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The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

  • September 27, 2018
  • By 50 Shades
  • 18 Comments
The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

After spending three wonderful days meandering through the winding roads of the Great Ocean Drive we trailed along the Discovery Coast from Warrnambool to Nelson, a four hour drive from Melbourne and less than an hour from the South Australian border. Our first stop was at the heart of the notorious Shipwreck Coast, in the town of Warrnambool.

The southwest Victorian coastline is a well known graveyard for sailing ships, with 80 known wrecks on the sea floor between Port Fairy and Cape Otway – 14 of these lie on the bed of Warrnambool’s Lady Bay.

Warrnambool

Warrnambool was a major trading port in the late 1800’s that is reflected in their Maritime Village called Flagstaff Hill which is set on 10 acres of land overlooking Lady Bay. It is the home to many shipwrecks, the historic boathouse, state heritage-listed lighthouse precinct and maritime village.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Flagstaff Hill Marine Village

The highlights of things to do in Warrnambool would have to be:

  • Proudfoot’s Boathouse which is over 100 years old and reflects the early days of fishing and boating on the Hopkins River.
  • A walk out along the Breakwater built in 1876 to protect the harbour.
Breakwater at Warrnambool

Breakwater at Warrnambool

  • The large elegant Botanic Gardens in town and a walk around the extensive pathways surrounding Lake Pertobe in the centre of the gardens.
  • The Lady Bay lighthouse precinct where you see the upper and lower lighthouses that are still in operation today for the benefit of shipping.
The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Lighthouse at Flagstaff Hill

  • The panoramic views of Lady Bay and Lake Pertobe from Cannon Hill lookout.
  • The  famous Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village which has a wonderful collection of relics and treasures recovered from various shipwrecks, audiovisual presentations, interactive displays and an authentic maritime village that you can walk through.
The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Historical Buildings at Flagstaff Hill Marine Village

  • A wander through the streets of Warrnambool on the 3 km Timor Walk that takes you to 22 historic buildings of significance.
  • During the months between June and September, female Southern Right Whales return to the waters of Warrnambool’s Logan’s Beach to calve and they can be viewed from the whaling platform.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

  • Tower Hill Reserve, 14 Kms west of Warrnambool to experience this beautiful haven for wildlife nestled inside a dormant volcano.
  • Picnic at Hopkins Falls on the Hopkins River, 13 Km north east of Warrnambool, which is set against lush dairy country and a great place to fish or go for a walk.

Port Fairy

The historic seaside village of Port Fairy is a unique example of a well preserved 19th century shipping port. The township has retained its old world character and there are an amazing number of heritage listed buildings to see.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

The Streets of Port Fairy during the Port Ferry Folk Festival

We arrived in this quaint little town on the weekend of the annual Port Fairy Folk Festival that attracts approximately 40,000 people each March. The Festival transforms the town into a spirit of cultural celebration with the ‘Free Festival of the Streets’ alongside the main concerts in the ticketed arena. The streets were certainly alive and buzzing with many different music genres represented and an interesting array of market stalls and people from different walks of life. Quiet a spectacle!

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Entrance to the Port Fairy Folk Festival

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Musicians at the Port Fairy Folk Festival

At its peak in the 1850s, the port was one of the busiest in Australia with wool, wheat and gold being loaded into great sailing ships bound for England. A stroll around the wharf area has only just a few reminders of the remains of the bustling port, except Moyne Mill, a five storey bluestone flour mill.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Port Ferry Harbour

Historical places of note in Port Fairy are:

  • Motts Cottage – which dates from the late 1840’s and is an excellent example of an early working mans home.
  • Port Fairy Courthouse – a magnificent bluestone building c. 1860 which is now home to the Port Fairy Historical Society.
  • The Lighthouse – built on Griffiths Island in 1859 from local bluestone and is an easy 20 minute walk on a concrete path.
  • Railway Place – is the site of the old railway station, the goods shed and the station master’s cottage which dates back to 1890.
  • Battery Point & The Powder Magazine – which has an exceptional collection of cannons and the bluestone powder magazine built in 1840 to store explosives.
  • The Lifeboat Station – the oldest surviving self-righting lifeboat in the world built in 1857 is displayed here along with a collection of 19th century maritime rescue equipment.
The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Mott’s Cottage in Port Fairy

A short drive west of Port Fairy you will find The CragsThe Crags is a wild and scenic section of the coastline with calcified tree roots, jagged outcrops and panoramic views along the coastline.

Lady Julia Percy Island, west of Port Fairy, is Australia’s only submarine volcano. The lava flow from the volcano has created an unusual flat top and almost vertical cliffs surround the island. This island is home to the largest colony of fur seals in the Southern Hemisphere and several bird species, including the Diving Petrel and the Peregrine Falcon.

Seals at Lady Julia Percy Island

Seals at Lady Julia Percy Island

Traversing around 37 Km of picturesque rural countryside, the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail provides a great opportunity for cyclists to explore off the beaten track.

Portland

Known as Victoria’s birthplace, Portland is a thriving, vibrant harbourside city with over 10,000 residents. It was first settled in 1834 and quickly became the base for the permanent settlement of Victoria. A deepwater port provided a vital and growing trade link for south eastern Australia and is home to a large fishing industry incorporating, trawl, abalone, crayfish and squid sectors.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

The Old Portland Customs House

The Portland aluminium smelter that occupies 100 hectares of land and dominates the landscape of the harbour, produces 350,000 tonnes of aluminium ingot annually and is the lifeblood of the city.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Portland Aluminium Smelter

Architecturally, Portland is awash with historical buildings with over 200 buildings from the 1800’s. You can take the Historical Buildings Walk through the city which takes about two hours.  One of the biggest features is the Portland Vintage Cable Tram which travels along the scenic coastal and harbour route and links some of Portland’s major tourist attractions.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Portland Tramway

Other points of interest include:

  • The Portland Maritime Discovery Centre which gives an insight into Portland’s maritime history.
  • WWII Memorial Lookout Tower which is a museum of the Australian Armed Services and viewing deck with 360 degree views of Portland.
  • Portland Botanic Gardens that were established in 1857 and are renowned for their dazzling flower displays.
  • Powerhouse Vintage Car and Motor Museum that features a collection of classic cars, motorbikes, stationary motors and tractors.
  • History House that was once the old town hall built in 1863, features a wealth of local history.
The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

The Old Portland Court House

  • Portland Arts Centre is a gallery and performing arts centre which offers a wide array of exhibitions, theatre and music.
  • The Great South West Walk is south western Victoria’s premier 250 km bushwalking trail, located between Portland and Nelson.
  • You can surf at one of Portland’s beaches, sail a yacht on the Henty Beach and habour area, canoe or water ski at nearby Bridgewater Lakes and the Glenelg River.
  • Portland is one of Victoria’s fishing hot spots. You can either go game fishing, river fishing or surf fishing.
The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Beautiful Portland Harbour

Cape Bridgewater

A 20 minute drive from Portland, Cape Bridgewater was once a volcanic island and is a visual experience you must see. There are plenty of pathways to experience the sights of the blowholes, the petrified forest, freshwater springs and the seal caves.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Cape Bridgewater Petrified Forest

Stony Hill is the highest cliff top on the Victorian coastline, towering 130 metres above sea level at the western rim of the volcano.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Steep Cliff and Blowholes

Nelson

The last Victorian town before you cross the border into South Australia, is located on the pristine Glenelg River, with views across the sand hills to the south. Nelson is a charming relaxed town which is a great place to fish or cruise down the river.

The Discovery Coast: Warrnambool to Nelson

Glenelg River in Nelson

There are numerous trails around Nelson for bushwalking with lovely views of the river and the river mouth. There are also miles of unspoilt beaches to walk and enjoy.

So this tucked away corner of Victoria’s south west is really one of its best kept secrets. I would highly recommend it. I can understand why they say the Discovery Coast is a destination for all seasons!

This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset.

The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

Lyndall from SEIZE THE DAY PROJECT
Deb from DEBBISHDOTCOM
Min from WRITE OF THE MIDDLE.
Leanne from DEEP FRIED FRUIT
Jo from JOANNE TRACEY
and of course me, Kathy from 50 SHADES OF AGE


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By 50 Shades, September 27, 2018 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 18

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

18 Comments
  • Pinky Poinker
    March 28, 2014

    This blog is an amazing resource for anyone embarking on a trip around Australia and it gets better and better Kathy. Are you venturing up to North Queensland? If you are you must definitely call in! The music festival looks such fun and those seals must be spectacular to watch. Happy holidays!

  • Kathy
    March 29, 2014

    Thanks Pinky. We are travelling in a clockwise direction from Queensland to West Australia and then will probably come back via North Queensland but maybe not as far up as you. The Folk Music Festival at Port Fairy was a highlight. Very interesting people in attendance! Loving every day of our adventure and I’ve never been happier :)

  • Joanne Tracey
    September 27, 2018

    I’ve always wanted to do the Great Ocean Rd and visit these towns… so thanks for virtually taking me there.

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      You must do this drive one day. It’s such amazing scenery for the entire drive and the little towns are so historically interesting.

  • Lydia
    September 27, 2018

    This is all gorgeous. I for some reason thought it was NSW (Nelson Bay) and was planning some daytrips in the school holidays. So disappointed. All of it looks fabulous and so ‘not’ Australian. It’s like you’ve stepped back in time in some little English village somewhere. GREAT post!

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      I’m so happy I’ve managed to bring somewhere new to you, and not Nelson Bay NSW. There’s so much to discover in this great big land of ours. This part of south west Victoria was so scenic and unique. #TeamLovinLife

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    September 27, 2018

    Another driving holiday to add to my list, Kathy. I love lighthouses and those ducks were gorgeous. Also fun to be there for the folk festival. As usual, your photos are stunning. Thank you! #LovinLife

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      Oh yes the ducks at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village were so cute. They really suited the old marine village. This part of the Great Ocean Road was incredible. #TeamLovinLife

  • Christine
    September 27, 2018

    I’ve never driven the Great Ocean Road – we always seem to head north rather than south, but it’s definitely on the list. Too many wonderful places to visit!! Folk Festival sounds fun.

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      The Folk Festival was a highlight. We were extremely lucky to be in Port Fairy on the weekend it was on. The south of Australia is truly worth checking out. #TeamLovinLife

  • Natalie
    September 27, 2018

    Thanks, Kathy, for the virtual road trip and very nice photos. I’d like to visit the attractions at Cape Bridgewater. #teamlovinlife

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      Oh yes Cape Bridgewater was amazing. We didn’t get to see the seal colony, but we saw them at other coastal regions further into South Australia. There really is so much to see in this incredible country of ours. #TeamLovinLife

  • Min @ Write of the Middle
    September 27, 2018

    I love that these posts are timed so beautifully just prior to my big GOR trip in late November! We will be going as far along as Port Fairy – staying a night there so I will study this post and your GOR post in great detail to be sure we don’t miss any important things to see! Thank you! :-) #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      You’re very welcome Min. I’m so glad that I have whetted your appetite. You will really enjoy the GOR and the Discovery Coast.

  • jodie
    September 27, 2018

    I have to tell you that the first thing I think about when I see these photos is how wonderful they would be as backdrops for the blog!!
    The first one though I think I’d have trouble pronouncing…LOL!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      Australia does have some funny place names. It’s our aboriginal heritage. The south of Australia is pretty amazing with some dramatic landscapes. #TeamLovinLife

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    September 27, 2018

    I’m especially fascinated by the maritime village, Kathy. I love how each week you open my eyes to even more of this endlessly fascinating and diverse country of ours. Thank you.

    SSG xxx

    • Kathy
      September 27, 2018

      Caravanning around Australia 4 years ago also opened my eyes. It was continuously in awe of our incredible country. There is so much to see. #TeamLovinLife

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