The Granite Island recreation park lies just off the coast of Victor Harbor. You can easily walk there although many visitors prefer to take the Granite Island tram, a double decker horse drawn carriage that has operated since 1894.
While Adelaide had horse drawn trams long ago, the Granite Island tram is now one of the very few remaining in service anywhere in the world. A small fleet of colourful trams are maintained for wedding parties and larger groups.
The Granite Island Attractions Are Part of the Encounter Marine Park
More than 700,000 people visit Granite Island each year, making it the most visited park in South Australia. Tourists and locals alike flock to Victor Harbor to enjoy a family fun day on the island. While the rugged and timeless scenery is one of the Granite Island attractions, there are also other things to look out for.
Visitors who walk the causeway to Granite Island are often rewarded with sightings of marine animals along the way. Pelicans preen upon the rocks, and soon it seems that all the sea birds are getting cleaned up for your visit. You may get a glimpse of fish, seals, dolphins or the Granite Island penguins if you keep a lookout as you cross the causeway.
Interpretive Signs Show Locations for Granite Island Attractions
When you arrive at the Granite Island recreation park you will find maps showing the location of facilities, and suggestions for fun things to do on the island. Like other areas of the Encounter Marine Park, fishing is popular on the causeway and the island jetty. Fishing should not be done during the two hours after sunset to avoid disturbing sunset.
See These Cuties at The Penguin Centre Granite Island
See the Granite Island penguins at the Penguin Interpretive Centre, the next of our Granite Island attractions. When injured fairy penguins are found they are brought here, cared for, and released when fit. It's an educational centre with plenty of activities for kids - see if you can time your visit to watch the fairy penguins at their feeding time. The penguin tours at dusk are another of the fun things to do that are popular with all visitors.
Your horse drawn tram ride terminates just near the modern Granite Island restaurant, kiosk and gift shop, with adjacent toilets. Unfortunately this is now closed, but a great new food truck provides tasty meals and snacks for visitors. Castaways - The Baker & The Chef are offering a range of gourmet burgers including a haloumi burger for vegetarians. Other treats include a Cuban style toasted hotdog, a variety of sandwiches and a gluten free mud cake. Mmmm - find them on Facebook here.
Kaiki Walk is a walking trail loop that winds around the island, displaying its natural beauty. The trail includes colourful interpretive signs telling the stories of the original owners of the island. You can start right after exiting the causeway, but smart tourists recommend starting at the kiosk stairs instead. After climbing to the top of the stairs, it's all downhill from there for the rest of the walking trail. Remember to take drinking water and wear comfortable walking shoes.
At the start of the Kaiki walking trail you have some lovely views towards Victor Harbor, Port Elliot and Middleton. As you follow the trail further west there are magnificent vistas of Seal Island, The Bluff and Encounter Bay. Brilliantly coloured birds flit between bushes, while some of the rock formations are quite eerily shaped. There's a good variety of coastal vegetation, and rangers have been successful in eradicating some thorny weeds which injure humans and animals.
Children love to stop at Umbrella Rock, and it's a popular place for photos. There's great views of Victor Harbor and the causeway to be had as Kaiki Walk slowly descends to sea level. More interpretive signs tell the story of how Granite Island was originally connected to the mainland before the link was eroded away.
As you head back to Victor Harbor you will be tempted to take in another Granite Island attraction - the Big Duck Boat Tours. You can choose between Seal Island, a Wildlife and Sightseeing tour, or a Whale Watching tour in winter. The prices are affordable, and the tours leave from the causeway landing.
Out of whale watching season you can still end your day trip with a visit to Victor Harbor's Whale Centre - it's educational and full of fun things to do for all ages.
Nice to see Granite Island featured and, not to knock your great write up but, just a couple of corrections; the horse tram had a break in operations starting around the 1950s, I think, after the railway tracks were removed during some renovations. Mr Roney initiated driving a tractor, made to look like a railway engine. towing a wagon instead. Also your photo does not show Umbrella Rock but one of the other wonderfully weather carved granite rocks.
Thanks for this article Dave. I've been thinking of great SA places to share with my hubby and son (hubby is Danish and our son was born while we lived in the US). I can't believe I'd forgottne about Granite Island. You've inspired me to organise a daytrip with them there. We just had a trip to K.I. and we loved Remarkable Rocks, so playing around Granite Island will give us a little 'fix' of rock fun. We have this thing for rocks.