Portland – The birthplace of Victoria
The town of Portland has a busy major port used for the export of grains, cattle, sheep and most obviously to travellers when you see the port, woodchips and logs. The port is located between Adelaide and Melbourne and is very close to the forestry industry in the region known as the Green Triangle, referring to the pine forest plantations in South Australia.
You can see the workings of the port from a number of vantage points around the town and watch as a front end loader climbs a man-made mountain of woodchips. As you drive along the foreshore area you can spot some colourful ocean themed street art and at numerous times during the day, the Portland Cable Tram.
These modified tourist trams take visitors on informative journeys past historic and scenic parts of Portland and its coastline. You can hop on and off the tram at various stops on its journey of just over 7 kilometres as it winds its way past museums and gardens and conveniently passes by two caravan parks on its route. Tickets cost $18 per adult and can be used for the whole day. The tram has enclosed and open carriages so comfort is ok no matter what weather you experience.
As well as the old tram, the city of Portland has preserved over 200 of its historical public and private buildings which are still used today. Portland is in fact Victoria’s oldest city, being established and settled in 1834. The history is very evident as you drive through the city’s business centre.
A must visit in Portland is the Maritime Discovery Centre and Museum. It’s located inside the Tourist Information Centre on the foreshore and for a small fee you can take a self-guided tour through this impressive display.
The first eye catching detail that lures you in is the giant squid painted on the floor which is the actual size of one netted off the coast of Portland in 1997. Frightening but true! Next your eyes are drawn to the suspended skeleton of a sperm whale that died on a nearby beach in 1987. Incredible to see the massive size of these majestic creatures. Portland had a whaling and sealing industry from the 1830s through to the late 1850s when a decline in the whale population saw the industry cease. Thankfully today whales in the area are now just a drawcard for tourists. On display in the museum are tools of the whaling and sealing industry as well as other maritime articles, artefacts and heritage items.
Historical pictures of Portland, its lifestyle and people from the past are also on display as well as another frightening creature from the deep in the form of a life-size replica of a great white shark that was caught near Portland in 1982. The 5.7 metre, two tonne monster was accidently caught in the nets of a fishing boat and with help from a larger boat was towed back to land.
We stayed at the NRMA Holiday Park where we could see over the harbour and it was only a short distance from the Whalers Bluff Lighthouse. This 12 metre tall lighthouse is situated in a park overlooking the harbour and is still used as a navigational aid today.
Portland is around 400 kilometres from Melbourne in Victoria and around 540 kilometres from Adelaide in South Australia.