As you enter Portarlington by road, you could be forgiven for thinking you are a long way from the ocean.
At first the rolling farmlands and vineyards give the place a rural feel.
But it doesn’t take long for the ocean to make its presence felt.
Port Phillip Bay’s cooling sea breezes quickly remind you that you’re approaching the ocean.
Indeed, if you arrive on a Port Phillip Ferry service, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas.
‘Port’ is probably the best kept secret on the Bellarine, although for how much longer, we’re not sure.
Wine, food, festivals, beaches, fishing and a new ferry service direct from Melbourne is turning this once sleepy coastal village into a vibrant and buzzing tourist destination.
The Portarlington Mussel Festival is massive. Food, drink, music, kids activities and over 10 tons of mussels grace the town each January and entertain thousands.
The National Celtic Festival is entering its 16th year and boasts a stunning array of local and international acts. More than 15,000 people flock to the festival for four days over the June long weekend with market stalls, food and drink.
Families are attracted to the low-key side of Portarlington as well.
Sheltered swimming beaches and terrific fishing opportunities lure campers and holidaymakers each summer. The Bayside Miniature Railway is a huge hit with both young and old. Each Sunday from 11am to 4pm the authentic mini railway operates throughout picturesque parkland.
Look across the bay and you will see the skyscrapers of Melbourne’s CBD and the You Yangs and with five wineries within five minutes of each other, sampling the cool climate whites and reds is a must do.
Famous for its booming mussel trade, Portarlington Pier plays host to numerous local trawlers which bring in fresh seafood day after day and boasts the best spot in town to throw in a line.
The Northern Bellarine foreshore, including the Point Richards Flora and Fauna Reserve, possess significant ecological, recreational and tourist values. It’s a haven for birdwatchers.
The old Portarlington Mill will delight history buffs with its sandstone facade. Built in 1857, the flour mill was eventually condemned in 1962, but was saved from demolition.
TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Portarlington Mussel Festival (13 January, 2018).
Portarlington Bayside Miniature Railway – a fun family day out.
National Celtic Festival (June) – find your inner Celt.
Portarlington Mill – oozing history.
Bay Cycling Classic – fun on two wheels.
Ask about the free shuttle to the local wineries if you arrive by ferry.
DID YOU KNOW?
Portarlington was once a major potato, pea and onion growing area.