Port Fairy is a classy and highly accessible town of waterfront houses and a lovely empty beach on the Shipwreck Coast. It resides on the Princes Highway, just beyond the western end of the Great Ocean Road, about 20 minutes from Warrnambool or three/four hours from Melbourne.
This sizeable fishing village-cum-town of two to three thousand makes for a perfect stop-off between Adelaide and Melbourne, with its long, wide beach and abundance of water. Such is its charm, it has made ‘most liveable city’ in small category lists.
The town is in two parts, with the main town separated from the coast by the Moyne River, where there is a delightful coastal community. Port Fairy also possesses that small town, big city feel quality owing to wide streets and extensive public services. There are many crafts and antiques stores here, loads of pubs and restaurants and plentiful hotels at hand.
It boasts history, too, founded as it was by whalers in the 19th century and still featuring dozens of century-old cottages and buildings. Heritage walks are popular with some visitors, taking in these whalers’ white cottages and Georgian homes—the Maritime and Shipwreck Heritage Walk is a must.
Naturally, the water and beach is a major draw and the swimming and surf here is excellent. The beach is long and in a huge arc, with some particularly good surf at the eastern end. Southern right whales can be seen from the shore and there are colonies of seals on nearby Lady Julia Percy Island. Closer at hand are Griffiths Island for its birds and the Tower Hill Reserve for koalas, roos and emus.
Several fun festivals are on the calendar, chief of which is the Port Fairy Folk Music festival in March, the Moyneyana festival and the Daschund Dash is June. Getting in is best by car from Adelaide or Melbourne. The Great Ocean Road starts at nearby Warrnambool, where there are also trains from Melbourne.