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A Weekender at Victor Harbor, Hindmarsh Island, Goolwa, and Granite Island, South Australia

This rock painting is probably
thousands of years old. As you
can see they didn't much
like drones then either.

Detail, Margaret Worth's (SA)
Granite Island Sculpture,
"Walking Looking Talking
Noppan Nukkan Yunnan"
This vacation was definitely a bonus trip as it was Enigma and I's third vacation in two months. We were gifted a one night stay at the McCracken Country Club in Victor Harbor, South Australia, which Enigma extended to a two night stay so we'd have a little time to see a few sights.

Victor Harbor is about a two hour drive south of where we live in Gawler. Before checking into our hotel we stopped for some lunch at Ara's Cafe who do an excellent steak sandwich and a very tasty pork roast roll (with plenty of gravy).

The McCracken Country Club

The McCracken Country Club is home to an 18 hole championship links/lakes golf course, designed by renowned gold architect, Tony Cashmore. There's also a Golf Shop. If that all means something to you then booking a stay should be a no brainer. Enigma and I are not Golfers so we mostly enjoyed the view of the course and Hindmarsh Valley.

Other facilities include a restaurant, bistro, health club, indoor pool, basketball and tennis courts.

The view from our balcony.
McCracken Country Club.
Our room was pretty spacious with everything you would expect of a modern hotel room. Friday night was schnitzel night in the bistro so we took advantage and ordered generously sized beef and chicken schnitzels served with chips.

Hindmarsh Island

Saturday morning we decided to drive to Hindmarsh Island. The day before we had been recommended that the island was quite nice. Crossing to from the mainland via a road bridge, Hindmarsh island was quite a bit bigger than I expected, and not very well signposted for tourist to find their way around.

The main lookout on Hindmarsh
Island overlooks the Murray Mouth
Sand Pumping Project.
We made it to the main lookout point at the mouth of the Murray river, where it meets the sea. Here they dredge out the build up of sand to help maintain the rivers health. It's a great beach to walk along but not really a swimmers beach. Though you can hire canoes just down the road from the lookout where there was also a food van cafe set up with plenty of tables and chairs (maybe that part of the beach was better for swimming?).

Driving around we didn't really come across anywhere that we particularly wanted to stop so we headed back over the bridge to Goolwa.

Goolwa

It was interesting to finally visit the town that everyone thinks they hear us say when we try to tell them we live in 'Gawler'. Our first stop was Salt Water Cafe in the town centre, where we got exceptional value on two plates of fish and chips of the quality and size most hotels serve as an evening meal at double the price.

The road bridge to Hindmarsh Island with the
Oscar W Paddle Steamer in the foreground.
From there we wandered around the town, which is very arts and crafts focussed, with a number of galleries and art and craft shops within walking distance of each other.

Although we didn't, you can book a cruise on the local paddle steamer. The attached shop is also worth a look for some excellent paddle steamer model displays.

Victor Harbor

We journeyed back to Victor Harbor because I wanted to get a good photo of the horse drawn tram that you can ride across the jetty bridge to Granite Island (Kaiki), and there was only one more trip there and back left for the day.

Horse drawn Tram crossing the jetty bridge
to Granite Island.
Riding the tram isn't especially cheap but where else are you going to experience riding a horse drawn tram that gives you spectacular sea views?

The tram to Granite Island is optional (maybe you want to save your money for the camel or pony rides along the beach nearby, or maybe even the mini golf). Enigma and I opted to walk the same bridge the tram takes, and I'm glad we did, because it gave me the opportunity to take a really great photo of the tram as it went past us.

Granite Island (Kaiki)

Granite Island entrance sign. These were the
only penguins we saw.
If you take the tram I believe it drops you off at the cafe, to the left of the bridge, on the island, however we turned right, heading up the hill to follow the hiking/Sculpture Encounters trail. I didn't grasp the overall theme linking the various sculptures together but I got the idea that many of them related to the history of the island.

The trail itself takes you on a loop around the whole island. It's not particularly far but it is up and down hills so a reasonable level of fitness and mobility is helpful. Enigma and I only did about a third of the walk, cutting back the way we came, as we'd been walking a lot that day, and weren't really anticipating yet another long walk after crossing the bridge.

However we would like to do the full hike some time in the future because, as a sculpture trail, the artworks we saw were quite interesting, built with a variety of materials, and explored some fairly interesting ideas.

Horizon Figure (2009) by Greg Johns (SA)
Granite Island Sculpture Encounters trail.
As well, many were placed with perfect backdrops of the sea, adding to their already photogenic aesthetic.

If you're into more contemporary abstract sculpture rather than representational I'd definitely recommend this trail as worth a look.

I'd even recommend it if you're a photographer looking for some interesting subject matter combining art with landscape photography. I certainly enjoyed looking for interesting angles with my own photos.

Granite Island also offers the chance to see penguins on evening tours, though it can be hit and miss as to whether you actually see penguins, according to the visitor information centre.

Back to Victor Harbor

After briefly going back to our hotel for a break we went back into Victor to the Encounter Bistro at the Hotel Victor (across the square from the tram).

Apparently their carvery is famous (according to their own sign) so we both ordered that, giving us a selection of any combination of roast lamb, pork, or turkey, then adding whatever you want to it from the buffet. You also get a a soup starter and desert included in the price.

After enjoying our meals we went for a walk along the esplanade and beach trying to get a photo of a spectacular sunset... and failing. I'm sure they have spectacular sunsets in Victor Harbor but the hills and clouds did a great job of thwarting our chances of seeing one this trip.

My best effort at snapping a sunset on the trip.
Victor Harbor beachfront.

That was pretty much our trip. The next day we checked out early so Enigma would be able to attend a workshop she had booked into sometime back.

Friday afternoon through to Sunday morning is definitely not enough time to experience everything Victor Harbor and the surrounding region has to offer. I feel you could easily spend a week or two here and still not get to everything there is to do or see.

However we enjoyed our short stay and will very likely consider going back on a future vacation.

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