Saltra Brasserie in an historic Port Fairy building

Turn the clock back

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.

Around 1828 Captain Wishart, in his cutter called ‘Fairy’, was caught in a storm. Luckily, he found shelter in a little bay and at daybreak, he found that he was in a delightful bay at the mouth of an excellent river.  He named the bay ‘Port Fairy’, in honour of his tiny ship.

With more than 50 buildings classified by the National Trust and many fine examples of 1800s architecture including fully restored white-washed cottages built by whalers and seamen set beside Georgian-style merchants' homes and grand public buildings, history is preserved in what has become a family friendly seaside town.

The wide streets with their cobbled bluestone gutters are reminiscent of times when horse and cart were the most popular mode of transport delivering wool, wheat and gold to the great sailing ships bound for England. In the 1850s, the port was one of the busiest in Australia!

Visitors can step back in time and learn more about the past by joining some of the local guided tours or by seeking out the self-guided walking trails scattered around town. Maps can be collected from the Visitor Information Centre.