Thursday, February 11, 2010

Portland & Port Fairy

We arrived in Portland on Thursday Feb 4 after an overnight sail from Robe. We encountered a plague of crickets while about 30Km offshore, plus couple of stormy squalls during the early hours of the morning and rain for most of the day until we arrived in Portland. We had nice surprise when friends Brian and Margaret off the yacht Vagabond decided to come across and meet us in Portland. Brian was down staying with Margaret at her property in eastern Victoria and they decided to hook up the caravan and come visit. They were there to greet us as we sailed into the bay, waving from the retaining wall. After we anchored they came aboard and it was good to catch up with all their news. They collected us on Friday morning for a day of sightseeing in beautiful sunny clear weather. Near the boat ramp there were seals waiting for the rejects from the fishermen who were cleaning and filleting their catch.

We drove out to Cape Nelson Lighthouse high on the cliffs above the sea, which we could only just see from the water the previous day through the misty rain.

Our next destination was Cape Bridgewater where we enjoyed a cliff top walk to view the Petrified Forest which has been exposed through the erosion of the limestone. The Great South West Walk, a 250 km round trip from Portland, traverses this section of the coast and we walked a few kilometres along the track to view the spectacular coast line and waves breaking over the rocky shore and kelp beds below. A large wind farm spread across the hills behind the headland and we could hear the whoosh of the blades turning in the breeze. At Cape Bridgewater beach we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the local kiosk before returning to Portland.

Portland is a busy regional hub with a selection of shopping facilities which we used to re-provision before heading off again. Brian and Margaret were a great help as we could use their vehicle to transport our shopping back to the jetty and our dinghy. They joined us for dinner that evening on the boat and we enjoyed some local entertainment put on for the Make a Wish foundation that was holding a ball – a display by the RAF aerobatic team, the Roulettes and fireworks. From the boat we had a front row seat to all the action.

The Maritime Discovery Centre in Portland provided an excellent coverage on the local maritime history including the sad stories of the many shipwrecks along this coast and the brave rescue efforts by the local Lifeboat crews. When we left Portland on Monday for the half day motor across the bay to Port Fairy we were able to pass close by Lady Julia Percy Island a sanctuary and home to over 10,000 Australian fur seals.

Port Fairy is a very picturesque seaside town built along the banks of the Moyne River. We were able to tie up along side the wharf on the eastern side of the river surrounded by stone cottages now mostly let as holiday accommodation and B&B’s. Many of the public buildings and homes have been preserved and restored. It is a tourist town with many cafes, art galleries, restaurants as well as clothing and book shops. The local IGA supermarket is very well disguised behind the fa├žade of a row of old shops in the main street. We enjoyed our stay here; there are walks along both sides of the river, out to Battery Hill or the Lighthouse. The town centre was a 10 minute walk from our boat. We were lucky to have Brian and Margaret in town at the same time so that we could enjoy their company and visit a few of the local coffee shops. On Tuesday they headed off back to Margaret’s home in Eastern Victoria via the Great Ocean Road. We plan to see them again when we return to Queensland later this year. River houses at Port Fairy

We departed Port Fairy this morning for our journey across Bass Strait to Tasmania. It is raining and we have a dense fog surrounding us at present. This means that we are motoring as the wind is very light and variable at present. We hope this will change later today so that we can sail through the night – much better without engine noise for the person off watch and trying to sleep.!!

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