5 Reasons Why You Should Spend Summer in Portland

5 Reasons Why You Should Spend Summer in Portland

With sun, surf and plenty of opportunities for adventure, plus a balancing dose of art and history, Portland is a pretty cool spot (pun intended) to spend your summer days!

The oceanic and inland natural surrounds of Portland are beautiful, raw and wild. The township itself is dotted with historic buildings; remnants of Victoria’s first settlers and fishermen.

We’ve collated five things to do during summer, no matter what the temperature gauge says. So, book your accommodation and get ready for a summer to remember.

1. Chill out in an artist’s studio

If you strike a hot day, or simply want some peace in a quiet rural location, retreat to The Bay of Whales Gallery and Coffee Shop in Narrawong.

Its where renowned wildlife artist Brett Jarett opens his home studio to visitors, and his partner Gerri makes a great coffee and highly sought-after vanilla slice! You can also browse and purchase Brett’s artwork that’s on display.

Set on Mt Clay, the award-winning gallery and coffee shop has spectacular views of the coast (so you’ll get some beautiful photos).

Other things to do if it’s too hot for the beach:

2.     Explore popular historic spots

Portland Botanic Gardens

These gardens opened in 1859 and are the second oldest in Victoria. Walk the garden paths to see a diverse range of plants originally collected from around the Portland district by the first garden curator, William Allitt.

Take a picnic, relax under the trees and appreciate the ‘art of gardening’. For some impressive local history, the original curator’s cottage is open as a museum.

  • The National Trust named three species of trees in the garden as ‘rare or outstanding species’ (Cordyline australis, Wigandia carscsana and Rhus viminalis).

 WWII Memorial Lookout Tower

Take your time and climb the 25 metre winding staircase for an amazing 360 degree view of Portland (with plenty of rest spots on the way). On a clear day, you can see Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson, and even as far as Tower Hill! 

Portland Cable Tram

The restored, historic Portland Cable Tram is a fun activity for people of all ages. The tram ride goes for several kilometres along Portland’s foreshore. Along the way, volunteers will share some history about the town and the tour includes a stop at a museum which is home to model trains and the largest private gemstone collection in the southern hemisphere.

3. Cook seafood straight from the ocean

Whether you’re camping, or staying in a self-contained holiday house, you can’t visit Portland without acquiring yourself some fresh, local fish sold at the Portland Fish Market. The shop’s constantly changing smorgasbord of scale fish, shark and lobster are all sourced from the trawler wharf. You can’t get any fresher than that!

4. Cool down at the local swimming spots

Local beaches

Portland and its surrounding area has several great beaches for families looking for sea swimming, to beaches that suit those after he perfect wave or launch for small boats and jet skis.

Bridgewater Beach (patrolled from Christmas to Easter)

  • Family swimming
  • Jet skiing
  • Wind surfing
  • Boating
  • Rock pools for snorkeling, swimming and shell collecting
  • Kiosk
  • Toilets

Dutton Way (not patrolled)

  • Fishing
  • Snorkeling
  • Windsurfing
  • Kiosk
  • Toilets

Henty, Maritime and Nun’s beaches (not patrolled)

  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Playgrounds (some)
  • Grassed areas
  • The swimming and water sports pontoon is located of Henty Beach and is open all year round for all to use
  • Near cafes and toilets in town

Shelly and Whites beaches, Cape Bridgewater (not patrolled)

  • Walking
  • Beach combing

Narrawong Beach (patrolled in summer holidays)

  • Family swimming
  • Surfing
  • Surry River Mouth is great for kids (not patrolled)

The Portland Leisure and Aquatic Centre

Portland’s local pool caters for everyone!  It has a 50m heated outdoor pool, a 25m heated outdoor pool, a 25m heated indoor pool and baby and toddler pools — both indoor and outdoors. There’s even a waterslide! It’s a great solution if you need a break from the beach, or just want a quick cool off.


5. Zone out with the fish

To really slow you down and make you appreciate nature during the summer break, clear the schedule and go fishing!

There are loads of game, river and surf fishing opportunities around Portland’s nutrient-rich ocean waters that are well stocked with Salmon, King George Whiting, Snapper, Mulloway, Shark, Tailor Trevally, Garfish and Kingfish. You might also catch a torpedo or calamari squid!

You can also drop a line in the Fitzroy, Surry and Glenelg rivers, along with Yambuk and Bridgewater lakes. There are two boat ramps in the city’s harbor if you’re holidaying with your own boat.

  • In January one of the most sought after types of fish is the shallow line sizzling Yellow Tail King Fish.
  • You can get a 24-hour fishing licence from any bait and tackle shop, service station, caravan park or post office.

6. See the Gannets

Portland has it’s own gannet colony, so head to the Point Danger Coastal Reserve to observe these large birds as they sun themselves, or dive into the ocean to catch their pray (their wingspan grows up to two metres). Contact the Visitor Information Centre to join a guided tour. More…


Where to stay

Lighthouses are steeped in history, so, if you’re a history buff, you should take the rare opportunity to stay overnight right next to one!

At the award-winning Cape Nelson Lighthouse precinct, you can stay in the original cottages that have been converted into luxurious units, complete with kitchen and lots of other mod-cons.

There’s also a cafe on site (offering filling breakfasts on the weekend) and, during your stay, you can go for a tour of the lighthouse itself. This is a perfect destination holiday in itself!

Other accommodation suggestions:

Major summer events in 2020

January 25-26: Hooked on Portland

Australian rock legend Jon Stevens (Noiseworks and INXS), will perform live on the foreshore stage for the third annual festival, which celebrates Portland’s rich fishing culture and abundant tourism offerings on the January long weekend. Bring the whole family to this major community event! More

February 29:  Heywood Wood, Wine & Roses Festival 

A fantastic day of sideshows, a street parade, live entertainment, food and market stalls – plus a truck and ute show! The event finishes off with a fireworks display. More…

Go to our Portland destination website

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About The Author


Corey is a gentleman who works for the Portland Visitor Information Centre. With this role he has learnt a lot about Portland and can give a great insight on where to go and what to see with limited time.

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.