Found along the rugged south coast of Victoria is the quintessential seaside village of Port Fairy.
Settled in the 1830s, the town’s historic buildings have been preserved and converted into modern restaurants, accommodation and boutique shops.
While summer is peak season when the local population more than doubles, Port Fairy is attractive year-round offering quirky events, migrating whales and divine food experiences.
The 4-hour drive from Melbourne demands a weekend escape that certainly won’t disappoint.
Things to do in Port Fairy
A loop walk takes you around Griffiths Island, from the Moyne River inlet to the open ocean. Meander past breeding burrows of a seasonal population of Shearwaters (Australian Mutton Birds), which can be seen at dusk between late September and mid-April. Continue along the beach and you will reach the tip of the island, home to the Port Fairy lighthouse that was built in 1859 from local bluestone.
Griffiths Island: Ocean Drive, Port Fairy.
Port Fairy Community Market
Local and regional producers gather every second Saturday to sell their wares at Port Fairy Community Market. Shop for homemade jams and chutneys, handcrafted jewellery, artisan breads and cheeses, honey, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies, flowers and handmade candles. Stall holders change seasonally, and food vendors are on site so you can enjoy a coffee and snack while browsing.
Port Fairy Community Market: Railway Place, Port Fairy.
Set on the main road that passes through town, the Limestone Gallery displays works from local artists. Ceramics, sculptures and paintings are exhibited in the light and airy gallery space. Works are for sale and there is a studio on site where you can see artists in action. Explore the outdoor garden to see sculptures.
Limestone Gallery: 506 Princes Highway, Port Fairy.
Places to eat and drink in Port Fairy
The menu at Merrijig Kitchen is created daily based on seasonal, local ingredients which chef Tanya converts into mouth-watering dishes. Many dishes are French-inspired and blend new trends with traditional cooking methods. Arrive early and take a seat in the cosy front bar and enjoy a local wine or a handcrafted cocktail before entering the dining room to enjoy a memorable meal.
Merrijig Kitchen: 1 Campbell St, Port Fairy.
The Farmer’s Wife
Venture down a narrow side alley off the town’s main street and find The Farmer’s Wife – a little cafe with a hearty menu and warm spirit. Offering healthy brunch items including raw and vegan options, there is indoor and outdoor seating available. With chilled out tunes crooning in the background, it’s a great place to grab a cuppa and read the morning newspaper.
The Farmer’s Wife: 47a Sackville St, Port Fairy.
One of the newer additions to the Port Fairy food scene, Hawker Kampong appears fresh and exciting. The historic facade is painted crisp white in stark contrast to the imposing black double door that welcomes guests inside. Inspired by hawker centres of South East Asia, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. The expansive bar and lounge offer snacks and cocktails infused with flavours of Asia including yuzu, lychee, lime, ginger and basil.
Hawker Kampong: 20 Bank St, Port Fairy.
Places to stay in Port Fairy
Rest your head in comfort at Merrijig Inn – Victoria’s oldest inn. The thoughtful touches make this place feel like home – the welcome chocolates on the bedside, a hot water bottle for cold nights, and ‘Petal the privacy pig’ which is the inn’s take on the ‘do not disturb’ sign. King and queen suites are available downstairs and smaller attic rooms are upstairs, with views over the garden and across the Moyne River. Breakfast is included and features a cooked option as well as seasonal fruits, home-baked bread and house-made jams. Guests have access to the kitchenette for tea and coffee and are welcome to relax in the communal spaces. The inn is fully kitted out with reading material and board games, and there are even chickens who roam the backyard. Free Wi-Fi is available.
Merrijig Inn: 1 Campbell St, Port Fairy.
Getting to Port Fairy
Port Fairy is located on the Princes Highway, approximately 288km west from Melbourne’s CBD. If driving from northern Victoria, head south west from Ballarat on the Glenelg Highway. Arrive in Hamilton and pick up the Hamilton-Port Fairy Rd heading south, which takes you directly to the centre of Port Fairy.
Port Fairy is also accessible by V/Line train and coach service, about a 4-hour journey from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station. There are multiple departures daily. The train service stops at Warrnambool and transfers to a coach service to Port Fairy.
Disclaimer: The writer was a guest of Merrijig Inn.