An orderly seaside town whose 2400 permanent residents look out from their hillside homes over Port Phillip Bay, Portarlington becomes a resort city in summer when thousands of Geelong and Melbourne families flock to its beaches and fishing holes.
Perched on the north coast of the Bellarine Peninsula, Portarlington, which was surveyed and named in the early 1850s, is 105km by road from Melbourne and 31km east of Geelong.
By the mid-19th century, the peninsula was known as ‘the granary of the colony’ and Portarlington became a major player in the wheat industry with the opening of a gigantic flour mill in 1857. Built from locally-quarried sandstone by T.H. Widdicombe, the four-story, steam-powered mill still stands today as a museum whose collection reflect both the region’s Aboriginal and white heritage.
There is more history to be absorbed in Batman Park where a cairn marks the spot where John Batman and his fellow Tasmanian adventurers came ashore to camp in 1835 before moving on to the head of the bay which they earmarked as the site of a town that was to become Melbourne.
You can stop and smell the roses and fruit blossom at Stoneacres Farm just south of the town while taking in the superb views out over the bay.