Our second day in Victor Harbor began with a late start and then an easy drive along the Fleurieu Way towards the end of the peninsula. Some of this drive took us along the coast with some very photogenic locations.
Looking to King Head from The Bluff
Petrel Cove Beach at Victor Harbor
We noticed a small variety of Eucalyptus that was growing as a low shrub. We were intrigued by the white flowers that were surrounded by a pink colour. When we got closer, we could see that the pink colour was actually on the buds that were yet to open. I think it may be a variety called Eucalyptus Leucoxylon.
We pottered along towards Cape Jervis at the end of the peninsula. The final section of the road was quite straight and travelled down a very long hill. We were hoping to find a cafe for lunch but the only thing at the end of the road was a very industrial harbour and a lighthouse. The harbour is where the ferry to Kangaroo Island departs. One of my strong memories of this place was to watch a driver of a B-Double truck carrying sheep (a double articulated vehicle) reverse it straight on to the ferry,. Wonderful driving skill!
The original lighthouse was built in 1871 and displayed a fixed white light. It was manned until 1927 when it was converted to an automatic acetylene system with a revolving light that shone for a distance of 14 miles. Built at the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula, the light safeguarded the Backstairs Passage, between Kangaroo Island and the mainland.
The lighthouse was replaced in 1972 by the present light which stands alongside the foundations of the original one. The new tower is the twin of the lighthouse at Robe.
Heading back towards Victor Harbor, we were looking for a sheltered place for a picnic lunch, seeing that there wasn’t a cafe at Cape Jervis. By good fortune, we found a turn off to Rapid Bay and then a picnic shelter by the caravan park.
Rapid Bay is an impressive stretch of coastline characterised by a pebbly beach, a jetty, a limestone quarry and rocky headlands. There are pleasant walks along the cliffs and the waters in the bay are good for both fishing and skin diving. Until the late 1980s, BHP mined limestone here and shipped it to their steel plans forms as a flux. A primary school still operates here but many of the mine workers houses and accommodation buildings are now empty.
On our way back, we found some good examples of how picturesque the farming scenery around here can be.
At one point , the main road was closed and we were sent off on a detour along a series of winding dirt roads for around ten kilometres. More than being a disadvantage, the change of route took us through even more scenic country.
Back at Victor Harbor, I took a late afternoon walk around the town to see some of the places that I found interesting when I was here for a Vietnam Veterans Reunion around nine years ago.
The Steam Ranger Heritage Railway operates a number of different heritage steam and diesel hauled tourist trains between Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills, up over the crest of the southern Mt Lofty Ranges, down to Strathalbyn and on through the coastal holiday towns of Goolwa and Port Elliot to the town of Victor Harbor.
Trains operate on up to 140 days a year and are manned by volunteers from the Australian Railways Historical Society, who are also responsible for maintenance of the rail line and the heritage locomotives and carriages. On those days, the railway station here is very busy.
The Soldiers Memorial Garden with its rows of Norfolk Island Pines runs along the foreshore at Flinders Parade. This site is a popular meeting and picnic area adjoining the main playground and amusement sites. A cross of remembrance is located in these gardens and a popular walking and bike path runs along the foreshore.
We held a Vietnam Veterans Day service here by the replica Long Tan Cross at our reunion.
Probably, Victor Harbor’s most popular attraction is the Horse Drawn tram service which crosses the narrow causeway that links Victor Harbor township and Granite Island. A sign explains: The Victor Harbor tramway which runs across to Granite Island from 10.00 a.m. daily is Australia’s only horse drawn tram service. It was first established in 1894. Discontinued in 1954 and recommenced in June, 1986. The District Council of Victor Harbor owns 6 Clydesdale horses. There are 8 tapered roller bearings beneath each tram and it takes a pull of approximately 50 kilograms to pull a loaded tram. Similar horses regularly pulled many hundreds of kilograms all day long in days gone by. The old trams are kept in a special building by the station.