As a family we have been down to Victor Harbor many times, sometimes just for a few hours, sometimes a whole day out and once or twice we have made a weekend of it staying in nearby Port Elliott and Goolwa. We kept seeing The Big Duck Boat Tour at the causeway to Granite Island but it wasn’t until we were visiting on the June long weekend that we finally took the plunge and booked a ride. We loved it, so much so that we went again in the Spring school holidays!
You might have seen the The Big Duck when you have been visiting too. It used to be a smaller boat but in October 2014 it was upgraded to a brand new bigger boat that can seat 21 people. The departure point is about a third of the way across the causeway that runs from Victor Harbor to Granite Island.
The Big Duck is run by Dan and Katie. Both times that we have been, Dan has captained the boat. He is a great character, a really friendly guy with lots of information about the area and the wildlife. The boat itself is brilliant – the engines are really quite and the ride is smooth, until it goes really fast, then it’s a little bumpy (but in a super fun way)! You get given a waterproof coat to wear in case of spray and the children are given life jackets.
Depending on the time of year, the tours run at different times and have different durations. Both times we opted for the shorter 45 minute tour, but there is an option for 90 minutes as well (in the winter the 90 minute tour focuses on whale watching). Always check the website for the most up to date information by clicking here. The tours do not run every day, but definitely on the weekends – it is always best to book ahead as they do get booked out.
The shorter tour that we did was called the Seal Island Tour. We departed from the Causeway and took a fun ride out past Granite Island over to Seal Island. The boat pulls up really close to Seal Island and you can see New Zealand Fur Seals and Australian Sea Lions basking on the rocks. On our first trip we went round the far side of Seal Island to see a few from a distance but on our second trip we stayed on the near side of the island and we saw many seals, some swimming in the water too. At first they are tricky to spot as they blend in really well with the rocks, but after a little while, the more you look, the more you see!
After spending ten to fifteen minutes bobbing about in the waves near Seal Island it was time for the really fun bit. The Big Duck takes a speedy ride over to Encounter Bay. Depending on the sea that day it can be a pretty bouncy ride, but it is totally exhilarating. The kids absolutely loved it. When you board the boat they suggest where to sit based on whether you fancy a rougher ride or not. Head to the front of the boat if you really want to feel the waves, or nearer the back for a smoother ride. We chickened out and sat in the middle both times – that was enough for me!
On our trip in June we were so so lucky in Encounter Bay; Dan spotted a couple of dolphins in the distance and carefully took the boat nearer. As we got closer he slowed the engines right down and suddenly we were surrounded by dolphins. They are such intelligent inquisitive creatures, they came right up to the boat, they swam alongside, underneath, in front and behind, much to everyone’s delight. When the boat is travelling so slowly, all passengers are able to move about the boat for the best view. The kids went up to the front where it felt that they were within an arms length of the dolphins. There must have been about 8 altogether. It was absolutely magical (although totally difficult to capture on camera)!!
On our September trip we were not as lucky and did not see any dolphins despite Dan’s efforts to visit a few different spots where he thought they might be.
Once the dolphins started to head off we had another high speed ride back round Granite Island and towards the Causeway. Just when we thought it was all over, Dan took us in a different direction near Victor Harbor and finished the ride with a few really tight turns and an amazing high speed figure of eight in the water. It was such a thrill and a brilliant way to end the ride!
We had a very funny family moment…
Mr 6 says “Mummy, what’s it called when they do those fast turns?”, I replied, “I think that’s called a donut,” at which point Daddy pipes up, “No son, that’s called advertising!”
The Big Duck Boat Tours aren’t cheap – we paid $110 for a family of 4 for the 45 minute ride, but if you want a really special experience and wonderful memories to take away, I would definitely recommend it. And for the experience we had both times, we felt it was worth the money.
The shorter tour that we did is suitable for children over the age of two and the longer 90 minute tour for children over the age of 4.
The Big Duck website is really useful with all the information you need. Why not make a real day of it with a ride on the tram or a visit to the Whale Museum too.
For more information and all enquiries please visit the The Big Duck website here.
What: The Big Duck Boat Tours
When: All year round (we did it in June and September)
Where: Victor Harbor
Who: Everyone (children over 2 for the short tour, and over 4 for the longer tour)
Please note that our Reviews are the opinions of the Play & Go Editors, this is not a sponsored post and we do not advise venues prior to or during Reviews.
Photographs are by Play and Go and from The Big Duck Facebook page.
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
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