Granite Island has a lot to offer the traveler seeking a South Australian weekend getaway. It’s an ideal escape not far from the city and the little Penguins are a delightful attraction for the young and the young at heart.
Granite Island is a small island next to Victor Harbour in South Australia. It’s about a one-hour drive from Adelaide. The island used to be connected to the mainland, but the land that once surrounded it has washed away. You can get to the Island by walking along the causeway or riding in a unique horse-drawn tram.
Meet the little penguins
Once you’re on Granite Island, you’re officially in Little Penguin – or ‘Fairy Penguin’ – territory. The bulk of the island has been left in its natural state. It is designated National Park and renowned habitat of a protected Little Penguin colony.
While the Island does have a kiosk, shop and some toilets, The Penguin, Marine and Environmental Centre are its main attractions. This centre is dedicated to providing interesting and informative education about the Island. It is also headquarters for rescue and release – sick or injured penguins are taken in and cared for until they are strong enough to return to the wild. Those that cannot return become ‘resident penguins’ and are cared for by volunteers.
Wildlife health & education
There has been a major decline in the Little Penguin population over the past couple of decades and the Centre also works as a research base for conducting studies into penguin survival, such as breeding success, chick survival rates and the general colony health.
The Centre is a great for children, offering interactive displays, activities, artificial burrows where wild penguins can be watched through viewing windows, as well as an outdoor open aquarium for watching local fish. Visitors are encouraged to join in daily penguin feeding and can take a guided tour. Tours are timed with dusk to view the penguins returning from their day spent fishing in the local waters.
A unique weekend getaway
If you’re keen on an evening tour, you’ll probably want to stay overnight nearby, and there are plenty of accommodation options at neighbouring Victor Harbour, as well as many restaurants and cafés.
Granite Island is a great weekend getaway for a day or with an overnight stay. Admission to the Centre and the cost of tours are affordable and good value. With its horse-drawn tram, unique rock formation, the science behind its split from the mainland, or its star attraction: the Little Penguins, there’s plenty to learn and enjoy on Granite Island for hours of activity.
To get there you can simply hire a car from Redspot Car Rentals at Adelaide Airport. With plenty of vehicles to choose from, kiosk right inside the terminal building, it makes renting a car a breeze.