By Michael Catford
September 11, 2020 | 4 minute read
Goolwa image credit @cbocky via IG
Stretching from the Murray River mouth to the historic town of Victor Harbor is a ruggedly beautiful section of the South Australian coastline. This part of the State is loaded with things to see and do, but which are the must-sees and must-dos? Beginning in Goolwa and ending in Victor, here’s a two day itinerary that ensures you see all that this great area has to offer.
* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.
We begin our adventure in Goolwa, where the River Murray finally meets the sea.
This bridge to nowhere may not seem super exciting at first, but bird watchers and wildlife lovers will soon find themselves in heaven. Pack a chair, a snack and a pair of binoculars.
Found in an unassuming shed, this impressive collection of vintage vehicles is managed by Collectible Classics in nearby Strathalbyn. A must for motoring enthusiasts.
Arguably the most famous bakery in South Australia, this establishment won’t be hard to find – just look for the line that stretches round the block. Our recommendation: pick whatever the pie of the day is.
This iconic spot is a favourite for photographers. A perfect crescent of sand is guarded by rugged headland on either side, within which you’ll find the bluest of blue water. This bay is also known for its underwater delights; a coral reef is home to a wealth of sea life, including the leafy sea dragon.
Offering up a steady supply of challenging waves, surfers from all over SA gravitate to Boomer Beach. But even if you don’t plan on paddling out, the view from neighbouring Knight Beach is stunning, particularly during the winter whale season.
Port Elliot image credit erikamonika123 via IG
Make your way slightly inland and you’ll find Urimbirra, a wildlife park that offers personal encounters with a number of native animals, from koalas to snakes.
Still have a hunger for cuteness? A 10 minute drive from Urimbirra you’ll find Softfoot, a family-owned conservation park that breeds endangered marsupials. It’s also home to a herd of 200 friendly alpacas which visitors can feed, pat and photograph.
The Royal Family Hotel up the road is every bit as good, but Hotel Elliot wins our recommendation thanks to its modern gastro-pub menu, and the fact that it’s owned by former Australian cricketer Shaun Tait.
Moving on from Goolwa and Port Elliot, the historic city of Victor Harbor deserves a day all its own on this itinerary.
Are you a morning person? The very best way to start your day is with a sunrise at The Bluff, a spectacular spot that grants you views over the entire bay, which are only made better with the pink, orange and yellow hues of the early morning.
Rolling back into Victor, head to the SA Whale Centre and get the inside word on these magnificent creatures, which frequent Encounter Bay between May and September (this centre is more than worth a look over summer too!)
This inconspicuous spot – found in a tiny red brick building on the beach – is a local favourite, and the perfect place to grab a coffee and light lunch. The BLT burger is an absolute treat.
In 1894 a bridge was built between Victor Harbor and nearby Granite Island. Upon completion, a horse-drawn tram was tasked with carrying passengers over the divide. Over 125 years later the Clydesdales are pulling, offering one of the most unique and historic experiences in SA.
At the other end of the bridge, Granite Island is 64 hectares of spectacularly rugged rock, covered with hiking trails, picnic spots and lookout points.
A unique in-sea aquarium, Oceanic Victor offers a range of diving activities, from lazily floating above hundreds of sea creatures to an adrenaline-pumping dive amongst massive southern bluefin tuna.
Ignore the fact that you’ll be covering old ground, and jump on this 100 year old steam train for a trip from Victor to Goolwa and back. It’s the perfect end to the perfect trip.
You’ve come to the end of your adventure, so it’s time to replace all those well-spent carbs. A Victor Harbor stalwart, Nino’s offers up Italian just like mama used to make. Elastic-waisted pants are recommended.
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