It’s a very hot day here in the Barossa and I can’t help but wish the warm weather had appeared this time last month when we headed off to Victor Harbor for our “beach” holiday!
Not long after arriving in Tanunda, it suddenly seemed like people around me were booking summer holidays. Fresh from 3.5 years of regular breaks (due to the need to escape Hanoi’s pollution, chaos and weather), I figured we had better book a beach break too. As it turned out, we now have a lifestyle where we don’t need to escape so often and we probably didn’t need the expense of a holiday, but the idea of the beach sounded great.
Unfortunately we left Tanunda in pouring rain, and I tried to tell myself it would improve. Unfortunately the weather forecasts proved right, and apart from a few beautiful days, we shivered through most of the week away.
But we were determined to make the most of it. We had a nice apartment with a view of the harbour and the steam train going past a couple of times a day. It was only a quick walk to the centre of Victor Harbor so we visited many of the tourist attractions. And with the Fleurieu Peninsula being rich in food and wine, we of course enjoyed some day trips to taste wine in McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek (which I’ll post separately).
Here are some of the highlights of our time in Victor Harbor:
Harbor or Harbour?
Victor Harbor was a former whaling port so there is a lot of history around the whaling industry. It was interesting to realise that while Australian’s generally use the English spelling of “harbor” Victor Harbor is still spelt without the “u” – unless you’re on the train.
Steam Train to Goolwa
Watching the steam train go past our apartment every day, we had to go for a ride. Unfortunately we chose a freezing cold day for the trip to Goolwa, so after a quick beer at the Steam Exchange brewery it was back on the train back to Victor Harbor.
We did visit Goolwa again later in the week and found a beautiful beach – although the first time I have seen a warning about snakes on a beach!
A great rainy day activity and a so well set up for the kids. While the boys weren’t particularly keen about posing for a photo in the shark cage, they loved the digging for fossils activity and the kids corner.
We left this excursion until the end of our week and were lucky to have some good weather, although it started out quite cool. The horse drawn tram was great fun and having walked across the causeway myself, I realised that while the tram was running this was the best option with kids as the “footpath” on it is quite narrow. The penguin centre was amazing. The main keeper Dorothy was so passionate and worked their 6 days a week. She knew all the 10-11 penguins by name. I was really surprised and sad to hear that they are only allowed to care for the penguins and are not permitted to breed the penguins. This is despite the population dropping to around 40 in recent years, no doubt due to decreasing fish stocks.
The penguins themselves are gorgeous and it was the first time I had been close enough to see that their fur is actually a shiny blue colour in the water. I was also blown away by these tiny little things devouring whole fish. Well worth and hour to listen to Dorothy and watch the antics of these beautiful endangered creatures.
After a windy walk around and up to the top of Granite Island, we enjoyed beers and ice creams as the sun came out and we were even treated to a bit of a show by some dolphins. It was a beautiful spot and we were disappointed to hear that the lease on the restaurant and kiosk had not been renewed. It really should be a premier tourist attraction for Victor Harbor, so hopefully this changes and someone can come in and make the most of this beautiful location.
Beach and bakery at Port Elliot
The beach at Port Elliot and the fish and chips from Flying Fish Cafe on the beach were my favourite. It is a really pretty little town, about 5 minutes from Victor Harbor and would be my pick for our next beach holiday in that part of South Australia. Lots of beautiful old buildings, great shops and restaurants and amazing views. Thanks to Instagram, we discovered the Port Elliot bakery and made several trips back for the most incredible donuts. The boys also had a great time in the surf, although us grown-ups decided it was way too cold to swim!
Drive to Cape Jervis
One afternoon, I decided we should go for a drive to Cape Jervis where the ferry takes people across to Kangaroo Island. I probably underestimated how far this drive around the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula would take but it was worth it for some beautiful views starting at the Bluff near Encounter Bay and heading down to Cape Jervis, glimpses of Kangaroo Island and back past through Carrickalinga and Yankalilla.
Relaxing with the family
Although the weather meant we weren’t on the beach every day as I’d imagined, it was great just to spend time together as a family. One of the best things about our location was being across the road from the harbour and having 2 great playgrounds so afternoons usually involved a trip to the park while I did 30 minutes of exercise as part of the World Vision 30-for-30 challenge that I was doing to support child and maternal health.
So while we weren’t on the beach each day as I’d imagined, it was great exploring a new part of South Australia. I thought we’d actually covered quite a lot of ground, until I looked at the map of South Australia againand realised there are many more adventures out there waiting for us
Was there anything we missed in Victor Harbor? Any recommendations on where we should visit next?