It’s no surprise that Port Fairy is a favourite weekend destination in Victoria. The coastal town has a little bit of everything; including, sandy beaches, surf breaks, old stone buildings, colourful boutiques, maritime history and delicious seafood.
It’s won some noteworthy awards too, such as Best Small Tourism Town in Australia and World’s Most Liveable Small Community, so the locals are some pretty lucky folk. For us visitors though, it’s simply a picturesque place to spend a couple of days exploring the streets and coastline.
Being just beyond the Great Ocean Road drive, it’s a convenient weekend escape from the city. This guide will help you discover all the best things to do and places to stay in Port Fairy, so you can start planning your trip!
How to Get to Port Fairy
Quickest route: Melbourne to Port Fairy via M1 – 285 km or 3.5 hour drive
Port Fairy is located west of Melbourne on the south coast of Australia. The most direct way of getting there is to drive via M1 and then the Hamilton and Hopkins Highways through Geelong and Camperdown.
Most scenic route: Melbourne to Port Fairy via Great Ocean Road – 375 km or 5.5 hour drive
However, if you have the time, a more scenic option is to take the Great Ocean Road. This is a much longer option but is certainly worth it for the incredible coastal drive and plenty of things to do along the way.
Read next: The Ultimate Guide to the Great Ocean Road
Things to Do in Port Fairy
Whether you want to explore the coastline or enjoy the streets in town, there’s plenty of things to do in Port Fairy. From surfing to walking, you’ll easily be able to fill in an entire weekend.
1. Griffiths Island Reserve and Port Fairy Lighthouse
Located at the mouth of the Moyne River, Griffiths Island is one of the town’s most beautiful attractions. The natural island protects several native animals and birds, including swamp wallabies, short tailed shearwaters or mutton-birds and echidnas.
There is a carpark and walking access to the island on Ocean Drive, from where you can explore the island on foot or bicycle. There is a lovely walking trail that skirts around the outside of the island, with incredible views and a chance to stop at numerous beaches and the Port Fairy Lighthouse.
The lighthouse was originally built in 1859 by Scottish stonemasons, and it’s still operational today. However, it’s now solar powered with a wind assisted generator.
The full loop walk around the island is about 3km and should take less than an hour. Although, there are some lovely spots to stop and have a paddle, which might soak up more of your time.
2. Port Fairy Beaches
Port Fairy has several beaches to spend time at on a warm day. East Beach stretches right along Port Fairy Bay and is a calmer, kid-friendly beach.
South of town is Southcombe Beach and Pea Soup Beach. These sandy beaches are small coves amongst rocks and reefs with crashing waves. At low tide, there’s rock pools to explore, but it’s definitely less protected than East Beach.
There’s parking right along the coast on either side of town, so you should be able to get a park nearby one of the many beaches.
3. Battery Hill
Across the other side of the mouth of the River Moyne is Battery Hill. Established in the 1800s, the fortress is just one of many that were built along the south coast of Victoria.
You can walk amongst the memorial site now, with preserved cannons, artillery buildings and bunkers. It’s a great place to take the kids and admire the sea views from the vantage point.
In January, the cannons are usually fired every Sunday by the Port Fairy Historic Lifeboat committee.
There a plenty of places around Port Fairy to go for a surf. There a couple of well-known reef breaks known as The Lighthouse and The Passage around Griffiths Island. East Beach also has right and left breaks on a good day.
There are spots for both beginner and experienced surfers.
5. Whale Watching in Winter
If you’re visiting in the colder winter months, then it’s the best time for some whale watching. From June to September, the waters are home to breeding Southern Right Whales who travel to the sheltered waters on the south coast to have their calves.
If you’re lucky, you might see them breaching off the coast from one of the viewpoints around town.
6. Farmers’ Market
Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, you’ll find a Farmers Market set up in the grounds of the community house behind the Visitor Centre. There’s a nice selection of local goods, including fresh fruit and vegetables, cakes, jams and preserves, handmade candles, clothes, coffee and local wine.
Running from 9am to 1 pm, it’s the perfect place to pick up some brunch on a weekend morning.
7. Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail
The 38km long Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail is a shared path for both bicycles and walkers. It’s a nice way to get your daily exercise in and walk or cycle a section of it. It’s partly paved and partly dirt track, although the wide path is in very good condition.
The trail starts at the old railway building, behind the Visitor Information Centre in Port Fairy.
Port Fairy Accommodation
Port Fairy Holiday Park | If you’re looking for Port Fairy camping options, this family-friendly caravan park offers a range of powered and unpowered sites, as well as, cabins for budget travellers. Check prices here.
Oak & Anchor Hotel | This heritage-listed Port Fairy hotel is one of the best places to stay in town. The simple yet elegant rooms are ideal for a romantic weekend away, with king beds and a free-standing bath in the spacious en-suites. Prices from $300 per night. Check availability here.
Pea Soup Cottage | Located just a few hundred metres from Pea Soup Beach in Port Fairy, you can book this cosy one-bedroom cottage for a coastal retreat. With a kitchen, living area and spa bath, it’s completely self-sufficient accommodation. Prices from $250 per night. Check availability here.
Drift House | If you’re looking to splurge on a memorable stay, this award-winning house in Port Fairy offers stunning king suites. With an outdoor pool, wood fired heater and large en-suites with free-standing baths, it’s a slice of luxury right across from East Beach. Prices from $600 per night. Check availability here.
Places to Eat in Port Fairy
The Farmers Wife Harvest Cafe | This laneway cafe is a must for vegan and gluten free eaters. They offer some delicious cooked breakfast options, as well as, some of the best coffee in town along with housemade cakes and slices.
Bank St + Co | A long-standing popular cafe, Bank St + Co is a brunch haven with some delicious and generously sized meals like eggs benedict, smoked salmon, chicken burger, smashed avo on sourdough and more.
The Wharf @ Port Fairy | If seafood is what you’re after, this is one of the best Port Fairy restaurants. Located overlooking the boats on the river, there’s peaceful seating on the deck which is perfect while you enjoy their classic fish and chips.
Oak & Anchor Hotel | For something more classy, this hotel is home to a gastro-pub with all-day dining. They offer traditional pub grub or you can opt for the sophisticated set menu options, which includes some of the chef’s best food.
Where to Next?
You’ve got plenty of great places to visit not far from Port Fairy. No matter which direction you’re heading, there’s something to plan your road trip around. Check out some of my guides to nearby destinations:
- Great Ocean Road: A Guide to the Ultimate Road Trip
- The Ultimate Guide to the Grampians National Park
- Best Things to Do in Mount Gambier, South Australia