About Portland

Discover Victoria’s Birthplace, Portland, a place where charming coastal life marries with the serenity of National Parks.

The combination of coastal, rural and low density urban areas makes the Portland a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. Live by the sea, in town or on a farm – the choice is yours.

Located half way between Adelaide and Melbourne, Portland’s magical history is peppered with tales of great whalers, hard working graziers and the inspirational Saint Mary MacKillop. Today Portland enjoys more contemporary popularity derived from tourism. Fishing is the obvious pastime with a choice of breakwater, surf or river fishing with the harbour boasting one of the best boat ramps in Victoria. Water sports on offer include yachting surfing, sail boarding and wave riding, canoeing and waterskiing with the avid motorcyclists catered for on forest routes through nearby mountain locations. Whales are still popular, and throughout the winter months, can be viewed during the annual migration to warmer waters.

Portland is considered “Victoria’s Birthplace” because in 1834 Victoria’s first permanent European settlement was established.  Portland’s European history began with whalers and sealers who seasonally inhabited the area. In 1834 Edward Henty arrived from Tasmania in search of good grazing land and established the Portland settlement. It wasn’t until 1835 that Melbourne and other areas followed suit.

A short drive will take you to National Parks, including Mt Eccles National Park, Discovery Bay National Park, Cape Nelson State Park, just to name a few. For true historians, set your sights north-east, on Lake Condah Aboriginal Mission, and learn about the history of Victoria’s indigenous people. Or if in pursuit of a good drop of red or white, once again, head north-east to the Coonawarra Wine District.

Heading east take in a coastal journey and the intrigue of the Shipwreck Coast towards the famous Great Ocean Road….discovering little seaside hamlets along the way. If the lure of the city is your thing, Geelong, or Melbourne could be your ultimate destination for a weekend away.

The area is rich in maritime history and Portland’s Maritime Discovery Centre showcases many maritime artefacts as well as highlighting the many ships that came to grief in the treacherous Southern Sea.

Portland has astounding geothermal energy, which helps heat many of Portland’s buildings including the Portland Leisure and Aquatic Centre’s indoor swimming pools. The water is also cooled for further domestic consumption.

If you enjoy watching wildlife, the “Discovery Coast” is a great place to visit. View Australia’s only mainland gannet bird colony and nesting site at Point Danger, take a boat ride to see the Australian fur seals at Cape Bridgewater or be lucky enough to spot a Southern Right Whale in Portland Bay in the winter months.

The Portland area also encompasses the spectacular scenery of the 3 bays – Portland Bay, Bridgewater Bay and Discovery Bay. Cape Nelson Lighthouse, built in 1884, is perched on the tip of Cape Nelson overlooking Portland Bay and the treacherous southern ocean. Bridgewater Bay is significant for its wonderful beaches, seal colony, and Petrified Forest, while the mountainous sand dunes of Discovery Bay will leave you spellbound.

Portland’s historic past has left a legacy of more than 200 historic buildings, many dating back to the 1800’s. 48 of these buildings can be seen on the pleasant 2-hour Self-Guided Historic Buildings Walk. Maps are available at the Portland Visitor Information Centre.

Several educational institutions are available for both Primary and Secondary school options:

•  Primary Schools

All Saints Parish School

Bundarra Primary School

Portland Primary School

North Portland Primary School

Portland South Primary School

Bolwarra Primary School

St Johns Lutheran Primary School

•  Secondary College

 Portland Secondary College

•  Special Development School

•  Indepedent Private Colleges


Bayview College


Monivae College  

Hamiliton Alexander College

Good Shepherd College

Tertiary Education

South West Tafe

Deakin University Warrnambool

RMIT University Hamiliton 

Some of Portland’s other attractions include:

  • The Portland Cable Tram;
  • The Portland Botanical Gardens – One of the first public gardens to be established in Victoria and feature a bluestone Curator’s Cottage, croquet lawns and 1300 dahlias planted each year;
  • Fawthrop Lagoon – A permanent wetland area set in natural bushland on the city fringe. It is home to many birds, plants and aquatic life as well as having an excellent walking track;
  • A lavender farm and wineries from the Henty Wine region;
  • The WWII Memorial Lookout Tower – Built in an obsolete water tower, the museum displays memorabilia connected to the war and its many steps will lead you to a fantastic 360 degree view of Portland;
  • Portland’s Powerhouse Motor and Car Museum – the 4th largest in Australia has a unique collection of veteran, vintage and classic cars, motorbikes, tractors and engines.

Portland is the largest city in the region, yet it has the charm of a large country town, set by the sea, with all the modern amenities. The city revolves around its deep-water port, however tourism is increasing in the area as the many attributes of the south west are discovered.

Close to Portland is a world heritage site (Budj Bim) that belongs to the local indigenous people ; the Gunditjmara.


Also see: