Signal Point is where the River Murray Visitors Centre is located. It is labelled as the National Exhibition Centre for the Murray Darling Rivers.
It has a number of different features to inform, by entertaining, most members of the family. For example a 25 screen video wall with different shows screeing continuously. You can do such things as take any of six trips with explorers using this. There is a great touch screen presentation of the birds, animals and reptiles of this river system. You can learn about the dreamtime legends that relate to the rivers and also the riverboat days in the signal mast theatre. This is fascinating because just as with the Mighty Mississippi, steam driven paddlers plied the river system on Australia's most imprtant trade route. But, my favourite bit was the restored Oscar "W" paddlesteamer moored outside. Just great! The cuppa in Signal Point's Cafe wasn't too bad either.
Open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission was when we visited, $5 for adults, $2.50 for ch'n $12 for a Family Pass of 2+2 while Pensioners & concession Card Holders were $3.50 each.
We drove to Goolwa by car from Strathalbyn, along the Strathalbyn/Goolwa Road.
Near Currency Creek, is the "CANOE TREE," which is a River Red Gum.
It is located on the side of the road, so can be seen at any time.
This Tree is important, because Aboriginal's cut the bark of the tree to make a Canoe capable of carrying more than one person. The scar is about 5 metres long.
It is a short drive from Goolwa, and is one of a few Canoe Trees left in Australia.
It's a shame somebody has ring-barked the tree, resulting in its death. It used to be alive, even though the Canoe shape had been cut from the Tree.
The Canoe Tree is located on the side of the Strathalbyn to Goolwa main road in the Currency Creek area, near the railway crossing and Winery Rd.
The scenery between these two towns is mainly undulating farm land, with higher hills in the background. You will see plenty of Sheep in the paddocks, and at the right time of the year, crops.
Views are far reaching and the scenery is quite nice.
These days, around Currency creek near Goolwa, a few vineyards and small Wineries are to be found and have their Cellar doors open for business.
A list of the wineries is on the website listed below.
The Goolwa Visitor Information Centre is located in the Heritage listed Post & Telegraph Office. In 1858, a magnetic telegraph was connected from Adelaide to Melbourne, via Goolwa.
Now, it is the Tourist Information centre, and is the booking agent for local tours & cruises, and where you buy your Coorong National Park Camping Permits, or the SA Cellar Door Pass & Kangaroo Island Sealink tickets.
The centre has plenty of FREE INFORMATION, and helpful volunteers, and a good gift shop with lots of Australian made products. Toilets are free and located here.
The Internet is available, but isn't free. Cost was $2 for 20mins
The centre is Open: 9am – 5pm, 7 days (closed Christmas Day)
The "Oscar" is a woodfired paddlesteamer, purchased by the Alexandria council to ensure that it was preserved and maintained for future generations. They restored the Paddlesteamer, and now today, you can go for a one hour cruise which departs from the Port of Goolwa wharf.
The paddle steamer "Oscar W" was built in 1908 at Echuca, Victoria. The builder of the Paddlesteamer named it after his son "Oscar," whom he hoped would continue his shipping business, but young Oscar was killed in action in World War I.
Cruises operate mostly Saturday and Sunday however check the website incase times are changed.
FARE.......Adult $20 ....Children 5-15years $8
I came across the Goolwa Riverboat centre when I was looking at the Paddlesteamer "Oscar."
This is a ticket and booking office for the cruises, and also a shop that sells nautical souvenirs.
Inside, there was more, and it was FREE to view.
The history of Goolwa was told, and there were models of how the Paddlesteamers were in the olden days.
In the 19th & 20th centuries, the River Murray was a major inland water highway where dozens of paddle steamers and their barges carried produce from stations and farms to transit points downriver.
They were known as "floating shops,' the only way the early settlers could receive mail, supplies and passengers could go from one town to another, etc.
Ports, shipbuilding facilities, Warehouses and more were established.
Here at Goolwa, I found the 'River Boat Trail,' which is a series of 18 interpretive panels along the South Australian section of the River Murray. Each panel has a map and information about what happened along the River Murray.
It is quite an interesting trail to follow, even though I couldn't complete it.
It was a chance for me to learn of shipwrecks along the river and to read about stories of the people, their settlements and vessels that made the Murray a major inland highway from the 1850s to the 20th century.
The station was built in 1853, on the wharves as it was needed to serve the Paddlesteamers that brought goods down the River Murray.
The old Railway Station is now used by the Steam-Ranger's Goolwa.
Years ago, in the busy Summers, rail motors were used to operate the “Cockle Train” local service between Goolwa and Victor Harbor. Now, you too can enjoy a ride on the Cockle train which takes you around Encounter Bay to Victor Harbor. There are good views of the seaside along the way and Victor Harbor has plenty to see.
The area around the Station has been restored beautifully, still retaining its 1900s character and is used as the SteamRanger's ticket office, refreshment shop and Stationmaster’s office. The adjacent cream shed has been converted to a platform shelter.
The Goods shed is still there, used by SteamRanger’s maintenance team, and you can see the artwork Cows waiting in the yards to be transported.
More information on the "Cockle Train journey" on website listed below.
The Wharf area of Goolwa has really been made into a nice tourist attraction. I was quite impressed with what I saw.
Not only are there what I have mentioned in previous tips, but you will also find the Steam Exchange Brewery, home of the Encounter Bay Brewery company. Loved the sundeck out the front, just the place to enjoy and Ale or too!
If you look carefully, you will notice these buildings have been made to lool like a ship, and if you wander around the area, there are other bits and pieces on display, like the old Barge which had a steam powered pile driver.
There is plenty of interpretive signage around, so no worries finding out about what you are viewing.
As the Bridge to Hindmarsh Island is close to the Wharf area, we decided to go across, just to have a look back at Goolwa.
The last time we were at Hindmarsh Island, we had to catch a ferry across. Since 2001, the bridge has opened and housing developments have progressed on the Island. I really don't think there is much to see on the Island, but fishing is quite good. The island has fresh water on one side and salt water on the other, and boats can be hired.
Other than that, remnants of a small cheese factory, flour mill, schoolmasters residence and a school can be found on the island.
I wouldn't make a special trip here!
Goolwa has quite a few old heritage buildings, so pick up the brochure available which lists all the major buildings in this area from the Tourist information centre.
I will tell you about some I saw on my walk around Goolwa.
The 1st, was the the Old Police Station and Court House which was built between 1859-74. The original Station had its own well and a Store for the Aboriginal's.
A nice old building from the outside, and now we could go inside, as it is the home of the South Coast Regional Arts Centre.
This centre helps promotes local artists in the region who do painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, jewellery and ceramics. The Exhibitions change monthly.
OPEN....Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10am to 4pm
...........Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm
This Cottage is very unusual and an "eye-catcher!"
It was once the Stationmaster’s Cottage, and was the first building in Goolwa.
The building of the Cottage began in July 1852. It's unusual, as it's built in the form of a ‘T’, and has a distinctive curved self-supporting corrugated iron roof covering the limestone building. When you see it, you will realize why it was sometimes called "the round house." The house consisted of 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and lean-to, since 1902, the lean-to has been demolished and a bathroom and laundry added. There is no internal structure apart from ceiling hangers to support the lath and plaster ceilings.
It was apparently built under the guise of "Old Government House".
Surrounding the house, is an English Cottage garden, an underground tank with domed roof of bricks which came out from England as ship’s ballast and to complete the scene, a picket fence!
The cottage is on the State Heritage List, and is now leased by radio station Alex FM.
I love these old Hotels, and reading about what happened in them.
Well, the Goolwa Hotel was built in 1853, and inside are pieces of the sailing Irish Ship
"Mozambique," which was wrecked on the Younghusband Peninsula in 1874. The mast of the ship was used as a joist in the hotel’s dining room, and the ship’s staircase is being used, as are the cedar chairs that were rescued from the wreck. Look for the teeth marks of the sailors who carried them in races aboard the Ship. Also, the original figurehead is in the Hotel Dining room, and a replica adorns the front of the Hotel.
The Goolwa park is located in the centre of town, right beside the main road.
It is a lovely area of lawn, pathways, gardens, a Rotunda, seating and the FREE public Toilets. Hopefully, you may want to go to the Toilet, if not, go for a look as they are new, and have been beautified with Murals' depicting scenes of the local area. They have been done out of pieces of ceramics, and look really good!
A Horse drawn railway used to operate between Goolwa and Port Elliot from 1854.
On display and behind glass, is a carriage similar to the ones they used.
The Goolwa-Port Elliot railway was the first railway in South Australia, and was only seven miles long.
The railway was first proposed in 1849. The idea was to unload goods from Ships at Goolwa, and transport them by rail to Port Elliot, later to Victor Harbor, and shipped to the world.
28,000 bales of wool were shipped from Goolwa the first year. During the 30 years of operation, the horse tramway carried over 600,000 passengers and some 250,000 tons of goods. Steam locomotives took over in 1885.
Where the Horse Stables were located, is now the rooms of the local RSL Club.