Pretty Portarlington

The Australian state of Victoria is a compact place by Australian standards, being Australia’s second smallest state, but it really does pack a punch when it comes to grand scenery.

Most Victorians live around Port Philip Bay, which is where the capital city Melbourne is located and which, with a shoreline extending 264 kilometres (164 miles), is home to about 3 million Victorians.

At the western side of the bay, near the heads which open onto Bass Strait, is an area known as the Bellarine. This area is bordered not only by Bass Strait, but also by The Rip at Port Philip Heads, Swan Bay and the Barwon River, and for years, since long before air travel became accessible to all, it has been a magnet for Victorian holidaymakers who traditionally would come down from Melbourne or the country to frolic in the waters of the many resort towns on the Bellarine.

One of the most popular of the resort towns is Portarlington, a charming town that is built on a hill above the bay, allowing you glorious views right across the bay as far as Melbourne, whose skyline is clearly visible on most days; and which is a reminder of just how close the town really is the bustle of city life.

Even so, Portarlington is something of an oasis, and Melbourne could be a mirage as it hangs out there on the horizon, clear enough to be visible but far enough away to remind you that Portarlington may be popular, but it is certainly not bustling.

The main street of the township itself is full of interesting little cafes, bakeries, restaurants and shops, the type of businesses that you would expect to find in a town which primarily caters for businesses, but it is clearly the shore and the water that is the big attraction here.

It is almost a sin for Australian coastal towns, at least those that are not pounded by constant surf, not to have a jetty, and Portarlington doesn’t disappoint. The jetty is the focal point for the boaties and the local anglers who yearn to catch a feed from the rich waters of the bay.

Although I was there on a winter’s day, it was sunny and the beach looked inviting, although if I had have dived into the waters I may have been in for an unpleasant shock it was probably very cold.

The town has boat ramps and a scenic golf course as well as a miniature railway for the kids. Close to the town are a number of wineries, and there is plenty of accommodation available.
Portarlington is well known for its mussels, and one of the best ways to spend an afternoon is to enjoy a meal of fresh mussels accompanied by a good, local white wine and a very fine view.

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