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The Cockle Train

Posted by on 19 December, 2011

Whenever we have spoken about this trip to Goolwa, David has mentioned taking a ride on The Cockle Train. In times gone by, the Cockle Train, which runs between Goolwa and Victor Harbor, was a horse drawn tram and then a steam train, however it is currently a diesel engine carriage (though apparently it is sometimes still a runs a steam engine). The heritage railway enthusiasts in the area maintain the track and the engine and run the train for tourists on weekends and school holidays. The price was a little higher than I had thought, at $67 per family (max 4) return, as there were 10 of us it was over $150… We travelled along the edge of the ocean and slightly inland through fields of hay, passing through the small towns of Middleton and Port Elliot before arriving inVictor Harbor.

On our arrival, we disembarked nearby to the Whale Museum, which looked quite modern and inviting, but again, everything costs money and we didn’t really have loads of time, as we wanted to catch the 1:30pm train heading back to Goolwa, so we didn’t go in today. Our mission, other than having our first look at the Victor Harbor township, was to do a bit of shopping. The girls had been given some money from their Grandma before we left home to buy themselves some new swimmers and this was their first real opportunity to have a look for some. We walked from the station to the shopping centre, about 800 metres, and found several surfwear shops and department stores. There were lots to choose from and in the end Courtney found a nice crocheted bikini and Amanda found a bright, striped 3 piece bikini and shorts set. Both well within their budget….so they still have some left over to spend frivolously….

The harbour itself was calm today, though the wind blew strongly. We were able to find a nice spot in the park on the other side of the train station were we could sit and eat our hot chip sandwiches for lunch, then took a walk out onto the sandy beach of the bay before boarding the train.

We took the opportunity to hop off the train at Port Elliott on the way back, a small town which is just starting to become ‘touristy’. With some classic old buildings made of stone and some modern buildings designed to blend with the old, the town seems to be conscious of not becoming too modern….retaining the old charm. Here, we found a Melba’s sweet store which had something for everyone…finally some fudge!!! We walked up the street to the headland and enjoyed the view of Horseshoe Bay and Encounter Bay, with it’s magnificent display of colours, including the perfect shade of what I believe is aquamarine, that blue green that is ‘the sea’ colour. We learned that it is called Encounter Bay because that is where the explorers Captain Matthew Flinders (English) and Captain Nicholas Baudin (French) had their first ‘encounter’ in 1802 while navigating the coastlines ofAustralia. Thankfully, they were able to put their countries ongoing war behind them in their pursuits of science and discovery, sharing information they had gathered and peacefully going on their way. 

One of our favourite things to do when travelling anywhere, is go to galleries. Today, we found a lovely one in Port Elliott, the surreal shop and ‘abp’ gallery. Being close to the coast, it was not surprising to see many of the works related to the coast and ocean. One particularly eye catching piece by a local artist was a canvas painting of a breaking wave with the sun just glinting through the gap…now, this is a common thing to capture, however the colours and texture of this work was really stunning and made me feel like I could reach out and touch the coolness of the water. The original was for sale, with no specified price…though there were also limited edition prints available I regret to advise that I was sensible and didn’t buy one this trip…however if they are still available next year, I may have to change my mind.

As we waited for the last train to pull into the station of Port Elliott to take us back to Goolwa, I though about all the creative, imaginative people that take the time to create art for others to enjoy…hopefully because they enjoy it too…and wondered if I will be able to teach myself to make time for such things in the future.

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