Portland: Gateway to the Delightful Discovery Coast

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's – and the world's – most spectacular driving destinations. The stunning Twelve Apostles giant rock formations that guard the coastline are just one of the attractions of this region. With beautiful secluded beaches, fertile national parks and rolling green hills, there's a world of natural beauty just waiting to be discovered. The town of Portland lies on the western edge of the Great Ocean Road.

Town and History

Located in the south-western corner of the state, Portland was Victoria’s first permanent settlement, founded in 1834. It grew as a fishing, pastoral and agriculture centre and today is still a major port bustling with activity. Portland is a relaxed coastal destination with plenty of well-priced accommodation, great fishing and fantastic surf beaches.

Take a stroll through Portland’s streets and you’ll discover over two hundred National Trust listed historic buildings. The Portland Cable Tram is a popular way to explore the foreshore and town. The tram will take you past a selection of town highlights including the Botanic Gardens, Maritime Discovery Centre, Whalers Bluff Lighthouse, and the World War II Memorial Lookout Tower at Anderson Point. The Portland Powerhouse Museum is another local favourite, with a fabulous collection of restored vintage cars.

Lake Condah, close to town, was recently granted National Heritage listing for evidence of a historic Aboriginal village. Visitors may tour with an Aboriginal guide and view the ruins of stone houses inhabited by the original indigenous population.

Discovery Coast

Sixteen kilometres to the west of Portland, the Discovery Bay Coastal Park comprises 50km of remote ocean beach, rocky headlands, rolling sand dunes and freshwater lakes.

It’s possible to camp at Swan Lake and Lake Monibeong, or join a day tour to swim, surf and enjoy a picnic in stunning surrounds.

The Great South West Walk is a 250km loop that begins in Portland and passes through the Discovery coastal region. There are several tracks available for short or long adventures.

Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson

Cape Bridgewater is a stunning area of coastal cliffs overlooking Bridgewater Bay, a crescent-shaped expanse of water around the rim of an ancient volcanic crater. The area is known for its bizarre petrified forest. Stand atop the spectacular cliffs and you may spot seals frolicking offshore.

Cape Nelson is another area blessed with marine life, and it’s often possible to sight blue whales here. Cape Nelson Lighthouse was witness to several high sea dramas in the 1800s. While still operating as a lighthouse today, it is also home to stunning contemporary accommodation and a café with expansive views across the ocean.

Portland is an interesting corner of Victoria, and with such striking surrounding natural sights, there’s plenty to explore here.

Be sure to schedule a stop when visiting Victoria.