Victor Harbour and Strathalbyn, trains, trams and automobiles

The Enzotraveldog team explore the two historic towns, of Victor Harbour and Strathalbyn on the Fleurieu Peninsula, eat at dog friendly pubs and cafes, discover two Victorian era transport methods still operating and even go to a dog friendly art exhibition; all on their way to the Murraylands.

Victor Harbour

The folks had been to Victor Harbour before. We only really stopped for coffee and a walk on our way to Strathalbyn, but the town just kept on giving during the brief time we were there.

It was cool and breezy when we stopped, so we headed up the shopping and cafe strip in the middle of town looking for a coffee shop with a sheltered outside eating area. We stopped at Cafe Bavaria for the folk’s mandatory late morning coffee. Afterwards we walked around the centre of town then back along the waterfront, originally just for a bit of exercise.

At one point we stopped at a railway crossing and a steam train went through! There’s something you don’t see every day, I thought. The Cockle Train runs most days between Goolwa and Victor Harbour. It’s a joint effort involving several historic associations. There you go, check out the link.

The Cockle steam train passing through the level crossing in Victor Harbour
The Cockle Train passing through the level crossing in Victor Harbour

We walked on to the pier in the middle of town. It’s officially known as the Granite Island Causeway. There is a Victorian era Horse Drawn Tramway that operates on the pier running tourists out to Granite Island as it has for over 100 years. There’s something else you don’t see every day, in fact one of the few services of its type, in the world. The Clydesdales were an awesome reminder of how much work horses used to have to do. There were another two in the stable. Looks like they worked shifts, which is not surprising having regard for the size of the tramcar! Dogs weren’t allowed on the pier, I guess horses and dogs don’t always mix!

Pier running out to Granite Island at Victor Harbour
The Granite Causeway running out to Granite Island.
Clydesdale horse taking the strain of the tram full of people as he pulls it toward the Granite Causeway., Victor Harbour
Clydesdale taking the strain as he pulls the tram toward the causeway.

Just when I thought we were heading back to the van there was a ‘but wait there’s more’ moment when we came across the annual Victor Harbour Art Show. It was huge and dogs were welcome. ‘How cool’s that’ I thought as we went inside. It had turned out to be quite a walk!

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Strathalbyn is a nice little historic town on the River Angas. It grew up in support of local agriculture and mining. The folks thought it looks for all the world like a town in the south of England, but according to the Sparrowphone, the early settlers were Scottish! Let’s just say it wouldn’t look out of place in the UK somewhere!

Back in the days before car travel it was the overnight stop between the train from Adelaide and the horse-drawn tram to Victor Harbour. These days it is about an hour’s drive; I guess times and transport have changed. The recently opened Gilbert’s Motor Museum is another place to see some transportation history in Strathalbyn.

We stayed at the Strathalbyn Caravan Park. This is a basic, older style park, but within easy walking range of town. The managers were friendly and even loaned their ‘historic guided walk book’ to the folks.

Right next door was the local cricket ground. I’d never seen a cricket match before. I’ve got to say, I quite liked it. I can appreciate the joy of chasing a ball around an oval and loved all the excited shouting whenever a batter went out.

Cricket match

We spent a morning doing the historic walk around town and saw lots of old buildings and antique shops before stopping at the Victoria Hotel for a classic pub lunch of steak sandwiches, chips and beer. Now that’s my kind of food. Nothing too fancy and the folks can never quite eat it all [without my assistance that is]. The steak was cooked to perfection!



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