The Bluff at Victor Harbor

Dolphin watching at the bluff things to do Victor Harbor

The Bluff, also called Rosetta Head, is one of Victor Harbor’s scenic sights and is a headland located on the south coast of Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia adjoining the suburb of Encounter Bay in Victor Harbor and about 77 kilometres south of Adelaide.

The use of the name ‘The Bluff’ which is the most commonly used name for the headland is attributed to whalers operating in the locality prior to the adoption of the name Rosetta Head. Rosetta Head was named in 1839 after Rosetta French, the wife of George Fife Angas reportedly by George Gawler, the second Governor of South Australia.

How to get there

The Bluff is currently used as a recreational reserve and is easily accessed via car, bike or on foot.

To get to the Bluff, drive west from the town centre from Franklin Parade and follow the signs. As you head up the hill past the old Whalers Restaurant, enter a one-way road that will take you to a couple of free car parks. The drive up is a circular loop; from the two car parks, you can begin the walk to the top.

The summit walk

The Bluff at Victor Harbor is approximately 100 metres high and the walk is graded as medium to steep. The full summit walk is about 850 metres in total, but you can just choose to walk up and back down the same path if you don’t want to continue all the way around.

Views from the top of The Bluff

Once at the top, the views are wide-reaching, offering a 360-degree panorama of this picturesque coastal region. From the top of the rocks you can take in the rugged coastline to the West, look out to sea and look back over Victor Harbor township.

Several granite islands can be seen from the Bluff - to the east you can see the famous Granite Island, Wright Island and Seal Rock, home to New Zealand Fur Seals and Australian Sea Lions. The island to the west is of course, West Island - granite from West Island was used for the base and the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide. It is now reserved for conservation of wildlife. Below is Petrel Cove which you can walk down to from the lower car park to discover a sheltered beach.

On top of the Bluff is a plaque, commemorating the encounter between Matthew Flinders and the French explorer Nicolas Baudin in 1802,. It has been affixed to one of the many large rounded boulders, typical of weathered Victor Harbor granite. The Bluff is also home to the remains of the old Coolanine Mine.

Along the clifftops are walking trails and bike paths.

Geological formation

Located nearby in the Inman Valley, is Glacier Rock, which is also another famous local geological landmark.

The granite originated when magma was squeezed up from deep in the continental crust during the mountain building episode which occurred about 500 million years ago. This is known as Glacier Rock because sediments left by the ice age, which occurred at that time, rest immediately on top of it, and boulders of granite were carried, by the ice, northwards.

The smooth rounded profile of the Bluff is attributed to the erosive action of this ice sheet.

Other tips for visiting The Bluff

There are no facilities at the Bluff. Remember to dress warmly as the weather can be harsh during the cooler months, although you will warm up on the walk. Wear sensible shoes for walking as the path is dirt and well worn and can be slippery in places with some loose gravel. Aside from visiting The Bluff, you may also want to learn to surf South Australia. Don’t forget to bring your camera!