What to see at Victor Harbor

The Victor Harbor Council region is the seaside resort township of Victor Harbor 80km south of Adelaide, South Australia. It is a favoured holiday destination with spectacular coastal scenery and beaches with world class attractions. With a permanent population of around 12,000, Victor Harbor is a growing city in its own right.

Victor Harbor's historic past can be connected to granite geological features affected by glacial movement that created a unique landscape which is now a popular haven for tourists, artists and photographers.

Some of its most famous landmarks include:

Granite Island, which has unusual granite formations with crashing white waves, elevated views, flora & fauna and walking trails that provide outstanding panoramic coastal views. It has undergone significant redevelopment for visitors and for better protection of its flora and fauna, especially Fairy Penguins.

There are many unusual rock features on Granite Island caused by the way granite is weathered by wind and water. Large rounded boulders on the surface of the island can become worn to produce amazing shapes such as "Umbrella Rock" and "Nature's Eye"

Granite Island can be visited by walking or riding across the wooden causeway on a Horse Drawn Tram. Watch the many fishermen. The improved visitor facilities include a restaurant, kiosk, souvenir shop and public amenities.

The Bluff (Rosetta Head)
This prominent headland is made of granite, which was formed when molten magma was squeezed up from deep in the earth's crust during a mountain building period about 500 million years ago. There are sediments left by the ice age, which occurred at that time, which rest immediately on top of it, and boulders of granite that were carried northwards by the ice. Erosive action of the ice sheet caused the smooth rounded profile of The Bluff.

Several granite islands can be seen from the Bluff and also show signs of having been smoothed by ice passing over them.

On top of the Bluff a plaque commemorating the meeting between explorers Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin in 1802 is fixed to one of the granite boulders.

Glacier Rock (Selwyn's Rock)
This rock is in Inman Valley, 14 km from Victor Harbor. Glacier Rock was was first recognised as significant by the geologist A. Selwyn in 1859 when he noticed that the hard rock surface in the river bed had been planed, grooved and scratched by ice movement. In the river bank above this surface is a large ice transported boulder embedded in glacial sediments. More sediments like this can be found right through Inman Valley from Encounter Bay to Normanville.

The nearby Glacier Rock Restaurant has a golf course set with a backdrop of majestic gum trees lining the banks of the Inman River. Several walking trails allow exploration of the Inman River valley.

Hindmarsh Falls
The Hindmarsh Falls provide a magnificent display during winter and spring rainfalls each year. They are accessed from Hindmarsh Valley Road. You can enjoy a picnic at this tranquil site nestled within a beautiful bush setting.

Hindmarsh River
The Hindmarsh River Estuary can be accessed by a footpath, steps and boardwalks which lead down to and through this hidden gem. The area is good for fishing. Birds and turtles are often sighted.

The Inman River also provides great wetland and river exploration.

Other Places to Visit

Mount Billy Conservation Park is 18km from Victor Harbor towards Myponga. The  park is known for its preserved mallee and Eucalypt forest typical of parts of the Mount Lofty Ranges, plus many interesting birds, animals and plants
Nangawooka Flora Reserve on the Victor Habor to Adelaide road has over 1250 varieties of Australian native plants. This reclaimed pasture land was replanted starting in 1983 by local naturalist groups,to become a haven for bird watchers and plant enthusiasts. Nangawooka Flora Reserve is a prime example of Australian flora conservation.

Newland Head Conservation Park protects Waitpinga and Parsons beaches. It has black rocky headlands, sheer cliffs which meet the sea east of Newland Head. Low bushland extends inland behind the coastal dunes. A camping area and picnic tables are present. Both beaches are great for surf fishing. Great for scenic coastal Walks.

West Island Conservation Park covers West Island and Seal Island.  West Island is 1.5 km south-west of Rosetta Head (the Bluff) and sea bird rookeries. Seal Island is a set of granite boulders 4 km north-west of the Bluff, often covered by rough seas. There is restricted access.

Fairy penguins nesting - Granite Island
The Cockle train runs between Victor Harbor and Goolwa
The horse drawn tram and the Clydesdale horses on the causeway to Granite Island
View across Victor Harbor to Granite Island
The Bluff and the notorious Petrel Cove
The Whale Museum at Victor Harbor

A brief History of the region

The Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal clan group lived in the area for at least forty thousand years. The Ramindjeri clan lived around Encounter Bay. Good rainfall, two rivers and the sea provided reliable food and allowed permanent settlement at Yilki. The Aboriginal clans had a well developed cultural and social structure together with a rich mythology. They lived in harmony with nature and each other.

The Victor Harbor area is believed to have been visited by white sealers and whalers who moved along the coast hunting and collecting sealskins and whale oil. They would have met the Ramindjeri who lived in the area during this time.

In 1802 Captain Matthew Flinders met Captain Nicolas Baudin in Encounter Bay. The explorers were both charting the coast and studying local flora and fauna of what was called "New Holland".

Matthew Flinders noted "in consequence of our meeting here, I distinguish it by the name of Encounter Bay". Both Flinders and Nicolas Baudin continued their exploration.

R W Newland led a group of settlers to Encounter Bay in July 1839. Land was available for one pound an acre.

The area became a busy seaside port, known as 'Port Victor'. With increased trade on the River Murray, Victor Harbor was a safe port for ships to dock and load  wool and grain for overseas.

South Australia's first railway (originally horse drawn) ran from Goolwa to Port Elliot and later to Victor Harbor. It carried freight brought down the Murray by paddle steamers.

Victor Harbor is in the heart of the Fleurieu Peninsula so there is ready access to local fruits, cheeses, meats, seafood, wines, etc. It has become a tourism centre and a population growth centre in its own right.

Activities for all in the Victor Harbor Area

Bird Watching with many species of birds including endangered species. The Little Penguin or Fairy Penguin is a favourite.

Seals and Dolphins can be seen in Encounter Bay. Seals can somtimes be seen resting on rocks.

Whale Watching for Southern Right Whales which can be seen within a hundred metres of the coast line, providing great experiences.

Visiting local wineries, Art Galleries, train rides, surfing, diving and swimming, Adventure parks, golf courses, Conference facilities, nurseries, a miniature village.

Encounter Bay is great for water sports, views, swimming and fishing. This part of Fleurieu Peninsula has an amazing number of things to see and do.
The natural beauty of the region, its seaside location, beautiful countryside and rolling hills make the Victor Harbor region a great place to visit or live in.

This information with thanks to the Victor Harbour Council

For many more details about the Victor Harbor region visit the Victor Harbor Visitor Information Centre or the Victor Harbor Council Website.