What all the locals know and the tourists don’t when visiting Victor Harbor in Australia! Travel like a local after reading this blog post!
Beautiful beaches, little penguins, seasonal whale watching, nearby surfing hot-spots and a horse drawn tram that leads to an island.
Any South Australian knows you’re describing the pristine seaside city of Victor Harbor!
What the wealth of tourism boards & brochures don’t mention, however, is that Victor Harbor has a range of best kept secrets enjoyed by locals & savvy tourists, alike.
1. Warland Reserve, The Centre Of Attention
Acting as a central hub for activity and grassy retreat throughout the year, Warland Reserve is surrounded by shops, restaurants, playgrounds and sandy beaches, standing as a great ‘home base’ for operations. Ice-cream, donuts, fish and chips and other quick treats are on offer.
During the summer, across from the temporary Ferris wheel and inflatable castle you’ll find Klaus’s Wurst Haus’ German Hot Dogs – they’re certainly not the Wurst!
With the visitor centre on one end of the reserve, the SA Whale Centre on the other, the Cockle Train and mini-golf park in-between, Warland Reserve is a perfect picnic spot or starting location to get your bearings. Just across from the visitor centre, you’ll find the Horse Drawn Tram, which leads us to…
2. Victor Harbor’s Horse Drawn Tram – local and historical icon.
For over 100 years, Clydesdale horses have walked the route over the 630 metre wooden causeway to Granite Island, allowing passengers a rare ride on the open-top, double-decker tram.
As one of the last remaining horse drawn tram routes in public service anywhere in the world, the Victor Harbor Horse-drawn Tram runs daily, for a small fee.
Enjoy the view as you pass fisher people on the causeway, the camel rides during the summer, and see how many fish or seals you can spot on the way. While I’m on a roll with segues I won’t horse about; as mentioned, Victor Harbor’s horse drawn tram will take you to…
3. Granite Island, home of the Little Penguins.
Housing a restaurant and café at the tram stop on the sheltered north side, Granite Island is a great place to explore for all ages.
If you choose to walk the causeway instead of indulging in the tram ride, it’ll take about 15 minutes to get there. On Granite Island, rock formations (can you guess which type of rock?) and boulders make for great adventuring, while a 2.9km hike around the island will allow you to see out to Seal Rock, Wright Island, at The Bluff in the midst of waves crashing spectacularly onto the rocks – a pretty incredible sight!
Along the dynamite-blasted cliff-face – the source of the breakwater – now stretches a boardwalk allowing visitors to look for local wildlife, consisting of but not limited to Little Penguins, Brush-tailed Possums and water rats.
The Penguin Centre is also worth checking out and you can take a Little Penguin tour at sunset, when the penguins come home from a long day of fishing.
As a completely impartial, previous Little Penguin Tour Guide myself, I can say that the guides do a great job in conveying the local history of the island while showing visitors the Little Penguin hot-spots – you’d be surprised how penguins can scale some of those rocks!
You better go soon because these little guys are endangered and less and less show up every year unfortunately.
4. ‘The Bluff’, a.k.a. Rosetta Head.
As mentioned previously, The Bluff sticks out like a sore thumb. A very large, sore thumb sticking out of the ocean, that is. As the highest point along the Victor Harbor-Encounter Bay coast, getting to the top of The Bluff gives you a great view over the surrounding area and if you make your way up at a sunrise, you won’t be disappointed.
Getting there isn’t hard, either. Fitness freaks will love the bicycle track from Kent Reserve to The Bluff, which allows for smooth sailing and visual treats along the way.
Otherwise, you can drive to three different car park lookouts on The Bluff, enjoy the vistas and taking some happy snaps, before walking the remaining distance to the peak, which generally takes only 20 minutes or so.
As Victor Harbor is a well-known whale watching spot during winter months, The Bluff is a perfect vantage point to spot Southern Right Whales.
5. Urimbirra Wildlife Park – meet some furry friends.
Well, you’re in luck because at the Urimbirra Wildlife Park, which is right at the entry to Victor Harbor (if you come from Adelaide), you can fulfil both of those desires and more.
Crocodile feeding occurs at the park, even if you can’t be baited into going to see it. Birds and emus can also be found, so if you’ve yet to get close and personal with native Australian wildlife, this is your chance!
Stay tuned for part 2 of my blog post where you will discover the 5 ‘top secrets’ of Victor Harbor!