Victor Harbor, Holiday Playground in South Australia
With a long weekend coming up in South Australia, everyone is itching to get away for a quick break from the everyday. Short holiday breaks like these inject a lot of money into the areas that people flock to, with caravan parks full, dining options booked and the general spending that goes on when people have some leisure time on their hand to spend with the family.
A popular family spot in South Australia is Victor Harbor because of the myriad of activities for families to enjoy and the proximity to Adelaide, less than an hour away. The accommodation options are plentiful too with two caravan parks in Victor and others not too far away in Port Elliot, Middleton and Goolwa, all a part of this region that is the Fleurieu Peninsula.
The visitor information centre is down by the ocean, near the causeway that extends over to Granite Island, and can provide all the information you need when visiting but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Firstly though, the name gets me every time because yes it is spelt Harbor not the usual (English/Australian) Harbour. There isn’t a definitive answer why only to say that it is how it was originally named and that is how it remains, no matter how many times I want to slip in the ‘u’.
But I digress, there are a couple of ways to get to Victor Harbor, either by car and then find a park and walk around, it’s a very walking friendly town, or if staying at any of the towns mentioned there is the Cockle Train (steam train) that you can catch and get delivered to the heart of Victor too.
Then once in Victor you can stroll the main shopping precinct of Ocean Street, a one way road that leads down to Warland Reserve, the green park at the end of the street and hub of other activities. There are lots of interesting shops to pop in and out of along Ocean Street and keep an eye out for the arty painted bollards along the way. Once just plain painted they now add a bit more colour to the landscape.
Along Ocean street you’ll also spot some beautiful historic buildings still standing including the ‘Victa Cinema’, a 1923 deco building, the old Savings Bank and the Grosvenor Hotel which was built in 1896, just to name a few. (The Visitor Centre will have more detailed information on building of historic significance).
When you’ve done the ‘mainie’ then it’s time for a break in Warland Reserve where you have to grab a dog from the German Hot Dog Van. The food is good and the vendor is a character. We brought our own dogs too! You can relax in the park with the whale tail fountain, while you enjoy your bratwurst and more, and plan your next activity.
The South Australian whale centre is on the edge of the reserve and here you can learn all about the whaling history of the area and thankfully with the end of the industry, where you can now go to spot whales when they visit the waters along this coastline. Inside you can buy a package deal to visit the whale centre and a return ticket on the horse drawn tram that takes you over to Granite Island.
The tram service which started in 1894 travels the 630 metre causeway, pulled by a magnificent Clydesdale horse and is the only one of its kind in Australia. The trams run every day except Christmas Day and is well worth the $10 return ticket to experience.
Or you can pay for one way if you prefer. As Granite island is a national park reserve you can’t take dogs there, as it is also home to little penguins. You can book for guided tours or wander at your leisure around the perimeter of the island approximately 2.4 kilometres and view sculptures dotted along the trail, which is pram and wheelchair accessible.
Back on the Victor side of the causeway you can also join in a camel ride along the beach when they take place on weekends, public holidays and during school holidays. These are found near the permanent amusement park which has a Ferris wheel, dodgem cars and assorted other rides and sideshows for the kids (and big kids).
If you are in Victor at the right time you can visit the seaside country market that is held every second and fourth Sunday of the month. This is a big market with a huge range of items for sale and foods to taste. Its open from 9am to 4pm so there is plenty of time to browse.
This is merely scratching the surface of things to see and do at Victor Harbor and as you can see there is way more than you can do in a day. No wonder it’s been a favourite seaside holiday spot with South Australians since the late 1800s.