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Published January 16th 2016
Where only the very best views will do
Stuck for time, or perhaps a first time visitor to South Australia's premier holiday resort, or perhaps you are the tour guide for some of your overseas visiting relatives ? If this sounds like you, then the Victor Harbor Tourist Drive 56 is just what you need.
Tourist Drive 56, or the Victor Harbor Highlights Drive, is a 26km self drive tour taking you past all of the popular spots in and around Victor Harbor but with a particular focus on the four highest points and lookouts around the town. Starting at the large roundabout on top of the hill and at the entrance, the drive heads towards town a short distance before stopping at Kleinig's Hill Lookout. Overlooking eastern Victor Harbor this lookout has bathroom facilities, an information board, and the first real glimpse of the beautiful bay, harbor, causeway and Granite Island.
Back on the drive and we head towards the town crossing the Hindmarsh River and the Railway Line before heading to the very centre of this tourism hub at the junction of the Soldiers Memorial Reserve, Warland Reserve, the Causeway and the Visitor Information Centre. The car parks on the street or in the large area adjacent the Information Centre are calling out for you to stop for a horse tram ride, a bite to eat, a play in the park, a run on the beach or even just a bathroom stop, all of which are within a stone's throw of each other.
But we temporarily ignore those and continue in a westerly direction and pass the Hotels Crown and Victor and follow the natural curvature of the bay with fantastic views of Granite Island and the Causeway as we travel along the Esplanade and Franklin Parade past the small satellite township of Yilki towards Whalers Inn and ultimately The Bluff.
The Bluff, or Rosetta Head as some locals like to call it, resembles a gigantic boulder at the end of the bay and becomes a windbreak, a point of reference, a shipping beacon and a popular picnic and walking spot where the short walk to the top is rewarded with some great views in all directions, and particularly spectacular views of Granite Island and Petrel Cove.
Leaving the Bluff the drive travels through some of the back streets of Southern Victor Harbor and ends up on the Waitpinga Road where a short distance up the road is yet another lookout, Newlands Hill Lookout just alongside South Australia's long distance walking trail, the Heysen Trail. This time we are looking east where we get our first real views of the three major castles that oversee the town including the largest of them all, Mt Breckan.
Returning towards town we pass a couple of old farms which appear to be in the firing line for the next stages of urban growth before making our way on to the Inman Valley Road. A short distance up this road is the always green and attractive Victor Harbor Golf Course, before our drive takes us to the gum tree lined Swains Crossing Road where we pass over the Inman River, being the second major river through the town.
Tourist Drive 56 then continues past the historic Cemetery atop yet another hill, before turning right into Greenhill Road and providing a view over the centre of the town. Further great views of the town are realised as the drive heads down the hill before concluding at the intersection of the Main Road.
Tourist Drive 56 is only 26km, and can take as short or long as you would like it to take. With so many places to stop and see along the way, it is also probable that you may want to split the drive over several days, and I do encourage taking the drive at different times of the day. Past experience has taught me that the drive provides some great sunrise and sunset photo opportunities thus making it one of the truly great scenic drives of South Australia.