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THE quaint coastal town­ship of Robe, 335km south­east of Ade­laide, be­lies its un­der­whelm­ing ap­pear­ance by act­ing as a gate­way to the Lime­stone Coast, one of Aus­tralia’s most spec­tac­u­lar en­vi­ron­ments. As the Lime­stone Coast name sug­gests, the coast­line here is dra­matic; craggy rocky cliffs, sea caves and more dot this part of the coast, linked to­gether by sweep­ing beaches abut­ting the wa­ters of the Up­per South East Ma­rine Park. The beaches around Robe are also renowned as top­notch surf­ing des­ti­na­tions.

This part of South Aus­tralia of­fers not only said spectacle in terms of the coastal/ hin­ter­land land­scape, but truck­loads of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties – fish­ing, 4x4 tour­ing, hik­ing, kayak­ing, swim­ming, surf­ing and camp­ing – with most of these lo­cated within the bound­aries of Lit­tle Dip Con­ser­va­tion Park, around two kilo­me­tres south of Robe (if ac­cess­ing the park through its north­ern bound­ary). For those keen on check­ing out the park’s south­ern sec­tion, you can fol­low Nora Creina Road south­east out of Robe and en­ter the park near Long Gully Camp­ground.

The con­ser­va­tion park is named af­ter one of its beaches – Lit­tle Dip Beach – and con­tains four camp­grounds. For those lug­ging a camper trailer, the Long Gully camp­ground of­fers the best ac­cess as it (un­like its moniker) is a wide, flat area of ground with plenty of site space. This area also pro­vides more pro­tec­tion from coastal winds as it’s about one kilo­me­tre from the beach. You can drive the sand tracks from here through sand dunes to the beach, but don’t for­get to drop tyre pres­sures ac­cord­ingly. The other three camp­grounds – The Gums, Old Man Lake and Stony Rise – are more com­pact but closer to the surf and of­fer the bonus of more shaded sites (The Gums and Stony Rise are found in the park’s north­ern sec­tion; Old Man Lake and Long Gully are in the south). All four camp­grounds have min­i­mal fa­cil­i­ties, so re­mem­ber to bring wa­ter and all sup­plies. Also be aware that solid-fuel fires are banned year-round; a portable gas bar­be­cue/stove is the go (us­age of this will be sub­ject to fire bans within the park).

Lit­tle Dip Con­ser­va­tion Park con­tains nu­mer­ous small lakes in­clud­ing Fresh Wa­ter Lake, which is also the start­point for a nice bush­walk that leads along a melaleuca-shrouded path (with in­ter­mit­tent coastal views) and is ideal for those with young kids (just re­mem­ber to cover them with in­sect spray, as the midges in the park have a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion). Other lakes worth check­ing out in­clude Lake Robe, Lake El­iza (check for abo­rig­i­nal mid­dens along its shores) and Big Dip Lake. The longer hike be­tween these two bod­ies of wa­ter is worth the ef­fort as well, thanks to the mix of veg­e­ta­tion and the re­sul­tant birdlife in­hab­it­ing it (and the lakes them­selves; wa­ter­birds are pro­lific), along with some speccy views to the Woak­wine Range far­ther in­land.

Along with bush­walk­ing in the park’s hin­ter­land there are the ob­vi­ous beach walks on of­fer, with the added bonus of the kids be­ing able to do some beach­comb­ing for lost trea­sures, as well as have a crack at some beach fish­ing. In terms of fish­ing, this park is bril­liant; de­pend­ing on the sea­son and the con­di­tions at the time, you may catch salmon, flat­head and snap­per from the beach. Rock fish­ing also yields sim­i­lar species and (hope­fully) po­ten­tial for suc­cess.

Driv­ing here is chal­leng­ing as the sand’s very coarse na­ture pro­motes a soft tex­ture that of­fers zero sup­port for a two-tonne 4x4 (or even when walk­ing on it, for that mat­ter). Drop tyre pres­sures to around 18psi and, if you do cop an early bog­ging, don’t hes­i­tate to drop fur­ther.

It’s also es­sen­tial to bring re­cov­ery gear (Max­trax, snatch strap, shovel, etc.). It sounds daunt­ing, but the fear of a po­ten­tial bog­ging shouldn’t put you off ex­plor­ing the beaches in your ve­hi­cle. Just re­mem­ber to keep your speed low and an eye out for peo­ple on the beach, and be aware of tide times.

For a rel­a­tively small park, at 21.5km², Lit­tle Dip Con­ser­va­tion Park does a ster­ling job of prov­ing size doesn’t mat­ter when it comes to of­fer­ing an awe­some out­door/camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence not that far from Ade­laide.


The coast may be rugged, but there are shel­tered sites for the camper-trailer brigade.

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