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Top 7 Things to Do in Victor Harbor

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by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published February 21st 2017
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For over 100 years, the seaside resort of Victor Harbor has been the place for Adelaideans to escape to and enjoy some of the magic that the South Coast has to offer. From 1884 when the first passenger train arrived to today's 80km car trip, Victor Harbor has been one of the favourite day trips and with so many things to do, it is easy to see why as this list of top 7 things to do in Victor Harbor shows.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Night time abuzz - Steve Hudson


Horse drawn tram and Granite Island

It is ranked #1 on most travel sites and for good reason - the horse drawn tram trip across the Causeway to Granite Island is one of South Australia's tourist icons. Running all year round, and at a small cost, the 20 minute trip across to the Island is a unique step back in time.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Tram - Steve Hudson


Granite Island itself is SA's most visited island, and sees in excess of 700,000 visitors each year, many looking for wildlife, history, granite or simply just looking for the exercise that a 45 minute trek on the Kaiki Walk, one of SA's 40 great short walks, will provide. Accessible for all ages, a trip to the Island is a near mandatory visit on every trip to Victor.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Granite Island - Steve Hudson


Beaches and beach sports

Victor Harbor came to prominence in the mid 1860's when Port Elliot failed in its attempt to be the safe harbour for transport vessels, thus helping fuel Port Victor's expansion. But it was also that safeness in the water that attracts so many visitors with activities available for all ages.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Beach fun - Steve Hudson


The shallow waters are ideal for swimming for all ages, while the beaches further east and west provide opportunities for body boarders and surfers. The sheltered waters also make it ideal for boating and fishing, and in recent times the bay has been filled with stand up paddle boards seeking an alternative way to traverse the waters.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Safe beaches - Steve Hudson


Indulge

From bringing your own, buying locally or eating out, the choices for food and wine just keep on getting better and better. Leading the way is Encounter Coast Spirits, a small spirits distillery which offers tasting and drinking / eating advice, while just down the road the Victor Harbor Winery has been making the most of the Mediterranean climate and has been harvesting soft whites and reds for a few years now.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Image courtesy Encounter Coast Spirits


You can take your products back to one of the many beachside grassed areas for a picnic, or perhaps stop for some of Victor's famous and original fish and chips, a guaranteed seagull magnet. Alternatively if eating in is your choice, then each of the hotels has specials on each night, while the Yilki Burger from the Yilki Store has a strong following amongst locals. The Anchorage is always popular with its cracking tapas menu, while the newly opened Loco Mexican in the main street serves up some huge serves of traditional Mexican food.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Golden North IceCream - Steve Hudson


Take a walk or ride

If walking or riding is your medicine, then you are in for a treat. The Encounter Shared Bikeway runs from The Bluff to Goolwa through the main part of Victor, and is hugely popular at all times of the day with walkers and riders of all ages.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Encounter Bikeway - Steve Hudson


A trip on the Kaiki Walk around Granite Island is a must, as is the short climb to the top of The Bluff, while the Hindmarsh River, Inman River and History Trails all provide a great insight into the past. Meanwhile the long distance Heysen Trail passes close to town and the Heritage Trail enables walks to experience a clifftop walk around the spectacular Petrel Cove and Kings Beach.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Petrel Cove - Steve Hudson


Take a tour

The sound of the massive whistle sounds an opportunity to relive some of Victor's history with a trip on the famous Cockle Train. Known as such due to the large numbers of cockles that used to be caught en-route, the train runs from Victor to Goolwa and back along the seaside route that the Adelaideans made popular early last century.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Cockle Train - Steve Hudson


For those who are short on time, or perhaps the weather is a bit inclement, then a scenic drive may be a great option. Tourist Drive 56 departs the Service Station on the roundabout at Victor's entrance, and takes visitors on a 26km self-guided tour of the highlights of Victor, while South Coast Tourist Drive 50 takes visitors north from the Service Station through the northern part of the Victor hills and through to Goolwa, Middleton and Port Elliot before returning back to Victor.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Main Street - Steve Hudson


See some wildlife

For many years, Victor has been home to some unique wildlife, with the reserve at Urimbirra leading the way with their natives and the regular koala feeding sessions.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Image courtesy Urimbirra Wildlife Park


But it is the sealife which is often the star with a small colony of fairy penguins living on Granite Island being the stars.

Unfortunately numbers have been dwindling, and tours are now limited but the seals, wild dolphins and whales during their winter migration provide an alternative with the Big Duck Boat Tour offering regular wildlife viewing trips from the Causeway.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Whale Fountain - Steve Hudson


Entertainment

If all else fails, and you are looking for some entertainment then look no further than the end of the Causeway where the dodgem cars do laps, the ferris wheel does turns and various other kids rides beg for attention. Nearby the shetland ponies look up to the bigger brothers pulling the Tram, while the camels saunter back and forth along the beach offering visitors an unusual ride.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Camel Walks - Steve Hudson


And with the entertainment comes the usual sideshows, donut and hot dog stands, strawberries and cream, and the ever popular mini-golf which is located alongside the Visitor Information Centre where staff offer details and advice on all local activities, accommodation and eating houses.

Top 7 things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to do at Victor Harbor, Things to see at Victor Harbor, Causeway, Granite Island, Cockle Train, Heysen Trail, Heritage Trail, History Walk, Port Elliot
Fairground - Steve Hudson


Victor Harbor is only 70 minutes from Adelaide, and is easily accessible by car, or via the regular bus service. The list above is only a snapshot of what is available with more information available from the Visitor Information Centre, or the Victor Harbor website.
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Why? South Australia's original seasider resort
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Where: Victor Harbor
Your Comment
This alll sounds wonderful. My husband and I passed through Victor Harbor earlier in the month on the way to Kangaroo Island and only had time to walk acoss to Granite Island for a bit of a look. I wish we'd had time for more.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|5676) 205 days ago
Fab article Steve! Congrats on the Gold and thank you for the link to my article :)
by Paula McManus (score: 3|2620) 212 days ago
Hello Steve..I have been a regular visitor to Victor since the mid 1940's and reckon it is a match for any town on the coast in Aust.The palm trees though are new to me..gives the main st. a feeling of Gold Coast sunny Qld feel.Looks good to me.Although the beaches are safe...one has to be careful of the reefs...in the shallow water..in the vicinity of the green memorial gardens where the Norfolk Pines are.People use to joke that Victor was a place to spend the last days.of your life and was a town devoid of of youth and good times.I never saw it that way and it has slowly become possibly the number 1 destination for holidaymakers , along with Pt.Elliot and Encounter Bay close by.
by noelp (score: 3|1166) 208 days ago
Brings back a lot of memories for me. My parents honeymooned there in the 1940's, and we visited on occasions. I love the horse drawn tram on the causeway. Great photos!
by Di Hill (score: 2|399) 212 days ago
Great review! Sounds like there are a lot of nice places to visit!
by Jay Johnson (score: 2|924) 211 days ago
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