God’s waiting room. Retirement village. Viccy Harbs. “South Australia’s premier coastal city”. Whatever people choose to call it, Victor Harbor is the place I’ll be calling home for the foreseeable future, and a place that you should probably visit if you’ve been bold enough to make your way to South Australia.
Located on the eastern side of the Fleurieu Peninsula about 85km south of Adelaide, it’s very much a seasonal town that gets filled with campers and caravanners during the school holidays who are looking for a retreat from their busy city lives. For the rest of the year it’s a fairly uneventful place, sometimes even described as peaceful. That is until the local golfers decide to hoon around in their golf caddies under the influence of alcohol. Those lunatics.
It was discovered in 1802 by British explorer Captain Matthew Flinders when he bumped into French explorer Captain Nicolas Baudin at nearby Goolwa. They took shelter in the calm waters of the bay here and named it ‘Encounter Bay’. Although their countries were at war, they were on scientific missions and so they worked with each other, comparing notes and having a cheeky beer or two. I like to think the latter is true anyway.
Here’s a photo of Encounter Bay. Badly edited.
It wasn’t until 1837, when a British bloke named Captain Richard Crozier anchored his ship next to Granite Island, that Victor Harbor gained its name. He named the waters after his ship ‘HMS Victor’. At around the same time, a couple of whaling stations popped up and later on the town was established, initially being called Port Victor. It quickly became a busy trading post for local wheat, wool, and whaling products.
The name was changed to Victor Harbor in 1921. The ‘u’ is missing in the word harbor because in early Australian English, American spellings were standard practice. Bizarre I know. The railway station however, is spelt with the ‘u’, so I can only assume it was a British guy who built that.
Slightly longer than intended history lesson over.
Because of the history and location of the place, there is quite a lot to do here. There are a number of museums and walks, as well as a number of great places to eat. The wildlife is also incredible, and depending on what time of year you visit the area, you will be able to spot whales, dolphins, penguins, seals, and camels. Unfortunately the camels are not wild.
As it happens it is currently the beginning of whale season and the whales have recently arrived in the area. This morning I went out to see if I could spot some. I had some success and spotted a couple, but they were too far away to get a photo. Instead, here is a photo of the whale tail (fluke) fountain in town. That’s just as good right?
So this all sounds great. And it is. It’s a great place to visit, and live. It’s interesting, there’s plenty to do, the weather is great in the summer, and it’s a beautiful area. The only problem for me is that it’s so far away from the city. Coming from the UK, if I wasn’t living in a city then I was never far from one. The closest city to here is Adelaide, and that’s still at least an hour and a half drive away. For Australians that’s a leisurely drive but for us Brits, it’s a damn road trip!
That is but a tiny complaint in an otherwise very liveable town, and I’m sure I’ll get used to the long drives. I guess I’m just living up to the stereotype of a whinging pom. Again…
I do really like it here though, and I would definitely recommend visiting if you ever find yourself in this part of the world. Just make sure you avoid the last weekend of November other wise you’ll be swamped with drunken 18 year olds attending the annual Schoolies festival.
If you’re interested in finding out what there actually is to do in Victor Harbor then watch this space. I’ll being doing a post about my personal favourites very soon!