On April 26th, 1837, Captain Richard Crozier (pictured here as an older man) anchored his ship in the lee of Granite Island and named the sheltered waters Victor Harbour. It is important to note that this spelling of Harbour referred to the waters around the Point, not the land.
He had been appointed to the Cruiser Class HMS Victor in 1834. He was returning from India on route to Sydney when he anchored in the safe waters off Granite Island. Captains of the time had been issued orders to examine the principal ports of Australia on their journeys and he thought the waters here would be an ideal port, superior to Glenelg and Pt Adelaide and duly reported this back to Governor Hindmarsh. A whaling station had already been set up on Granite Island and showed how well the bay provided sheltered waters usable by ships of a different class. It was then in the 1860’s that the port facilities were established, and it came into use under the name Port Victor. However, after some confusion by ships captains with Port Victoria on the Yorke Peninsula and loss of ships off that coastline, it was renamed Victor Harbor. For a time, early newspapers referred to it as Victoria Harbour in honour of Queen Victoria who became Queen of the British Empire on 20th July 1837. But was then reverted to Victor Harbor.
For some time, Governors Hindmarsh and Gawler held out the prospect of Victor being the capital of South Australia, its port being so superior and well located to the river Murray traffic. Alas it was not to be! How different it might have been if it did turn out that Victor had become the capital?
During the 4 years or more that Captain Crozier captained the HMS Victor, he visited not only Australia, but New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands and sailed against the pirates in the Straits of Malacca. Before the HMS Victor, for his contributory services, when Lieutenant of the HMS Lively, in protecting and restoring Don John to the throne of Portugal, Capt. Crozier was by that monarch named a Knight of the Tower and Sword.
He married Julia, fourth daughter of Geo. Stone, Esq., of Chislehurst, who was a wealthy banker, on the 18th of June 1839. He and Julia had a son and daughter.
To commemorate Captain Crozier’s visit to the harbour and it’s naming, there has been a plaque laid on Granite Island near the Café. So, if ever you are over there make sure to stop by and have a read and reimagine Captain Crozier and his ship anchored off the shoreline. In the Victor Harbor National Trust Museum there is also a display dedicated to Captain Crozier, which includes a hand painted miniature of him as a young captain and tie pin as seen in the photo above, which were acquired by the museum from collectors in England. Such a great honour to have them on display and to remember his contribution to the history of Victor Harbor. As part of the display there is also a limited print of the painting of the HMS Victor sailing in the bay. Well worth a visit to the museum to see this display and learn more of Victor Harbor’s story. So, here’s cheers to Captain Crozier!