Port Fairy: Where History and Magic Meet

Port Fairy: Where History and Magic Meet

History is Port Fairy’s decided edge over other tourist destinations. History is something one cannot build overnight; you preserve it. And preserve successfully, Port Fairy did.

Port Fairy is a historic fishing town located on Victoria’s southwest coast.  It boasts buildings that date back to the 1800s, including Victoria’s oldest hotel, the Caledonian Inn. Historical fortifications can also be found in Battery Hill.  It was discovered by Captain James Wishart who became caught in a storm and managed to find shelter for the night in what was to become the Port Fairy Harbour.

Port Fairy Harbour

Moyne River is the centrepiece of Port Fairy.  At the mouth of Moyne River is Griffiths Island, home to a breeding colony of the Australian Mutton Bird and the iconic Port Fairy Lighthouse.  There are three main beach areas – pockets of sandy beaches along Ocean Drive and fronting the Southern Ocean, the patrolled surf beach and the secluded beaches on Griffiths Island.  Today it is one of the busiest fishing harbours in Australia and home to one of Victoria’s largest fishing fleets.

Beautiful parks and gardens abound in Port Fairy. There is the Botanic Garden which has been in existence since 1858 and there is also the Southcombe Park fronting a significant area of the town’s southern coastline. What makes Port Fairy postcard-pretty are the rows and rows of Norfolk Pines, which line many of the town’s streets and the Moyne River.  The township also has over 50 buildings protected by the National Trust.

Over 50 Heritage listed buildings in town

For RV’s and Campers there are plenty of things to see and do in the area and a variety of Caravan Parks in the town area, with a few other campgrounds in the outlying area.

Things to Do and See

Port Fairy is a well serviced town with all the standard services such as supermarkets, chemists, butchers and numerous specialty stores, as well as a great range of Cafe’s and places to eat.

Port Fairy – Main Street View by Peter Barber

Below are just a few of the things that are worth checking out whilst in Port Fairy:

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

Take one or all of the self-guided walks – each with a specially-designed theme – to explore this massive volcanic feature and its lava flow. Guided tours are also available.  It is an ideal place to have a picnic and possibly spot some local wildlife like koalas, emus, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, turtles and possums.

Learn about the Aboriginal heritage of the area at the Worn Gundidj Visitor Centre, which is located in the picnic area. The Visitor Centre has environmental and cultural displays and offers for sale aboriginal arts and crafts and light refreshments. Closed only on Christmas Day, the Visitor Centre is open from 10am to 4pm daily.

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail

Opened in 1890, the Trail starts at Regent Street in Port Fairy and skirts the northern side of a 25,000-year old extinct volcano, which is now called the Tower Hill State Game Reserve. The volcano’s crater houses several native animals and has many walking tracks. The Trail ends at the Warrnambool Foreshore Promenade.  Closed in 1977, the Trail also served a significant recreational aspect.  Special trains travelled through the seaside towns for picnics and excursions.

The Board Walk @ Kellys Swamp along the Trail

Eclectic Designs Glass Studio

If you want a unique art experience, don’t miss Eclectic Designs Glass Studio. This small glass blowing studio can be found on the Great Ocean Road in the beautiful seaside town of Port Fairy. It has been the usual stopover for tourists who want to buy intricately-crafted handmade art glass directly from its maker. Stopping by this place also gives one that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the process of glass blowing and spend time with its artists.

A unique creation from the Glass Studio

Whale Bone Gallery

A co-operative gallery in Port Fairy, Whale Bone Gallery is operated by its artist- members and showcases some of the finest work of the artists in the region. The artists include Jill Edwards, Robert Gatt and Freya Marriott, Berit Hampel, Liz Gannon and Eileen Curd. These artists work on a variety of media like paint, leather, textiles, glass, photography and stone. Every work is special. Every medium is unique.

Inside the Whale Bone Gallery

Codrington Wind Farm Tours

Located near Port Fairy, with a backdrop of strong winds blowing off the Southern Ocean, the Codrington Wind Farm was Pacific Hydro’s first wind development and Australia’s first commercial wind farm, and also the largest wind farm in Australia. It generates electricity every year enough to supply needs of 10,000 Victorian homes.

Codrington Wind Farm

Events

Port Fairy Folk Festival

An event for campers that love their music. The Port Fairy Folk Festival started back in 1977 and is now one of the biggest folk festivals in the country attracting crowds of over 200,000 and outstanding acts from all around the Country.  Held in March each year it brings together a range of music inspired by folk and roots music.   For campers with their own RV, there are numerous places to stay in and around Port Fairy and the local showground is also open for camping during the event.  If you don’t have your own RV or Tent, you can rent a tent at the temporary Rent City set up in the local ovals.

Some of this years acts

Port Fairy Spring Music Festival

Created in 1990 by the late British/ Australian composer Michael Easton ARAM and the pianist Len Vorster, the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival has been staged annually since then. The Festival features 24 performances that include drama, orchestral and choral music, jazz, opera, dance and free open air performance and run over three days.

The Festival highlights classical and contemporary ensemble music in a fresh way and showcases the talents of respected and established artists and the best of new and emerging young performers and composers.  To its credit, the Festival helps engage, educate and entertain the Port Fairy community as well as attract visitors from all over.

Moyneyana Festival

The Moyneyana Festival is a summer holiday festival that boasts of live music, entertainment, children’s games and a street parade. New inclusions to the Festival are Pet Appreciation and a new range of musical performers and performances.  In 2012, Port Fairy was adjudged as the World’s Most Liveable Small Community. Its community believes that the Moyneyana Festival played a significant part in enabling the historic town to win such a remarkable award.

A tonne of fun at the Moyneyana Festival

Port Fairy Show

A small country regional show held every first Saturday in November from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Port Fairy Showgrounds in Hamilton Road. It is a chance for the local community to showcase what the area has to offer and worth checking out if you happen to be in the area at the time.

Port Fairy Annual Show

Where To Stay

Catalina Caravan Park & Takeaway

The Catalina Caravan Park is located within the township only a short walk from the main street, beach and harbour.  It is a caravan park well known for its fish and chips, and has all other standard facilities.

Top Tourist Parks – Port Fairy Holiday Park

A part of the Top Tourist Parks chain, this pet friendly park is set in well kept gardens and only a short distance to all the town services, beaches and harbour.

Killarney Beach Camping Reserve

Located approximately 10km east of Port Fairy and right on the beach, this campground is ideal for those that love fishing.  It is set in a quiet rural setting with its own boat ramp, in an ideal location to explore nearby attractions.  It caters to all size rigs and is pet friendly.

Sawpit Picnic Area – Mt Clay State Forest

One of the few Free Camps in the area and located 40km west of Port Fairy in Mt Clay State Forest.  This large historic sawmill campsite is popular for caravans and campervans.  It offers limited facilities, but is ideal for nature based forest activities and still a reasonable drive from the town of Port Fairy.

Fitzroy River Reserve Campground

A beautiful low cost campsite near the Fitzroy River with lovely walks along the waterway to the ocean beach. The flat, grassy, open site is accessible to caravans and big rigs with an area suitable for tents.

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