Saturday, 01 June 2024

Launch of Victor Harbor Stables Complex

Rod, Sophie and I are pleased to join you for the launch of the new Victor Harbor Horse Tram Authority Stables and Visitor Complex.

I am pleased to see such a great group of people here today, indicative of the strong contribution the Horse Tram Authority makes to the local community, as well as the fondness with which the horses and the tram are regarded.

Victor Harbor is very dear to me – as a child many a family holiday was spent here in a small cottage, owned by my great uncle.

We walked across the causeway countless times and occasionally, if we were lucky, would ride on the tram.

Those trips were pure delight, the sound of the horse’s hooves – clip, clop – along the causeway – and the luxury of not having to walk.

A student recently asked me if, growing up, I ever dreamed of being Governor. I replied no, I dreamed of other things.

However now as Governor, and patron of the Authority, I expect I could ride on the tram whenever I want to. Now that is another thing I I could never have dreamed of.

I am not alone in having warm memories of the tram, as would generations before me, including at least one of my predecessors.

A quick search of newspapers in the online archive ‘Trove’ reveals a photo of His Excellency Sir Malcolm Barclay Harvey, taken in February 1940.

He’s perched on the back stairs of the horse tram, enjoying an official visit to Victor Harbor.

Over the years, the horse drawn tram has welcomed patrons (lower case ‘p’) from all backgrounds and walks of life, and from across the world.

As one of the longest-running passenger horse tramways globally, it is an important cultural and historic fixture of this region.

The introduction of these stables marks the next chapter in the Horse Tram’s history, making it possible for you to invite visitors into the stables for a behind-the-scenes experience.

I am confident the opportunity to get up close with the beautiful Clydesdales will be a popular activity for tourists to this region.

Interestingly, Clydesdale horses have royal roots going back to the mid-18th century when James Hamilton, the sixth Duke of Hamilton, imported Flemish horses to cross with and improve local draft horses.

Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a well-known lover of horses, also admired the breed.

In the 1990s she came across a colourful blue roan Clydesdale, and was so taken by it, she commissioned the horse to be part of the Queen’s Household Cavalry.

It’s great to see that sustainability and conservation are also key features of the project’s development, with old parts of the causeway now an artistic feature within the complex, and parts of the old tramline now fencing in the training yard.

Congratulations to the Victor Harbor Horse Tram Authority, and the broader community, on the launch of these stables.

I thank the Tram Authority board and staff for their vision and dedication, the generous volunteers for their work in the tram shop, as well as Victor Harbor City Council and the Federal Government for funding support.

I wish the Horse Drawn Tram all the very best as it moves into the next chapter of its operations as a South Australian icon.

Coming events