Things to do
History and culture
Home to the state’s first commercial port and once thriving whaling industry, Portland has a rich history dating back to the 1800’s. The Portland Maritime Discover Centre is the perfect starting point to uncover the stories of Portland’s early fishing industry and how it shaped the towns future and discover more about some of Australia’s greatest maritime disasters. The centre is home to a number of historic relics from the past including the Portland Lifeboat, one of the oldest lifeboats remaining in the world, and a skeleton of a 14-meter sperm whale, once hunted in the regions waters. To further immerse yourself in history, make your way over to the Powerhouse Car Museum and check out the collection of vintage, veteran and classic cars and motorbikes as well as stationary motors, tractors and fully restored Melbourne cable tram memorabilia.
Portland Botanical Gardens
Opened in early 1859, Portland’s Botanical Gardens are the second oldest in Victoria and are set across 30 acres. The gardens are home to over 300 varies of roses and 130 varieties of dahlias. Spend your days strolling through the pristine gardens and enjoy a picnic or barbecue surrounded by the flora and fauna. If you’re bringing along your furry friend while on holidays the gardens are also pet friendly, provided they are kept on leash. While in the grounds visit to the Curators Cottage. The classic bluestone cottage was constructed in 1858 and 1889 is now home to the Portland Historical Society collection and is open to the public as a house museum.
Hiking and walking trails
One of the best ways to see Portland and its surrounding area is by foot. Discover the Great South West Walk, one of Victoria’s best trails that allows you to see some of the major coastal attractions along the Great Ocean Road. Walk the whole circuit or just part of it, with shorter walks including Cape Bridgewater and Discovery Bay. Explore the beautiful limestone galleries of the Princess Margaret Rose Cave in Lower Glenelg National Park, admire the stunning spring wildflowers blossoming along the magnificent Glenelg River, take in the forests and wetlands of Mount Richmond National Park or watch the fur seals, nankeen kestrels and peregrine falcons at Bridgewater Bay.
A trip to Portland isn’t complete without a visit to its historic and iconic coastal attractions. You won’t have to go far to find the first of many, with the Whalers Buff Lighthouse located directly behind the park. Originally opened in 1859 at Battery Point in Portland before being relocated stone by stone to its current home at Whalers Buff in 1889. Next head over to the historically significant Cape Nelson Lighthouse. Officially lit in 1884, it played a key role in the network of lighthouses guiding shipping around the coast of Australia. Only minutes from the park is the Anderson Point whale watching platform, this quiet clifftop is the perfect vantage point to watch the whales resting in Portland Bay as they make their annual migration from May to October.
The Great Ocean Road Region is well known for its fresh produce and delicious restaurants and cafes. The town of Portland is no exception to this serving up and endless number of gourmet dining options, many with coastal views. Edwards Waterfront Restaurant and Café is one of these, settle in with a tea or coffee and piece of cake of cause, while enjoying the waterfront views overlooking Portland’s port and harbor precinct. Or for a taste of history visit Clock by the Bay, the restaurant is located in the towns former post office and offers not only great service and a delicious menu but excellent views over the bay. If you’re looking for a morning caffeine fix or to warm up during the day, drop into Café Bahloo Portland for a reliability good coffee.
Portland Cable Trams
To discover the best of Portland including the towns significant historical sites, a ride on the iconic cable tram is a must. Running 364 days a year, the tram will take you along the beautiful Portland Bay foreshore and allow you to jump on and off at your leisure. The best part? You can hop on easily with a stop just out the front of the park. Other stops include the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre, Memorial Lookout, the Botanic Gardens and the Powerhouse Car Museum. The fully restored cable tram runs along the 3.7km track four times a day and tickets can be purchased at the Portland Cable Trams Depot or while aboard.