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Published March 13th 2016
So many things to see in two hours
Imagine a two hour drive one afternoon where you can smell the fresh airs of the sea and country, see historic streets and buildings, watch whales and pelicans frolic in the waters, and even have time to stop for an ice-cream, coffee or a delicacy from one of SA's busiest bakeries. If this is you, then perhaps the South Coast Tourist Drive 50 is the one that you want.
Tourist Drive 50 is one of South Australia's more popular tourist drives and is anchored firmly within the Council of Alexandrina and takes visitors on a drive past some of the beautiful towns on the South Coast. The drive commences outside the Goolwa Wharf where the large brown sign signifies the start. The "50" icon is prominent and features throughout the whole 73km of the drive.
Goolwa Wharf was once home to a bustling river and railway trade and a number of historic buildings in and around the area provide support to that claim. Today the Wharf area is still busy, albeit at a 21st Century pace with regular Sunday markets complementing the cafes, wineries, beer house and cockle train with its regular appearances.
Leaving the wharf area, the drive traverses Goolwa South towards the Goolwa Barrage with cafes, river views, parks and playgrounds making an ideal setting for a picnic. A bird hide is an attractor to those looking for that special moment or photo. Next up is Goolwa Beach with the busy Bomboras Café and the multitude of cockle hunting fishermen patrolling the beach looking for a bag of delicacies.
Heading west we head along the Esplanade of Middleton Beach where double storey mansions on one side of the road enjoy unrivalled views of the sea, surfers, cyclists on the Encounter Bikeway and the whales that make their annual winter pilgrimage. A quick trip through Middleton sees an opportunity to stop at some surf or antique shops before the drive past Bashams Beach Recreation Park and in to the historic town of Port Elliot.
Formerly a busy port that had more than its fair share of catastrophes, Port Elliot is today more famous for the beautiful swimming beach in Horseshoe Bay, The Strand with its historic buildings and tiny Council Chambers, and the Port Elliot Bakery which is an institution in its own right.
Leaving Port Elliot is not easy without an icecream or a pastry, but once we do we head along the main road towards Victor Harbor before heading north on the Adelaide Road for some 9km. Along the way the historic parking bay known as Cut Hill Wall becomes visible. This dry stone wall was built in 1868 to support the newly built and steeply descending road in to Victor Harbor that bypassed the previous hazardous route via Port Elliot, and was an engineering marvel in its time.
Crows Nest Road and Crows Nest lookout appear next, along with magnificent views of the South Coast and the areas that has just been driven. Looking to the east the view encompasses the Murray Mouth, Lake Alexandrina and Hindmarsh Island, all of which look spectacular early in the morning as the sun rises.
The drive heads down the hill and back in to Middleton again before heading inland along Flagstaff Hill Road past a series of farms and vineyards which provide content to the scope of the region. Heading back to Goolwa, the drive skirts the northern side of the town and travels across the infamous Hindmarsh Island Bridge to Hindmarsh Island.
To the north of the island, we see a mixture of older holiday homes before travelling back to the centre of the island where a giant monument stands tall marking the efforts of Captains Barker and Sturt during the 19th Century. The drive then heads further east towards Sugars Beach and then the Murray Mouth where a lookout signifies the end of this tourist drive.
Tourist Drive 50 is 73km and will take 2-3 hours depending upon how long it takes to take photos, drink coffee and eat ice-creams. A brochure for the drive is available online or from the Goolwa Visitor Information Centre, both of which supplement the extensive signage throughout.