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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 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 highlights of things to do in Warrnambool would have to be:
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.
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!
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.
Historical places of note in Port Fairy are:
A short drive west of Port Fairy you will find The Crags. The 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Other points of interest include:
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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