The period inbetween the photo session in Melbourne and the training walks for the camel trek in the Northern Flinders involved me photographing in the Victor Harbor township whilst Kayla and I have been on our early morning poodlewalks.
We only do this urban walk occasionally–it provides shelter when it is raining or the coastal winds are gale force. Since this coastal township is quite small, this early morning walk needs to incorporate the beach around the Granite Island causeway.
I do find it a sad and depressing township to walk around in the early morning with Kayla. What is so noticeable apart from the empty streets are the number of the small shops along Ocean Street, the main street, that really struggle to survive.
These shops come and go and they don’t really last all that long. This is in spite of the upgrade to Ocean Street by the Victor Harbor Council to revitalise the town centre, and to make it more attractive for the day tourists to stroll around in.
A paradox is that a number of premises in Ocean Street stand empty in spite of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula coastal region –from Victor Harbor to Goolwa– growing rapidly in terms of population numbers. The area is full of tradies building houses and the extensions to existing properties. People are spending solid money once again–a decade after the global financial crisis.
Most of the township architecture is, utilitarian, dull and unattractive and the shops that survive are the fast food ones, some of the coffee shops and the pubs. As has happened elsewhere the street life has been sucked out of the old main street due to the Woolworths mall, which is the central shopping precinct in the town.
Change is happening. The coast is now the outer fringe of Adelaide, the Liberal Party’s stranglehold on the federal Mayo electorate has finally been broken, Aldi have arrived, Bunnings will open soon, Coles are planning a big new supermarket and the small shop keeper mentality that was strangling the council is being challenged.
However, this change means that the small shops in Ocean Street are left to survive on the fickle day tourist trade that surges on public holidays and the summer months. Winter is very quiet, even the day tourists are discovering the attractions of winter along the coast.
An Arts Centre is being planned in a couple of the under utilised and run down heritage buildings and there is now a sculpture park on Granite Island. The proposed arts centre is a belated addition as the town really lags behind Goolwa, which has had two public galleries and an biennale arts festival that have been successfully operating for several years.