Today Port Fairy is a well preserved 19th century shipping port, where history can be seen at every turn.
The first regular European visitors were Bass Strait sealers on seasonal hunting expeditions from Tasmania. The exact dates of their visits are uncertain due to the lack of written records.
A colourful past
At the mouth of the old port, on the estuary of the River Moyne, lies Griffiths Island.
The Island was named after John Griffiths, who established Port Fairy's whaling industry on the island in the 1830's. Since then the island has been an Aboriginal mission, a quarry, a shipbuilding site and a prime location for a lighthouse.
The island is now home to a number of small swamp wallabies and a large colony of 15,000 short-tailed shearwaters, known as Mutton Birds. The birds arrive in late-September after an amazing migratory flight from the northern Pacific and stay until mid-April. They can be seen at dusk returning to their burrows.
Visitors can explore the island (connected to the mainland by a causeway) and enjoy a circuit walk that takes you out to the historic lighthouse.
There are over 70 buildings of historic significance and the best way to appreciate this legacy is on foot. Self guided walking maps are available at the Visitor Centre. Pre booked guided tours for groups can be arranged, contact the Visitor Information Centre.
For further information contact -Port Fairy Visitor Information Centre Railway Place, Bank Street, Port Fairy Phone - (03) 55682682
Battery Hill & the Powder Magazine
This hill first served as the Harbour Master's signal point for shipping. Local miltia units established the gun batteries and built the concrete fortifications that were completed in 1887. The cannons collection of such weapons is exceptional. The bluestone powder magazine was built in 1860 to store explosives used in the construction of the river wall.
This small cottage dates from the late 1840s and is an excellent example of an early working mans home. The cottage was built in stages with the front section being the oldest. There have been a number of owners with the Mott family being long term residents 1918 - 1944.
Address - 3 Sackville Street, Port Fairy
Open - 2pm - 4pm Wednesday and Saturday
Port Fairy Courthouse
The Port Fairy Courthouse is a magnificent bluestone building c. 1860. It is unusually large for a small country town but was designed for sittings of the Supreme Court. Country Court and Magistrates Court. The last Court sitting was in 1988. Since 1992 the building has been the headquarters of the Port Fairy Historical Society. The Port Fairy Courthouse is now the History Centre.
Address - 30 Gipps Street, Port Fairy
Open - 2pm - 5pm Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday