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7 Great Places to Eat & Drink in Goolwa

Home > Adelaide > Cafes | Food and Wine | Lunch | Places of Interest | Pubs | Lists
by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at
Published February 8th 2016
Food for Thought at Goolwa
After having travelled some 2,500 kilometres from the Australian Alps, the River Murray finally ends its journey near Goolwa, reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.

Goolwa, around 83 kms south of Adelaide (about 1 hour 15 min drive), having been a thriving port for riverboats in its heyday, is now a substantial town of around 6,000 in population and inhabits one end of the South Coast which stretches all the way to Victor Harbor, around 23 kms.

Still a favourite for day trips and holidays, there has also been an increase in permanent residents around Goolwa, which has also meant the introduction of more diverse eating and refreshment establishments.

Goolwa Pelicans

Upon exploration, some of the restaurants/pubs/cafes worth venturing into to savour their fare are:

1. Motherduck Cafe

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Motherduck is located in Cadell Street and offers mouthwatering selections including Duck Caesar Salad, comprising of smoked duck breast, prosciutto, parmesan, soft poached egg and salad leaves topped with paleo caesar dressing.

Their menu also offers a good selection of seafood, steak and a fragrant South Asian chicken dish called San Choy Bow.

Motherduck's juices are also varied and dependent upon which juice you order, will have different health benefits, for example Ruby Rose Juice which consists of beetroot, cucumber, celery, carrot, apple and ginger is said to be good for energy and fatigue.

For dinner, mains range from $18 to $38 and for lunch, from $12 to $27.

Mother Duck Cafe

2. The Goolwa Hotel

If you want to experience a good wholesome country style pub type of fare, then the historic Goolwa Hotel, dating from 1853 is the place for you, located in Cadell Street.

The Mozambique Restaurant is named after the ill-fated vessel, Mozambique, which ran ashore near the Murray Mouth in 1854. The mast-head was retrieved and is on display in the restaurant, creating a great atmosphere.

The restaurant offers a good range of meals from the al-a-carte menu including fish, poultry and red meat together with a wide range of salads and hot vegetables available from the self-service bars.

The Goolwa also has two other separate dining areas, the front bar as well as the Garden Restaurant, seating around 100 people.

The Goolwa Hotel

3. The Corio Hotel

The Corio is another historic hotel located on Railway Terrace at Goolwa, dating from 1858.

Again the fare is typical for a country style pub, with a great range of mains including Seafood, Steak, Pasta and the good old Schnitzel.

Mains on the menu vary between $17 and $28 with the Roast of the Day priced around $17.

Open every day for all meals, The Corio should be on your list for places to indulge.

The Corio Hotel

4. The Australasian circa 1858

If you are looking for something that little bit more up market, how about trying The Australasian, which has been fully renovated as a small, boutique luxury hotel.

To really experience what The Australasian has to offer, it is highly recommended you not only dine there but also stay.

The Australasian Dining Room is essentially for guests only, apart from the popular Saturday nights, when it is opened up for any visitors to partake in the sumptious food and wine.

For example, in February, the Saturday night set menu is Asian themed, which will set you back around $85 per person for a three course meal, including Asian tapas as entree, slow cooked pork with scallops for main, and followed up by a dessert plate.

Each month the menu varies both in content and price. Many local wines are represented as per the menu.

The Australasian circa 1858

5. Rankines at the Whistlestop

As you head on the main road out of Goolwa towards Middleton, on the left is Rankines at the Whistlestop, which really caters for a wide range of intentions, including a quick stop for coffee, a few drinks with friends, or the full dining experience for both lunch and dinner.

The good thing about The Whistlestop is that it is open 7 days a week from 10 am until late.

With mains valued between $22 and $35, a decent selection is available including Marinated Chargrilled Octopus, Duck Breast and Pork Cutlets.

The Whistlestop also caters for kids with their kids menu, which will cost you between $9 and $11.

The Whistlestop also offers accommodation with a cosy cottage for two with linen supplied as well as full cooking facilities - tempting to linger a while longer in Goolwa!

Rankines at The Whistlestop

6. Steam Exchange Brewery

With a great location right on the Goolwa Wharf in a restored Railway Goods shed, the Steam Exchange Brewery started life in 2003, classified as a microbrewery.

Open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm, the Steam Exchange is a great place to relax overlooking the River Murray with a classic ale or two.

Four main styles of beer are available including Steam Ale, Indian Pale Ale, Southerly Buster Dark Ale and Stout.

If you are interested in participating in a brewery tour, Steam Exchange caters for groups and upon booking, the cost is $10 per person.

Steam Exchange Brewery

7.Hectors on the Wharf

Hector's has also a great location right on the Goolwa wharf overlooking the mighty Murray River in what is classed as a cafe bar.

Hector's was originally named after a local character who was a fisherman on the Coorong and reportedly lived in a wooden boat on the Goolwa Wharf for some 40 years.

It is open for breakfast and lunch every day and for dinners on Fridays and Saturdays during the warmer months.

The breakfast menu alone is very appealing, with the Hector's Wharf brekkie offering Toast, Bacon, Eggs, Grilled Tomato, Hash Brown, Mushrooms sauteed in Basil Pesto and Chipolata Sausage.

A great place either for a coffee or something more substantial.

Goolwa certainly has a great range of eateries and refreshment places to suit anyone's palate and these are but a selection of what is on offer in the historic town.

Hector's on the Wharf
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Why? Savour a diverse range of food and refreshments at Goolwa
When: Any time including weekends
Phone: 1300 466 592
Where: Goolwa SA
Cost: Dependent on your interests and plans
Your Comment
Another great cafe is Cocco Lounge in the main street.
Very reasonable prices - try the Breakfast stack for $7.95 - it's not just the price that's delicious!
Also great coffee and free wi-fi, perfect if the accommodation you're staying in does not have the internet.
by rjjec (score: 0|7) 1812 days ago
Good to see Goolwa establishing itself as a top spot to dine and look around.The Corio is a place I went to many times way back in the late 1940's and early 50's.It had a pianola there that I could play(just a child then) , which were reasonably common in those days.
by noelp (score: 3|1199) 1812 days ago
Hectors gets my vote.
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1456) 1812 days ago
Interesting compilation - hope to be able to try at few of these when in Adelaide :)
by Diana (score: 2|719) 1810 days ago
And the best of all…for reasonably priced food and a fabulous view over the Southern Ocean, Ninety Mile Beach and sand dunes, is Bombora. Head down the road to the Goolwa surf beach and you'll find it…right on the dune!
by vonrik (score: 0|2) 1812 days ago
The Goolwa Fish Café on Cadell st is also a top place to visit. Enjoy fantastic Takeaway or Licensed Dine in. Give it a try
by kmnmi (score: 0|2) 1809 days ago
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