5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

If you’re look­ing for a fun, fam­i­ly day out close to Ade­laide, why not vis­it Gran­ite Island. Here’s what’s new.

Gran­ite Island has long been a pop­u­lar day-trip des­ti­na­tion because of its close prox­im­i­ty to Ade­laide – just an 85 km drive.

But what may have changed since you last vis­it­ed is the num­ber of activ­i­ties the island has to offer.

Here are five things that will keep you busy:

1. Rid­ing the horse-drawn tram

Good news – you can once again ride the icon­ic Vic­tor Har­bor Horse-drawn Tram from the main­land to Gran­ite Island Recre­ation Park.

The tram’s been out of action for near­ly six months while struc­tur­al repairs were car­ried out to the 150-year-old State-Her­itage list­ed cause­way, (although this didn’t stop peo­ple walk­ing across). 

The tramway is one of the few remain­ing horse-drawn tram routes still oper­at­ing around the world. So why not climb up and relax on board one of the dou­ble-deck­er tram­cars, while a team of mag­nif­i­cent Clydes­dale hors­es haul you across the 630-metre causeway.

5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

Did you know? The Gran­ite Island cause­way will remain a pre­mier tourism attrac­tion well into the future, with $20 mil­lion promised to find a more per­ma­nent solu­tion to con­nect the island and Vic­tor Harbor.

2. Whale and pen­guin watching

Whale-watch­ing sea­son runs from May 1 to Octo­ber 31, which is when whales migrate to South Australia’s warmer waters to give birth and nurse their young.

Now is a per­fect time to look out for south­ern right whales and oth­er whale species rais­ing their young along the Fleurieu coast­line, as the whole region becomes a whale nurs­ery at this time of year.

5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

The Encounter Marine Park in Vic­tor Har­bor is one of the more pop­u­lar places in the state for whale-watch­ing. Check out our whale-watch­ing sto­ry for more details about oth­er spots in SA to see them.

For up-to-date infor­ma­tion on whale sight­ings in the Fleurieu region, make sure you call into the SA Whale Cen­tre at Vic­tor Har­bor where you can immerse your­self in an under­wa­ter world and learn all about the his­to­ry of whal­ing in the region.

The cen­tre also has a Junior Whale Spot­ter Pro­gram to teach kids how to observe and iden­ti­fy dif­fer­ent whale species that vis­it our coastline.

Then, after a day of watch­ing for giants of the deep, you may like to see if you can spot one of the small­est pen­guins in the world.

The lit­tle pen­guins that live on Gran­ite Island weigh in at around 1 kg and mea­sure about 33 cm in height.

5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

Their num­bers are slow­ly increas­ing fol­low­ing a con­cert­ed effort to rid of the island of preda­tors and a renewed focus on improv­ing their habitat.

Dusk is the best time of day to spot the lit­tle pen­guins as they return from a day of for­ag­ing at sea and head to their bur­rows for a kip. 

Access to the island is restrict­ed in the evenings to pro­tect the small pen­guin colony, so if you’re keen to see them return home from their dai­ly fish­ing expe­di­tion, you must book a guid­ed tour.

It’s vital that you keep a gen­er­ous dis­tance from the pen­guins and their bur­rows and nev­er shine a light into their bur­rows, or direct­ly into their eyes. Lit­tle pen­guins are very sen­si­tive birds, and if dis­turbed they can aban­don their bur­rows and their babies.

If you want to learn more about lit­tle pen­guins before you vis­it, check out our sto­ry for some inter­est­ing facts.

3. Hik­ing around the island and view­ing the sculptures

The 2.9 km Kai­ki Walk­ing Trail leads you on a jour­ney around Gran­ite Island Recre­ation Park where you’ll see unusu­al gran­ite for­ma­tions, crash­ing waves, and stun­ning panoram­ic views from ele­vat­ed platforms.

The walk fea­tures a spec­tac­u­lar 2.4 km cliff-top sculp­ture trail which fea­tures the work of local, nation­al and inter­na­tion­al artists. Sculp­ture Encoun­ters – Gran­ite Island is con­stant­ly evolv­ing as new works are added every six months and installed works are sold.

The sculp­tures include every­thing from What a Tasty Look­ing Burg­er’ by James Dive (yes, it’s a giant ham­burg­er) to Per­sian car­pets woven into pub­lic seats titled Con­ver­sa­tion’, by South Aus­tralian artist Hos­sein Vala­manesh, so you won’t be short of some­thing to talk about. 

5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

4. Ocean­ic Victor’s experiences

Ocean­ic Vic­tor is a new nature-based tourism attrac­tion based on Gran­ite Island where vis­i­tors can expe­ri­ence life under the sea, swim­ming along­side south­ern bluefin tuna and oth­er local marine species.

Vis­i­tors are tak­en on a quick cata­ma­ran trip to an in-sea aquar­i­um anchored just off Gran­ite Island. Once there, you’ll be kit­ted up in a warm wet­suit with mask, booties and gloves, and then it’s into the water where tuna, dubbed the Fer­raris of the ocean’ will zip around you.

Those who don’t fan­cy get­ting wet can still feed tuna from the sur­face or view the aquar­i­um inhab­i­tants from a glass-sided under­wa­ter view­ing area. There’s also a win­ter plat­form expe­ri­ence that includes a cud­dle with a Port Jack­son shark.

Ocean­ic Vic­tor offers a range of expe­ri­ences as well as edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams for school stu­dents designed to inspire the next gen­er­a­tion to respect and care for our frag­ile marine ecosystem.

And if you’re real­ly look­ing to treat your­self, why not book the VIPIsland Dis­cov­ery Pack­age’, which includes an aquar­i­um swim, seafood tast­ing plat­ter (which includes blow­torched seafood), and a local beverage.

5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

5. The Island Café 

Locals and vis­i­tors alike will be delight­ed to dis­cov­er that they can once again enjoy a cof­fee or a light meal on the island, at the new­ly ren­o­vat­ed and re-opened Island Café.

The café is right on the water’s edge and the menu includes local seafood, native botan­i­cals and fresh sea­son­al produce.

There is also a big focus on cof­fee and cock­tails. What a delight­ful way to end a long day, after rid­ing the horse-drawn tram, hik­ing, view­ing sculp­tures, spot­ting whales and pen­guins, and swim­ming with tuna.

So why not sit back and relax on the café deck over­look­ing the sparkling waters of Encounter Bay and enjoy some well-earned refreshments. 

5 things to do on South Australia’s Granite Island

Here’s a snap­shot of what’s in store on Gran­ite Island:

Spend a day on Gran­ite Island this Winter 

Love dis­cov­er­ing – or redis­cov­er­ing – places where you can spend time in nature? You might like to vis­it one of thenew­ly opened reser­voir reserves, plan a trip where you cantake a dip in an ocean pool, or try one of these buck­et list’ adven­tures.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living