Maritime history meets coastal cool at the old sealing and whaling village of Port Fairy, writes Jo Stewart. Discover why Port Fairy landed at no.6 on your list of Top 50 Aussie Towns list.
Find the complete list of the Top 50 Aussie Towns here.
Just beyond the end of the Great Ocean Road, historic Port Fairy could be the perfect set location for a British detective series. The spirits of whalers, sealers and fishermen may live on its 60-plus National Trust-classified buildings, but the town once known as Belfast isn’t stuck in the past. Behind its timeworn exterior, you’ll find a creative community with an eye on the future.
For your morning caffeine hit, head to Port Fairy Coffee Roasters where you can also buy beans to take home (dark roast fans will love the Dead Man’s Blend). Bank St + Co is another go-to coffee and brunch spot.
Coffin Sally has set up shop in an old undertaker’s building, but there’s nothing dead about this jumping pizza joint. If you like carbs, booze and good times, don’t sleep on this place.
Perhaps a four-course tasting menu is more your style? Head to Conlan’s Wine Store to wine and dine in what was once a solicitor’s office.
As Victoria’s oldest inn, the Merrijig Inn scores full marks for cosiness. Taste the handiwork of chef Tanya Connellan in the dining room, share a few yarns in the tiny front bar or retreat to the garden with a spritz in hand. Pro tip: if you’re more than six feet tall, give the dollhouse-style attic rooms a miss and book a suite instead.
Pamper yourself with a luxury stay at the Oak & Anchor.
Behind the Oak & Anchor hotel’s renovated heritage facade you’ll find seven dreamy, boutique suites furnished with freestanding bathtubs and Euro-style walk-in showers.
An inclusive space for book lovers, Blarney Books and Art is a much-loved local institution. Drop by to pick up a paperback – if you time your visit right, you could catch a book launch or author talk.
Browse the stylish boutiques and shops in Port Fairy.
During summer, wading in the (surprisingly) crystalline shallows of Pea Soup Beach is a must, especially at sunset when a golden glow warms the shoreline. Port Fairy is made for meandering, so head out on foot without a plan and see where life takes you.
Golden hour at the Port Fairy Lighthouse.
Stroll to the Griffiths Island Lighthouse and admire the classic, wooden boats moored along Moyne River. Bank and Sackville streets are where you’ll find most of the town’s bluestone pubs, cute cottages and historic shopfronts – close your eyes and you can almost hear the ghosts of salty sea-dogs with weathered faces and crude tattoos trading tall stories of the one that got away.