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spectacular scenery at its best, with craggy cliffs wading out into
the ocean, Norfolk Pines sheltering the township, and that
impossibly blue water. Port Campbell is a lovely seaside village,
with plenty of cafes and bakeries to feed an appetite built up in
the great outdoors. If your hunger is for local produce, hit Port
Campbell's fish and chip shop, where you can snack on crayfish
caught only hours ago by the town's fisherpeople.
There is also a gamut of adventure activities in Port
Campbell, such as caving, surfing and on-water tours of the cliff
faces available to build your hunger right back up again.
On the way to Warrnambool, the road takes a detour away
from the coast, removing the distracting coastline from view. But
there's plenty of it to come up ahead, where Warrnambool and
Portland provide part of the western contingent of beachside
towns along the Great Ocean Road.
Warrnambool's history is tightly bound with the ocean, with
its tales of shipwreck, its historic boathouse, its recreated
maritime village, and the port that dates back to the 1800s.
A little known fact is that the Port of Warrnambool once
handled heavier traffic than the Port of Melbourne, when it was a
flourishing deep-sea port. To get an idea of the port in those
days, visit the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, a re-created
nineteenth century port built around the heritage lighthouse on
the hill. There are a number of interactive displays, shows and
exhibitions that give visitors insight into early maritime danger, the
shipwrecks of the region, and a good deal more.
Warrnambool, known as Victoria's Southern Right Whale
nursery, is also a fantastic place to visit for whale watching. May
to October is the best time for whale watching, with the gentle
giants coming as close as 100 metres from shore.
For those from the city who can't do without a coffee fix,
there is a relaxed café scene at the bottom end of Liebig Street,
where you can spend a morning people-watching and indulging
your caffeine appetite. From here, it's an easy stroll to one of the
many beautiful beaches for which Warrnambool is famous.
Portland, almost exactly 100km from Warrnambool, is
another town with a bustling port, being the only deep-sea port
between Adelaide and Port Phillip.
Portland enjoys a sheltered position, so the beaches and
Portland Bay are calm, and ideal for swimming, boating, fishing
and sailboarding. Surfers need not worry about the calm water,
though---there are plenty of good surfing spots in the area.
Come in from the water onto the waterfront, where you can
watch the activity of this seaside town unfold. There is a
foreshore cable tram, plenty of spots for fishing, and again the
chance of spotting a whale offshore.
If you turn around and face the township, your vision will be
filled with the sight of lovely old heritage buildings---there are
hundreds of them in Portland, giving the town an old-world feel.
You can take a walk past these remnants of the past on a self-
guided Historic Buildings Walk, which is a fascinating way to
explore the town, enjoy the sea air, and learn a bit about the
history of the area.
If, once you've exhausted the town streets, you still feel like
walking, consider one of the many paths around Portland. The
Great South West Walk is a 250-kilometre track that starts and
ends in Portland, but if that distance is daunting, fear not---there
are many segments of the trail that you can enjoy without having
to undertake the whole thing.
Get your fill of ocean views, spring wildflowers, forests and
wetlands while you're on the Great Ocean Road, because if
you're heading back to the city, there's a distinct absence of
When you eventually return to an urban setting, you'll notice
that each sense is refreshed---everything looks brighter, the
sounds of the city are clearer, and the smell of coffee is more
intoxicating than ever. But city dweller or not, it doesn't matter
who you are or where you're from, a seaside sojourn will always
do you good.
Lake Pertobe---Warrnambool, The Great Ocean Road. PHOTO: ROB BLACKBURN ©GREAT OCEAN ROAD MARKETING
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum---Sound & Laser Show, Warrnambool, The Great
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