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A Holiday That Makes History – Goolwa, South Australia

Steeped in Tradition

Goolwa, is one of the fastest-growing holiday and resort destinations in South Australia, and with good reason. There are few places that so readily combine a deep sense of history and sense of place with the unlimited enjoyment of the sand and sea.

Originally prosperous as an inland port, Goolwa sits on the mouth of the Murray River and was the transfer point for goods coming from inland down the Murray River to oceangoing vessels, or for shipment onward to Victor Harbor. As time went on, developments changed the course of the town expansion: the railroad systems took over much of the river freight, and the harbour at Goolwa silted up partially, making it impassable for larger ships. Life in Goolwa transitioned to farming and fishing industries. Now, the township of roughly 6000 is a popular destination for holidaymakers from far and wide.

Ready for Today

But don’t get the impression that a holiday in Goolwa is only an amble through sepia-toned history! This is a vibrant and growing community, focused on tourism and enjoyment of life (and was the first non-European city to be certified by Cittaslow International as a community focused on quality of life). Restaurants, pubs, family activities, plentiful holiday rental accommodations, and a long slate of activities make this a great choice for your holidays.

To pay respect to the relationship between Goolwa and the local waterways, take a ride on the PS Oscar W. The 103-ft. long paddle steamer was built in 1908 and still ferries passengers, reminiscent of the days when paddle steamers frequented the Murray. If you’re fortunate enough to visit in an odd-numbered year, the biennial South Australian Wooden Boat Festival is held in Goolwa as well. This festival includes a boat build-and-sail contest, raft building with native methods, live music, delicious local food and wines, and local artists’ displays all in one. Not to be missed! If you plan to join this festival, ensure that you are able to find a holiday rental home or villa nearby – you’ll need rest at some point!

Motorheads won’t be disappointed either, as the Goolwa Motor Museum (open Wednesdays – Saturdays) has an extensive display of fine automobiles from around the world. The collection spans builds from the 1920’s through the 1970’s, including some vintage custom builds. Be careful – a walk through this museum will have you making room in the garage for a classic of your own.

When it’s time for a quiet pursuit, spend some time in the wharf area. On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month, the Goolwa Wharf Markets offer up the best of local handicrafts, handmade furniture, the abundant local produce, and succulent local wines. Spending a day browsing here can really work up a thirst, so its fortunate that the Steam Exchange Brewery is in the neighbourhood as well. Stashed in a former railroad building constructed in the late 1870’s, the Steam Exchange Brewery offers up 4 distinctive microbrews. Try them all before you decide on a favourite.

Changing Seasons

Those familiar with the climate conditions in Adelaide will find no surprises in Goolwa. Expect warm days of 26 to 28 degrees Celsius and mild night from 14 to 16 degrees if you’re visiting from December through February. If you come later in the year, from June through August, expect days around 16 degrees, with nights falling to an average low of 7 degrees. Rainfall is moderate, and never presents an obstacle to the many activities on offer. Remember that peak seasons tend to be around the summer school holidays and the Easter break, so book holiday accommodations early to ensure first choice of locations.

An Easy Journey

Fortunately, times have changed. Reaching Goolwa in the “old days” would have meant a combination of sailing ships, river-bound paddle steamers, and maybe a train ride. Today’s travellers have it much easier. Once your holiday home in Goolwa is already booked, arrange your flights. Major air carriers have multiple daily departures from all of London’s airports to Adelaide. On arrival, hire a car and drive about 1.5 hours south (90 km) from the airport. Travel is mainly on A-roads (A6, A14, A13) in good repair.

Enjoy your stay!

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Recent Reviews

Excellent property

5 of 5
The Little Beach House was lovely. Great location. So relaxing. Love the beach. So Close. Walking along the path to the beach was an adventure in itself. Early morning walks-lots of little creatures around. Love the 2 sleepy lizards taking their morning stroll as well. Home away from home. GREAT BED!Thank you for sharing your little piece of paradise in Goolwa. We will be back... Happy New Year. Mark & Helen.
  • Review Submitted: Jan 18, 2018
  • Date of Stay: Dec 2017

Fantastic family property jan 2018

5 of 5
best value family property you could get everything is at your door step we didn't need a car meals at the pub next door and seaside cafe were amazing the markets and cockle train as well as paddle boat you can see from the front yard so much to do in this town the house itself was gorges older style real country feel so charming and rustic but modern touches were you need them like an amazing rain sower head and new spa bath and a modern oven and cook top with a well stocked kitchen and the beds were so good we checked the brand to get one at home and the linen was great so soft the roller shutters on the windows were so good we didn't even hear the markets setting up and they were great for getting the little ones to sleep in a bit the yard is safe for kids as well as pets and fun to explore and the little children's area was so good for them to have space to wind down the child's room also has a corner with a little desk on wheels great for kids to play on there was a bbq hammock outdoor dinning area books and games and movies even cds they have relay thought of every thing there so you can just go and relay relax even the washer and dryer worked so well and to top it off the owner is very nice a great person to deal with even went out of his way to txt us my family has never rented the same place twice as we try and see as many holiday places as we can but this one has broke us we will DEFIANTLY be back and as there is so much to do so close im sure it will be like a new holiday and did i mention how clean it was the cleaner done a great job Thank you so much Garry we cant say enough nice things about your home you will be hearing from us again p.s it would be a great place to stay summer or winter
  • Review Submitted: Jan 16, 2018
  • Date of Stay: Jan 2017