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GRANITE ISLAND FACTS

Granite Island is around 62 acres and is one of the most recognised ecological attractions in Victor Harbour due to its unusual granite formations with crashing white waves, elevated views, flora and fauna, and walking trails that provide outstanding panoramic coastal views. The Island was declared a reserve in 1856 by order of the Surveyor General.

The Indigenous people of the area call the Island Nulcoowarra it was formed when the warrior Ngurendjeri chasing his runaway wives along the coast from the Coorong to Victor Harbour threw spears into the sea as he ran. The spears formed all of the islands and Longkuwar (The Bluff) as well.

Captain John Blenkinsopp set up a whaling station on Granite Island in 1837 in opposition to the South Australian Company station at the Bluff. In April 1837 Captain Blenkinsopp guided Captain Richard Crozier into the harbour, Captain Crozier named the harbour after his ship the "Victor".

After the demise of whaling Granite Island was used by local farmers to graze their sheep.

John Robb was contracted to build the Breakwater for 107,000 pounds and work commenced in January 1879. The Government withdrew funding for the project when the Breakwater reached 1,000 feet which was a third of the length originally intended. The Breakwater and Screwpile Jetty were completed in 1882.

In 1884 a cottage built on the Island was obtained and used by the resident harbour master. The railway tracks had now been extended across the Causeway so that wool could be taken to waiting ships.

Wallabies originally lived on the island but were removed in the 1970’s to allow the vegetation on the island to recover. Occasionally visitors to the island report on seeing a Wallaby like animal while walking around the island.

Highlights of Granite Island

  • The Causeway from the mainland is around 630 metres in length. Construction commenced in 1862, and the Victoria Pier was completed in 1864. The Causeway did not extend all the way to the island until
    1875. It was built to provide a port and safe anchorage for trading ships. In 1899 swimming baths were located off the Victoria Pier, they were both demolished in 1955 after being damaged by a storm.
  • The Harbour Masters Cottage which was established in 1867 and demolished in 1959.
  • The Penguin Interpretive Centre which was opened in 1996.
  • Screwpile Jetty was first used in 1881 by the coastal steamer Penola. 260 bales of wool were loaded.
  • Breakwater which was started in 1878 and completed in 1882. It is 1,000 ft long, 30 ft wide at the top and 200 ft wide on seabed. It was created from 250,000 tons of granite taken from the northern side of Granite Island, no granite block used weighed less than 20 tons.
  • The Lighthouse was erected in 1892 and run on kerosene, this was replaced by a continuous gas operated light in November 1951.
  • Sculptured granite Seal, completed by sculptor Sylvio Apponyi in 1992 who also constructed the famous Warland Reserve Whale Tail fountain.

Granite Island Timeline

1862 Construction of Jetty (Causeway) commenced and reached 640 ft from the shore in 1862. In 1863 a further 60 ft was added, it was finally extended to the Island in 1875 the final length being 2,073 ft (632 metres).

1870 Cottage built on Island.

1878 Building of Screwpile Jetty and Breakwater commenced-completed in 1882.

1884 Cottage on Granite Island was obtained for the use by the resident Harbormaster.

Breakwater light altered to burn gasoline. 1888 Permit granted to District Council of Encounter Bay to plant trees on Island.

1892 Miss Dutton was swept off the rocks on the Island to her death.

First lighthouse (wooden structure) operated on Granite Island.

1894 Horse Tram commenced running to Island, Tim Mahoney first to drive tram.

1900 A patriotic concert was held on the Island during the Boer War.

1910 Kiosk on Granite Island built for the sum of 650 pounds.

1906 The Field Artillery held a training camp on Granite Island practicing firing at Seal Rock.

1921 A plane landed on Granite Island.

1924 Electric light first used on Causeway to Granite Island during Christmas week.

1954 Horse Tram ceased running and was replaced by a tractor train.

1955 Public baths off Victoria Pier demolished. 1959 Harbor Masters cottage demolished.

1964 Chairlift on Island commenced it was removed in 1996.

1969 Granite Island declared a Fauna Reserve. 1986 Horse Tram re-instated. Council given exclusive right to run the service in 1995.

1992 Sculptor Sylvio Apponyi carved a seal on top of a rock on the North Shore of Island.

1996 Present Kiosk, Restaurant and Penguin Interpretive Centre opened.

2002 Boardwalk and man made burrows constructed on Island to assist with Penguin breeding and protection.

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