Summer has officially come to an end and with the temperature dipping fast, it would make more sense to go inland and steer clear of the freezing coastal winds. However, we sometimes like to go against the tide so we decided to spend the weekend on a beachside town, Port Fairy. To be fair, it’s still in the early stages of autumn which means, if we’re lucky, we can still have a perfectly fine beach weather — that balance between clear sunny skies and slightly chilly breeze.
For starters, Port Fairy is one of the few Victorian towns with a rich history that dates back to the mid-1800s. This blog however, will not be giving out history lessons because I’m no bookworm — I’ll leave that to the history buff bloggers. What I can help you with is setting your expectations and giving you as much info as I can which may help you plan your trip, one way or the other.
So what’s in Port Fairy? What does it look like? Is it worth the drive? Let’s find out.
Port Fairy is located approximately 285km South West of Melbourne CBD, along the Australian coast line and beyond the famed Great Ocean Road’s boundary. In this route you’ll see mostly old villages, farms, empty grasslands and a few lakes along the way.
What I love about driving here as opposed to coastal roads is that I can relax and let my mind wander a bit — you can never do that while doing 60-80kph on winding coastal roads such as the GOR.
When it comes to holiday parks, Big4 is one of the first names that come up. The fact that this is a one-night stint, we chose to book a cabin instead of setting up camp — saves a lot of time.
Below is our home for our short weekend stay. This is probably the smallest cabin in Big4 (I’m not really sure, the missus does all the bookings) but I can tell you it can comfortably accommodate a family of four. As small as it is, it has its own kitchen, a living/dining room, a bedroom, toilet and bath — it’s a real house, just way cuter.
Amenities are not limited to clean public showers, toilets and kitchen for campers and caravans. The park also features a number of recreational facilities for the kids. In a perfect world, we should be out there, exploring and enjoying the great outdoors. In reality though, nothing is more unpredictable than the Victorian weather. So if the weather isn’t permitting, there are plenty of ways to keep the kids (and some adults) busy.
That being said, this Big4 Holiday Park does not fall short on both indoor and outdoor recreational facilities from heated pools, mini golf, jumping castles and even pump tracks.
Nearby Attractions and Activities
We arrived in Port Fairy at around 10:30am. Check-in time at Big4 is 2:00pm though, so we had a quick walk around town. It does feel laid back and relaxed, with old buildings in almost every corner, reminiscent of its rich history. Matter of fact, it reminded me of our trip in Beechworth.
As we headed straight to the Information booth, we took the time to check out the Farmers Market where locals sold some produce, food and other random interesting stuff in gazebos and pop-up stalls.
Below you’ll see the town at different times of the day. There are cafes everywhere so food and coffee is not a problem. At around 8:00pm it started to get quiet — I love walking on empty streets.
After brunch, we still had plenty of time before the 2:00pm check in so we headed straight to East Beach which is really at walking/biking distance from the town. There are parking spaces at the Beach road but I think it will be hard to get one during summer.
Port Fairy Yacht Club
These sailboats are quite fascinating so I took a stroll at the boardwalk while the little one’s in the middle of her nap — drained from all the fun she had at East Beach. There’s also a restaurant and take-away fish and chips within the area if you need to grab a bite.
Here are some photos I’ve taken which don’t really give justice to this place.
Hike at Griffiths Island
I’ll have to stress out that this is a child-friendly hike. I did not time it but it felt like a 15 to 20-minute walk from the parking area up until the lighthouse. Our daughter, who is under 4, had no issues walking on her own. So if you have kids in tow, this hike is something they can tackle with ease.
Desperate for a decent family photo, I setup my flimsy tripod and phone despite the island’s strong winds.
So here’s me, quickly hitting the remote just before sprinting to catch my about-to-fall-over tripod. Unfortunately, let’s just say I’m no Usain Bolt — sorry, phone. 😀
I did not go fishing at Port Fairy simply because I didn’t know where to buy some frozen bait. Well I found one eventually, while looking for fish and chips. So if you are looking for frozen baits, East Beach Fish & Chips has them. I highly recommend their burger though, the standard burger, then add on the egg and cheese. And I meant for dinner, not as bait. Please. 😀
There are two fishing spots I can name, one is at Griffiths Island. There are jetties that look ideal for some leisurely fishing, and I did see anglers so feel free to cast those lines.
Another spot is at East Beach. It was a windy day though, more suited for surfing and other water sports, if you may. I did see people surf fishing but I’m not sure if they caught anything. Either way, looks like a great spot.
Warnambool is another beautiful town just 25 minutes away from Port Fairy. On our last day, after checking out at 10:00am, we drove straight to Warnambool for brunch. The Pavilion Cafe and Bar offers a nice 360 view of the coast.
After brunch I thought it was too early to drive home so I decided to drop my line just to pass the time. I realised I actually have my Berkley Trout baits in the the car. As the name implies, they are meant for trouts. But hey, a wise man once said, “a sh*tty bait is better than no bait at all.” I swear I did not make that up. 😀
Adjacent to this jetty is the Stingray Bay and it was quite a view. Our kid is too tired for a walk though and has already fallen asleep so we just took a few photos and started our 3.5-hour jouney back home.
Here are a few photos of the Stingray Bay:
I’ll end this blog with some key takeaways and recommendations:
- I loved the Big4 accommodation. It actually gave me second-thoughts about tents and camping in general. Goes to say, I’m loving the cabin life. Nah, I’ll still miss setting up my tent for sure. Either way, Big4 is definitely a great choice regardless of your accommodation preferences (tent, cabin, caravan). Especially if you have kids, you can’t go wrong with this place.
- According to a local liquor shop owner whom I’ve had a quick chat with, Port Fairy gets really busy during summer. Having seen how beautiful the East Beach is, I’m not surprised. So you choose — peace and quiet in autumn/winter, or some action during summer.
- It is best to explore all the historic sites and learn about the town’s interesting past. It’s something I would have done if we had a bit more time.
- Bring bicycles when you can. I think it’s the best way to explore this relatively smaller town. And there are bicycles for hire in Big4, just in case.
- Port Fairy offers good fishing spots for both casual and experienced anglers. The Moyne River is another popular fishing spot which I haven’t explored. Check any of those spots I mentioned and I’m certain you’ll get a bite if you spend some decent time — I’d bet my trout baits on it. 😀
- Warnambool is just 25-30 minutes away and should be part of your itinerary. Same thing if you’re staying in Warnambool, Port Fairy is worth a visit.
So, was it worth the drive? Absolutely. I actually feel like two days wasn’t enough, but we surely made the most out of it. And you should, too.
There you have it, friends. See you in the next town!