Port Elliot and Victor Harbor

We camped at the Big4 Breeze Holiday Park in Port Elliot on a powered site. The cost for this was $40 per night. The park is a very large spacious one with lots of flat grassy and sandy sites. It has direct beach access to two beaches with the small Crockery Bay on one end and the larger Horseshoe Bay on the other side. This park has all the usual Big4 amenities such as a large children’s playground including a jumping pillow. There is an excellent Camp Kitchen with very clean stainless steel BBQ’s and a vegetable garden with lots of herbs for guests to pick and use. The park has some cabins and lots of shady trees. We don’t usually stay in caravan parks however we would recommend this one, although it would probably be packed in the school holidays.

Port Elliot is situated on Horseshoe Bay. A port was established here to provide a safe seaport for the Murray River trade which terminated at Goolwa. The mouth of the Murray was considered too treacherous and unpredictable for safe passage so goods and passengers were transported between Goolwa and Port Elliot on the first public railway built in Australia in 1854.

The railway was extended to Victor Harbor in 1864 after a number of disastrous shipwrecks in Horseshoe Bay and Victor Harbor provided a safer port.

Today Port Elliot is a quiet town, home to many ‘sea-change retirees’ and is a popular holiday destination for Adelaide dwellers with the main attraction being that beautiful big beach. I love these little old historic towns with their mix of historic stone buildings amongst the modern ones.

Only a few kilometres further along the coast is the historic Victor Harbor. Another beachside town with spectacular beaches. A highlight of a visit to ‘Victor’ is a ride on the Granite Island Tram. This is a horse drawn tram that takes passengers across the timber causeway to Granite Island. A Clydesdale horse pulls the historic tram and we thoroughly enjoyed our ride. We sat up the top in the sunshine and listened to those huge feet clopping along.

The timber causeway was built in 1875 and the tram went backwards and forwards transporting goods from the railway from Goolwa out to the waiting ships at Granite Island. By the1880’s 25,000 bales of wool were being transported down the Darling, Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers by paddle steamers then by train from Goolwa to Port Victor and from there by ship around the world. As the river trade ended the Victor Harbor tram became a passenger tram and has been ferrying holiday makers to and from Granite Island since1894.

A huge redevelopment of the causeway is currently underway with a new causeway being built alongside the old timber one which will eventually be removed. I’m glad we got to ride across the old timber one while it was still there.

Granite Island is home to a colony of Little Penguins although a very bad storm a couple of years ago decimated the colony. Numbers are slowly growing again and you can do an evening tour to view these charming little creatures. Granite Island is 62 acres of huge granite boulders, many tinged with orange lichen. There are walking trails and a Sculpture Walk includes 10 sculptures. We saw one of those of a sea lion from the tram as we clopped along. It looked like a real sea lion lying on top of a boulder. Between May and October Granite Island is a popular spot for whale watching. Southern Right Whales are a common sighting. Camping is not permitted on the island nor are dogs allowed due to the Little Penguin colony.

The centre of Victor Harbor also houses other historic buildings such as the Railway Goods Shed built in 1864 and Customs House which is now a National Trust Museum, built in1866. In the park nearby is a large water feature that includes a sculpture of a whale tail. The busy Main Street has been pedestrianised and houses the usual stores. We stopped for lunch at a popular Victor Harbor icon Nino’s Cafe and we were not disappointed with our lovely lunch. Nino’s Cafe has been dishing up delicious meals since 1974.

We ended our day by traveling back to Hindmarsh Island where we found a camp at the Hindmarsh Island Caravan Park for $25 for a flat, grassy powered site. We only have a short distance to go across the bridge to the Goolwa Wharf in the morning to catch our cruise of the Coorong.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s