Portland - October 2005


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We joined a group of caravanners and campers from the Greenwood Probus Club for a few days at Portland.

We stayed at the Claremont Tourist Park on the edge of town. A small but  pleasant park with good level sites and reasonable amenities.  The camp kitchen provided an excellent venue for happy hour.

It was our first visit to Portland and we were impressed with the variety of attractions in the town and surrounding area.

The port facilities are huge and fill the view, they were loading logs and wood chips while we were there.

The staff at the tourist information bureau, down on the waterfront, are very helpful and provided us with suggestions and maps for some short trips.  We followed the Bridgewater Road, stopping at Shelley Beach, Bridgewater Bay and then went on to the Petrified Forest set in a moonscape of bare rock.  On the way back, we visited the limestone caves overlooking the Bridgewater Lakes and then detoured through the 4WD only tracks of the Mount Richmond National Park.  Saw a few kangaroos and emus, one with a chick, but they disappeared into the thick vegetation before I could snap any photos.  There was no shortage of water down there and I saw cattle up to there shoulders in water in one paddock.

We rode the cable tram from the depot down to the water front and up the hill to the memorial lookout (a converted water tower).  It was a fairly cold day to sit in the open front car but the warmth from the engine made it quite toasty.  The weather had started to clear and the next activity was a drive out to Cape Nelson, stopping on our way to check out the surf conditions and to visit the Enchanted Forest before arriving at the Cape Nelson lighthouse.

The next morning, we visited the Portland Aluminium Smelter. This is a free tour on a small bus and takes several hours.  The driver had a wealth of local knowledge and on the journey to the smelter pointed out all the important historical locations including the oldest house of ill repute in the town and the original customs house.  The smelter itself was very impressive with pot lines almost a kilometer long. The magnetic fields generated by the electric furnaces were so intense that paper clips we held in our hand stood on end as we drove past the end of each line.  One of our companions was equipped with a pacemaker and could not accompany us through the smelter, neither were we allowed to take our cameras because of the possible damage to fragile shutters and electronics.  The tour is a must if you visit Portland.  After lunch we visited the extensive Botanical Gardens, where a huge variety of roses were in bloom, and a few of our friends played croquet.

Next day saw us heading off to Nelson for a boat trip up the Glenelg River.  The river is wide and very picturesque, with cliffs and bush overhanging the water.  There were a lot of boatsheds in the Victorian section, but in the short loop into South Australia, houses were built out over the river.  Quite a few ducks around following the boat for the odd scrap.  Lunch was a cold buffet and very enjoyable.

We packed up early the next day for a drive down the Great Ocean Road to meet our friends at the Wye River CP.

All in all, a very enjoyable few days, and we recommend Portland as a very interesting holiday destination.


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