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Published February 7th 2016
The trail with a hundred landscapes
It winds it way across 1200km of panoramic South Australian landscape, yet bypasses some of South Australia's most photographed landscapes and seascapes near the popular seaside town of Victor Harbor. Keen to make sure that they don't miss out on the passing hikers, or perhaps looking to provide visitors with a sample of the beauty of the Heysen Trail, the City of Victor Harbor has facilitated a spur trail from the town to join the Heysen Trail.
The trail, known as the Victor Harbor Heritage Trail, commences at the trailhead at Kent Reserve and follows the Encounter Bikeway and Tourist Drive 56 along Franklin Parade. With a theme of 'heritage' the trail is supplemented by numerous information boards which provide details of the history of Port Victor and Victor Harbor, flora and fauna, and important and significant landmarks.
The path alongside Franklin Parade passes the Yilki Store and the Fish Café, both of which are difficult to pass without stopping for a quick visit. A 180 degree view of Encounter Bay and a stunning outlook across to Granite Island and the lesser known Wright Island greets those who take a moment to ponder.
The trail continues along the bitumenised path to the boat ramp before following the coast line towards The Bluff Jetty located at the bottom of The Bluff. While not strictly on the trail, this small jetty is one of the last remaining pieces of infrastructure associated with the days during the 19th Century when whaling was the major activity that occurred at Victor Harbor.
The Heysen Trail is renown for its ups and downs, and a short but steep hike up towards The Bluff car park gives walkers an inkling as to what to expect on this long distance trail. A 400m walk to the summit of The Bluff is also not part of the Heritage Trail, but for those with time, the views at the top are worthy of this extra trip.
Petrel Cove looms next on the trail with steps leading down to the beach for those looking for a closer view. The coloured sands and smooth waters of Petrel Cove often appear calmer than they really are, but several plaques scattered along the beach and path provide ample evidence of the danger and the advice to not swim at this beach.
A large shelter and trailhead at Petrel Cove signals the start of the single track which takes walkers past the spectacular views of West Island towards the south, and farmlands to the north. Part way along the track two wooden poles appear, and a quick look down to the beach tells us that these poles were once used as a winch to bring water up from the old well that is partly buried in the sand.
Another series of steps takes walkers along Depp's Beach where granite boulders continue to absorb parts of the beach. A short distance offshore is West Island, whose granite was used in the initial building of Parliament House in Adelaide, and then again in the subsequent refurbishment in the 1900's. After a short beach walk we again climb the small cliffs to walk the final stretch to Kings Beach where the Heritage Trail joins the Heysen Trail.
The Victor Harbor Heritage Trail is around 6km long and is able to be walked at any time with extra special views available at dusk, dawn or at times of changing weather conditions. Excellent signage exists throughout, and the trail is able to be completed in many parts in order to enjoy the landscape as it changes over each day.