The Races offer the perfect occasion for a get-together with friends and family for a day that ticks everyone’s boxes. Whether you have a love of fashion, enjoy a good drop of wine or a nice champagne, live for live entertainment or simply love the thrill of racing, whatever brings you joy, The Races have you covered. When it comes to family outings, rural racing clubs deliver that little extra charm and the perfect excuse to pack the car and explore one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world - The Limestone Coast. And if you haven’t experienced this renowned stretch of coast yet, then you haven’t truly experienced South Australia.
The Limestone Coast is known for its soul-soothing pristine beaches, World Heritage listed caves and breathtaking National Parks. Dotted with beautiful, quintessential Australian country towns along the way, it offers an opportunity to experience the allure of small close-knit communities, come up close and personal to native wildlife, explore renowned wine regions and sample delicious local produce. It delivers the kind of getaway that reinvigorates the soul while offering up all the fun and trimmings along the way, making it little wonder why international visitors flock to the region in their droves.
Now, one could spend a few weeks getting lost in the landmarks that this shoreline has to offer so we are here to help guide you towards your perfect little getaway. Whether you are after a history lesson for the kids, a romantic getaway, an active weekend or an excuse to experience a new wine region – there is a holiday spot for all your needs. And of course, there is a Feature Racing Day to match, because what is a visit to an iconic country town without an opportunity to dress up and mingle with locals.
Must stop along the way – Robe
A short 3.5-hour drive outside of Adelaide will take you to Robe where you can easily get lost in the serenity of pure white sands and piercingly blue waters along a 17km stretch of coastline. Fittingly named Long Beach, it offers the perfect backdrop for a swim, a spot of beach cricket or a picnic to be enjoyed amongst friends. Relish in a hard-earned beverage at the Robe Town Brewery where you can also learn about historical and traditional brewing methods. Alternatively, if wine is your drink of choice, why not drop into one of Robe’s notable wineries such as Cape Jaffa Wines or Ralph Fowler Wines. Finish your day off with a dinner at one of the town’s freshest eateries, Gather. Nestled in the once 1850s wool store, it features a perfect mixture of rustic and contemporary décor with local produce and contemporary Australian cuisine.
To marvel at a World Heritage icon with the kids - Naracoorte
When it comes to ticking a World Heritage icon off your travel bucket list, you simply can’t go past a pit stop at the Naracoorte Caves. Part of the 800,000 year-old Naracoorte East Ranges, the caves offer a true feast for the eyes and an opportunity to learn something new about Australia’s rich and diverse landscape. Stay at the Naracoorte Holiday Park , which offers cabin accommodation, a pool, trampolines and plenty of outdoor activities for the kids. Or venture outside the camp and experience the Naracoorte Swimming Lake for a quick swim and the perfect backdrop for a family picnic. For a treat for the parents, spend time at the Padthaway Estate Winery. While there, enjoy the pristine scenery, historic architecture and a drop of Pinot Noir Chardonnay.
Feature Race Day: The Minijumbuk Naracoorte Cup is held in February each year and with a pristine trackside, rolling hills in the backdrop and Fashion at The Races to match, it offers the perfect excuse to dress up for a day of fun with the entire family. For the wine lover looking to experience the regions rapidly expanding Grape Growing Industry, the Naracoorte Food and Wine Race Day is held in November each year. Delivering a carnival atmosphere with premium wines and food, it’s the perfect outing for friends and family to enjoy together.
For a history lesson for the kids - Bordertown
When it comes to Australia’s political and agricultural past, Bordertown offers an excuse for the children to take an extra day off from school and experience a slice of history first hand. The location of Bob Hawk’s family home, why not visit the birthplace of a true Australian icon and continue down to the Clayton Farm Historic Site where you can explore farm buildings and wool sheds dating back as far as 1903 and learn about historical agricultural machinery which helped contribute to the growth of the region. Home to the pure-white kangaroo, a visit to the Bordertown Wildlife Park is a must or for a spot of fishing and an outdoor BBQ, The Bordertown Recreation Lake offers all the facilities you need with a stunning backdrop to match. Stay at one of the gorgeous local bed and breakfast’s such as Mapperley, providing the perfect base for the family to get Raceday ready in comfort.
Feature Race Days: The Bordertown Cup is held over two days in December and traditionally offers some serious competition for Fashions at The Races with winners qualifying for the state final. The family-friendly event features free face painting, giant slides, a jumping castle and plenty of excitement to make for a memorable trip.
To explore a wine region with friends or for a romantic escape - Penola
Located in the wine-growing region of Coonawarra, Penola is the picturesque country town perfect for a group getaway or a romantic escape. For a truly unforgettable trip, stay at the Punters Vineyard Retreat, an idyllic property located at the heart of the Coonawarra vineyards. Offering anything from one to four bedrooms, the spectacular location boasts panoramic views of the vineyards and a courtyard fitted with all the facilities needed for entertaining. You will even find mountain bikes on the property to explore the region. Now let’s get down to business because this trip is all about the wine region after all and we are here to help you pick a few heroes.
For a location that offers a cellar door as well as a restaurant, you cant go past Hollick Estate. Serving up a modern take on Australian cuisine, the restaurant draws on local produce for a menu that will leave a lasting impression. With a history dating back to 1867, three wines listed in the prestigious Langton’s Classification of Australian Wines, terra rossa vineyards and historic limestone buildings on offer, Katnooke Estate is the next on our list. If a slightly more intimate cellar door experience is what you’re after, be sure to visit family run Bowen Estate and Ottelia. Experience a delicious fusion of Italian and Australian tradition at Di Giorgio Family Wines and sample our personal favourite, the 2016 Chardonnay. Get to know an up and coming producer Jack Estate and sample the winery’s ever expanding list of award winning wines. For truly jaw dropping scenery and to sample some global icons, you can’t go past Lindeman’s Winery and Rymill.
Feature Race Day: The Penola Coonawarra Vignerons Cup is held in January and is a food and wine lover’s mecca but snooze and you will lose. The highly in demand meet is a regular sell-out and regarded as the ‘best country race meeting’ so if you want to secure your marquee, book ahead! The Penola Cup is held during the Easter long weekend each year and provides the ultimate Easter Sunday for the whole family. Think a visit from the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts, face painting and plenty of fun for the adults too!
For an active weekend away, with a little guilty pleasure on the side - Millicent
If you are looking for a little getaway that starts with a morning hike, followed by a swim in the afternoon and camping under the stars at night, then Millicent is your pit stop. Canunda National Park offers postcard worthy views characterised by limestone cliffs, dense shrubs and off-shore reefs on the northern side and mobile sand dunes and long stretches of beach on the southern side. For the wildlife enthusiasts, the area provides endless activities, from surfing and snorkeling to fishing. If you love the idea of an active getaway sans the effort of camping, then Sandpipers will provide all the comfort you are after and is a short 25 minutes away from the park.
Feature Race Day: The Millicent Cup Day is held in April and is the day local residents descend on the Penola Racecourse in their droves. As the biggest sporting and social event of the year, you can be sure it delivers all the charm of a country meet and fashion looks worthy of any city Feature Race Days – so be sure you pack your Sunday best!
For an all rounder with all the trimmings – Mt. Gambier
As one of the larger stops in the region, Mt. Gambier is the iconic country town that will satisfy the entire family. For a breathtaking view, the famous Blue Lake is usually at the top of everyone’s list, closely followed by the Umpherston Sinkhole, located at the Cave Gardens. While there, capture plenty of Instagram worthy snaps while you enjoy a scenic walk and spectacular views of sinkholes and manicured gardens from viewing platforms. With numerous restaurants, takeaway joints, a cinema, local boutiques and wineries on hand, Mt. Gambier is the holiday destination that offers it all. No really, from snorkelling and diving at the Piccaninnie Ponds to sitting in your bed and breakfast with a coffee in hand, it’s the town that doesn’t disappoint.
Feature Race Day: The Mt Gambier Cup Day is held in May and is THE event inked on everyone’s calendar for the year. Now when we say everyone, we mean having to book your marquee on the day it is released if you don’t want to miss out. A little insider tip, the Koonara Platinum Marquee is the hottest ticket in town.