Putting a stamp on Victor Harbor's history

By / 24th of March, 2015
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TRAVEL is about the journey and not the destination.

That is the philosophy behind Australia Post’s latest collector stamp issue that celebrates the nation’s great tourism transport services, including a unique horse-drawn tram in South Australia.

The iconic tram has linked the town of Victor Harbor with Granite Island for the past 120 years and is as much a lure for visitors to the seaside town as the picturesque location itself.

Generations of tourists have emotive stories about riding the tram across the causeway, meeting the impressive Clydesdale horses or even just walking alongside it. Many bring children, or grandchildren, back to live an experience of their own childhood, tram managers say.

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Victor Harbor is about 70 kilometres south of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

“For many people we are the attraction,” Victor Harbor Tramway team manager Adrian Cox said.

“It’s a pretty wide-reaching part of Victor Harbor’s history.”

Hence it’s only fitting that the horse-drawn tram, which began operation in 1894, has been commemorated as one of Australia’s great forms of tourism transport by the national postal service.

The series of four stamps was released by Australia Post this month and includes the Whitsunday Island seaplane,  Victoria’s Puffing Billy steam train, and the Katherine Gorge cruise boat in the Northern Territory.

“We trust Australians who have experienced the ‘travel bug’ will appreciate these wonderful modes of transport to some of Australia’s spectacular and popular tourist destinations,” Australia Post philatelic manager Michael Zsolt said.

Further, through their own journey the stamps will share these unique sightseeing experiences with the world.

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The 630 metre long causeway connects Victor Harbor with Granite Island. Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Kinghorn, CC BY-SA.

Today there are five Clydesdales on rotation for the seven-day tram roster and there are five more in training. Tram management said people were curious to know the name and story of the horses that draw the carriage between Victor Harbor, one hour south of Adelaide city on the Fleurieu Peninsula, along a wooden causeway to Granite Island just off the coast.

The island is uninhabited and has several walking trails and allows visitors extensive views of the shoreline. It was previously home to a colony of little, or Fairy, penguins but their numbers are declining. The local government, the City of Victor Harbor, has launched a Rediscover Granite Island scheme with support from the State Government to bring new pop-up hospitality and entertainment to the island.

Yet the highlight remains the tram.

“It’s quite an unique honour to be chosen to be on a stamp. It helps people to be aware of what we do,” Adrian said.

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A map of the Victor Harbor causeway.

Local photographer Kate Elmes, who has lived in the region for 20 years and photographed the tram many times, captured the image featured on the stamp. She was “very honoured” to be chartered with the task and said it joined two great passions of her family – photography and stamp collecting. But her real interest in the project is much more romantic.

“We need to have some tangible things in life,” she said.

“I love the feeling of putting a stamp on a postcard, going to the post box, receiving a postcard and looking at the origin of the card and the stamp.”

She hopes the tradition continues taking her image along for the ride.

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