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Why Port Fairy?
Port Fairy could easily be one of the world’s most liveable towns. It’s pretty. It’s got character. It’s got charm. And it’s got lots of things to do.
Tucked away at the end of the Great Ocean Road region, it is becoming as popular as if it were at the beginning. It does remind me of driving through a dainty fishing village back home in the UK.
As you drive along the Moyne River, the nautical villas facing the marina look like the perfect places to enjoy what Port Fairy is all about. On the other side of the road, the quint characterful cottages tucked behind are bursting at the seams to welcome you. As we visited in the middle of winter, the offer of wood fire heating was certainly very inviting!
The marina, which is still used for commercial fishing, is gorgeous to take a walk along, admiring the views and watching boats glide past you gracefully.
For something a bit different, don’t miss their annual Port Fairy Folk Festival – World, Roots & Acoustic Music – in early March. Or for some serious family fun, the Moyneyana Festival, held from Christmas Eve to Australia Day, will have you never wanting to let Port Fairy!
And don’t forget a walk around the gorgeous Port Fairy Lighthouse on Griffith Island – it’s all part of the Port Fairy charm!
Where is Port Fairy?
Located on the west coast of Victoria, from Melbourne, if you take the Great Ocean road, it is about a 6 hour drive west. There is a much faster direct route, but you would miss such a unique part of Australia’s coastline. If flying, it’s easier to fly to Tullamarine, or Avalon which are closer to the start of the Great Ocean Road.
From Adelaide, it is just over a 6 hour drive south-east from the CBD.
How to get on the water?
For such a small town, it has loads of things to do to get you on the water! With both the calm river and the ocean on its doorstep, it’s an ideal location to go exploring!
Cruise around Port Fairy
- Mulloka Cruises is a gorgeous way to hop onboard and see Port Fairy from a different perspective. These morning scenic cruises, run during the warmer months, are just half an hour for a bit of fun. Join Captain Jane, her daughter Zoe and Miley the dog for a unique experience for all the family. It’s also great value for money!
Please note, in cooler months, all mentioned operations may be limited so please call ahead first. All cruises and charters are subject to a minimum number of passengers.
Cruise to Lady Julia Percy Island
Lady Julia Percy Island, located 22km from Port Fairy is Australia’s only off-shore volcano. It is also the largest breeding colony of the Australian fur seal. The island is home to an abundance of other wildlife and is a great way to spend a few hours on a sight sighting cruise.
- Southern Coast Charters offer a 3-4 hour sightseeing cruise from Port Fairy where you can spend up to an hour viewing the volcanic formation and the wildlife in their natural habitat. Jump onboard their impressive Southern Explorer vessel for an enjoyable cruise.
- Salty Dog Charters offer a Scenic Eco Tour, taking in views of cliffs, reefs, Griffiths Island and Lighthouse before reaching Lady Percy Island. This 3-4 hour sightseeing cruise offers amazing photograph opportunities and a relaxing way to spend a few hours on the water.
- Southern Coast Charters, with their large vessel moored proudly in the marina offers a range of charters for any fishing enthusiast. They also offer fishing adventures to King Island, overnight fishing and party trips onboard! Check out their website for more details, or head over to their Facebook page.
- Salty Dog Charters offer some great fishing experiences on their smaller vessel. And I’m not quite sure what to say about the ‘Shark Charter’? Umm, eek!
- Reel Addiction, located in Warrnambool, just 20 minutes from Port Fairy, also offer a range of fishing charters and sightseeing tours.
Fishing Licences are required in Victoria so check with the charter what you need for the experience.
Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding
- Port Fairy Surf School offer guided Kayak Adventures to paddle your way around some of the best watercourses and protected inlets in the area.
- Go Surf is the best place to get going on a stand up paddle board. They offer introduction experiences as well as lessons and tours, so it doesn’t matter how much, or little experience you have. Fully instructed with all equipment provided, there no excuse to not give this a go!
- Both Port Fairy Surf School and Go Surf offer surf lessons for all ages and abilities. They also offer lessons at nearby Warrnambool.
- Port Fairy Surf School, located at Daktari Surf/Dive store right in the middle of Port Fairy, offers a range of surf equipment to hire from boards, wetsuits, footwear and accessories.
- Go Surf, who can meet you on the beach with all the gear, offer a large range of Stand Up Paddle Board hire, surfboards, wetsuits and other gear to meet your needs.
Having seen the waves at East Beach, we can see how it would be great to learn to surf here!
South Beach/Pea Soup (we love this name!) is ideally protected and great for family fun. The continuous basalt reefs offer great snorkelling opportunities.
- Port Fairy Surf School run snorkel safaris for guided tours in shallow waters to explore some of the amazing marine life in this area.
Swimming and Beach Fun
Port Fairy has a 5.8km long beach and with views like this, who wouldn’t want to spend all day soaking up the sun and splashing about to get cool!
There are 3 main beaches – East Beach, South Beach/Pea Soup (still loving this!) and South Mole. Find out more information here from Port Fairy Australia or Beachsafe to see which beach is suitable for you.
Dolphin and Whale Watching
Port Fairy is part of what is known as the ‘whale corridor’. It’s a great viewing spot for watching the whale migration over the winter months. You could just take in the views from here, or make it part of a road trip from Warrnambool to Portland.
Dolphin spotting is also a great activity at Port Fairy, with many Short-beaked Common Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins being visible from the coastline. The best way to get some great views of the dolphins are out on one of the boat trips and charters.
Head south of Port Fairy to find The Passage. This is a great viewing spot, not only for whales and dolphins, but also for magnificent views of the coastline.
For more information about these and other wildlife in the area, see this useful post from Travel Victoria.
Where to grab a bite to eat?
For gorgeous views, check out Charlies’s on East Beachfront Cafe at East Beach. Their menu is full of delicious flavours and a great range for all tastes.
We enjoyed a gourmet breakfast at The Hub, on the corner of Bank Street & Sackville Street and it was perfect! (See review coming soon).
For a classic pub menu, check out Merrijig Inn on Campbell Street, Victoria’s oldest Inn. There’s also the good looking Gregorys Steak & Seafood Restaurant or the colourful Port of Mexico, both on Bank Street.
There is also a range of Chinese, Thai, Italian, Seafood and Pizza restaurants, along with takeaways along Bank Street and Sackville Street. You won’t be lacking choice!
Where to stay?
We stayed at the Big4 Port Fairy Holiday Park for our short visit. It’s a great place for a quick stay, with plenty of facilities within the campground. Check out our review.
There is also the adjacent Top Holiday Parks Port Fairy Holiday Park or the Gumtree Caravan Park tucked back from the main road for cabins and camping. A bit further out, for free or low cost camping with beach views, Killarney Beach Camping Reserve (free) is just 10km east or Yambuk Lake Caravan Park Campground (low cost), just 17km west.
For accommodation with a few more creature comforts, Edge 17 and Battery Cove Beach Front Apartment both have gorgeous waterfront views. We recommend Booking.com for the best rates or other accommodation suggestions.
For something different, why not stay in a renovated train carriage? Pelican Waters have a self-contained 2 bedroom carriage with peaceful, rural views and modern interior to relax in. We’ve never seen anything like this before and think it is a great idea!
To find out more about Port Fairy, visit their website I AM PORT FAIRY.
Have you been to Port Fairy? Let us know about your visit, or share with others what you loved doing in this gorgeous, magical little town!
Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!