Explore Port Fairy and surrounds diverse natural attractions. Including riverside parks, picturesque botanical gardens and scenic coastline - perfect for winter whale watching.
Belfast Coastal Reserve
Belfast Coastal Reserve Stretching from Warrnambool to Port Fairy comprises rocky reefs, sandy beaches, coastal dunes, salt marshes, estuaries and endangered animals such as the Orange-bellied Parrot. The area is also a home to Victoria's largest population of Hooded Plovers, and southern right whales and dolphins may appear in the reserve's waters. Belfast Coastal Reserve is a great place for walking along the beach, swimming, surfing, kite boarding, fishing, snorkelling, horse riding and bird watching.
The bird we commonly call the mutton-bird is the short tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris). It was given the name by the early settlers who utilised its fatty flesh for food and as a source of oil. Today the bird is totally protected in Victoria, although limited harvesting still occurs in some Tasmanian islands. The short-tailed shearwater is the only variety of petrel whose breeding ground lies solely in Australia, mostly on islands off south-eats Australia concentrated around Bass Strait. The birds appear in large numbers and the Griffiths Island colony numbers several thousand birds. Further information can be found here.
A natural oasis almost in the heart of the town, Griffiths Island supports a number of native animals including a small mob of swamp wallabies. It is also the site of one of Australia's most accessible breeding colonies of short tailed shearwaters or mutton-birds. Griffiths Island is very popular for bird watching from September through to April.
Bay of Islands
Pounded by wild seas and fierce winds, the coast of the Bay of Islands Coastal Park has been sculpted over thousands of years to become one of the most impressive natural sites in Australia. Towering rock stacks, arches and islands have been carved out of the soft cliffs by rain, wind and ocean waves. The pale limestone of this section of coast reflects a different quality of light and offers superior photographic opportunity in overcast conditions. Highly underrated!
Budj Bim National Park
Budj Bim National Park is only a five minute drive west of Macarthur via a sealed. Geologists estimate that Budj Bim first erupted around 30,000 years ago, producing a river of hot molten lava that flowed around 50km south to the sea. This lava flow effectively dammed rivers and streams forming large wetlands and swamps. Budj Bim National park features several walking tracks, a camping area and excellent picnic facilities. The geological features include Lake Surprise, a beautiful crater lake, lava canals, a natural bridge, lava blisters, collapsed lava tunnels and lava cake (take a torch). The park also contains Victoria's last great stand of manna gum woodland, the favourite food of the resident koala population.
Around 20 kms from Warrnambool, at the western end of the 12 Apostles coastline. A beautiful small beach with a bluff crossing the western end of the beach. The beach is low and flat, with a shallow bay floor. Easy access to these stunning coves rewards you with large sea and surf, sandstone stacks and colorful sandstone/limestone cliffs, walking these beaches is one of those rare experiences of seclusion mixed with awe of the forces of nature. The name comes from wreck of “The Children” in 1839 in which 17 perished.
Tower Hill State Game Reserve to the east of Port Fairy is a rare example of a nested maar volcano, and was declared Victoria's first National Park in 1892. Local animals and plant species are in abundance however it wasn't always like this. Following European settlements of the western district land was cleared for farming purposes and the area became quite degraded and barren. In the 1960s groups of people including field naturalists, school children, sporting shooters and many others began to restore the landscape. Overtime as the trees and shrubs matured, birds and animals returned to Tower Hill. Picnic facilities, an interpretive centre, tours and walking trails make this a "must do" activity.
Further information on Tower Hill can be found here.
A short drive west of Port Fairy you will find The Crags. Crags is a wild and scenic section of the coastline with calcified tree roots, jagged outcrops and panoramic views along the coast. The rocky cliffs protect small bays and are rich in wildlife including significant Silver Gull breeding site on the eastern most island. you can view the whole reserve from the lookout including Lady Julia Percy Island offshore.
The are contains many aboriginal cultural sites and places and has spiritual connections with Lady Julia Percy Island. The Crags was used over many thousand of years as a gathering, ceremonial and feasting place for Aboriginal people. Its cultural significance is listed un the National Estate of Australia.
The Ralph Illidge Sanctuary is a peaceful, relaxed and scenic reserve which is a safe haven for a variety of animals, flora and fauna.
Just 25 minutes drive east of Warrnambool, or less than an hour from Port Fairy, the sanctuary is easily found off the Warrnambool -Cobden Road.
Visitors are able to enjoy the native wildlife, many walking tracks, visit the information centre or have a picnic or barbecue (shelters, tables and gas barbecues are provided).
Koroit Botanic Gardens
Relax, enjoy a picnic and the playground at the lovely Koroit Botanic Gardens, designed by renowned landscape gardener and horticulturalist William Guilfoyle. The gardens were established in 1862 and form part of a large central recreational area. Located in High Street, the gardens cover about three hectares. Koroit's War Memorial is located on the edge of the Botanic Gardens.
Address: High Street, Koroit
Lady Julia Percy Island
West of Port Fairy, Lady Julia Percy island is Australia's only submarine volcano. When lava erupts under water a typical type of lava called pillow lava occurs. These are tube like structures where the interaction with water forms a crust on the outside and molten lava continues to flow inside. This island is home to the largest colony of fur seals in the Southern Hemisphere and several bird species. These include diving petrel, peregrine falcon, fairy prion and sooty oyster catchers. A number of small but unusual plant species survive in the caves in the cliff walls.
Tours are available - visit the Tourist Information Centre for more details.
The Hopkins River meanders through the Moyne Shire until it reaches Wangoom where it plunges down a rocky escarpment before making its way to the sea at Warrnambool. A viewing platform offers fantastic viewing and photo opportunities. There are picnic facilities in the reserve. Best times for viewing the falls are winter and spring when rainfall is usually at its peak.
Kanawinka Geotrail, a region of amazing geological diversity stretching from Colac (on the Princes Highway 200 kilometres from Melbourne) to Millicent, in south-east South Australia. It is Australia’s first global geopark (a global geopark is an area with at least one site of scientific significance).
Volcanic activity is obvious throughout much of the Shire. In Port Fairy basalt boulders line the southern shoreline and have created sand fringed lagoons and bays. Many historic buildings throughout the area have been built using local basalt, which – when cut and dressed for building purposes – is called bluestone.
Our rich volcanic soil sees healthy, thriving gardens and has been largely responsible for the hugely successful potato crops of the Killarney and Koroit areas.
Port Fairy's Botanic Gardens
Established in 1859, Port Fairy’s Botanic Gardens were once described as “the handsomest of any provincial town”. Still picturesque, the gardens have been drastically reduced in size. The first plants and seeds were supplied by Ferdinand von Mueller, the director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and a noted botanist, and GW Francis, curator of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, while a $5000 government grant enabled the erection of gates and fences.
Address: Griffiths Street, Port Fairy
Battery Hill successfully combines a rich history with beautiful views and a picturesque outlook. On the banks of the winding Moyne River, Battery Hill was home to a fortification established in the 19th century. Several large cannons and gun emplacements were placed there. These remain today. Battery Hill is an ideal spot to enjoy a barbecue or picnic.
Address: Griffiths Street, Port Fairy
Charles Mills Reserve
Relax and unwind in this delightful riverside area named after Port Fairy pioneer Charles Mills. An old farm wagon creates a link to Charles and our heritage, while a picnic table and free barbecue facilities complete the scene. There is ample parking and public toilets are just a short walk towards the beach.
Address: Griffiths Street, Port Fairy
Apex Park, Port Fairy Offering beautiful views, Apex Park is nestled on top of the sand dune and offers direct access to East Beach. Sheltered and scenic, Apex Park has a new toilet block and is the ideal location for a family picnic or barbeque.
Address: Rogers Place, Port Fairy
Lake Cartcarrong is located 15 minutes drive north of Warrnambool and 10 minutes north of Koroit on the edge of the Winslow township. A scenic spot, it is an ideal place to observe water birds including Swans, Ducks, Grebes, Egrets and Herons. Birds of prey can often be observed hovering overhead. A revegetation program has commenced around the edges of the lake, which will continue to improve and enhance flora and fauna.
Fishermen and families love to take some time out at the wonderful Martins Point. Established on reclaimed land at the mouth of the river some time about a century ago, Martins Point offers shady trees, picnic tables, free barbecues, toilets, wide open space and a great children’s playground. Martin’s Point is a must do on any visit to Port Fairy.
Address: Gipps Street, Port Fairy
Local in a newer residential section of Port Fairy, Pioneer Park is a small area with seats and tables on the Portland side of the highway. It is close to Moyneyana Hostel and is popular with its residents, who enjoy the fresh air and public space.
Address: Baxter Street, Port Fairy
Russell Clarke Reserve
Russell Clarke Reserve is a popular spot with all our canine companions; a large passive recreation area where dogs are free to be detached from their lead and go for a run. The only condition is dog waste must be collected in a bag you have brought with you specifically for that purpose. There are several large water spaces and tracks that make it an ideal spot for man’s best friend – and his owner – to stretch their legs. Please note dogs are not allowed on the nearby Sandy Cove Reserve.
Address: James Street, Port Fairy
Whales can be seen in increasing numbers off the beaches in Port Fairy each year from June to October. The most commonly seen is the Southern Right Whale which comes into the area to mate and calve.They can be spotted nursing their young, waving their pectoral fins in the air and breaching - leaping head first out of the water and falling back with a mighty splash.
For more information contact the Port Fairy and Region Visitor Information Centre on 03 5568 2682