Goolwa

About an hour and a half, maybe a bit less, from Adelaide, lies the unique little township of Goolwa.  Most South Australians have heard of it and I'm sure a great number of them have visited. 

Whilst not really a camping location as such, there is a nice caravan park and it's also a handy spot to launch a boat to access a lovely camping spot in the Coorong.  I've mentioned it mainly because it offers so much, all within a realtively small area.  I apologise for the lack of photographs, which I'll blame on a technical difficulty.

The are a few ways to travel to Goolwa from Adelaide.  I live north of the city, so I head down Brighton or South Roads, through to Myponga, then on to Victor Harbour before heading east to Goolwa.  It's only 15 kilometres from Goolwa to Victor Harbour.  You could head up along the South Eastern Freeway to Strathalbyn and then through to Goolwa.  If you're south of the city, then the easiest way is probably along South Road, take the turn off to Victor Harbour and then, after Mount Compass, take the left turn off to Goolwa.  Whichever way you go, it's not a particularly long or taxing drive.

If you are a fisherman, then Goolwa offers both salt and freshwater fishing.  The Murray River empties into the ocean not far from Goolwa, but before the barrages, the water is all fresh.  The barrages allow freshwater to empty into the salt, but salt water is stopped from flowing into the lower Murray.  There is lots of open spaces along Goolwa's shoreline where it's possible to fish for carp, which are usually plentiful.  If you fish along the edge of the reed beds and around the wharves a Golden Perch (Callop) is always a possibility. 

Saltwater anglers are spoilt for choice really.  Bream, mullet and salmon trout, along with mulloway, are regular species caught from the shore around the Murray Mouth and surrounding areas.  However, it's an area that needs a fair bit of work put in to produce rewards.  The water is very dirty, due to the freshwater running out, and it's impossible to see the bottom or any drop offs, reefs etc.  I have seen first hand some monster bream caught not far from the saltwater side of the barrage.  I spoke to the angler and he stated that you will only catch the saltwater species that close to the barrage if there is saltwater pushing right up into the river.  He alos said this is almost impossible to determine as there is a layer of freshwater on top of the saltwater.  The only real way of knowing if there is fish there is to actually cast a bait out. 

I have caught plenty of small salmon from the shore near the Murray Mouth.  Bait is the best bet, but if the fish are schooling and hungry, lures will work too.

To access the Murray Mouth, drive across the bridge onto Hindmarsh Island and follow the signs.  You can't miss it.

Victor Harbour isn't far away, so your options are wide open.  Bream from the HIndmarsh or Inman Rivers (once again though a bit or homework or local knowledge will be invaluable), tommies and grafish from the Screwpile Jetty and breakwater on Granite Island or salmon from the surf at Waitpinga or Parsons Beaches.  Plenty to keep you busy.  

If you have a boat then there are even more options.  If intending to fish the Coorong, a fish finder is essential.  Even if you have accurate GPS marks, you will still need the sounder to postion the boat correctly.  Find a good spot and bream and mulloway are almost a certainty, especially now with the Murray Mouth open again.  (The Murray Mouth regularly silts up, requiring almost constant dredging, but since the heavy flows of flood waters down the Murray River, the mouth has been flushed and the whole area, Coorong included, looks much better for it).  Live baits are best for mulloway and there is rarely a shortage of salmon trout near the mouth, which make the best live baits here.  Prawns and whitebait are probably the pick of the baits for bream.  The waters in and around the Murray Mouth are fairly sheltered, so a small boat is all that is required to enjoy the fishing.  Be wary of sandbars and shallow areas though.

Victor Harbour has an excellent offshore fishery, but a big seaworthy boat is needed.  Unlike the gulfs, Kangaroo Island provides no shelter from the ocean swells at Victor.  Once again, local knowledge is needed, but co-ordinates to some areas like the seven mile reef, are readily available.

Goolwa has a well known surf beach.  It's a very long beach that stretches all the way to the Murray Mouth.  There is always surf, along with the side currents and rips that go with it.  A beach for surfers and experienced swimmers only.  It's a beautiful beach though and if you have a 4wd you can drive the 12k's or so along it to the Murray Mouth, where excellent surf fishing awaits.  Be careful as the sand can become very soft near the mouth.  Keep and eye on the tide.  Numerous vehicles have been lost here over the years.  There is a sign at the car park, just before you drive onto the beach, which indicates whether the Murray Mouth is open or closed.  Don't forget to drop your tyre pressure; it makes a big difference when driving on sand.

If you like cockles or pipis, Goolwa Beach is famous for them.  The closed season is from 1st of June to the 31st of OCtober (inclusive).  Bag limit is 300 per person per day and they have to be 3.5 cms at least across the widest part of the shell.  Great bait and great to eat (apparently).   

If not into fishing or 4wding, othe attractions include the Greenhills Adventure Park near Victor Harbour.  Kids love it here.  The park offers a variety of activities, including water slides and canoeing. 

There is a wildlife park near Victor, along with a small reserve which contains native trees and plants and is an absolute magnet for numerous native bird species.  There is a bird hide along the foreshore at Goolwa itself, offering the opportunity to observe birds of the local wetlands in their native habitat.

You can hire jet skis on the foreshore at Goolwa.  The water is shallow and sandy/mud bottom, so it's quite safe and other recreational vehicles stay well away.

Granite Island at Victor Harbour is also a nice spot to visit.  You can either walk across the long jetty to the island or take the horse and cart.  There is a kiosk on the island, as well as a path that circumnavigates the entire island.  It's not far around the island though and it's an easy, pleasant walk.  They offer penguin tours at night, where you can observe the penguins coming ashore.  Seals and dolphins are also regualrly seen around the island, as well as Southern Right Whales in winter.

Strathalbyn and Currency Creek are not far away, and both are excellent wine regions.

Port Elliot lies between Goolwa and Victor Harbour and is a nice little spot in itself.  It has a beautiful little bay, Horseshoe Bay, which offers safe swimming.  There is a caravan park here too.  Several beaches close to Port Elliot offer horrendous shore dumps on their day, which can be great fun if you're into body surfing or boogey boarding.  Be warned though, at times you can really be pounded and sometimes even dumped onto dry sand from a great height.  Good fun though, but experienced swimmers only.  Boomers and Bashams are the two most popular beaches.

Middleton is another small town between Goolwa and Victor Harbour.  It is home to a very long section of beach which is very popular with surfers.  Middleton Point is the most popular spot for surfing here, with access to the break being off the rocks.  However, it's much easier to wander along the beach and pick your own break to surf. 

The whole region around Victor Harbour and Goolwa is extremely popular with South Australians, with Victor now home to many new homes and apartments.  Call me old fashioned, but Victor has been ruined for me due to the development, but it's still a great spot to visit, especailly during non peak times.  Don't, whatever you do, plan a trip to Victor Harbour during November.  Schoolies week falls in this month and thousands of teenagers converge on the town.  All caravan parks and hotels are full and it is non stop noise, drinking, vomiting, fighting and swearing.  I think it lasts about a couple of weeks.

Goolwa offers quite a bit really.  It is a very relaxing place to be.  You could certainly do a lot worse.