Port Fairy is a coastal town in south-western Victoria, Australia. It lies on the Princes Highway in the Shire of Moyne, 28 kilometres (17 mi) west of Warrnambool and 290 kilometres (180 mi) west of Melbourne, at the point where the Moyne River enters the Southern Ocean.
|Population||3,340 (2016 census)|
|Elevation||6 m (20 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Moyne|
|State electorate(s)||South-West Coast|
Before British colonisation, the Port Fairy area was known as Pyipkil or Ummut and was inhabited by the Pyipkil gunditj clan, also known as the Yarrer gunditj. They spoke the Peek Whurrong language. The regional ecology consisted of dense Banksia-dominated bushland and large swamps. The Pyipkil gunditj constructed stone and timber fishing weirs called yereroc across creeks to catch fish and eels. They also cut canals called vam to drain swamps and made woven eel pots called arabine to trap eels. The Eastern Maar people are now considered the traditional owners of the Port Fairy area.
In the early 19th century whalers and seal hunters used the coast in this region. The bay is reported to have been named by the crew of the sealing cutter The Fairy (Captain James Wishart) in 1828. Whatever its origins, the name Port Fairy was in general use by 1835.
John Griffiths established a whaling station in 1835 and a store was opened in 1839. In 1843, James Atkinson, a Sydney solicitor, purchased land in the town by special survey. He drained the swamps, subdivided and leased the land, and built a harbour on the Moyne River. He named the town "Belfast" after his hometown in Ireland.
In the 1840s, significant conflict between pastoral squatters and aboriginals occurred. In 1842, 27 squatters from the Port Fairy neighbourhood signed a letter to Superintendent Charles Latrobe reporting many 'outrages' committed by the 'natives' and requesting the government provide security. These clashes later known as the Eumeralla Wars, formed part of the battle over land use and resources between traditional owners and Europeans across the Victoria's western district.
The post office opened on 1 July 1843 (the post office actually opened in 1837 as "Port Fairy" but was renamed "Belfast" on 1 January 1854 before reverting to the original name on 20 July 1887.)
Agriculture developed in the region, and Belfast became an important transport hub.
By 1857 the town had a population of 2,190. In 1887 the town was renamed Port Fairy as a result of an Act of Parliament.
The Port Fairy Magistrates' Court closed on 1 January 1990.
At the 2016 census, Port Fairy had a population of 3,340. Its main industries are tourism and fishing, and it is the home port for one of Victoria's largest fishing fleets. A pharmaceutical factory owned by Sun Pharma is located on the outskirts of the town. Port Fairy is home to two primary school education facilities, The Port Fairy Consolidated School and St. Patricks Parish Primary School.
Port Fairy has a rich history, and 50 buildings are protected by the National Trust of Australia. Griffiths Island nearby holds a breeding colony of the short-tailed shearwater or Australian muttonbird.
The Port Fairy Folk Festival is held during the Labour Day long weekend in March each year. The festival has run continuously since 1977. In 2016, Port Fairy celebrated the 40th edition of the Folk Festival from 11 to 14 March. Over the 40 festivals there have been around 3,500 acts including over 500 international acts and over 12,000 musicians to an audience of beyond 240,000 ticket holders and 1,000,000 attendees.
The annual Moyneyana Festival is held over summer from Christmas Eve to 26 January.
The annual Tarerer Festival, taking place over a weekend, is a celebration of the region's multicultural identity, its history relating to its Aboriginal peoples (Koori, in particular those of the Warrnambool district), and the environmental significance of the land. It features music and dance as well as art and performance workshops, and includes music from a variety of cultures, including non-Indigenous ones. Begun in 1996 by a group of people in Framlingham Forest, it is the only festival of its kind in Victoria. The name derives from the Aboriginal name for Tower Hill, the nearby area of volcanic lakes. In 2008, it featured the rock reggae band of the 1980s, No Fixed Address, as well as a Sudanese band.
Sports and recreationEdit
Port Fairy has many surfing spots for all skill levels including the Old Passage, a right hand rocky break at the old entrance to the Moyne river; the Lighthouse, a right-hand point break off Griffiths island; and the East Beach with many right and left beach breaks.
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- [dead link]
Media related to Port Fairy at Wikimedia Commons