This aptly-named fairytale-like fishing village is beautifully located at the end of the Great Ocean Road and is a charming, historic journey back in time to the 19th century for its cottages, stone churches and more than 50 National Trust buildings. From Georgian merchant mansions and grand public buildings to the whitewashed beachside cottages built by whalers, seamen and fisherfolk over 100 years ago, it’s all here to delight history buffs and those looking for peace and quiet away from the chaos of the 21st century.
Port Fairy’s harbour bustles with fishermen unloading their daily hauls of abalone and crayfish, racing yachts tugging at their moorings and anglers hoping for a bite along the harbourfront. Cruises to Lady Julia Percy Island for its seal colony and guided sea-fishing trips leave regularly, and the maritime scene is enlivened by cafés and pubs lining the waterfront. The Southern Ocean is highly respected by seamen, with the rearing cliffs and rocks along the coast giving rise to the local nickname of Shipwreck Coast for the 180 vessels lost to its fury.
For lovers of the great outdoors, a visit to nearby Tower Hill State Game Reserve is a must. The reserve and its emus, koalas, kangaroos and diverse birdlife is set in the crater of an extinct volcano whose eruptions millennia ago helped to shape the region’s dramatic natural wonders. This tiny, enclosed ecosystem is forested, giving a rare, untouched habitat for its plants, trees, animals and birds, and it’s a particular joy for the birders who take advantage of its specially-constructed hide.
There’s a choice of accommodation in town, from budget to luxury, including villas, boutique hotels, motels and self-catering lodges. Shopping, dining, entertainment, traditional pubs and retail therapy are all within walking distance of most lodgings, and there’s a vibrant weekend market in the central square. Even the caravan parks on the edge of town are fitted out with all the mod cons necessary for an enjoyable stay.