We arrived in Portland at midday and it was HOT! As usual, we bee-lined straight to the Visitor Information Centre, which is also the beginning of the Great South West Walk, a 250 km walking track along the coast.
Portland was established in 1835 and was the first European settlement in Victoria. It started off as a whaling and sealing town and is now the only deep water port between Adelaide and Melbourne. The port offers sheltered anchorage for boats travelling between the two capital cities and specialises in bulk commodities like agricultural and mining products, but there is plenty of good fishing and boating to be done.
The Portland bay was named in 1800 by the British navigator James Grant, who sailed the Lady Nelson along the Victorian coast. Portland was proclaimed a city in October 1985 in the presence of The Prince and Princess of Wales.
Once we collected the information we needed, we headed to the Botanic Gardens for lunch, passing the Portland Cable Tram on the way. This free community service was established in June 1996 and travels 8km around town, with stops at all the major landmarks.
Points of Interest
You can’t miss the port – it’s huge! There are two breakwaters that create a safe haven for boats. You can drive onto one of them and do some fishing.
This place smelt incredible! You have the option to buy pre-packaged strawberries, but that’s no fun. Go out the back and pick your own for only $8 a kilo (super cheap!).
At this point in the day, it was scorching hot so we slapped on some sunscreen and our Barmah Hats to prepare for some exposure while we harvested. Keep your eyes peeled for skinks and butterflies!
Just south of Portland is a nesting area for Australasian gannets. Turn off the road once you see a huge pipe and that will take you to Point Danger and the Lawrence Rocks. The area is fenced off to protect the bird colony, but you can still see them from a lookout at the car park.
Probably more astonishing than the bird colony is the wind farms in the area. Giant propellers dotted along the countryside are hard to miss and provide a breathtaking view.
We headed over to Cape Bridgewater to check out the Petrified Forest and Blowholes. There were so many flies, our backs were almost black with them.
The formation of the Petrified Forest was originally thought to be caused by a wave of sand engulfing the trees. It was later discovered that the ‘forest’ was actually solution pipes formed by acidic water solidifying the sand into these trunk shaped formations.
The blowholes at the bottom of the cliffs looked pretty cool, but they weren’t blowing while we were there – they’re probably more spectacular during the high tide. The cliffs are made of black and purple volcanic rock and are constantly changing under the force of the wind and waves.
Portland Visitor Information Centre – Lee Breakwater Road