Wednesday, February 21, 2024

What to do with our visitors

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Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News

The other day a local person on Ormerod St told me she was cleaning out the spare room, ready for visitors.

“But there’s nothing to do in Naracoorte,” she said.

So, I relayed this to friends in the local tourism industry and they came up with a list of “What to see and do” which they provide to visitors – either before they come or when they get here.

Visitors are great for local business and employment. They not only stay overnight but they also buy food, drinks and fuel – and they go shopping in a whole range of shops in Naracoorte and further afield.

The tourism industry is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

From Caves and community playgrounds to cafes, restaurants, wineries and walking trails – a growing list of attractions is helping Naracoorte cement itself as a tourist destination.

While locals may think there’s only a limited number of things to see and do, the owners and managers of accommodation entice visitors with lots of ideas.

Of course Naracoorte is famous for the World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves National Park which offers Caves tours every day except Christmas Day.

In addition to the popular Caves Cafe, there’s the Fossil Hunters Playground and Roof Top Walk both of which are free.

During summer, the Naracoorte Swimming Lake is a key attraction with its concrete surround and floor and reticulated, chlorinated water.

The lake is surrounded by lawn and shady trees and admission is free. It’s usually open from December 1 to March 31, but sometimes opens earlier and closes later depending on the weather. In 2023 it will be open for Easter, closing on April 11.

In MacDonnell Street, there’s the award-winning The Sheep’s Back wool industry museum and Naracoorte Community Playground, with play equipment, skate park, picnic tables, barbecues and lawn.

Also in the same street is the Lions Pioneer Park with a historic locomotive.

Other items on the list of “things to do” include:

  • Naracoorte Nature Park, starting at the swimming lake and alongside Naracoorte Creek. Open all the time and free, it is beautiful to go for a walk with nature. Mind the long slippery things with no legs – it is a nature park!
  • Tiny Train Park, Mini Golf and Jumping Pillow at Naracoorte Holiday Park in Park Terrace. Check first on 8762 2128 re which activities are available.
  • Naracoorte Creek Walk (from the swimming lake, along Riverside Drive, at the rear of Ormerod Street shops, and along the rear of MacDonnell Street to Dartmoor Close). Maps are available at Naracoorte Visitor Information Centre.
  • Naracoorte Art Gallery, 91 Ormerod Street, with a diverse permanent collection and changing exhibitions. Art in the Sticks – the renowned work of Lucindale’s Hamish Macdonald’s art can also be seen by contact him by email: locostudio@hotmail.com
  • Bool Lagoon and Hacks Lagoon Conservation Parks. In winter, one way to fully explore and appreciate these unique, internationally renowned wetlands and birdlife is to book a tour with South East Safari. Visit the website www.southeastsafari.com.au 
  • Struan House. To tour the Italianate mansion, phone 8762 9100 for an appointment.
  • South Australian Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum, Kingston Avenue. The museum is run by volunteers (Thank you Rex Hall for 60 years of tireless service) and does not have regular opening hours, but phone 0417 081 560 for a guided tour. A memorial to fire fighters who died in service adjoins the museum.
  • Lucindale Agricultural and Folk Museum – 8766 2774
  • Naracoorte Golf Club, named No. 96 in the list of Australia’s top 100 golf courses by “Golf Australia” magazine in 2015. (Australia has 1500 golf courses.)
  • MiniJumbuk, 61 Smith Street, the national award-winning woollen bedding products factory, with viewing gallery and shop open seven days a week. The best place for doonas, underwools, pillows “seconds” etc and for souvenirs. Open on weekends.
  • ASI Outdoors – everything camping
  • Naracoorte is surrounded by the Wrattonbully wine region. Visit the cellar door for Redden Bridge, 3/44 Robertson Street, Naracoorte, open on weekdays.
  • Wild Game Wine also has a cellar door and wine bar at the rear of Naracoorte Art Gallery. You can buy wine by the glass or bottle and enjoy produce platters at noon to 8pm Friday and noon to 6pm Sunday.

 At Naracoorte Visitor Information Centre, you can pick up a Limestone Coast Visitor Guide which has information on many of the 25+ wineries with cellar doors.

All are easy to find as they are either on the Riddoch Hwy, from just north of Coonawarra township to Penola, or on short side roads off the highway.

Additionally, St Mary’s Wines produces a range of red wines but, more recently, it’s also becoming well known for its Australian Gin of the Year boutique dry gin, vodka (including one infused with rose petals) and cane spirit.

Historic Penola has plenty of places to eat, especially the award-winning Pipers of Penola (includes an award for best regional restaurant in SA).

Visit the informative staff at the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre (the focus of the early life of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop), public sculptures, Local Images Art Gallery as well as other smaller galleries and old-fashioned lolly shop Toffee and Treats in Church Street, the main street.

Travelling north of Naracoorte, or south of Padthaway, on the Riddoch Hwy, you may see a Cellar Door Open sign at the entrance to Padthaway Estate, which sells Eliza and Landaire wines at a newly renovated building.

Further south of the township, you’ll see a flag and sign indicating Henry’s Drive and Farmer’s Leap cellar door, on the corner of Hodgson’s Road.

This cellar door provides wine tastings and sales. It’s about 5km south of Padthaway township and serves light snacks and lunch as well as premium wines.

To the east of Naracoorte are two small towns, Apsley (30km from Naracoorte) and Edenhope (53km from Naracoorte). Lake Charlegrark is also a sight to see with water in it. Cockatoo Lake has water, so does Black Cockatoo camping ground.

Travelling West of Naracoorte you will find the famous town of Lucindale, a small village that is home base for the popular Fairview National Park just out of town, as well as Loechel Park and the Lucindale Country Club golf course and manicured grass tennis courts.

Lucindale also boasts the State’s largest annual field days on the third weekend in March, every year at the massive Yakka Park site. If you are there when the Post Office is open, pop in for a friendly chat and find out where to go and what to see while visiting.

But ultimately, the Naracoorte Visitor Information and Sheep’s Back Museum are the best places for locals to find out where to take their visitors, both locally and further afield.

Thank you for reading The News.

May we all enjoy our visitors, shop locally and have a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2023.

Naracoorte Community News 18 January 2023

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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