Port Fairy, Victoria’s oldest port, was a favourite hunting ground for whalers and sealers who once ruled the town. It was also a destination for escape during the 1800’s for Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine that was raging back home. A hint of that old Ireland fishing village flavour still lingers, and it maintains one of the state’s largest fishing fleets, where many fishermen return to the port unloading an abundance of crayfish, abalone and sharks off their boats.

“Like the original Belfast (as the town was originally named by its Irish protestant whaler settlers), this town holds its secrets deep.” – Justin Wastnage

More than 50 historic buildings line the town’s wide streets, from whitewashed whalers’ and sealers’ cottages to colonial merchants’ homes and grand public buildings. Nearby, the 1856 Griffith Island Lighthouse that has faithfully guided ships safely to port still towers with its white and red solid stature.

As Panellist Justin Wastnage suggests: “Wander along the beach to the lighthouse, or in the other direction to one of the best cafes in Australia, or delight in the fine dining options that would make other towns blush.”

Either as an outright destination for a romantic long weekend, or simply as a breath of fresh air in the midst of your next Great Ocean Road adventure, charming Port Fairy is not to be missed.

Where? // Around 290km (4hrs) southwest of Melbourne on the eastern headland of Portland Bay.

Did you know? // The oldest house still standing in Victoria is in Port Fairy. Although the exact date of construction is unclear, it’s believed to have been built in 1843. The State Government now owns the house.

 

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