Monday, 4 February 2013

A - Z of Australia - V is for Victor Harbor

When I went to Adelaide at the end of November 2012 to commemorate our 32nd wedding anniversaryour destination for our anniversary weekend was Victor Harbor.
Victor Harbor, seen from the road, with  Granite Island across the river
Victor Harbor, originally called Port Victor, a small city on the Fleurieu Peninsula, 80km south of Adelaide, is a popular tourist destination, expanding it 's population from just over 10,000 to over 50,000 during the summer holidays.
The little bay where Victor Harbor is located was discovered by Matthew Flinders, captain of the "HMS Investigator" in 1802.
He named the bay "Encounter Bay" after the meeting he had with the French captain of the ship "Le Geographe" who was surveying the area for France. None of them knew their countries were at war.

In 1837, Captain Richard Crozier, en route from Sydney to the Swan River Colony in Western Australia, in his ship "HMS Victor" anchored off Granite Island (across the bay) and named the sheltered bay "Victor Harbor" after his ship.

In 1921 Port Victor changed name to Victor Harbor.
Although harbour is normally spelt in an u in Australian English, as a result of a spelling error by an early Surveyor General of South Australia, the city's name is still spelt (or spelled) without the "u".

We stayed just down the road in Encounter Bay, in a beautiful self catering apartment - Bluff View Accomodation - in an upper level studio. The rooms were well decorated, the view over the bay was fantastic, there was a lovely spa bath, and to my husband's delight there was even a coffee machine in the kitchen! Plus the fridge had a small bottle of the most divine milk that tasted like milk should taste (Fleurieu milk), there was the usual tea bags, sugar, jams, etc. The complex also has a pool, but we didn't get to use it.

Bluff View complex is the one at the top right.
Victor Harbor and Granite Island, from our balcony, at sunset
Lounge, bedroom, bathroom with spa and balcony of Bluff View apartments
Across from Victor Harbor is Granite Island, connected to the mainland by a 600mt pedestrian/tram causeway. The tram drawn by a horse is a great attraction, and you either just go one way or return. The horses are used on rotation, and each horse works only 2 shifts a week. The trams run on roller bearings, which makes it easier on the horses.
The tram runs every 20 minutes, costs $9 for adults and $4,50 for kids.        

Carmen or Misty?

The island is also popular because of its colony of Little Penguins.  A colony of about 150 penguins shelter in the island at night, coming inland at sunset, and hunting for fish at sea during the day.
We didn't see any penguins, but we didn't stay in the island until sunset either!
There is a small Penguin Centre where you can learn more about these cute creatures and see some of the penguins in their burrows. (Entry fee $6 adults, $4 kids)

We walked around the perimeter of the island, 1,5km that took us about 1 hour at a leisurely pace. There are steps and walkways, beautiful 360 degree views, benches to sit and enjoy the views, some interesting rocks and lots of information to read. Walking tours can be arranged.

Umbrella Rock - isn't it cool?
More huge rocks and some steps to another wonderful view
The horse tram on it's way  from Granite Island to Victor Harbor

The South Australia Whale Centre is opened every day and is an interesting museum to visit, especially if you have kids. I must confess I have seen a more complete one in the island of Faial in the Azores, with a lot more details about the whaling era.

This area of South Australia had whaling stations, which were closed in 1872. Whale oil was then South Australia's first export.  

Between June and September whale spotting in an attraction in the area. Southern Right Whales come to these waters to calve and mate - the Bluff, being the best area to watch them.

We drove along the coast to Golwa, about 14km away, stopping at beautiful little bays along the way. The only gripe being that the beach cafes were all closing at 4 or 5pm on a weekend! It would have been lovely to sit there sipping a coffee or cold drink while looking at the sea. But such was not possible!

Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot
 In Goolwa, the train station located next to the River Murray, is part of the oldest railway route in Australia dating back to 1887 (between Port Elliot and Goolwa). 
Here you can board the "Cockle Train", so called because in the early days the locals would take the horse drawn train to Goolwa to collect cockles from the beaches by the Murray River mouth.
The "Cockle train"- steam locomotives or other antique trains, travel from here to Victor Harbor, climbing the coastal cliffs and the passengers are able to see some beautiful coastal scenery of the Southern Ocean beaches.
The train ride takes 30min, and you can travel in either direction or round trip.

The old steam train (photo from net)
The route of the "Cockle Train"
Across from Goolwa is another island - Hindmarsh Island, that can be reached via a bridge built in the 1990's. It is a relatively large island at the mouth of the Murray River.

Hindmarsh Bridge. The 2 Pelicans were being fed by fishermen in the area

 We drove towards the end of the island to be able to see the mouth of the River Murray,
which is the largest river in Australia in terms of catchment and annual flow. 
This area is full of little islands and the river splits through them into the sea, as you can see in the drawing below.
There are a few barrages that control the flow, preventing salt water from going upstream when the river flow is low.
Slowly the river mouth is chocking up with sand due to the coastal currents which sometimes closed the river mouth. Once in a while dredging has to be done to remove tonnes of sand.

On our way home we drove through the southern east coast to Port Jervis, which was disappointing as there is nothing to see. The only thing worth mentioning is that it is the port of departure for the ferry to Kangaroo Island. We had thought of going to the Island, but the ferry is quite expensive for a day visit only, so we will have to leave that for a future trip when we have 3 or 4 days to spare. We hadn't counted on the island being the third biggest in Australia!!
Once again we stopped at every little beach along the way and as we turned into the main road after visiting Second Valley, we suddenly saw the words Restaurant in a lovely stone house. This former mill is now home to a boutique restaurant - Leonards Mill.
The interior was just as beautiful, with lots of art for sale from local artists. There were a couple of dining rooms in separate floors, a bar area, an events room and the outdoor area.

Leonards Mill in Second Valley

One of the dining rooms
The food was delicious, the wines served were also boutique wines from South Australia and although I hardly ever drink I tasted my husband's wine and decided to have one glass too. So I can recommend this place!
With 90 kms to go to Adelaide we carried on stopping along the beaches for a quick look, bought some cherries from a local farm and reached late Sunday night after a wonderful weekend.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 
PS: I thought you would enjoy this photo I took at a Pizzaria near Victor Harbor, advertising for a kitchen helper. Got to love the Australian humour!


  1. Brilliant trip to celebrate your wedding anniversary Sami.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and would love to go back one day. Thanks Grace.

  3. Great pictures- I really feel like I got a little sense of the place.

  4. Dann wollen wir doch gleich mal überprüfen, ob du noch Deutsch lesen und schreiben kannst, Sami!
    Ich bin zufällig über deinen Blog gestolpert and normally I write in English, aber nachdem du geschrieben hast, dass du bereits in Germany gelebt hast, da dachte ich mir, ich schreibe dir mal ein paar Zeilen auf Deutsch!
    I hope, I didn't overburden you with my German, but such a cosmopolititian lady like you should be able to cope with, shouldnT you? ;-)
    Regards from Deutschland, UWe.

  5. Grande post, Sami! Mais uma vez fico fascinado pelos rochedos que nos mostra. Fantástico!

  6. Obrigada J.M. A area era realmente interessante e claro com uma rochedos diferentes.


  7. Gruss Uwe. Vielen Dank für Ihren Besuch. Kein Problem, wenn Sie auf Deutsch schreiben. I kann noch ein wenig schreiben und sprechen...leider Ich habe viel vergessen.
    Ich hoffe sie besuchen wieder.

  8. LOVE this entry! We are spending a week in South Australia soon and can't wait

  9. Wonderful! You are still perfect in German, Sami! But like the English "you" I would appreciate that you use the German "du" in our conversation.
    So next time you may write: "Vielen Dank für deinen Besuch. Kein Problem, wenn du auf Deutsch schreibst. ... Ich hoffe, du besuchst mich bald wieder."

    Du siehst, dein Wunsch ist sofort erfüllt worden... :-)

    Das "Sie" ist so furchtbar steif, besonders unter Blog fellows, hier duzt man sich einfach.

    Grüße aus dem winterlichen Deutschland,

  10. Hello, my Dear! I've come to you from The "Grow Your Blog" was over before I knew about it, but it was so nice of Vicki to leave the list up! Anyway, I always welcome new blogs to enjoy, and yours is delightful! I am now following you ~ please come and visit me if you get a chance!
    So nice to "meet" you!


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