Clydesdale trams and a Dali elephant

PATRICK CORNISH minds his Ps, Qs and Us in the quirky ambience of Victor Harbor

During a recent family trip to South Australia we enjoyed a gentle equine encounter at the town of Victor Harbor, on the coast 90 minutes drive south of Adelaide. There’s a horse-drawn tram from the mainland to Granite Island, across a 630m causeway. It’s a pleasant walk across but even more enjoyable if you let Elliott, Albert, or another of the Clydesdales team put real horsepower into your holiday.

Elliott, who’s eight years old, took us to the island; Albert, 11, brought us back a couple of hours later after he had taken over the harness shift. There are usually eight round trips a day, depending on the season. Speed is not the aim. This is a plod towards the past. The island’s breakwater, completed in 1882, used “200,000 tons of granite gouged out of this island by human muscle, horsepower and primitive equipment”.

While chatting to the tram staff I learned two things: the only other regular horse-drawn tram service they know of is on the Isle of Man, off the UK’s Lancashire coast. The other discovery was that early in 2019, a problem with a pylon forced temporary closure of the causeway.

Which meant, I suppose, a silence of the trams.

After a coffee at the island’s cafe, next to the tram terminus where the bell rings to let you know the horse has been walked around the side of the tram and is now fastened for return to the mainland esplanade, there are island paths to explore.

Fairy penguins can be seen on a guided tour. Sculptures, including a small-scale lighthouse with horizontal red stripes, dot the main path.

An hour well spent but I, proud to be a pedant, had my mind elsewhere, hoping to unravel a mystery that has been bugging me.

Why is it Victor Harbor, as opposed to “Harbour”? Pearl Harbor, yes, because it’s American. But in South Australia? Perhaps the spelling is due to the presence in these parts of American whalers a couple of centuries ago...

This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.

A message from Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield...

Thanks for reading us – we value your continuing interest and our connection with you.

But as our readers increasingly move to digital, we have to keep up with them.

As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, there are costs involved in doing what we do for you.

To support Travel, reading the full story now requires a digital subscription (it’s $1 a day for full access to, for all your devices).

If you have the newspaper home delivered, you may already have complimentary premium access to and our digital editions.

And we have other packages, including $9 a week for the weekend papers and everyday digital.

Stephen Scourfield


You may also like