As the temperatures soar in the city, the coolest place to be is on Granite Island at South Australia’s (SA) regional city of Victor Harbor. A day trip to the south coast is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Granite Island is a small island made mostly of – well granite – and is accessible by a causeway from the mainland. These granite boulders reflect an orange and green lichen to give off their shiny look. The granite is beautiful, but slippery to walk on and those that dare to walk the island should take care. A short 5 – 10 minute walk across the causeway will have you on one of the prettiest, unspoiled (small) islands in SA. The walking trail takes you around the island’s perimeter and an unobstructed view of Encounter Bay, the Bluff and the city of Victor Harbor. A loop of the whole island, at a comfortable pace takes approximately 45 minutes.
Stop at Davenport lookout and read all about English explorers, Matthew Flinders on the Investigator and Nicolas Baudin on the Le Geographé, whom sailed into Encounter Bay (separate journeys) many years ago using Granite Island as a landing spot.
From humble beginnings as a botanic garden many years ago, the island was later declared a conservation park for tourism. Look out for the signs along the walking trail that will tell you all about the island’s environment and role played in SA’s history.
Granite Island is home to tiny fairy penguins and if lucky you may be able to spot them hiding in the rocks. In the evenings, you can join a tour at the penguin centre on the north side of the island. The tiny penguins are beautiful to watch as they come out to feed and walk the island.
Make your way passed the gorgeous wave rock (Umbrella Rock) shaped by the erosion of air and sea, then continue around to the south side where the wind is crisp but the view amazing. Watch the waves crash up onto the rocks as mother nature does her thing. The best time to visit if you want to feel the calm and serenity of the island is early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
A short distance away, stop at Ngurundjar lookout and look out for Seal Island, home to many seals which you can see up close and personal on a 30 minute boat tour that departs from the Causeway. As a part of the local Aboriginal landscape, Granite Island is identified as Kaiki and has cultural significance to the Ramindjeri people. The island has a cultural history based on the beliefs of this tribe with a long generational past. It is said that the male Supreme Creator Ngurundjar created the island by throwing a spear into the sea.
Granite Island is popular with tourists and remains as a natural, unspoiled nature reserve floating gracefully in Encounter Bay.