Those who’ve visited the Limestone Coast will tell you we’ve been blessed with some of the world’s most stunning and surreal landscapes, so it’s almost a given that artistic expression follows the same path.…
In fact, our long list of pristine places and spaces have inspired a creative culture that runs deep through the region’s veins. From nationally and internationally acclaimed galleries to quirky local finds and spectacular street art, there’s enough eye-candy here to fill even the biggest connoisseur’s bucket, and if you’re keen to see some of the best of it, we’ve pulled together this list to help you on your way!
The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre, Mount Gambier.
No trip to Mount Gambier is complete without a visit to The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre, featuring an ever-changing calendar of local artists exhibiting alongside works of national significance. The Riddoch holds the state's foremost regional collection with over 1500 items, from paintings and prints depicting the people and history of the Limestone Coast to a significant collection of Aboriginal and 20th Century Australian art, featured in curated collection exhibitions throughout the year.
Don’t miss the daily screening of the movie 'Volcano', the story of Earth, Fire and Water. Beginning with the Aboriginal Dreamtime story, Craitbul, this awesome big screen adventure weaves its way through the eight major volcanic eruptions that created Mount Gambier and the Kanawinka region. If you’re here in the evening, you’re also in for a visual treat, as a stunning light display in the Cave Garden illuminates the exterior of the building with historic photos and footage giving way to a spectacular sound and light show that tells the stories of the Boandik people and their connection to local landmarks.
Oh, and parents… you’ll also be glad to know there’s plenty here to capture the kids’ imagination, with a range of interactive exhibits and school holiday activities to keep your little ones entertained for hours!
In Millicent, a stroll up George Street reveals a colourful character on every other corner… Over the last few years the cool crew at Imagine Millicent have helped to establish this town’s reputation as a centre for local and international street artists, with a stunning range of murals that have popped up all over town. Painted on some of the town’s most historic buildings, new works appear almost constantly, decking out anything from old banks to skate parks.
Kick your journey off at Bee Hive Corner and you’ll step right into Mike Makatron’s 3D masterpiece, which celebrates all things ‘wind, water and wings’ as nature works in harmony with the character-laden old stone of the building to produce a sweet little sugar hit for passers-by.
Further up the road the stunning Water Goddess mural takes pride of place on the façade of the old Savings and Loans Bank, having been painstakingly created by artist Mimby Jones Robinson, while at either end of the strip you’ll find Yvonne Riley has delivered a splash of local history.
At the southern end, her work on the old Palmer’s Garage pays homage to the building’s 1950’s heyday featuring old cars and petrol pumps, while on the northern side of town you’ll find the 1890’s being relived on Watts Corner.
The Millicent Gallery
In a town that celebrates creative freedom like few others, you’ll also want to drop in and check out the amazing Millicent Gallery, where an unassuming exterior adjoining the public library belies an ‘A’ class, nationally recognised public exhibition space.
Others to keep an eye on include the annual Wattle Range Photographic Exhibition, Wattle Range Art Show and Millicent High School’s regular ‘Art on Display’ exhibitions that are traditionally held around exam time in spring.
Naracoorte Regional Art Gallery
Befitting of a place with some of the country’s most ancient caves and fossils, the Naracoorte Regional Art Gallery also happens to be the oldest Regional Gallery in South Australia.
Housed inside a historic Georgian home once owned by the local doctor, this immersive space will set your imagination wandering through a wide range of traditional and contemporary works from local artists and out-of-towners.
With a permanent Collection of Australian Art including etchings by John Goodchild, Australian Contemporary works on paper, Aboriginal prints, paintings and ceramics, this inspiring space prides itself on bringing like-minded souls together to fill their creative cup with an intoxicating blend of old and new.
With an exciting and enriching programme of exhibits and events, major staples on its annual calendar include the Ibis Rising Naracoorte Art Competition, a yearly South Australian Living Artist (SALA) exhibition, regular kids and adult art workshops plus a range of high-quality travelling exhibitions from Country Arts South Australia.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page for their ‘Maker of the Month’ series, which showcases local works across just about any medium from garden art to textiles, silver smithing, pottery and even book cover making – something to stir those creative juices at any time of the year.
Walkway Gallery Bordertown
With a name like Bordertown, it’s fair to say this place lives life on the edge, so while you’re here it would be total sacrilege not to visit its nationally acclaimed Walkway Gallery.
Co- located in the Tatiara Civic Centre, Walkway does culture with a capital ‘C’ and is one of the few regional galleries to attract major national and state touring exhibitions, pulling artists from just about everywhere to showcase their stuff, including the likes of Ben Quilty.
It’s here that household names take centre-stage amidst local legends, and if you’re here at the right time you’ll also find them immersed in creative workshops and classes for residents and visitors alike.
Unashamedly honest and often controversial, this place is a conversation starter like no other and odds are you’ll be challenged by some pretty confronting themes, with works addressing anything from Australia’s place in indigenous history, to feminism, sex and others that will set your mind racing.
Bob Hawke Gallery, Bordertown
Of course, while we’re celebrating some of nation’s greatest pot-stirrers, it would be sacrilege not to pop in and visit the Bob Hawke Gallery on your wander around town. This much loved and lauded former Australian Prime Minister may not have qualified as a Saint, but the lovable larrikin of politics never strayed too far from his country roots, having been born and raised in Bordertown.
Brushing your way past his bronze bust and venturing into this shrine of Robert J Hawke reveals a treasure trove of memorabilia, from historic photos and clippings to cartoons and paintings - and even the legendary 1939 British Panther model 100 motorbike he famously crashed as a teenager!
Amidst this sea of quirky collectables, you’ll also find artist Michael Henwood’s portrait of the great man taking pride of place inside, having been entered in the Archibald Prize at the turn of the century.
Odds are you’ve never heard of Allendale East, but those who’ve visited this lesser-known gem located just south of Mount Gambier will tell you it also holds one of the sneakiest (and coolest) street art murals in the region.
Tucked neatly behind the Allendale East Area School, you'll find the masterpiece ‘AEASthetica’ from Irish street art legend Fin DAC keeping a watchful eye over students. With murals all around the world, including Los Angeles, Madrid and Montreal, the artist left this beauty as his legacy to local kids, hoping to plant the seeds for their future art careers - one of whom helped to design the bird and mountain themed background.