Goolwa, a small town with a population of around 2500. That number swells during school holidays, Christmas, Easter and in fact any long weekend during the year. Goolwa sits approximately 100 kms from Adelaide and is easily driven in an hour and a half or so, including a quick stop if you need.
That stop could be at the bakery at Mount Compass if it were a quick coffee and a pastry that you were after, or if you have extra time on your hands and happen to be heading south on a Saturday you might consider timing your trip to tie in with Willunga Farmers Market, every Saturday 8.00 until 12.30.
If wine is your thing then don’t head Goolwa/Victor direction without including a visit to one or many of the renowned wineries in the Southern Vales area.
Moving on … it’s easy to get carried away with the journey to Goolwa and those suggestions are only a tiny sample of what’s on offer. There are many different roads that will get you to Goolwa, all of which are in great condition. Your journey will wind past hobby farms and farming land, small towns and communities, all ready welcome you with a coffee, meal or a well supplied general store.
Once you get to Goolwa you're still spoilt for choice ... There are cafes, lunch stops and many interesting shops and galleries to browse in, but what Goolwa has, that others don’t have … is about 12 kms of unspoiled beach that you can drive along.
Now, I’m not suggesting everyone go tearing along the beach jumping sand-hills but I am suggesting a leisurely 4 wheel drive trip along one of the most pristine beaches starting at Goolwa Beach and heading to the Murray Mouth, where the river meets the sea. For novice 4 wheel drivers it’s not as daunting as you think, and could be one of the highlights of your time spent in the Goolwa area.
The tips listed below are suggestions for Goolwa beach and not necessarily applicable to all sand driving situations. The Goolwa sand hills are out of bounds and driving on them is highly illegal and they should never be traversed. Part of the appeal of the drive is actually the expanse of untouched sand hills.
The sand drive from the entrance of the beach to the Murray Mouth is approximately 12 kms and a good idea is to set your trip meter so that you know where you are on the track at any time. By doing this you can easily calculate your exit strategy (keep going through the tough stuff or turn around) if the drive gets too hard or you lose your nerve.
The one most important thing you should do is check the tides and organise your beach drive around low tide times. Willy Weather is one source of reliable tide information or try Google .
Once you’ve checked the tides, then deflate the tyres on one of Complete’s Four Wheel Drives, ensure that you are familiar with selecting and engaging four wheel drive and remain calm.
Engaging 4 wheel drive is not that hard, and we are always happy to show you through the process and even share a quick lap around the block, to explain the engaging process when you collect your vehicle from us at Complete Ute and Van Hire.
Your tyres should be deflated before you enter the beach area and I suggest 20 psi as a starting point. If things get a bit tough along the way then you might consider deflating the tyres down to 15, but any less than 15 and you risk rolling the tyre off the rim which makes thing a little tough and might change the experience.
At the end of beach road you’ll see a driveway that turns left just before the new Goolwa Surf Life Saving Club.
The first part … let’s call it the bit between the entrance and the beach proper, can be boggy (especially on a busy weekend) but don’t panic, once you hit the beach things generally smooth out. The first 6 to 8 kms of the beach are pretty straight forward, however don’t be too casual, pedestrian traffic, dogs and kids darting out from behind a car heading to the water can be a potential hazard.
If you’re a novice then this relatively easy section is a great place to practice your 4 wheel driving. Try travelling along in high range then stop and shift to low range. It’s a good spot to familiarise yourself with the vehicle performance while in 4 wheel drive and familiarizing yourself with the 4 wheel drive shifting action.
If your unsure or uncomfortable, then this is the time to turn around, and in saying that if you were to turn back then take a wide arc rather than a tight turn. Turning tight circles in sand creates a grader type scenario where the sand gathers in front of the turning wheels creating a brake.
So you’ve travelled about 7 or 8 kms and everything seems pretty easy … then you get to the last 4 or 5 kms which can be chopped up, soft, boggy and a down right pain but don’t panic.
I’m suggesting that you are already in high range 4 wheel drive, driving at a medium comfortable speed in second gear and the tyres are deflated … if that’s the case keep momentum and keep going and if your in a manual, then avoid changing gears.
If you’re in low range 4 wheel drive, and driving at a comfortable speed then keep going also. Once you get to the top of the first sand hill at the end of the soft stuff then there is an area that you can stop, enjoy the view and if necessary re gather your thoughts.
Only a couple of kms to go now and at this stage the sand is still usually chopped up but there is a large expanse of sand for you to travel on.
Ta daaaa … your at the Murray Mouth where the river meets the sea!
Chances are you’ll see many other 4 wheel drives and people relaxing under shade, surf fishing for the elusive Mulloway or just hanging about.
Take in the view (that’s Hindmarsh Island and Sugars that you can see across the water), have a picnic and there’s a chance you might even see a seal or two.
The tide times will be the measure of how long you stay, remembering the drive back may take a little extra time given traffic and the uncertainty of the beach conditions.
Remember to keep momentum while driving in the sand … it’s not about driving flat out.
Once you are back, there’s always the new Surf Club where you can stop off for a sunset drink and a recap of your beach adventure.
Enjoy your trip!