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Robe South Australia 
Glass Beach

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For a couple of years I had been wanting to visit Robe S.A. as I had read that there was a beach that was literally covered with sea glass!

Robe is a town and fishing port located in the Limestone Coast of South Australia. Scattered throughout the town you will find historical buildings hinting at life in the early colonial days. There are ocean, fishing fleets moored in the bay, with lakes and coastal bushland helping to create a beautiful setting.

Robe lies on the southern shore of Guichen Bay, just off the Princes Highway. Robe South Australia is one of the oldest towns in the state and was founded by the colonial government as a seaport. The town was proclaimed as a port in 1847. Robe spent a few decades of being one of Australia's busiest trading ports but by the 1890's, because of rivaling ports being opened up, trade had collapsed, the population had dwindled and the town was slowly dying.

Robe's locality, it's climate and its beauty contributed to the coastal town's re-birth as a favorite holiday destination in the early 1900's. A thriving commercial fishing operation had began. In the 1950's many of the old town's buildings were being turned into well renovated holiday homes and the 1960's saw the beginning of the Robe Easter Classic, one of the world's oldest continuously held surfing competitions.

Where is Robe South Australia?


Getting to Robe South Australia

By Road

From Melbourne

Via The West. District 

Achievable to get in Robe in one day.
Distance: 537 Kms
Time: 7.5 hours drive

Via Horsham

This is the fastest way to get to Robe SA, achievable in one day.
Distance: 561 Kms
Time: 7 hours drive

road trip to robe from melbourneRoad Trip from Melbourne to Robe South Australia

By Road

From Adelaide

Via Adelaide

Take the South Eastern Freeway through the Adelaide Hills, enjoy the view from the bridge over the mighty Murray. Turn right at Tailem Bend to join the Princes Highway to Meningie.

Distance: 340 Kms
Time: 3.5 hours drive

Via Fleurieu Peninsula 

Take the South Eastern Freeway and turn off at Callington/Strathalbyn turnoff, cross over the freeway towards Strathalbyn where you can feed the ducks beside the Angas River.

Travel through the vines to Langhorne Creek, cross the Murray on the 24hr car ferry at Wellington to join Princes Hwy.

Distance: 340 Kms
Time: 3.5 hours drive

Factory Bay Robe South Australia

During the early period of Robe's history, there was a thriving canning industry operating at Factory Bay, that used to can snipe, rabbits and swans (sold as Robe geese). After the World Wars this same bay was used as Robe’s rubbish dump! This went on right up till the mid 1950's when the world started to become more environmentally conscious.

Hotel green & brown bottles were dumped here & washed back into the cove.  The area was also know as Glass Beach from the polished sea glass.

glass beach from factory bayGlass Beach locality from Factory Bay Robe South Australia

Scrap metal, old cars and general household hard goods were tossed into the ocean, to be broken up by the constant wave action and deposits of this waste are now being washed up onto the sands along the Factory Bay shoreline and more importantly to we sea glass collectors, the little cove on Glass Beach

embedded sea glass factory bayDeeply embedded sea glass Factory Bay, Robe South Australia

The sands along the foreshore of Factory Bay are deep and soft, being constantly tossed and replaced with each tidal action.

The rocks along the foreshore are weathered and sharp and you need to take special care in climbing down to the shoreline. Embedded into these rocks, you will find pieces of well worn sea glass. These have been naturally cemented into the rocks by nature. Trying to remove any of these will result in breaking the glass, just enjoy looking at what power nature has. There will be plenty of opportunity to collect loose sea glass at Glass beach next door.

You will find the occasional piece of sea glass in this bay, plenty of cuttlefish and maybe some sea pottery. But right next door to Factory By is a little inlet cove. They call this cove Glass Beach.

overlooking factory bay robeOverlooking Factory Bay in Robe South Australia with Robe's modern lighthouse on the right.

Where is Glass Beach in Robe South Australia?

If you are standing on the cliffs near the Robe Lighthouse overlooking Factory Bay, Glass Beach will be to your right. To access this little cove you will need to find the sandy road near the intersection of Joy Terrace and Adam Lindsay Gordon Drive.  Look out for the sign to Doorway Rock on the walking/bike track.

bike track in robeCliff top bike track near the Glass Beach in Robe South Australia

This sandy road actually leads to the concrete slab that was used as the tipping point for the rubbish trucks. The trucks would back up to this slab at the edge of the cliff and dump their load over the edge into the ocean.

tipping point robe south australiaConcrete slab tipping area in Robe South Australia

We actually found some really old pieces of glass to the right of the slab, that hadn't fallen into the ocean. One piece of a very large light globe, complete with filament still attached.

concrete slab on cliff face robeGlass remnant on the cliff face in Robe South Australia


Is Glass Beach worth investigating?

Standing on the top of the cliff and looking down, all I could see was a small stretch of sand and access to it looked a little difficult but my daughter insisted that I had better come take a closer look. I had been disappointed with our finds at Factory Bay and really wasn't looking forward to scrambling down a rugged cliff face but she won me over.

glass beach robeClimbing down to Glass Beach in Robe South Australia

So glad that she did!

Turns out that the cliff face is relatively easy to climb down if you take it easy and slowly. Just watch the loose sand. There is a ledge that overhangs this little sandy area and it is this ledge that hides an incredible treasure trove of sea glass and sea pottery underneath it!

sea glass on the beachRobe's sea glass treasure found on Glass beach in Robe South Australia

I couldn't believe my eyes. I sat there, mouth drooling, just surveying this incredible sight. I have never seen anything like it. I totally forgot my aches and pains and the fact that I was going to have to climb back up that cliff behind me. 

It was totally fascinating to watch the waves as they broke onto the shore,p t as each wave brought more and more sea glass onto the beach. I had no idea how much sea glass I was going to find that day and really hadn't come prepared to collect the amount that I would love to have brought home. I had a little bag for my bits and that had to suffice. 

sorting sea glassChecking out some of the Sea Glass treasures found in Robe South Australia

But one thing I knew was that we would be back the next day and would be more prepared to collect a decent haul.

The breakdown of sea glass and sea pottery for the 2 day haul was ...

  • 40% Brown Sea Glass
  • 30% White
  • 10% Aqua
  • 10% Green
  • 10% Sea Pottery

What an amazing experience and one I am going to repeat again hopefully later this year. There is plenty to see and do in Robe South Australia if you get the chance to visit. Check out more of my Robe adventure here.

sorted sea glassSorted Sea Glass collected in Robe South Australia

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More Sea Glass Collecting in Victoria

45kms from Melbourne, the beach at Frankston can, at most times, provide you with several hours of sea glass hunting.

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