With a population of around 4500 residents, Portarlington still enjoys the village atmosphere cherished by locals and visitors. However recent improvements to the town, easier access thanks to the ferry service from Melbourne, as well as a post-COVID domestic travel revival, have led to new generations discovering its charms.
If it’s been a while between visits, book a weekend away and you’ll soon see why this once off-radar town is giving trendier Bellarine hotspots a run for their money. Here are just some of the recent improvements that we think are worth discovering for yourself.
Artfully upgraded Portarlington Pier
Take a stroll along the recently transformed Portarlington Pier.
Major improvements have made the pier stronger and more accessible for the aquaculture industry. There’s also a new accessible low landing and rock groyne to improve access to the water and protect harbour berths.
But the jewel in the crown is the 120 metre-long mural along a new covered walkway from the foreshore to the ferry terminal.
The artwork features original illustrations by 105 Wadawurrung artists, capturing local stories of place, water and journey. Etched onto metal and glass screens, they are a celebration of Wadawurrung Country and the importance of storytelling.
A Grand hotel transformation
Portarlington’s main street (Newcombe St) has been given a new lease on life following the $10m refurbishment of the Victorian era Portarlington Grand Hotel.
The long-time favourite of locals was closed for a major upgrade during the COVID pandemic, reopening in 2022 with much fanfare. Oozing old-world charm and casual sophistication, the new Grand is attracting widespread attention.
It’s the kind of place you can stop by the bar for causal a drink, enjoy a long weekend lunch or brunch, or a special occasion dinner.
Alongside the Grand you’l find traditional cafes, take away restaurants and family favourites such as Daniel’s Donuts.
Cute and cosy Beach Pods
The Portarlington holiday park is constantly being improved to meet the changing needs of our visitors.
The installation of three Beach Pods in 2022 has enhanced our accommodation offerings, providing absolute beachfront for up to two adults.
The pods are perfect for a unique experience or a romantic retreat. With glass French doors all that separates you from the sand and waves of Port Phillip Bay, take in uninterrupted views across Port Phillip Bay from the You Yangs mountain range all the way to the bright lights of Melbourne. Book your Beach Pod stay here.
Our natural assets
Thanks to camp fees helping to fund the maintenance and improvements to our natural assets, the Bellarine Coastal Trail has never looked better.
Meandering for 17km along the edge of Port Phillip Bay, the walking track extends from Portarlington to St Leonards, traversing a variety of coastal landscapes. The trail provides an opportunity to view the distinctive headlands and cliffs that create a character that is much loved by locals and visitors alike.
There are also many important heritage features dotted along the coast, and places that tell the Aboriginal history and continuing connection to Country.
So what are you waiting for? Schedule a visit to Portarlington this Spring before the summer crowds and arrive, and you’ll see why this little town is attracting big attention.