Port Fairy's amazing coastal attractions
Port Fairy and the Moyne Shire host some spectacular coastal attractions. Dotted along the coastline of this south western Victoria region are some amazing places to explore and experience the natural coastal wonders, nature reserves, beaches and wildlife.
Griffiths Island is located on the edge of the Port Fairy township and is home to thousands of Shearwater birds and the historic Griffiths Island lighthouse. The Shearwaters construct burrows in the sand to raise their young. During the breeding season from September to April each year thousands of Shearwaters can be viewed on dusk returning to their burrows from feeding grounds out to sea. (Look at the Shearwaters section here to find out more).
Moyne Shire Council and local conservation groups continue to improve public access across the island to minimise the trampling of indigenous vegetation and Shearwater nests. The island is easily accessed on foot via a causeway. Other Shearwater colonies can be viewed at the nearby Pea Soup colony. Please stick to the tracks when walking on the island to avoid stepping on burrows.
The Sandy Cove Reserve wetlands are easily accessed from the car park area opposite Griffiths Island. A network of trails and bird hides helps visitors to explore this area and to observe the many bird species that utilise the wetland habitat. Griffiths Island is also home to small swamp wallabies.
Lake Yambuk is accessed from the Princes highway, 20 minutes drive west of Port Fairy. The turnoff to the Lake is located within the township of Yambuk. Lake Yambuk is a barrier estuary system that is periodically closed to the sea by a sand bar. Lake Yambuk contains an extensive wetland system formed from the meeting of the Shaw and Eumeralla Rivers. The wetlands comprise freshwater meadows and semi-permanent saline marshes, which have extensive areas of reeds and salt marsh communities fringing the edges. The Lake Yambuk estuary and wetlands are listed under the Directory of Important Wetlands for their flora and fauna value. Lake Yambuk provides important habitat for many bird species including the threatened Lewin’s Rail and the endangered Orange Bellied Parrot. The threatened Dwarf Galaxias breed within the Lake Yambuk estuaries.
Bay of Islands Coastal Park
The Bay of Islands Coastal Park is a narrow reserve of land along the coast between Peterborough and Warrnambool. The area offers spectacular coastal views, with secluded beaches, rock stacks, cliff formations and coastal heath vegetation, that support the rare Rufous Bristlebird.
A colony of rare Black-faced Cormorants, Victoria’s only exclusively marine cormorant nest on one of the rock stacks, which affords protection from feral animals such as cats, foxes and dogs. Access points to the park include Childers Cove, Bay of Martyrs, Worm Bay, Crofts Bay and Boat Bay. Hallidale Point is named after the shipwreck of the “Falls of Hallidale” which ran aground on reefs off the point in 1908.
Great Ocean Road
The internationally renowned Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most scenic roads. Spanning more than 250 kilometres, from Torquay to Port Fairy, this simply amazing road offers an incredible journey with breathtaking sites and sights.
Hugging Australia’s southern coastline, the majestic Southern Ocean is on display in all its glory, with the world famous 12 Apostles located on the route. Popular Moyne towns, Peterborough and Port Fairy, are on the Great Ocean Road.
The road was constructed by diggers returned from World War I and is a memorial to those who lost their lives during the war.
The Crags, located 12 kilometres west of Port Fairy off the Princes Highway, provides the only public access to the coast between Yambuk and Port Fairy. The Crags offers spectacular views of the rocky, calcarenite cliffs and – 19 kilometres from shore – visitors can see the volcanic Lady Julia Percy (Deen Maar) Island.
The Crags is an important archaeological site with indigenous cultural sites listed on the National Estate. It is part of the traditional homelands of the indigenous Peek Wurrung speakers and has spiritual connections with Deen Maar. Over many thousands of years the coastal reserve was used as a place of gathering, ceremony and feasting for indigenous people.
The Crags is a wild and scenic section of our coast, with panoramic views. Lady Julia Percy Island is home to more than 4000 seals, fairy penguins, birds of prey and has the largest Australian rookeries of fairy prions and driving petrels. Many of the bird species can be viewed from The Crags as they move across the ocean in search of feeding grounds.
The Mutton Birds, or Shearwaters, are one of Port Fairy’s most amazing natural attractions. The Mutton Birds are a spectacular natural life cycle that Port Fairy is lucky to share with the wider community. The Shearwaters have an annual migration cycle to the Pacific Ocean. Their lifecycle really is fascinating – they generally return to the breeding area on the same day each year and occupy the same nest as the previous year, with the same breeding partner.
They usually embark on their annual migratory voyage – which passes Japan and skirts the coast of North America – on April 16 each year. They call the Aleutian Islands near Alaska home for several months before undertaking their return journey. Two months and an incredible 15,000 kilometres later, they return to Port Fairy on September 22.
The cycle repeats itself when they depart in April, leaving behind the chicks they have bred and raised. Hunger leads to the chicks eventually finding the migratory route themselves. Masses of birds form a breathtaking silhouette at dusk each night between late September to mid April, as they return to their burrows from their search for food.
It is a unique experience you will not forget.
Southern Right Whales have been visiting this region for hundreds of years. Logans Beach at Warrnambool is a favourite spot for adult females to give birth. A viewing platform has been erected at Logans Beach to give a great view of any whale activity. Port Fairy has it's fair share of whale sightings also. Most activity is in the sheltered waters of Port Fairy Bay and the car park at the East Beach is usually the best viewing area, you can watch the whales from the comfort of your car. When the whales are in Port Fairy a blue flag with a large white whale image is flown on the flagpole on the village green, corner of Bank and Sackville Streets. The whales also visit Portland further west along the coast.
The Southern Right Whale (SRW) name comes from the fact that this whale inhabits the southern hemisphere and was considered the "right" whale to harpoon by the early whalers. It was "right" because these whales come in very close to shore and they float when dead making them easy to drag to in to shore for processing. Port Fairy and Portland both had whaling stations but by the 1840s so many whales had been killed that the industry was no longer viable and ceased. The good news is that over the last twenty years it seems that the population of SRWs is finally starting to show signs of recovery.
In the summer months (November to April) the largest mammal ever to inhabit the earth, the Blue Whale, visits the coast, but far out to sea where the continental shelf falls away to the deep ocean floor. In late November a natural phenomenen called the Bonney Upwelling takes place. At this time the prevailing wind tends to be a south easterly and it is these winds that alter the surface of the ocean water bringing the cold but nutrient rich water from deep in the ocean up to the surface. When it comes to the surface and is exposed to sunlight many of the minute organisms such as krill burst into life. It is not only the Blue Whale that feeds on the krill, many other fish such as tuna rely on this annual upwelling as do many of our native sea birds.
Whether the season is warm or the winter months are here, Moyne’s beaches are a literal magnet for visitors and residents alike.
The summer sees beaches across the shire a buzz of activity, as people take a lovely dip in the refreshing waters of the Southern Ocean. In the winter a warm beanie and jacket are all that’s required for a stimulating walk along our spectacular coastline, with the invigorating sea air ensuring you will sleep well that night!
Summer, autumn, winter or spring, there is a beach activity simply perfect for you.
East Beach, Port Fairy
Accessed via Hughes Street
Port Fairy’s East Beach is a peaceful, relaxing beach with a beautiful outlook. It has a wide arc of sand which encircles the bay. During the summer months the beach is patrolled each weekend, but during our busy summer season – from Boxing Day until Australia Day – there are daily patrols. The surf life saving club is located at the beach and there are public toilets and a grassed seating area above the beach, as well as ramp and step access.
Dogs are not permitted on the beach between Connolly Street and Battery Lane from 9am to 6pm from December 1 until Easter Monday (inclusive).
Killarney Beach, Killarney
Killarney Beach is a lovely, quiet beach popular with young families. The beach is not patrolled at all. It is generally calm and quiet and a popular swimming location for people of varying swimming abilities. Rocky crops provide rock pools and a perfect environment for enquiring young minds to explore and find starfish and other fascinating coastal creatures.
South Beach and Pea Soup, Port Fairy
Pea Soup is a rocky lagoon extremely popular with young families. A beautiful, shallow, lagoon-style beach, Pea Soup is not patrolled. Dogs are also restricted on these beaches and are not allowed between 9am and 6pm from December 1 until Easter Monday.
Yambuk Beach, Yambuk
The beach may look welcoming, but it is definitely not safe to swim at Yambuk beach. Lady Julia Percy Island is off the Yambuk coast and strong currents flow between both points, making any attempts to swim extremely dangerous. However, the golden sand is perfect for building a big sandcastle!
The Curdies Inlet is a popular swimming spot at Peterborough. It is located behind the sand dunes and generally offers calm water, vastly different to the ocean we see along the Great Ocean Road.
Angling has popularity around the world, with fresh sea air, the peaceful sound of waves lapping at your feet, that feeling of unwinding as you throw in the line and attractive scenery all setting the perfect scene for you to “catch the big one”.
The Moyne Shire, in particular around Port Fairy, has an abundance of popular – and successful – fishing spots.
Port Fairy Bay...
Fishing here can be undertaken from the shore or from a boat. A popular location for shore fishing is from the beach adjacent to our golf course. Australian salmon and sea mullet are regularly caught here, usually after 2pm until dark. Whitebait, bluebait and pippies – if they are on a 12-15lb line – are successful baits to try. Snapper is usually caught throughout autumn, with strips of squid or peeled prawns on a 12lb line. The Port of Port Fairy has a boat ramp which provides access to the river, sea and bay.
It is rare to walk by Martins Point, at the mouth of the Moyne River, and not see at least a couple of anglers relaxing with a line in the water. It is a good point to source Bream, Australian Salmon, King George Whiting and Mullet. Many fishermen chose to make their way closer to the river mouth, fishing there from the same retaining walls. These anglers enjoy the same success as those at Martin’s Point. Most fish are caught on 8 - 10 lb lines.
This lake is the estuary of the Eumerella and Shaw Rivers, their junction before they join the sea. The water quality flowing into the Lake is generally good; it is often salty on the sea end but generally fresh on the upper areas. Bream is an easy catch, while Mulloway and Australian salmon can be caught from the beach.
Beach and boat fishing are both possible at Killarney Beach. Known as the best local spot to secure a King George Whiting for dinner, they are best caught on a 12lb line with salt water clickers, pippies or bass yabbies. It is also a good spot for night Flounder fishing with a light.
The Port Fairy and Region Visitor Information Centre has an informative leaflet and also carries the Victorian Fishing Guide (when available), which details sizes and bag limits. It also has an informative fishing leaflet, which should detail all you need to know. Fishing licenses and bait are available from several outlets in the town.
To work out our tide times, simply click on the link below, choose Portland and plus two minutes.
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