Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life's a Beach

While I've been away, my parents made the impromptu but excellent decision to purchase an onsite holiday van at Victor Harbor, a beautiful beach-side town on the Fleurieu Peninsula about 90 minutes south of Adelaide.

I hadn't been to VH in ages, but we agreed to take a day trip there when I was home so that I could see their new holiday site. Naturally, our faithful canine companion Annie-bot was not going to miss out on this one!

Piling into the truck, we drove through the southern suburbs of Adelaide and at my insistence, stopped at the picturesque country town of Mount Compass. Now like me, many South Australians will tell you that no road trip to Victor is complete without a stop-off in Mount Compass. This is simply because the Country Picnic Bakery in Mount Compass has hands-down THE best venison pies on sale, anywhere. Ever. They're handmade, they're meaty and flavourful and the pastry is golden and flaky - and the homemade sauce served alongside is paired perfectly - mine was a tart plum & port creation. At a roadside country cafe, people! Where else do you get this sort of treatment?!

Bellies full, we kept driving on to Victor and I had to contend with Annie-bot sharing the backseat with me and panting in my face, whimpering every time we braked because she thought (or hoped?) we had arrived at our final destination.

Not long after Mount Compass we drove past the "Welcome to Victor Harbor" sign and I couldn't believe it. The Victor of my memories was nothing like the real Victor. Sure the clapboard houses are still there, giant pine trees dominating the front gardens. But now those beachfront shacks stand alongside fancy B&Bs and gourmet restaurants and hairdressing salons! I know people have always lived in Victor - I mean, it's never just been a holiday destination, but to my mind the present-day Victor is really thriving. And it's honestly beautiful. It's bustling, it's crowded, it's commercial - the city slicker in me was thrilled. And yet it's so different to how I have always thought of it. But I have to remember what Bill Hesslop of Porpoise Spit always said, "you can't stop progress".

Pulling into the Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park I felt like I was miles away from the cosmopolitan town we'd only just driven through. Looking around, the Park has all the standard elements - playground for the kids, BBQ area for the bigger kids, public toilet & shower blocks, and the usual collection of campsite options. But this Park also has beautifully-manicured lawns and giant eucalyptus trees populated by the noisiest collection of native birds you'll find anywhere. On the day we visited, rainbow lorikeets and Piping Shrikes (magpies) were engaged in a screaming match up in the high boughs that prompted us to shout and shake our fists up at them. My parents have their onsite van right next to a tree housing the noisiest of all the birdbrains - but I suspect that after a while, you wouldn't even hear the din anymore. It's a perfect place for a weekend getaway, and no mystery why my parents love it.

A short walk through the Park takes you through a small gate and over a sand dune, to the calm beach below. You can swim there if you wish, and Annie-bot sometimes does, but we just wandered along a bit and threw the tennis balls to her. A short distance away, we could see Granite Island, home of Victor's population of fairy penguins. So from the beach it's easy to see just how close to the centre of Victor you really are - Mum was saying that it's an easy 15 minute walk along the sandy shore into the centre of the town for a lovely cup of coffee. Now isn't that the sort of restful holiday you want?!

Time marched on and before we knew it, we had to be back in the truck and heading for home. Leaving the clean air and noisy birdlife behind, we wound our way along the quieter route to Adelaide - via the lovely, green-hilled town of Strathalbyn. I hadn't seen so many trees in a long while!

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