Gaol Image by Josh RCG. Obelisk Image by Les Haines
If you enjoy exploring the history of places you visit, then there is plenty to learn at the seaside town of Robe, situated along the southern shore of Guichen Bay in South Australia.
Robe was named after South Australian Governor, Major Frederick Robe, and by 1859 Robe had become one of southern Australia’s busiest ports being one of the primary trading points for wool between Australia and Europe. In the 1900’s it became a major commercial fishing port known for exploring Southern Rock Lobster to the rest of the world and today it is a popular holiday destination in South Australia.
There are a number of historical and heritage listed sites if you are looking for things to do in Robe and want to explore its rich maritime history, here are some of the more significant ones:
The Cape Dombey Oblesik
The Cape Dombey Obelisk was erected in 1852, and at 12 metres tall, was easily visible to ships out at sea. It was used to navigate ships to the entrance of Guichen Bay and it was also used to store lifesaving equipment.
Rockets would be fired out to sea, carrying baskets of life saving equipment to distressed ships to bring passengers to shore and they saved many lives.
The Obelisk is a ten minute drive from the town centre of Robe, it is worth putting on your things to do list. There is plenty of parking and it is free to explore.
Old Customs House Nautical Museum
The Old Custom Museum is a short drive from Robe’s town centre and has a large display of nautical history for those wanting to know about Robe’s history as a major port. There are stories about explorers, parts of ships, mines, maps, barometers and numerous other items brought up by divers from wrecks.
It is open Tuesday and Saturdays (daily during Christmas holidays) and the cost is $1 per adult.
Robe Gaol Ruins
The Robe gaol was built in 1860 and held prisoners from 1860 till 1870 when it was closed. It was reopened from 1872 – 1881 again and since then has remained closed.
There was some restoration work done in 1995 to rebuild the walls and today it is a historic icon of Robe that is worth a visit. It is also an open and easily accessible area for kids to explore.
It is near the Robe Obelisk, right on the coast so the ocean views are stunning. It is free and open daily.
Robe Historic Walks
There are two self-guided historical walks through Robe that have been mapped out by the locals to help you appreciate historical buildings in the town.
One is a shorter walk and if you have the time, the other a longer walk. Both start at the Village Green on Smillie Street and the walking map will guide you step by step.
In the town centre you will also find the Robe Hotel overlooking Guichen Bay and the Caledonian In on the main street. Both have enough room for families and larger groups as well as a dinner for two. You can also take a 3 hour sailing trip on Guichen Bay which was once upon a time a thriving shipping port.
There are many more things to do in Robe, which you can find on the Robe tourism website.
Book into the Kingston Foreshore Caravan Park – only 20 minutes from Robe!
Our caravan park is right on the beachfront in Kingston and only a 20 minute drive from Robe, with one and two bedroom cabins with ensuites as well as powered and non-powered caravan sites. We are ideal for families, caravaners and travellers along the Great Ocean Road. Book now or call us on (08) 8767 2050 to enquire about our accommodation options and facilities.