Kingston SE South Australia

With COVID restrictions lifting all over Australia and Victorians finally given approval to venture a little further, we joyfully hit the road. Choosing to head to beautiful South Australia, a state that never fails to fulfill our desire for quiet towns and awesome beaches, we decided on Kingston SE. We did the drive in one day as our time was limited and we wanted to get the most out the week we had.

Stopping for loo breaks and bakery delights along the way, the km’s travelled were not too bad. Beaufort is a popular stop, with a nice bakery and clean toilets. I recommend the Beaufort Country Bakery. We had chicken sandwiches made up fresh while we waited and delightful cakes. Being a fan of vanilla slices – see my blog – The Great Vanilla Slice – obviously, I tried one of theirs…it was good.

We arrived in Kingston a wee bit tired and hungry, but awfully pleased to have a front row site with a sea view. After setting up and a quick dinner, we walked across the road to watch the sunset before ending a long day snuggled down in our van for two with a glass of wine and a movie. Zzzzz….

The next day dawned with a yawn and after breakfast we were ready to explore. The first thing we did is suss out the town. Walking the streets observing the architecture, shops and people gives a feel for the personality of a town. And of course, I have to find the local bakery. Always a source of joy…and vanilla slices.

Overlooking the Kingston Foreshore Caravan Park is the Cape Jaffa lighthouse, which was decommissioned and moved to where it now resides lighting up the streetscape at night. You can climb it, but it costs and needs to be booked as a tour. Tempting, but we were not organised enough to book.

The Kingston foreshore is grassy and clean with an asphalt track running along it. Tracks to the beach cut through the vegetation to a fine white sand beach. There is quite a bit of seaweed, but still lovely. Big tides clear footprints and leave the sand glorious.

The wind was crazy on our first day, resulting in some hilarious hairdos. Each day our walks revealed a treasure trove of pretty shells. I was particularly excited by the scallop shells.

The colours and patterns of Kingston town. Very pretty.

The Kingston Jetty is looooong. A lovely weathered timber structure. So much nicer than modern concrete piers don’t you think? Opposite the Foreshore caravan park is a pontoon for swimmers. A nice addition to any beach. Although the seaweed surrounding it would make me worry about what was lurking beneath the water…

Each evening awesome kites were seen on the foreshore. They changed daily while we were there.

A short drive south of Kingston is Cape Jaffa. The town is very quiet, the new canal development and marina are still in the early stages of becoming anything. We walked the jetty which was of lovely old timber but didn’t stay long.

The Granites, about 20 kms north of Kingston. A nice beach walk and interesting rock formations. Very peaceful and stunningly beautiful.

The Coorong Loop Road, just under an hour north of Kingston is well worth a day trip. Take drinks and snacks as there is only a van selling takeaway in Salt Creek. The loop road takes you off the highway for about 13 km. It is unsealed but graded, although some parts were a little rough due to corrugations. There is a long drop dunny not far in and I can happily say it did not smell. I sent the mighty warrior in first to make sure the coast was clear of smell and/or nasty surprises.

Salt lakes are one of my joys and I was squealing with delight when we saw this one just a short way along the loop road. The colours varied from sparkling crystals of white to soft blue/greens to pinks. It was beautiful.

Fascinating as well as beautiful. The salt creates a landscape that captivates.

Tea Tree Crossing allows you to cross to the ocean side of the Coorong. Not something I would try in the wet, but fortunately it was totally dry on the day we were there. Check the tides before you go. Sign posts mark where to drive and it is quite firm, but only suitable for 4WD as the entry on and off the crossing is quite steep and super soft sand.

A day trip to Robe was both a joy and a nightmare. A protected bay, that had the sun been shining, would have been gob smackingly beautiful, was unfortunately overrun with hoards of families dragging sour faced teenagers and grumpy children along the crowded main street. It was ridiculously busy, pushing our way through the shuffling disgruntled families was a horrible experience. We will return out of season.

We did eventually find a quietish outdoor venue to have some lunch, which was a forgettable experience in itself, however, on a positive note, Robe offers so much visually. The council has built a 6km walk along the coastline that is absolutely glorious. There are several places along it to park and enjoy a short walk if you are not up to the full 12km return trip. We were only there a short time so didn’t do the whole walk, much as we would have liked to, and will do another time.

The sun disappeared after lunch before we had the pleasure of enjoying the beautiful bay. The white sand made the water appear opalescent, too hard to capture in a photo, but the beach was relatively empty with the overcast conditions, so a drive along the hard packed sand was easy. It is the type of beach that beckons you into the water. So clean and clear.

Pop into the sales room for Loophole Brewery. They have a good range of beers from easy drinking, to the interesting Austral Project brews made with grape skins. Pretty awesome when you can get a local brew.

The great thing about a road trip is the awesome things you come upon. From the well known tourist sites like Larry the Lobster, to this fellow sitting on the side of the road between Robe and Kingston.

Back in Kingston, just out of town, nestled alongside the petrol stations is an unassuming bakery titled Robe Bakery, even though it is in Rosetown, within the Kingston District. Don’t overlook this little timber structure. It delivers. The vanilla slice had crisp, flakey biscuit and the custard was smooth and light in texture.

Kingston Foreshore caravan park is a good place to base yourself for exploring. Well spaced grassy sites, and if you ask for the front row, a room with a view. The facilities are basic but clean, and the water flow in the showers excellent. The walk in to town is easy and the IGA well stocked. Beach or track walks to the pier are excellent. I highly recommend a visit. Our time being short, we had to head home way too soon. I was sorry to leave this quiet and beautiful area.

As we headed towards home via a couple of nights in Nelson, a loo break in Millient coincided with morning tea, so we walked the main street looking for a bakery, which was nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t believe there was no bakery, but on the way to the public toilets in the park, I glimpsed a sign one block in from the main road. Andy’s Bakery does a super donut, but i ate it before i took a photo. The vanilla slice looked amazing and i was excited to try it…sadly it had an interesting chemical aftertaste I have not experienced in a vanilla slice before. I will say at this point, that I share the vanilla slices. I don’t boff them by myself.

The main street of Millicent – check out this claim to fame! I love it. They have the world record for covered gumboots. 443!

Across the border and back in Victoria, we arrived in Nelson. We visited here quite some time ago and were pleased to see that other than the addition of a new petrol station, not much has changed. Nelson provides a base for exploring the sensational Glenelg river, it’s estuary and wild ocean beaches. We stayed at Kywong Caravan Park. Note that phone reception is an issue, so don’t come here if you are addicted to technology. Do come here if you are searching for a space to read and rest and let your mind take a break from the world and its troubles. I should mention the showers are a bit temperamental, changing unexpectedly from a full flow of hot water, to a trickle of cold that turns scalding hot without warning. Turning up the cold water provides a momentary warm mix before becoming ice cold again. Very challenging. And not a pleasant experience. However, the park offers good sized shady sites and is really peaceful when a super annoying child wasn’t bullying her little friends at the top of her voice. It took all of my will power not to grab a wooden spoon and find her. I am sure her pint sized friends would have cheered.

Walks to the ocean beaches are well maintained and easily found. 4G from the look out! We downloaded several movies up here.

There is heaps of wildlife, birds, waterways and amazing sunsets. Walking on the sand is excellent as it is firm and white and beautiful, but the ocean waters, pristine, dramatic and deadly, are not safe for swimming. Glorious for walking and absorbing the astounding colours. I use the word beautiful too much. Must find alternative.

The Great South West Walk follows the coast and Glenelg River. Well marked and offering several detours to the water down steps either built or carved, there are heaps of boat sheds and landings giving a picturesque view of the river and a place to sit and contemplate.

The Glenelg Estuary is a space of immense beauty and brings me joy. The walk to the ocean beach is easy at low tide if you are okay with picking your way through and around whatever is washed up. And very satisfying when you get through it. Heaps of little fish are darting around in the quite deep pools of tannin stained water left by the outgoing tide.

Low tide allows gentle swims and areas for families to bring the kiddies with canoes and floaty toys. The water is super warm, shallow and clean, but beware the fast flow as it nears the ocean. It’s wild and dangerous. Not for swimming, but the crazy water is captivating.

I took way to many photos, but it’s stunning. How could i not!

Nelson town has a pub, a couple of kiosks, a petrol station and not much else as far as retail outlets. Fill up on groceries and booze before heading there. Love the Nelson Pubs fund raising. The ceiling has notes pinned all over it.

Sadly we had to head home. We planned to drive inland and stay in Mortlake overnight to escape the Victorian coastal crowds that gathered for the extended long weekend break. Mortlake boasted an extinct volcano and interesting architecture, so we thought we’d give it a go.

Morning tea time brought us into Portland. A walk around the town provided nothing enticing, so needing loo’s we headed to the visitors centre. A little museum provided a spot of interest for free, so we decided to support the cafe which had nice views over the harbour. The lady serving was delightful and set up a table for us on the outside sheltered balcony. We sat there for quite a while enjoying the serenity. We chose a vanilla slice, of course, and the citrustart, which looked very good. I am not sure where they were baked but they were far better than some of the bakery products we have experience and the lovely lady went to a lot of trouble cutting them in half so we could share and decorating the plates with icing sugar and a squeeze of red. Most unexpected. The cappuccino was rather a piece of sculptural artwork, although a little overly fluffed for us. The vanilla slice was creamy, light in texture, smooth and although the biscuit was a little undercooked, it was remarkably tasty. The citrus tart was not too tart, some tend to set my eyes watering! It was creamy in texture and the pastry shell a delicious biscuit that held together well without being impossible to cut with a fork. The coffee was a little insipid, but i would return there to support them regardless. Nice stop.

On to Mortlake. The caravan park was in a pretty park, but we were not comfortable with it and decided to grab a quick lunch and head instead to Port Fairy for out last night on the way home. There is not much i can say about Mortlake. It sounded promising but it isn’t really somewhere that offers much to see. The bakery was a little grotty and the food looked uncared for. Although the pies boast about their quality, i can assure you the pasties were a little strange. Perhaps i should have tried a pie, but they were reminiscent of white flabby skin and consequently a little off putting.

Arrival in Port Fairy was a little different to our previous visit. Jam packed and bursting with long weekenders. Being there for only one night we made the best of the crowds by zipping in and out of town for supplies and going for walks. The weather was the best we had ever had in Port Fairy with warm temperatures and little wind.

Beach walks were heavenly as no seemed interested.

Rock walks..same. Everyone seemed to just be hanging in the main street cafes or the camp sites.

Super clear waters and the ever present wallabies. Always a winner Port Fairy.

Time to go home.

Last stop Camperdown for lunch. The main street was nice for a stroll. We stopped at The Loaf and Lounge for lunch. A large space, with seating outside as well as in. It was comfortable and offered a nice range of food choices. The sandwiches were huge chunky slices of bread like i have never seen anywhere since my friends lunches in high school. Tea came in a pot of adequate size and the mixed sandwiches, which were our choice for the day, were light and flavoursome. The vanilla slice, yes, i know, way too many vanilla slices this trip, was over coloured and the icing over flavoured, the biscuit over cooked and slightly bitter, but if you didn’t separate the bits, it was quite okay. Strange.

Well, the end of another road trip that was super packed with walking and exploring. And vanilla slices. I highly recommend South Australia for road trips. It is not as busy as the east coast and you can get campsites in quiet places that are not too remote, but are away from the hordes who want to be near cafes and easy to view tourist points. I can’t wait to get out here again. Cheers. Aunty Frida.

The Great Vanilla Slice

One of the best things about travelling is bakeries! And in bakeries, there is almost always, a vanilla slice. I’ve been sampling quite a few, and have decided to put them all together as a reminder to myself of where i have eaten vanilla slices, and to let other travellers know what is on offer in vanilla slice heaven. Some are amazing, some are not so memorable. I will update and add these delicious creamy delights as I find and devour them. Yummm…

Suttons Bakery, Moama

Beechworth Bakery, Echuca

The Loaf and Lounge Camperdown. Nice place for lunch. The vanilla slice had nice flakey pastry, although a little burnt and slightly bitter. The custard is super yellow and a little gluggy at first bite but actually worked well with the biscuit. The pink icing was a little strong in flavour, but much as the individual components were not 100%, they worked together and melded into a satisfactory sweet. Just don’t eat the bits separately.

Portland Visitors Centre Cafe. An unexpected delight. I have no idea where they are baked but the vanilla slice was really good, (as was the citrus tart). Creamy, smooth, light in texture and flavour, although the biscuit was a little undercooked. Worth a stop to sit and enjoy the view of the harbour while enjoying a vanilla slice and a rather sculptural coffee.

Andy’s Bakery Millicent. These vanilla slices looked perfect. I was excited. But what a let down. The custard had a vaguely curdled texture, quite gluggy, and little taste. There was a slight chemical aftertaste i have never experienced in a vanilla slice before. The biscuit was average. So sad. Note: The donuts were awesome.

Robe Bakery Kingston SA. They might look a bit sloppy, but they are possibly one of the nicest vanilla slice i have ever had the pleasure of eating. The biscuit was crunchy and flakey, the custard light in texture and taste. The only thing that lets it down is the addition of cream. Totally unnecessary, as was the chocolate splats on top. These only detracted from the otherwise delicious custard.

Beaufort Country Bakery. Smaller in size than most vanilla slices, this little delight was smothered in icing sugar that made eating it in the car somewhat tricky. The custard was smooth, not too sickly sweet and the pastry satisfactory. All in all, a nice treat.

Littles at Kingston by the Sea. Coconut sprinkled vanilla slice is a first for me, but it works. Easy to cut for sharing, the custard was very nice. Smooth and silky. The biscuit however was a little undercooked and soggy. shame.

Village Bakehouse Port Fairy. One of two bakeries in Port Fairy, the vanilla slice promised joy, but although assured they were baked daily, the pasty was a little soggy and i found the custard a bit gluggy. We shared the one piece and both felt half was more than enough.

Cobbs Bakery Port Fairy. One of two bakeries in Port Fairy, the vanilla slice is of the pink iced variety. Always dubious of the little pinkies delivering, the custard was creamy and light in texture, and although the pastry was hard to cut through, it has a rather nice taste. The thick pink icing fortunately was not sickly. Good job.

Stoneground Bakehouse Hurstbridge. Situated in a village style street, they have a good range of cakes, biscuits, breads and pastries at reasonable prices. The vanilla slice is of the more traditional Aussie style. The filling is smooth and silky but lack interest in flavour and has a slight chemical taste. The icing is a little sweet and sickly for my taste but hubby loved it. The biscuit not too soggy and cuts well. Although it holds together well, looks okay, it is not on my recommendation list.

The Malley Bakery, Ouyen. Cakes here are good. We have stopped a couple of times on the way to somewhere. Creamy smooth texture, and the icing is actually not sickening, even though it gives the appearance of sticky over sweetness. Definitely recommend the vanilla slice if you are passing though.

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Paul The Pieman, Inverloch. This is a great bakery. Their cakes are amongst the best i have eaten, and i have eaten a lot of them! Variety is brilliant. Their vanilla slice is rich and creamy. A true dessert, rather than a cuppa at morning tea.

Flinders Fish and Chips, Flinders. The Flinders Fish and Chips shop boasts the Guinness World of Records biggest vanilla slice 2012. And yes, it’s huge. At $11 a serve, it would easily feed four people. Two of us had a good go at it and couldn’t finish it. It is big, but it’s not the best in taste and texture. It’s a once only buy and try for me.

Pastry King Cafe Bakery, Daylesford. This was a shop that promised a superior sweet. Their bakery fare looked good, and was priced on the high side. We bought a selection to share and tasted. The vanilla slice was nice, a little super charged in presentation, but not extraordinary. It looked better than it tasted. Disappointed. Staff were a little discourteous to customers. Next time i will try some of the other bakeries.

Marysville Country Bakery, Marysville. This is a large bakery with heaps of choice. They don’t call their vanilla slice, a vanilla slice. They call it a ‘granny vanilla slice’. When i asked why, i was met with a confused look and the answer was, ‘that’s what we call them.’ We rushed back to our accomodation to give it a taste test with a glass of wine, as you do, and were a little disappointed in the grainy texture and hard to cut pastry. The taste was good, but degree of difficulty eating and texture left us not wanting to go back for more.

Bay Bakery Cafe – Jurien Bay WA. A busy little bakery in a little shopping strip, two versions of vanilla slice were on offer. Labelled Vanilla Slice, was a pink iced number that looked like a traditional no frills vanilla slice, but unfortunately the biscuit tasted a little burnt, or perhaps bitter is more accurate. The custard was somewhat gelatinous and lacking in richness, a little watery in taste. But i loved the pink icing reminiscent of grandma’s and country bakeries. The alternate was labelled Custard Slice. The pastry was much better, but the custard was grainy, disappointingly feeling like a packet mix fail. Both looked good, but let down in the taste and texture.

Wild Grains Bakehouse – Healesville Victoria This vanilla slice was a modest little surprise. Creamy and smooth, light in texture. The biscuit was a little hard to eat with a fork, but hubby sorted it by picking it up and taking bites without cutlery. The icing was as sticky and pink as you would expect a vanilla slice. Reasonably priced. I recommend you give these a try.