Our trip along South Australia’s rugged Limestone Coast brought us to the popular seaside resort of Robe and an iconic landmark which is slowly disappearing.
Robe was established in 1847 on the southern shore of Guichen Bay. Once the second busiest port in South Australia, it is now predominantly a fishing village and popular tourist destination.
Swimmers enjoy the white sand and clean waters of Long Beach. Anglers dangle a line on the Robe jetty in an idyllic seaside location.
We initially stopped for a coffee by the seaside and to give the “Pawesome Foursome” a walk and ended up spending the morning exploring just a little of what the town has to offer.
Historic sandstone buildings
Locally hewn limestone buildings, with the featured edging brickwork are synonymous with much of South Australia. Many of these historic limestone buildings line the Robe streets, a relic of the town’s shipping heritage.
Along the foreshore you will find the Chinese memorial. It commemorates the thousands of Chinese who landed in Robe, walking over 300 kilometres to the Victorian goldfields. Over 16,000 immigrants found this arduous trek worth it in order to avoid the prohibitive landing tax imposed on Victorian arrivals.
The Customs house was built in 1863 to handle the large number of Chinese passing through port and today serves as in historic museum. It is possible to take a tour around the many heritage buildings and museums throughout Robe with an historic town walk, available at the visitor’s centre.
The old bush inn greeted visitors arriving from the north since 1852. The only surviving roadhouse, which once catered to the constant stream of teamsters arriving at the old port, it is today an arts and craft shop.
The history walk also takes you past landmarks such as Davidsons General Store, established in 1855 and the old police stables.
Cape Dombey Obelisk
However it was an iconic Robe landmark, which is slowly disappearing that drew our main interest during our morning In Robe.
The Cape Dombey Obelisk was erected in 1852 to assist ships to safely navigate Guichen Bay. The 12 metre high red and white obelisk stands silent sentinel on the lonely, windswept cliffs surrounding the bay. On a clear day, it can be seen for up to 20 kilometres out to sea.
However, having provided safety to thousands of mariners for over 150 years, the obelisk itself is now under threat.
As the forces of nature prevail, the limestone cliffs beneath continue to erode under the forces of wind and crashing waves. The historic obelisk is inching closer to to the cliff face, before it is inevitably itself consumed into the sea below. The cost of restoration or salvage has been deemed too high.
A number of safe walking trails enable you to view the spectacular, rugged beauty of the limestone rock formations surrounding the cape. Just stick to the paths and don’t be tempted to climb the fences for a better photo. The limestone cliffs are unstable and prone to crumbling without notice.
Old Robe Gaol
Very close by you will also find the ruins of the Old Robe Gaol. The Gaol was commenced in 1861. Only one building was completed and the Gaol closed in 1881. Such a massive construction, complete with metal reinforcing, which was used for such an amazingly short time.
However you could imagine the desolate conditions of the prisoners here on this cold, windy outcrop.
Old Gaol Ruins at Robe SA
Our visit to the Cape finished with a scenic drive along the spectacular Limestone Coastline.
We only had time to spend a morning exploring Robe. However, we look forward to spending more time in the cafe’s and by the waterside on our next visit.