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Published February 23rd 2016
Admire the vistas of Victor Harbor
1. Visit the Whale Centre
A trip down to Victor Harbor (or Victor as it is fondly known), which is around 84 kms south of Adelaide or a 1 hour 15 minute drive, should include the SA Whale Centre. The Whale Centre has been established since 1994, housed in an historic railway goods shed, and comprises three floors of interactive and interesting displays which include a 3D Theatrette, whale skeletons and murals as well as exploration of marine history.
If you want to learn lots more about whales including their migration patterns, feeding habits and life cycles, then an educational tour might be worth considering, which is very much hands-on and interactive. During the official whale watching season which is from May to October, you are encouraged to call a specific number 1900 942 537 to report any sightings which are then recorded and can be viewed on the SA Whale Centre website.
Entry to the SA Whale Centre is $9 per Adult and $4.50 per child, with a concession price of $6.50 and is open 7 days a week (except for Christmas Day) from 10.30 am to 5.00 pm.
To assist you with your identification during sighting the whales, a fact sheet is downloadable from the website which details how to identify six commonly seen whales in South Australia.
The Penguin Tours have been a popular activity for tourists and visitors in the region and the Granite Island Penguin Centre has been operating for 12 years. Although the centre has now closed, currently the nightly tours to view fairy penguins in their natural habitat are still operating from dusk. An experienced guide will introduce you to the habits of the fairy penguins and you will be able to see for yourself up close their movements and learn more about their existence in a somewhat fragile environment.
Guided penguin tours can be booked through the Victor Harbor Visitor Information Centre or call 1800 557 094.
If you enjoy rugged coastal walks thrown in with some interpretation of the heritage of the area, then the Victor Harbor Heritage Trail is one for you to experience. The trail winds along the coast from Petrel Cove to King's Beach, which is around 6 kms with a grading of relatively easy. For those who are looking for even more of a challenge the Heritage Trail meets up with the Heysen Trail at King's Beach, where you can extend the challenge to a full day or even longer.
I would suggest you allow an hour for the Heritage Trail in order to comfortably negotiate and truly appreciate the inspiring surroundings. Points of interest include Rosetta Head (the Bluff), Reefs, Encounter Bay, Shipwrecks and places of special indigenous significance.
4. Take the Horse Drawn Tram over to Granite Island
Probably the most popular tourist attraction at Victor is a ride on the Horse Drawn Tram which is the only horse-drawn tramway in Australia. The historic tram service has been running since 1894 and the 630 metre journey across the causeway brings to mind thoughts of the transport of yesteryear as the Clydesdale horse clip clops his/her merry way to their destination on Granite Island.
One of the options is to take a one-way trip over to Granite Island which will cost you $7 for an adult and $5 for a child, and then take a pleasant stroll back across the causeway. However if you plan to explore more of Granite Island with its great walking trails, then you may want to book a return trip, which will set you back $9 per adult or $7 for a child. Trams run every day (except for Christmas Day) on an hourly timetable, first tram leaving the mainland at 10.30 am with the last tram leaving Granite Island at 4.00 pm.
A walk around Victor reveals much in the way of street art and sculptures, with a common theme related to the whales, which makes sense considering Victor is one of the areas where whales pass by in their annual migration.
A wonderful Aboriginal story is weaved upon reading the interpretive boards up on Kleinig's Hill Lookout as you approach Victor, relating to the Dreaming Story of Kondoli the Whale. Kondoli, a spirit whale, was believed to have once been a man and dived into the sea at Boomer Beach, now a popular area for sightings of Southern Right Whales during winter. At the lookout a sculpture depicting Kondoli is quite impressive, with the large tail a feature.
Along the pathway next to the large grassy area known as Warlands Reserve near the causeway is another representation of a whale's tail in the form of a fountain which complements well the nearby SA Whale Centre.
After all that walking and exploration, you will have probably worked up a thirst and yearning for something to fill the tummy. Dropping into the Hotel Crown will certainly satisfy the above. The Crown is a South Australian owned pub which is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. If you are looking for a good old authentic pub meal with the addition of a great schnitzel menu, then you won't be disappointed. Meals start from $9.90 for the salad and veggie bar right through to regular size schnitzels at $18.90 or small ones for $11.90.
You can also savour the many chef specialties, costing anything up to $33 for a T Bone steak. A quick bite and coffee is also available at the Crown Cafe within the complex, meals costing anywhere between $7 and $25. You can't go past the great atmosphere with views across to Warland Reserve and Granite Island as well as The Bluff.