24 hours in Portarlington

Portarlington became a whole lot easier to visit since Port Phillip Ferries started a direct service from Melbourne’s Docklands in 2017, enabling visitors to fast track their way to this peaceful bayside town in just 70 minutes. Come for the long sheltered beach and scenic coastal paths or indulge in the abundance of wineries clustered nearby. And if you like shellfish, mussel aquaculture is so big here they have a festival every January to celebrate.

See & Do

This is a laid back kind of place so you may want to just chillax by the water and enjoy seeing Melbourne’s skyline as a tiny blip on the horizon, but if you do want to stretch your legs, the 17km Portarlington to St Leonards Foreshore Trail makes a gentle bike ride (if you’re arriving by ferry, Bella E-Bike can deliver rentals direct to the jetty). Pack bathers if you want to snorkel the wreck of the 1925 Paddlesteamer Ozone en route.

Seven of the Bellarine’s wonderful wineries are on Portarlington’s doorstep so it would be remiss not to visit one or two or more! Driving is an option but considering they’re all in close proximity, you could also hang onto the bike for a little DIY tour. Alternatively, Cycling Vine Tours can show you a sample of the 35km Bellarine Rail Trail as well as dropping into a few cellar doors for tastings and lunch.

To see how mussel aquaculture works, hop aboard a restored Huon pine trawler with Portarlington Mussel Tours. Over three hours, they’ll show you how the shellfish are cultivated plus do a cooking demo and tasting paired with wine.

Eat & Drink

When the iconic Portarlington Grand Hotel received a major facelift in 2022 it turned this Victorian era hotel into one of the best places to eat in town (and sleep). The bistro serves pub favourites but they’ll probably be the best versions you’ve ever had. Grab a drink in the front bar, atrium or lawn area.

Wineries are epicentres of good wining and dining and many here have spectacular panoramic views across the bay, such as Jack Rabbit and Terindah Estate. Lethbridge Wines is one of Australia’s most environmentally sustainable vineyards and their Portarlington cellar door Lethbridge at Hat Rock does tastings with cheese and charcuterie platters. Bellarine Estate makes not only wine but gin at their Thirty Acres Distillery, plus they do a mean Texas BBQ.

To get your fill of Portarlington’s tasty Australian Blue mussels, head to Pier Street café or Little Mussel café.

Stay

They seriously look like South Pacific beach bures but the cute arched timber beach pods in Portarlington are part of Bellarine Bayside Holiday Park. Cosy in size but luxurious, their absolute beachfront position can’t be beat.

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