volcanic area estimated to have been formed 28,000 years ago. It incorporates the Blue Lake, Valley Lake, Brownes Lake, and Leg of Mutton Lake. Test your fitness around the 3.6km road and walking track, circumference.

    Take a short 10-minute drive to Mount Schank, the area’s youngest volcano.

    Protruding 159 metres above sea level, you can’t miss it. Follow the signage that will take you on two walks – either one to the top of the volcano or descend steeply to the crater floor. The rim offers fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, coast and the nearby geological formations. You’ll see the remains of the lava flow and the changes in the rock formation caused by heat and steam.

    And, there’s Mount Burr Range that has 15 volcanic eruption points. It’s the most westerly point of the Kanawinka Geopark. No trip to the area is complete without visiting Lake Leake – an open crater with a gently-sloping ash ring. Fish, boat, windsurf, and water ski in this beautiful area.

    The park for everyone to enjoy.

    Why not start your adventures with us before moving onto Warrnambool or Colac. There are many cute small towns dotted around in the Kanawinka Global Geopark. If you’d like more information on the area, we can give you our local insight.

    You’re not going to want to miss this. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, that’s so close to you.

  • Just one of the sights you can see

    Natural phenomenons in Mount Gambier

    4 unmissable natural phenomenons in Mount Gambier

    When it comes to travelling, there’s something that many of us are guilty of. We go ‘big’, quickly booking overseas trips, instead of exploring what’s right in front of us.

    Case in point: we have craters, lakes, caves and sinkholes in our own ‘backyard’. The great thing about this is, you can travel in those couple of weeks off work – without having to go far… and still to do something new and interesting.

    If you’re travelling from Kangaroo Island, the Great Ocean Road or the Grampians, do yourself a favour and don’t just stopover for a day. Make Mount Gambier part of your trip.

    Pull out your Mount Gambier map and mark these top places to see, brought to you by mother nature herself.

    1. The Umpherston Sinkhole
    When the top of the chamber fell to the floor of the cave, the sinkhole naturally took shape. This majestic ‘sunken garden’ is free to visit and there’s an undercover shelter with seating, so pack an afternoon picnic. Stay until dusk to see the possums http://inthegarden.net.au/umpherston-sinkhole-cave-gardens/

    2. Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park
    Picture mystical caves with pink toned caverns set in a cliff face. This is what you’ll experience at Tantanoola Caves. Thought to have formed by the pounding of the seas, the caves should not be missed. Also, check out the Engelbrecht Cave. https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/tantanoola-caves-conservation-park

    3. Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park
    Love snorkelling, scuba diving and exploring caves? Swim through the stunning coastal spring, Piccaninnie Ponds. It’s a spot that’s been internationally recognised for attracting unique bird species. And, if you like water sports, try surfing at nearby Beachport and Robe. https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/piccaninnie-ponds-conservation-park http://surfunation.com.au/surf-spots/surf-beach-beachport/

    4. Canunda National Park
    While not located right near Mount Gambier, it’s less than an hour away. Featuring a plethora of local birdlife, great surf breaks, and the chance to catch a bite, Canunda is best experienced with a four-wheel drive. Go bushwalking, snorkelling, fishing or simply relax. Spend an action-packed day here before heading back to Mount Gambier. https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/canunda-national-park

    Other attractions that’ll send nature enthusiasts wild include bird-filled lagoons and dunes of The Coorong https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coorong_National_Park and a series of lagoons and sea lakes in Lake Alexandrina.

    For a local’s tips and advice on seeing any of these attractions, we’re happy to help. Our accommodation puts you short distances from these hotspots.

    Forget flights and airports this time. Get out on the open road and start exploring.

  • Robe Dairy 4 resized

    Why cheese is so good on the Limestone Coast

    South Australia, while dubbed the festival state, is really the foodie state. When it comes to gourmet food and wine, the Limestone Coast is an unmissable part of the state’s food trail.

    The rich landscapes combined with creative local manufacturers produce food that’s some of the finest in South Australia. Our region is particularly well known for its boutique dairy products.

    Cheese in Mount Gambier

    The Limestone Coast Cheese Factory produces some of Australia’s best cheeses. Based in Lucindale, only 1.5 hours from Mount Gambier, you can experience just about every cheese under the sun. Temptations include blue brie, double cream brie, camembert, fetta, goat’s milk feta, marinated fetta and vintage cheddar.

    The Coast’s persian feta, for example, is a fresh, delicately-flavoured and premium textured cheese in beautifully balanced herb and garlic oil marinade. You’ll taste the difference in these locally, hand-crafted gourmet cheeses.

    Visiting the factory is an experience in itself. Taste it, buy it, and see how the cheese is made. Then, explore further and bring home a range of other produce that compliments your Limestone Coast cheese platter.

    The coast is peppered with farms and family businesses, like Robe Dairy. They milk their own small herd of Jersey cows, producing a delicious array of farmhouse cheese, milk, and yogurt.

    Their rich and aromatic St Clair brie blend with a thin velvet rind, is not stabilised (unlike most of its mass-produced counterparts) allowing the cheese to develop and intensify with age. It’s an intense, refined and complex flavour that’s synonymous with the south-east region.

    In 2015, Robe Dairy won two gold medals and a major trophy in the National Dairy Awards. Their milk also won gold and scored the highest in its class. Pasteurised in small batches on the Hinchliffe farm, the full cream, unhomogenised milk is popular with Limestone Coast locals.

    Limestone Coast food

    While the cheese is good, it’s accompanied by great with wine. There’s the Aldersey Vineyard, Blok Estate Coonawarra, Cape Jaffa Wines, and DiGiorgio Family Wines.

    Tantalising reasons to follow the Limestone Coast Real Food and Wine Trail. You’ll have the opportunity to visit 50 farm gates, cellar doors, restaurants, cafes, and retailers. How about a emu mettwurst, washed down with fine wine for a flavour-packed snack?

    If you love good food, add a day or three to your Mount Gambier itinerary. Just make sure you’re ready to eat, a lot. For more information on cheese and wine hot spots in the area, contact us. We can help you plan your cheese and cellar door ‘tour.’

    Say cheese!