Victor Harbor is a large coastal town of 15,000 people (2018), 80 km south of Adelaide in South Australia. It is a very popular tourist destination, with the area's population greatly expanded during the summer holidays, usually by Adelaide locals looking to escape the summer heat. It is a popular destination with South Australian high school graduates for their end of year celebrations, known colloquially as "schoolies".
No, Victor Harbor isn't a spelling mistake - or at least not one within recent memory. It's only spelled like that because it's an error in the early surveying of the town that has persisted to this day
Victor Harbor is tourist-oriented, and has many accommodation options, and some purpose-built visitor activities. It draws a weekend crowd from Adelaide, and some visitors from further afield. It caters for the schoolies after exams finish for the year so take this into account when selecting a time to visit.
Get in edit
Most people get to Victor Harbor by a 90-minute or so drive from Adelaide, but there is a coach service run by LinkSA[dead link] from Adelaide Central Bus Station, Seaford Railway Station and Goolwa. Fares are $27.60/$13.80. You can switch to an airport bus at Marion Shopping Centre rather than in Adelaide City, but check the timetable as buses to Marion only go every hour or so.
The Steamranger runs the Southern Encounter service on Sundays twice monthly, departing from Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills, giving around 4 hours to explore the town. Adults $75, children 5 years and over $40. They also run a train to Goolwa Sundays, Wednesdays and every day during the school holidays. One way fares are available on request.
Get around edit
The Victor Harbor town is small enough to walk around. The main shopping strip, cafes, and pubs are only a short walk to the fair and the causeway to Granite Island.
Parking can get a bit tight along the water, so once you have found a parking spot, it's best just to leave the car there and walk the rest.
Europcar have an agency operating out of the City Motel on Ocean Street, just off the main strip. They charge one-way fees to drive to Adelaide, but they may waive them if you talk to them directly.
- South Australian Whale Centre, 2 Railway Terrace, ☏ . Daily 10:30-AM-5PM; closed for renovations until June 2021. Housed in a railway goods shed from the late 1800s, the centre has a collection of historic treasures, marine, cultural, and Aboriginal heritage. A 3D "theatrette" is included in the price of entry. Adult $10, concession $7, child $4.
- Whale watching. Southern Right Whales can be seen from the shore May until October. South Australian government runs a maintains a web page which contains the latest foreshore sighting information .
- Urimbirra Wildlife Experience (around 5km from Victor Harbor), ☏ .
- Nearby Inman Valley is on the Inman Valley Rd, about 14 km inland of Victor Harbor. The town has a couple of houses and a farm equipment shop, but Selwyn's Rock, more commonly known as Glacier Rock is near here. Access is by a very short walk with steps.
- The Bluff is a lookout over the town and the water, above Encounter Bay.
Granite Island edit
Granite Island is undoubtedly the major attraction of the town. It is linked by a wooden causeway to the mainland. You can walk across the causeway in 15 minutes or so, or you can take a horse-drawn tram across. It is free to walk, but you have to pay for the tram.
Once you get to the island there is a walk that circles the island, and takes around 45 minutes. There are wildflowers, rock formations, and sea cliff views to see. There is a cafe/kiosk there too.
If you get the tram, it takes you further than just across the causeway. It travels around 200 m on the island, as far as the cafe and visitor's centre complex, so it does save you a substantial walk, although it doesn't really save you any time.
No cars or bicycles are allowed on the causeway. Disabled visitors can arrange for taxi access through to the cafe.
Granite island is also a nesting ground for little penguins, known in Australia as the fairy penguin. They can only be seen at night, and you will have to join a tour to do so.
- There is a cycleway that goes from Victor Harbor along the coastline to Goolwa. Bike hire is available in Victor Harbor.
- Victor Harbor Cycle and Skate (on the main road, near the corner of Island St), ☏ .
- There is a golf course just out of town.
- There is a putt-putt golf (mini-golf) in town.
Heritage railways edit
- SteamRanger Heritage Railway, ☏ , toll-free: 1300 655 991, fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 8:30AM-5:30PM, M-F, 9AM-5PM, Sat. This historical society operates a number of different heritage steam and diesel hauled tourist trains between Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills, the southern Mt Lofty Ranges, Strathalbyn and the coastal holiday towns of Goolwa, Port Elliot and Victor Harbor. The trains run for up to 140 days a year and are operated by volunteers from the Australian Railway Historical Society, who are also responsible for maintenance of the rail line and the heritage locomotives and carriages. Cockle Train, Bugle Ranger and Strathlink services do not require pre-booking, and tickets can be purchased at the station on the day of travel.
- The Cockle Train operates year-round between Goolwa and Victor Harbor along the route of Australia's first railway. It operates with a steam locomotive in school holidays, and historic diesel locomotives or railcars on all other weekends.
- Ocean Street, Ocean Street (main road in Victor Harbor). The main drag features a variety of shopping, clothes, newsagents, and food.
- The Beach House cafe, Franklin Pde, Encouter Bay. It does awesome wood-oven pizza and North Indian curries in a great boat shed atmosphere.
- Ninos, Albert Place. Do Yiros Pizza.
- Port Elliot Bakery, 31 North Terrace, Port Elliot. Daily 7AM-5PM. Amazing pies and sweets. Huge number of lunchtime staff serve an 'out the door and down the street queue' of customers.
- Hotel Victor, Encounter Restaurant, and Norfolk Cafe. Cafe and restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pub bar, and bottle shop.
- Flying Fish Cafe, Horseshoe bay (almost on the beach at Horseshoe bay, Pt Elliot), ☏ . Has a cafe serving fresh fish and chips at good prices and a silver service restaurant next door. Unbeatable views from either the cafe or restaurant.
- Alexandrina Cheese, Mt Compass (look for the signs on your way down, it's a left around Mt Compass), ☏ . Consistently win international awards for their cheese. Also try their famous milkshakes and take away some cream.
For the tourist town that it is, there are numerous accommodation options here. The country motels, B&Bs, hostels and rental accommodation.
- McCracken Country Club, McCracken Dr (on the right hand side of Adelaide Road before you get to Victor Harbor town), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10:30AM. On the edge of the links/lakes McCracken Golf Course designed by Tony Cashmore, it has panoramic views across the Hindmarsh Valley or the beautiful Victor Harbor coast. There is an indoor heated lap pool, sauna, spa bath and massage therapists in the day spa. Health Club, gymnasium, flood-lit tennis courts and personal fitness instructor. Modern Australian cuisine and extensive wine list in Baudins Restaurant. Alternatively the Bistro offers a cosy and relaxed dining experience and licensed bar. Cocktail bar. $150-450.
- Anchorage at Victor Harbor, ☏ , fax: . 21 Flinders Parade
Go next edit
- Sealink run coaches from here to meet the ferries to Kangaroo Island every day except Saturday and Wednesday.
- See the rest of Encounter Bay, or catch the Cockle Train to Goolwa or Port Elliot.