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Published April 12th 2017
Emerging as the place to be seen
Like many South Australian towns, Goolwa has been around for a long time with a European history dating back to the 1840's, and a local history back many years before that. And with a rare location in South Australia of being adjacent to both river and sea water, it is no surprise that the popularity continues amidst a range of modern activities and great things to see and do while in Goolwa.
The location of Goolwa makes it ideal for a unique day trip to visit the Coorong, one of Australia's great saltwater estuaries. Leaving the Goolwa Wharf regularly is the Cruise the Coorong tours, while just across the way on Hindmarsh Island, the eco-friendly Canoe the Coorong provides a similar tour but with a lesser footprint.
Alternatively, and back at the Goolwa Wharf, the historic paddle steamer PS Oscar W departs regularly for a short trip around the lower Murray where passengers get a chance to relax on board while the wood-fired boiler and giant paddle wheel takes control.
Part of Goolwa's revival has been the establishment of several cafes, many which are becoming icons in their own right. Hectors on the Wharf has been honouring Hector Semaschko for several years, while just around the corner at Goolwa Beach, Bombora's has established a strong following amongst beach goers for great seafood, snacks and ice cream, all of which are near necessities when enjoying a day at the beach.
Meanwhile, in the old railway sheds, the Steam Exchange Brewery and Fleurieu Distillery has earned a reputation for great customer service amongst a mix of craft beers, single malt whiskies and the odd gin. Open Wednesday to Sunday, the brewery and distillery are adjacent to the Goolwa Railway Station, where the Cockle Train has regular weekend and holiday departures.
With so much water around, it is not surprising to see many a fishing rod in hands or on cars. Fishing near Goolwa Wharf creates a chance for an encounter with a Murray Cod, while on Goolwa Beach or at the Murray Mouth, the saltwater specialists are regularly seen with whiting or salmon.
But fishing is not all about rods and reels as the cockle (pipi) makes Goolwa Beach its home, and awaits the twisting of feet and digging of hands to uncover this new and modern feature of many a linguini or seafood salad.
On the first and third Sundays of every month the popular Goolwa Markets take over the lawns alongside the Cockle Train and the Goolwa Wharf and over 80 stallholders offer a range of goods, services and foods to delight and inspire all visitors.
With lots of water comes lots of choices for water sports, whether that be at the beach or the river. The Goolwa Surf Life Saving Crew are on hand at Goolwa Beach to oversee the keen swimmers and surfers take advantage of the long beach and glorious waters.
Not to be outdone, the river plays host to a wide range of activities including sailing boats, yachts, kayaks, jet skis and stand-up paddleboards. Whether you have your own, or whether you are looking to hire, there are plenty of choices and plenty of sheltered coves to launch and explore.
And like most towns, the options to walk and ride are near endless. The Goolwa Historic Walk gives walkers an interesting insight into the history of Goolwa, while the Hindmarsh Island Walk takes walkers across the other side for some exceptional views of the Marina.
The Encounter Bikeway passes through the centre of Goolwa on its path from Goolwa North to Victor Harbor. This off-road paved path is suitable for riders of all ages and combines some of the best views of the River with close access to facilities, cafes and accommodation places.