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Running since 1894, the Victor Harbor Horse Drawn Tram in Australia is one of the few left of its kind anywhere in the world

David Goran

Located in South Australia, the iconic Victor Harbor Horse Drawn Tram has been thrilling tourists traveling between Granite Island and Victor Harbor since 1894. It is the only all year round public transport horse-drawn operation of its kind in the world.

The causeway that the tram crosses from Victor harbor to granite island. Photo Credit

The causeway that the tram crosses from Victor harbor to Granite Island. Photo Credit

This famous tram’s history dates back more than 160 years. Work on the railway commenced in 1851 and in 1864 the line reached Victor Harbor.  Three years later this pier was extended to reach Granite Island, the resulting link becoming known as “The Causeway”.

The stunning Currency Creek viaduct built in 1869. Photo Credit

The stunning Currency Creek viaduct built in 1869. Photo Credit

By the 1950s, the causeway was in need of repair, but a dispute between the operators and the local council meant that in 1954 the causeway was reconstructed without rail tracks. When the cars were disposed of, the service continued to operate on Granite Island until 1956 and a rubber-tired train provided service across the causeway.

Tram track on Granite Island. Photo Credit

Tram track on Granite Island. Photo Credit

 

The line is built to 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) broad gauge, as were many of the early railways of South Australia. Photo Credit

The line is built to 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) broad gauge, as were many of the early railways of South Australia. Photo Credit

Although railway goods vehicles were routinely horse hauled on this line, no passenger service was offered until 1894 when the South Australian Railways decided to utilize one of their unused horse-drawn passenger trams to offer a service to the island.

No passenger service was offered until 1894. Photo Credit

Running since 1894. Photo Credit

 

Tramcar at the mainland terminus. Photo Credit

Tramcar at the mainland terminus. Photo Credit

 

Inside the tramcar. Photo Credit

Inside the tramcar. Photo Credit

1986 marked the 150th Jubilee of South Australia and a fund was established for special projects to mark the occasion. Reinstatement of the horse tram was nominated as such a project. Replica tram cars were built and tracks were relaid.

Tramcar on the causeway. Photo Credit

Tramcar on the causeway. Photo Credit

 

It operates 7 days a week and leaves every 20 minutes. Photo Credit

It operates 7 days a week and leaves every 20 minutes. Photo Credit

 

Granite Island as seen from the tram station. Photo Credit

Granite Island as seen from the tram station. Photo Credit

The historic tram takes passengers on the 600m wooden causeway across to Granite Island. Over 150,000 passengers climb aboard and enjoy the authentic journey every year. The island is uninhabited and has several walking trails and allows visitors extensive views of the shoreline. A team of 14 Clydesdale horses pulls the carriages, and each horse usually works only two shifts per week.

David Goran

David Goran is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News