Port Fairy in Victoria, Australia

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Port Fairy lighthouse 271◄ Port Fairy Lighthouse

I spent a week in Port Fairy in January, it’s Australian summer and Port Fairy is a popular escape from Melbourne. It’s 300km (200 miles) west along the coast, just before the border with South Australia and has a long (by Australian standards) and interesting history. The town actually predates Melbourne, first settled by sealers and whalers it was named Port Fairy by the crew of the whaling ship The Fairy in 1828. The seamen were soon followed by sheep grazers and the town was named Belfast, after the city in Northern Ireland, before the name was switched back to Port Fairy in 1887.

Port Fairy mutton birds 542

▲ Rabbit and Griffith Island front the town and are the site for thousands of shearwaters, also known as mutton birds. They dig holes in the sand in the grasslands behind the coast to raise their young. We also saw black wallabies in the bushland as we walked round to the lighthouse.

Tower Hill emu 542

Koroit rail trail 271▲ At Tower Hill, with lakes and parkland inside a long extinct volcano crater, we encountered emus like this one.

◄ I rode my bicycle along the 18km rail trail to the town of Koroit, just beyond Tower Hill. The tail continues another 20km to Warrnambool with its interesting maritime museum. I followed long stretches of rail trail, old railway lines converted into bicycle tracks, when I rode from London to Paris in 2010. A year later I also rode from Beechworth to Bright in the Alpine region of Northern Victoria on another rail trail.





Koroit signs 271Signs indicating how far you have to go from Koroit to reach assorted towns in Ireland underline the area’s Irish connections. Port Fairy even has a Belfast Bakery. ►






We also explored the Badaluk Caves, another sign of ancient volcanic activity.▼

Byaduk Caves 542

Port Fairy surfers 542▲ But a lot of the time we just hung out at our beachfront house and watched the surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers.