Fleurieu Peninsula, Australia

The Australasian Circa 1858

Rates from (inc tax)$273.25

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (21AUD), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.


Heritage bones, mod-Asian heart


Wharf-view Goolwa main street

A symphony of light-filled spaces and Asian-inspired decor greets the guest at The Australasian Circa 1858 boutique hotel in the Fleurieu Peninsula, a restored sandstone pub in the seaside town of Goolwa. There are no more beers on tap here though, just five individually styled rooms and a chic restaurant where chef and co-owner Juliet Michell prepares a nightly Asian-inspired menu. Please note: the hotel is currently closed for renovations and will reopen on 16 July 2014.

Smith Extra

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A tasting selection of ales from the Steam Exchange Brewery at Goolwa Wharf


Photos The Australasian Circa 1858 Hotel – Fleurieu Peninsula – Australia

Need to know


Five, including one suite.


11am (noon on Sundays); check-in, 2pm. Luggage storage available.


Double rooms from $273.25 (AU$359), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (AUD395.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Minimum two-night stay. Rates include daily breakfast. The Australasian Circa 1858 is only open for guests from Wednesday to Sunday each week.


Co-owner and chef Juliet is trained in visual and Japanese performing arts, so a finely rendered Asian influence permeates the property.

At the hotel

Free WiFi (although the hotel’s thick sandstone walls mean it works better in some rooms than others), library and DVD library with 200 Australian and Asian movies, on-site parking. In rooms: flatscreen TV and DVD player, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities (including Madame Flavour teas), cotton <i>yukata</i> (Japanese bathrobes), Thann Aromatic toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

The Parlour Room, with its views to Hindmarsh Island, is the largest of the five, with a huge tub in a step-up area of the bedroom. The living area, complete with dining table, feels quite separate to the sleeping zone. All the rooms are quite different though – they’re unusual shapes due to the heritage nature of the building and have interesting combinations of silk fabrics, mid-century furniture and artwork collected by owners Juliet Michell and Deborah Smalley on their travels.


Former pubs don’t generally come with space for aquatic additions, but Goolwa Beach – patrolled by lifesavers on the weekend – is a five-minute drive away.

Packing tips

Goolwa isn't exactly party central, so pack a couple of those novels you’ve been meaning to read. Bring binoculars if you’re a twitcher; there's some great bird-watching at Coorong National Park and Goolwa Barrage. The Wharf and river are a little livelier on weekends, hop on a jet-ski or hire a motorboat to join in the fun.


The downstairs Garden Room, as well as the restaurant and lobby, are wheelchair accessible. Smoking is only allowed outside.


Sorry, no. All pups and kitties will need to stay at home. See more pet-friendly hotels in Fleurieu Peninsula.


Sorry, the Australasian Circa 1858 is a calm, adults-only environment.


Green chic rules at the hotel, which uses solar-heating for its water, recycles, composts and makes use of eco-friendly lighting. Food is locally sourced, too, including fish, fruit, free-range eggs and herbs. The proceeds from twice-yearly history tours go to support community groups.

Food and Drink

Photos The Australasian Circa 1858 Hotel – Fleurieu Peninsula – Australia

Top Table

For a touch of privacy, ask for a table at the end of the room away from the bar. If the weather isn’t windy, you can have dinner on the lower deck.

Dress Code

This is a chic restaurant space, so you’ll want to make an effort. But you’re also in a small country town so your latest Ann Demeulemeester may look out of place.

Hotel restaurant

One of the highlights of any stay here is a meal prepared by co-owner Juliet Michell in the Dining Room, which teams dark timber tables with dazzling Danish pendant lights. The building may be a former pub, but the evening fixed menu is about as far from standard grub as you can find. The monthly changing offering has an Asian bent – you’ll likely be served two courses such as crisp agedashi tofu in kombu and shiitake broth and yellow chicken curry with caramelised eggplant and tomato salad, followed by a plate of dessert treats (the talented Juliet trained as a pastry chef). The restaurant is open only to hotel guests most nights, but welcomes the general public on Saturday evening. If you plan to dine then, book well in advance because folks from as far away as Adelaide will be vying for your table.


Hotel bar

Running down one side of the dining room, the glam bar has a well-considered list of local wines (with the exception of a champagne offering) and boutique SA brews in keeping with Goolwa’s Cittaslow status (in 2007, it was the first Australian town to be given the honour). Have a pre-dinner drink here, before heading to your table. During the day, you can raid your minibar and chill out on the upper deck.


Last orders

Because the restaurant is open only to guests most nights, arrange a suitable time for dining with Juliet and Deborah, any time from 6pm.

Room service

You can have dinner served in your room (except on Saturday) if you fancy privacy. Each morning, a trolley featuring a bento box of fruit, yoghurt and muesli, and a cooked option by request, is discreetly left outside your door.


Photos The Australasian Circa 1858 Hotel – Fleurieu Peninsula – Australia
The Australasian Circa 1858
1 Porter Street, Goolwa
Fleurieu Peninsula


Adelaide Airport (www.adelaideairport.com.au), serviced by both domestic and international flights, is 80 kilometres away.


It’s almost impossible to explore this part of the world without a car, but you can easily hire one from the desks at the airport – all of the major companies are represented. The drive to Goolwa takes about 90 minutes. Another option is to contact Fleurieu Bus Hire (www.fleurieubushire.websyte.com.au), which offers airport transfers.

Worth getting out of bed for

Goolwa is situated on an impressive and unique lagoon system where the mighty Murray River meets the ocean. The Spirit of Coorong (www.coorongcruises.com.au) offers eco-cruises – either two, four or six hours long – that depart Goolwa and explore the spectacular coastline and pristine wetlands preserved by Coorong National Park. History is also well-preserved in Goolwa. The Oscar W (www.oscar-w.info) is a paddle steamer that does hour-long cruises from the wharf. On dry land, the Cockle Train (www.steamrangerheritagerailway.org) – so named because when it first ran back in the 1880s, Goolwa residents used to catch it to the beach to collect shellfish – does the scenic run from the town to Victor Harbor and back.


Local restaurants

On the opposite side of the Peninsula, Port Willunga’s Star of Greece
(+61 (0)8 8557 7420) – named after a cargo ship that was wrecked just off the coast in 1888 – is worth the 50-kilometre drive. We suggest lunch because the view over sparkling Gulf St Vincent is sublime, as is the menu that features much locally caught and produced seafood, such as Coffin Bay oysters and King George whiting from Kangaroo Island. Owned by the guys who've been running McLaren Vale Beer Company since 2008, Vale/Inn Kitchen and Taphouse in McLaren Vale (+61 (0)8 8323 8769) is located in a building that dates back to 1851. It’s good, honest fare – oysters offered a variety of ways, cider pork terrine, steaks and burgers – served alongside a range of craft beers from all over the world (a vast change from the winecentric offerings usually associated with the region) including head brewer Jeff Wright’s experimental and one-off brews. If you’re checking out the vineyards of McLaren Vale, make sure you book lunch at d’Arry’s Verandah (+61 (0)8 8329 4848) where the elegant Asian-flecked menu is complemented by d’Arenberg wines.

Local cafés

Take advantage of the waterfront location, expansive deck and smart, fresh food at Aquacaf in Goolwa (+61 (0)8 8555 1235). Tuck into damper with bacon, egg and chutney for brekkie, or the likes of linguine with Goolwa cockles, local prawns, cherry tomatoes and preserved lemon or fried squid with an Asian-inspired salad for lunch. In between, there’s coffee and cake. An old-school kiosk is home to Bombora on Goolwa Beach (+61 (0)8 8555 5396), a café with tasty, simple food and a focus on local fish and seafood.


Local bars

Enjoy a local bevvie in the sunshine at The Steam Exchange Brewery
(+61 (0)8 8555 3406). Located on Goolwa Wharf, it occupies what was once the Railway Goods Shed and has views out over the channel to Hindmarsh Island. It’s only open until 5pm Wednesday to Sunday though, so drop in after you’ve had a dip at the beach.


Photos The Australasian Circa 1858 Hotel – Fleurieu Peninsula – Australia

Anonymous review

Every hotel is visited personally by members of our team and given the Smith seal of approval. As soon as our anonymous reviewers have returned from a stay at this stylish boutique hotel, a full account of their relaxed seaside break will be with you. In the meantime, just to whet your appetite, here's a quick postcard from the Australasian Circa 1858 in the Fleurieu Peninsula...

Get ready for life as you know it to slow right down. It’s hard to avoid winding back in the seaside village of Goolwa, with its heritage-listed buildings lining the main street. Plus, in 2007, it was named Australia’s first Cittaslow town, so it would seem slightly churlish not to take it easy.

Exemplifying the zen-inspired pace of life here is the Australasian Circa 1858. Once a sandstone pub – it served its last beer in 1934 – it has been completely renovated by owners Deborah Smalley and Juliet Michell. The five rooms, all different shapes and sizes to work around heritage concerns, have a light and airy vibe, oriental detailing, such as silk kimonos hanging on the walls, and mid-century furniture. The tranquil lobby has the relaxed nature of a spa, and an upper and lower deck offer views to Hindmarsh Island.

One of the highlights of a stay here is sampling Juliet’s Asian-tinged fixed menu. Created from locally sourced produce, it can be matched to wines made in McLaren Vale, a short drive up the road.


The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Australasian Circa 1858’s Guestbook below.

We loved

Slipping downstairs to the restaurant for a delicious three course meal and then being allowed to enjoy our digestif back upstairs.

Don’t expect

Any major activity in the village itself; the Australasian is the highlight of Goolwa.


Stayed on 11 Jun 2016

We loved

The attention to detail was exemplary - beautiful old building tastefully renovated, wonderful service and fantastic food. Beautiful beaches.

Don’t expect

Noise or nightlife action


Stayed on 16 Oct 2015

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