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Best Things to Do in Goolwa: A Guide To The River Port

Come for the views, stay for the food and slower way of life; the best things to do in Goolwa are worth the drive.

Goolwa. Image credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Graham Scheer

Next time you find yourself on the Fleurieu Peninsula, set aside time to visit the charming yet sometimes-overlooked coastal town of Goolwa. Located just 20 minutes from Victor Harbor, or one hour from Adelaide, this locale moves slower than most. In 2007, Goolwa became the first Australian town to gain Cittaslow accreditation for promoting a slow, community-minded way of life.

There are many reasons to embrace the leisurely pace and escape for a weekend of great food, locally brewed drinks and history aplenty, so make the most of it with our trusty guide to the best things to do in Goolwa South Australia.

Best Things to Do in Goolwa: Eat & Drink

Hays St Bar & Kitchen

Hays St Bar & Kitchen

Hays St Bar & Kitchen is all about community, great wine, and European cuisine. Opened in October 2023, visitors are impressed by the modern space adorned with exposed brick and warm finishes and the delicious food on offer.

The team are passionate about displaying the best seasonal, local produce, with a menu of dishes that evolve with the changing seasons. We are keen to try the Goolwa pippies with leeks and dill cream served with crusty bread, and the slow-cooked lamb shoulder paired with mint and white bean skordalia. Yum.

7 Hays Street, Goolwa



You can’t visit Goolwa without stopping for a delicious meal at Motherduck (we don’t make the rules…) Located in a 105-year-old stone building in the middle of the town’s main street, this family-owned and run cafe serves up deliciously moreish meals made from locally-sourced, seasonal produce for breakfast through to lunch, Tuesday through to Sunday.

1/13 Cadell Street, Goolwa

Kuti Shack

When we say Kuti Shack is situated right on Goolwa Beach, we mean it. If you were any closer, you’d be dining on the sand. At this modern beach shack, kutis (or, pipis) are the standout item.

These small, edible saltwater clams are local to the area and are mouth-watering if you know how to prepare them well. At Kuti Shack, the team create new and innovative pipi dishes paired with local indigenous ingredients. 

Main Beach Carpark, Beach Road, Goolwa Beach

The Fleurieu Distillery

The Fleurieu Distillery

Located in the middle of the historic Goolwa Wharf Precinct, The Fleurieu Distillery and Steam Exchange Brewery produce award-winning single malt whisky and gin, as well as four distinctive, easy-to-drink preservative-free beers. Stop by to try the distillery’s finest while enjoying the unrivalled water views for a relaxed afternoon in Goolwa. 

1 Cutting Road, Goolwa

Best Things to Do in Goolwa: See & Do

Coorong National Park

Coorong National Park

Nature lovers, rejoice! Mere minutes from Goolwa, Coorong National Park and its abundant wildlife, bird-spotting opportunities, fishing spots and hiking trails await.

You can Canoe the Coorong to get up close to the large colony of pelicans that call the wetlands home or walk to the Murray Mouth Lookout for the best views of where the Murray River meets the Southern Ocean. 


Goolwa Wharf Rotary Markets

Goolwa Wharf Markets

If you plan your visit for the 1st or 3rd Sunday of the month - you're in luck! Organised by the Rotary Club of Encounter Bay, there are over 80 stalls at the Goolwa Wharf Rotary Markets to find yourself a bargain.

The markets support local businesses, artists, and charitable initiatives, with a diverse range of offerings from bric-a-brac and collectibles to fresh organic produce. Whether you fancy handmade crafts, books, or a relaxing massage, these markets provide a great day out with local delights and charitable contributions.

1st and 3rd Sunday of each month, from 9 am - 3 pm

Goolwa Wharf, Cutting Road, Goolwa

PS Oscar W Cruise

Twilight Cruise on PS Oscar W

Enjoy the lower Murray River by twilight aboard the PS Oscar W, an authentic wood-fired paddle steamer. Cruises onboard the PS Oscar W are available on selected dates each month. It's a great way to catch up with friends or to include as part of a family holiday.

Bring along some nibbles too; wine can be purchased from The Wharf Barrel Shed, with disposable wine glasses provided on board. It's a must-do experience and one of our favourite things to do in Goolwa.

Twilight Cruise, 5 pm - 7 pm

For selected dates, find out more here

The Cockle Train – Steam Ranger Heritage Railway

The Cockle Train 

Hop aboard The Cockle Train and enjoy the stunning water views of the Fleurieu Peninsula as you chug along the oceanfront. Dating back to 1954, The Cockle Train travels along Australia’s oldest steel-railed railway line.

Jump on the train at Goolwa and journey through Middleton and Port Elliot before arriving in Victor Harbor. The trip takes 30 minutes each way with tickets available on the day of travel. Bookings are not required.

Goolwa Railway Station Dunbar Road, Goolwa South Australia

Best Things to Do in Goolwa: Stay

Beach Huts Middleton

Beach Huts Middleton

You can't go past the charming village vibes at Beach Huts Middleton for a stress-free coastal escape. Unwind on your private deck with the soothing sounds of birds and waves, and enjoy the sanctuary of your private hut - each named after iconic coastal towns around Australia.

Head to the award-winning Blues Restaurant for a bite, or burn some energy with a hit of tennis or a stroll to Middleton Surf Beach. An easy 6-minute drive from Goolwa, a stay here guarantees a brilliant weekend away, close to local attractions and warm hospitality to welcome you.

1 Charles Street, Middleton

Mill Estate

Mill Estate 

Take a turn off Goolwa's main drag to find Mill Estate. This boutique accommodation is warm and oh-so cosy, making you feel right at home from the moment you check-in.

There are two cottages to choose from: the three-bedroom Mill Cottage and the one-bed Abode. Both are a (literal) stone’s throw from town and the perfect place to unwind after a long working week.

14 Crocker Street, Goolwa


Pago Middleton

Found yourself in the Goolwa and wanting to stay a little longer? Take Port Elliot Road for a few minutes and you’ll soon reach Pago.

Featuring four meticulously renovated rooms, this luxurious accommodation has been created within the old Middleton stables. You’ll also find a large swimming pool, spa and sauna within the grounds. Pago is a great base to explore the area while providing ample privacy if you’d prefer to rest and retreat. 

29 Mill Terrace, Middleton

Did you love our guide to the best things to do in Goolwa? We’re passionate about sharing the best that South Australia has to offer. Whether you’re planning your next Adelaide staycation or romantic retreat, discover scene-stealing scenery, world-class restaurants and stunning beaches right on our doorstep.

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