On my recent visit to the seaside town of Victor Harbor south of Adelaide, I went for a walk over the causeway to Granite Island. Two of my friends, Keith and Trevor were also in town for the weekend so we had a very pleasant time together talking as we went on our walk.
As we walked over the causeway we had excellent views of the hill called The Bluff on the other side of Encounter Bay. This imposing hill to the south west of the town of Victor Harbor is a prominent landmark in an area of many landmarks. Some years ago I led a group of school children to the top while on camp nearby. It is not an easy climb. Now on a few years (and a few extra kilograms under the belt) I prefer to take the sealed road to the top. The view is spectacular from the top and well worth the drive. (I’m not so sure about the climb.)
Later, when we were on the island, I had a good view again of The Bluff, this time from the lookout overlooking the southern side of Granite Island. The area near the foot of The Bluff has historic significance. For many years a whaling station operated near the beach there. Many whales were killed there, the height of The Bluff affording an excellent lookout for incoming Southern Right Whales.
The whales still come to this bay in the winter months and are another attraction of the town. The history of the whaling industry and information about marine life in general is displayed beautifully in the SA Whale Centre in Victor Harbor. This centre is currently closed for redevelopment. I think I recall reading somewhere that it will reopen later in 2007, complete with a new large aquarium.
One of the lovely features of Victor Harbor is the historic horse drawn tram that travels frequently from the mainland over the causeway to Granite Island. The island is a short – perhaps ten minute – walk across a causeway. This walk is undertaken by many hundreds of people daily, rising to many thousands in the peak tourist seasons. Over the summer months, Easter weekend, school holidays and even normal weekends the island and its causeway can be quite crowded.
The alternative to walking is to take a ride either way on the historic horse drawn tram. These trams operate throughout the day, every day of the year and are very popular with tourists, visitors and locals. The Clydesdale horses willingly go through their paces throughout the day and really seem to enjoy their ‘work.’
The trams have been a part of the cultural and tourist attractions for many years. Commencing in 1894 the tram ran until 1956 when the carriages were sold. The service recommenced in 1985 with four rebuilt carriages. Each carriage is hauled by one of 14 Clydesdale horses. It is one of only three horse drawn tramways anywhere in the world. (The others are in Japan and on the Isle of Man.)
Yesterday I wrote about our recent caravan trip to Victor Harbor. This trip is becoming an annual pilgrimage to this lovely seaside town. My wife usually attends a special convention one weekend in March every year.
From the earliest days of settlement in South Australia Victor Harbor has been the summer holiday destination of choice of so many South Australians – and a significant number of interstate and overseas visitors too. In more recent times it has become a favoured retirement destination. One local radio announcer calls the town “God’s waiting room.”
Victor Harbor has a milder climate than many other parts of the state, especially the capital city Adelaide. It can frequently be 4-8 degrees Celsius cooler than the city in summer, and less harsh in winter; frosts are almost unknown. On the downside, it can be much wetter than other places.
With such good weather, a long pleasant beachfront and many sealed walking trails that double up as bicycle tracks, many people are very active when they visit Victor Harbor. The most popular walking trail leads out over a causeway to Granite Island just off the coast. On the Saturday of our recent visit I went for a walk out to the island with friends Trevor and Keith. I’ll write about that tomorrow.
We recently had a short caravan holiday in Victor Harbor, South Australia. This seaside town is a popular holiday destination about an hour south of Adelaide. It is a little over an hour from our home, especially when towing a caravan.
This sojourn in the caravan park at Encounter Bay is an annual pilgrimage by us and a number of our friends. We always reserve a number of sites in close proximity to each other. During the weekend our wives attend the CWCI Convention. The men have a relaxing weekend reading, talking, walking and generally lazing around.
Last Friday evening we had a meeting to attend in the South Australian country town of Coonalpyn, about an hour’s drive from home and two hours South East of Adelaide. We decided to take the day off from work. My wife works in her native plant nursery most days and I on my writing.
The weather forecast was not looking good, but the start of the day was quite pleasant. We travelled via Tailem Bend to the small mallee community of Peake, nearly an hour east of Murray Bridge. Here we turned north for a few kilometres to a picnic ground called How Park. This small community park is now very run down with a dilapidated toilet block and club rooms, a strip of concrete formerly used as a cricket pitch and an open area previously used as a football oval.
Uninvited lunch guests:
This park would have been much used in earlier times, say in the 1950s and 60s, but its condition is now quite derelict. Some of the beautiful pine trees planted by early settlers are magnificent still; others have either died through the drought or been ravaged by storms. Despite this we still had our picnic lunch there. The numerous uninvited bush flies decided to join us. I only recorded a few birds in the park and didn’t take any photos. One notable sighting was of several Peaceful Doves who serenaded us while we dined.
Jabuk to Geranium:
After lunch we travelled to Jabuk and then on to Geranium. By now the hot north wind was increasing and the cloud cover intensifying. It was not a good day for birding and I saw very little of interest except for four Western Grey Kangaroos. On previous occasions I had seen many birds on this stretch of road. Today was a very poor birding day though I did see a family of White Winged Choughs.
One Tree Hill:
A few kilometres south of Geranium there is a locality known as One Tree Hill. It has many trees there so I don’t know why it is called that. Nearby is a soak used by the Aborigines in earlier times; it would have been one of the few places where there was fresh water in the district. There is no surface water now; the local farmers and their bores have lowered the water table. One feature of this locality is many hundreds of trees planted by a local grower, especially many kinds of Banksias (see photo). I was only able to get several photos before beating a hasty retreat to the car for shelter. From that point on it rained steadily all the way to our friends’ place in Coonalpyn.
While the rain was very welcome, the birding was disappointing. Next time we will pick better weather.