An Extensive Guide to Visiting Portland in Victoria

Portland is a charming town located on the gorgeous shores of Victoria. It is a delightful destination known for its breathtaking coastal landscapes, fascinating maritime heritage and lively arts scene, drawing visitors from all over Australia.

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind travel experience that combines history, nature and culture, Portland is the place to be!

In this detailed guide, we invite you to join us as we explore all this enchanting town offers, from its top attractions and rich heritage to its exciting outdoor activities and delicious culinary delights.

So please keep reading until the end to learn about it!

History and Heritage

Portland’s history is a captivating tale of pioneering spirit and maritime legacy. Established in 1834 by the Henty family, it stands as one of Victoria’s oldest European settlements.

The town’s roots run deep in Australia’s early whaling industry and its streets whisper tales of explorers, seafarers and the resilient communities that shaped its character. Museums, historic buildings, and maritime relics tell stories of the past, offering visitors a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of those who once called Portland home.

As you stroll through its charming streets, you’ll be transported back in time, feeling the echoes of history that continue to resonate in this coastal gem.



Nestled on the southwestern coast of Victoria, Portland boasts a spectacular location.

Positioned approximately 362 kilometres from Melbourne, this coastal town offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. What truly sets Portland apart is its idyllic setting along the Southern Ocean. Here, the rugged coastline meets the relentless waves of the Southern Ocean, creating a mesmerising natural backdrop that leaves visitors in awe.

The maritime climate further enhances the appeal, making Portland a year-round destination where the ebb and flow of the tides set the rhythm of life. If you are seeking tranquility by the sea, a gateway to outdoor adventures, or simply a respite from urban life, Portland’s unique location promises an unforgettable experience.

Getting to Portland

For most people, reaching the coastal haven of Portland is a straightforward and scenic journey. If you’re starting from Melbourne, the most common way to get to this charming town is by road. A leisurely drive takes approximately 4 to 5 hours, making it a perfect road trip destination. The route is

adorned with

picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, vineyards, and glimpses of the rugged coastline that await you in Portland.

Alternatively, for those who prefer a more relaxed journey, you can opt for a train ride. Departing from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station, the V/Line train takes you to Warrnambool, where you can conveniently transfer to a bus that will carry you the rest of the way to Portland.

Whichever mode of transport you choose, the journey to Portland is not only about reaching your destination but also savouring the beauty of the journey itself.


Portland’s climate is befitting of its coastal location, offering a temperate maritime experience that appeals to visitors year-round.

Summers (December to February) are typically mild and pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 20-25°C. This is the prime time for outdoor activities, from beachcombing to hiking, as the weather is at its most inviting. Winters (June to August) bring cooler temperatures, with daytime highs hovering around 13-16°C, and the occasional rainfall. While this might not be the ideal beach season, it’s an excellent time to explore indoor attractions, appreciate the lush greenery, or witness the dramatic waves crashing against the rugged coastline.

Spring and autumn offer a delightful compromise, with mild temperatures and fewer crowds, making these shoulder seasons an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Therefore, whether you’re chasing the summer sun or prefer the cosy ambience of a coastal winter, Portland’s weather ensures there’s never a wrong time to visit.

Things to See and Do in Portland

Portland offers a range of sites, attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Below is a selection of some of the main things you can see and do while you are there:

1. Cape Nelson State Park

Cape Nelson State Park

One of the crown jewels of Portland’s natural beauty is the exquisite Cape Nelson State Park. This coastal wonderland offers a diverse range of outdoor experiences that will leave nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers in awe.

At the heart of the park stands the iconic Cape Nelson Lighthouse, perched majestically atop rugged cliffs that overlook the Southern Ocean. The lighthouse not only serves a purpose for maritime navigation but also as a vantage point for visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the wild and dramatic coastline.

Elsewhere, hiking trails wind through the park, allowing you to explore the diverse flora and fauna, including colorful wildflowers and birdlife. At the same time, the sound of crashing waves and the scent of salt in the air create a sensory experience that immerses you in the raw beauty of nature.

2. Great South West Walk

Great South West Walk

For those with a passion for hiking and a thirst for exploration, the Great South West Walk is something you must tackle.

Stretching over 250 kilometres and encircling the town and its environs, this long-distance walking trail promises an immersive journey through some of Australia’s most diverse landscapes.

As you embark on this adventure, you’ll traverse pristine beaches, meander through ancient forests, follow the meandering course of rivers and stand atop dramatic coastal cliffs. What makes the Great South West Walk truly special is its flexibility. You can choose from a variety of sections that cater to different levels of fitness and time availability, making it accessible to hikers of all backgrounds.

Subsequently, whether you’re seeking a brief day hike or aiming for the full circuit, this trail ensures that every step you take reveals a new facet of Portland’s natural beauty, making it a hiker’s paradise like no other.

3. Whale Watching

Whale Watching2

Portland’s coastal location along the Southern Ocean offers a front-row seat to one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles: whale watching. From June to September, the waters off Portland’s coast become a highway for southern right whales and humpback whales during their annual migration.

Joining a whale-watching tour is an unforgettable experience that allows you to witness these magnificent marine giants up close. As you cruise through the pristine ocean waters, the sight of these majestic creatures breaching and playing in their natural habitat is nothing short of breathtaking. The knowledgeable guides on these tours provide fascinating insights into the behavior and biology of these whales, enhancing your appreciation of the marine world.

It does matter if you are someone with an avid love of wildlife or just a passing interest in the natural world, whale watching in Portland is an opportunity to connect with the ocean’s gentle giants and create memories that will last a lifetime.

4. History and Maritime Attractions

History and Maritime Attractions

Portland’s history is deeply intertwined with its maritime heritage and the town boasts several attractions that pay homage to its seafaring past.

The Portland Maritime Discovery Centre is a captivating starting point, where interactive exhibits, artifacts and engaging displays tell the compelling stories of the town’s maritime history. You can explore the inner workings of a submarine, step into the shoes of a lighthouse keeper and uncover the secrets of shipwrecks that dot the coastline.

Beyond the centre, you’ll discover the historic Cable Trams that once transported goods and passengers through the town. These beautifully restored trams offer a unique way to delve deeper into Portland’s history. Overall, Portland’s maritime attractions are worth visiting as they provide a fascinating journey through time and a profound appreciation for the town’s enduring connection to the sea.

5. Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Located on Glenelg Street, in the heart of Portland, the Botanical Gardens offer a serene escape into a world of natural beauty and tranquility.

This green oasis is a testament to the town’s commitment to preserving and showcasing its diverse flora. Strolling through the gardens, you’ll encounter a rich tapestry of plants, from native Australian species to exotic varieties. Meandering paths lead you past vibrant flowerbeds, tranquil ponds, and carefully curated themed gardens that provide a delightful sensory experience.

What is great about visiting the Portland Botanical Gardens is that it offers a soothing retreat where you can unwind, appreciate the local flora, and perhaps even enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the lush surroundings. Ultimately, it’s a place where nature and artistry come together to create a harmonious haven for residents and visitors alike.

6. Art and Culture

Portland’s vibrant art scene perfectly illustrates its creative spirit and rich cultural heritage. The town’s galleries and cultural spaces, such as the Julia Street Creative Space, serve as hubs for artistic expression, showcasing the talents of local and visiting artists alike.

These venues host a diverse range of exhibitions, from contemporary artworks to traditional crafts, providing a platform for artistic dialogue and cultural exchange. Beyond the galleries, you’ll discover a thriving community of artisans, musicians and performers who contribute to Portland’s cultural scene.

7. Fishing


Portland’s bountiful waters make it a haven for fishing enthusiasts of all levels. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned angler or a novice looking to try your hand at this timeless pastime, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to cast your line and reel in some remarkable catches.

The town’s strategic coastal location means you can choose between ocean fishing, where you might land prized catches like snapper, tuna, or even a kingfish, or opt for more tranquil freshwater fishing in nearby rivers and lakes. Local charters and guides are readily available to lead you to the best fishing spots and provide expert advice.

Additionally, if you prefer a more relaxed experience, the town’s piers and jetties offer excellent spots for casual fishing, where you can soak in the coastal ambience and, with a bit of luck, return with a memorable catch.

Regardless of whether you’re seeking the thrill of deep-sea adventure or a peaceful day by the water’s edge, Portland’s fishing opportunities are bound to satisfy your angling desires.

Festivals and Events

Throughout the year, the town comes alive with a variety of annual festivals and events that add to the town’s vibrant atmosphere and offer opportunities to immerse yourself in the local creative scene.

Plan your visit to coincide with one of these celebrations for an extra special experience:

1. Portland Winter Solstice Festival

Held in June, the Winter Solstice Festival celebrates the longest night of the year with lantern parades, live music and artistic performances. It’s a magical way to embrace the winter season.

2. Portland Seafood and Wine Festival

Portland Seafood and Wine Festival

This festival, usually held in February, showcases the region’s finest seafood and wines. It’s an excellent opportunity to taste local delicacies and indulge in wine tasting.

3. Portland Upwelling Festival

Portland Upwelling Festival

Taking place in April, the Upwelling Festival is a family-friendly event celebrating the marine environment and the natural phenomenon known as the Bonney Upwelling. Enjoy a diverse range of activities, including live music, art exhibitions and interactive displays focused on marine conservation.

4. Portland Jazz Festival

Portland Jazz Festival

If you’re a fan of jazz music, consider visiting during the Portland Jazz Festival, usually held in October. It features performances by local and international jazz artists at various venues around town.

5. Portland Agricultural Show

Portland Agricultural Show

For a taste of rural life in Victoria, don’t miss the Portland Agricultural Show in November. This event includes agricultural exhibits, animal displays, amusement rides and entertainment for the whole family.

Final Thoughts

Portland in Victoria, is a wonderful destination along Australia’s southern coast that offers a diverse range of experiences for travellers of all interests.

If you are captivated by maritime history, enchanted by natural beauty, or love indulging in delicious, Portland has something to offer you. So, why not take the time to explore the town’s rich heritage, enjoy outdoor adventures in its stunning landscapes, and immerse yourself in its thriving arts and culture scene?

With its warm hospitality and picturesque surroundings, Portland is a destination that will leave you with lasting memories and a desire to return again and again.