Goolwa is an entry point for the unique Coorong National Park which was the backdrop for Colin Thiele's beautiful book, "Storm Boy". In 1976 a film based on this book was filmed in the area. Another film version of Storm Boy was released in 2019. When you visit Goolwa, allow plenty of time to explore this area and its Ngarrindjeri aboriginal culture.
Goolwa has a long history of wooden boat building and was the site of many important events associated with European settlement in the region. The town has significant historic buildings still being used for modern business and living. The Alexandrina Library in Goolwa has a highly regarded History Room that can be used for tracing family histories and uncovering stories about people and properties. (Bookings may be required.) More information available - explore.history.sa.gov.au/organisation/goolwa-library-local-family-history-room
On 12 March 2007, Goolwa became the first Australian Cittaslow (slow town). Goolwa is the first non-European town to be awarded this recognition. Goolwa hosted the 2017 Cittaslow International General Assembly.
In May 2004, Goolwa, Middleton and Port Elliot celebrated the 150 Anniversary of the First Public Railway in Australia. This event has won many awards including the 2005 SA Tourism Award. For further details check the website www.australiasfirstrailway.com
Goolwa won the Best Dressed Town for Stage 3 of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in January 2005. We also won Stage 3 in 2004 and Stage 4 in January 2003. River Dolls of Goolwa was the Best Dressed Business in Stage 3, 2006. The Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under Stage 4 Finish was recognised by the Alexandrina Council as the Australia Day Community Event of the Year for 2003. The Goolwa Cittaslow group won a special Tour Down Under award for their cycling sculpture in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2010, Goolwa was winner of the Stage 4 of the Santos Best Dressed Town and then was named SILVER Award winner.
In May 1999, the River Port of Goolwa was named as the Australian Tidy Towns winner. Since then Goolwa has won many other awards due to great community efforts.
In December 2009, Goolwa was named the South Australian Tidy Towns winner.
On the Sunday of the South Australian Labor Day long weekend in October, the Paddle Steamer Oscar W celebrates its birthday. It was built in 1908. Check out this historic boat's sailing schedule. The Oscar W combines with the SteamRanger's Cockle Train and the Victor Harbor horse-drawn tram to provide a unique heritage experience.
Cittaslow Goolwa hosts an "At The Wharf" event, usually on the last Friday evening during the summer months. It is held on the deck of Signal Point with music and local produce for all to enjoy. A Cittaslow Goolwa Farmers' Market is held at Jaralde Park on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month. There is also a general market on the 1st and 3rd Sundays. In November each year, Cittaslow Goolwa hosts the SMOKE OFF event. Due to the effects of CoVID-19, some events and activities may have to be changed or cancelled, often at short notice. Check with the Goolwa Visitor Information Centre for the current situation or the organisers of the activity.
Tourism activities are being promoted by Goolwa Tourism 5214 that seeks to encourage events and activities in the area covered by the postcode 5214 - Goolwa, Hindmarsh Island, Mundoo Island, Mosquito Hill and Currency Creek plus the surrounding towns of Middleton and Port Elliot.
There are lots of outstanding galleries showcasing local artists and artisans. High quality local food and beverages are available in Goolwa restaurants and cafes. Local wineries, brewery and distillery all provide opportunities for you to meet the talented master-craftsmen and women. Local Goolwa cockles (pipies) are worth tasting thanks to local chefs and are found on menus in leading Australian restaurants.