A Trip to Victor, or, An Aqualand's Big Day Out
Hi there. I'm a Citizen Aqualand (20th anniversary model if you please), and this is my story about my first trip to the sea. Here's a picture of me, in case you want to know what I look like. You'll have to excuse the blurriness around the edges—I was a bit out of my depth when that was taken.
It all began one very hot January day in Adelaide (we're in the southern hemisphere, remember), when my master decided to take SWMBO for a day trip down to Victor Harbor, a small but popular seaside resort some 80km (50mi) to the south. Because Victor (as it's known locally) is exposed to cooling winds directly from the Southern Ocean, it's usually about 15°C cooler than Adelaide in the summer. SWMBO? Oh, that stands for She Who Must Be Obeyed. I suppose another way of putting it is my master's mistress. I once overheard him (when he'd had an ale or two at a party) defining what a mistress was. "A mistress," he declared solemnly but loudly to anyone who would listen, "is just something that comes between a master and a mattress." I didn't get it but I did see SWMBO give him a dirty look. And later that night, a cold shoulder.
Anyway, we arrived at Victor and soon found a place to park near the beach. The nice thing about Victor is that for 99% of the year, you can have the beach almost to yourself.
In the photo above, the town of Victor is on the mainland to the left, and you can see a causeway connecting it to Granite Island on the right. That thing in the middle of the causeway, on closer inspection, turns out to be a horse-drawn tram transporting people to and from the Island. This must surely be one of the last few horse-drawn trams left in the world, and is a popular tourist attraction.
As we approach the causeway we come across another strange sight. No, it's not Lawrence of Arabia, it's a girl leading a string of three camels, giving rides.
The camels are so tame, they don't even get the hump when SWMBO gets up close and personal. The second in line got the joke.
Maybe being a camel's not so bad after all....
We decided to walk across the causeway to Granite Island. Oops, look out for that car, there's not much room on here!
NOW they tell us!
Once the crowd had cleared, here's what we saw...
Granite Island is famous for its colony of 'Little' or 'Fairy' penguins that inhabits it. They are out at sea feeding all day, and waddle onto shore and into their little burrows at night. They are of course protected, and to view them after dark you must be part of a conducted tour. No wonder then this sight greets you when you land on the Island:
Unfortunately, we had to return to Adelaide that afternoon, so we didn't get to see any penguins.
Just at the end of the causeway we came upon some rock pools, filling up with tidal seawater.
"Aha!" thought my master, "that will be an ideal place to take some underwater action photos of my wonderful Aqualand." And so he removed me from his wrist, plunged me into the tepid briny, and started snapping away. And eventually realised that taking pictures of watches underwater (and keeping the camera above the surging water whilst kneeling on excruciatingly painful lumps of rock and shell) is not the easiest of things to do.
Meanwhile, SWMBO indicated she was getting bored with this palaver and was going to go "up there", waving vaguely in a south-easterly direction. "Be right with you," said my master, picking bits of crushed shell out of his knee-caps. Half an hour later he decides to give underwater photography away, and proceeds to follow SWMBO by climbing up to the top of the island—only to find she's nowhere in sight. The view is good, the weather's hot, the climb is steep, and the lady has vanished. Hmmm.
The original inhabitants called this 'Serpent's Head Rock'—and it's easy to see why.
This plate atop an obelisk at a lookout tells you how far you are from various landmarks. If you travel due south you'll eventually arrive at Antarctica and the South Pole—after 3850 miles (see yellow arrow).
Eventually my master and mistress met up at the island kiosk on the foreshore—where she had been waiting all the time. Things were a little strained for a while, but the beautiful purple of some bougainvilleas calmed things down.
Soon it was time to walk back over the causeway again. Oops—watch out, here's that tram again!
Camels, penguins, horses...is there nothing this woman is afraid of?
Back in Victor we come across a fountain in a park, sculptured to resemble a whale's fluked tail with water pouring off it. Whale watching is a popular pastime in the summer as the whales move along the coast to their breeding grounds. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the whales meant something different to Victor Harbor—they were hunted and brought to the whaling stations at Victor for cutting up for their products such as whale oil and whale bone. Luckily, we now prefer to watch these magnificent creatures rather than dismember them.
A walk along the 'buzziest' street in town—Ocean Street—brings us to "The Original Victor Harbor Fish Shop—Winner of the Best Fish & Chips in South Australia 2005". In very small letters at the bottom of the sign is the word, "Runner-up". Undeterred, we give it a try. The verdict? Delicious!
And that just about ends our trip to Victor. Oh, except for one thing. My master was very keen to show everyone how when I get wet, I automatically go into 'dive ready' mode and indicate this by a flashing graphic. I'm ashamed to say he had to film it in the bathroom sink. Still, better than nothing I suppose. Enjoy!