Looking for something different to do with the kids these school holidays? Hop on board a ferry with Port Phillip Ferries and spend the day exploring Portarlington.
Begin your adventure at Docklands, sailing underneath the Bolte and West Gate Bridges as you coast along the Yarra River. As you hit Port Phillip Bay, take in the sweeping views of the city on one side and the Bellarine Peninsula on the other, keeping your eye out for one of the many sea creatures that call the bay home.
There are plenty of activities in Portarlington to keep the kids entertained for the day. First stop is the Portarlington Beach, located directly beside the Portarlington Pier. This sheltered beach with calm, shallow water and plenty of sand is ideal for families.
From there, head up the hill to the historic main street. Grab a bite to eat at the Portarlington Bakehouse. Built in 1880, this rustic bakehouse offers plenty of tasty treats which can be enjoyed in the sunny courtyard.
Keep the history lesson going by picking up a copy of the Portarlington History Walk from the Visitor Centre across the road from the Grand Hotel, which leads you past 22 points of historical significance. The most impressive of these is the Portarlington Mill, built in 1857 and now owned by the National Trust, it is one of the oldest surviving mills in Victoria. It is open to the public every Sunday between 12pm and 4pm.
Also open every Sunday (and on Easter Saturday and Wednesday’s during School Holidays) the Portarlington Bayside Miniature Railway, is a fun activity for the whole family. Located on eight hectares of open picturesque native parklands overlooking Port Phillip Bay, it is Australia’s only beachside miniature railway. The facility offers a vintage Railway Station and Signal Box with an undercover platform. Also located onsite is a kiosk and kids playground.
A unique and fun way to get to the Bayside Miniature Railway is with Leonie from Bongo Transit. She offers pick and drop off services in her red tuk tuk, which seats six guests, along with personalised tours of Portarlington and surrounds.
Another great way of getting around is by bike. You can take advantage of the bike racks on the ferry and bring your own bikes (for free), or arrange to have an E-bike waiting for you on arrival. Cycling along the safe and flat Esplanade rewards riders with amazing views of Melbourne and the You Yangs. Keen cyclists can follow the 24-kilometre track right through to St Leonard’s, stopping off and enjoying beautiful bay views, sheltered beaches and multiple playgrounds along the way.
End your day with a rewarding ice cream from the Pier View Lolly Shop before sailing back to Docklands.
Port Phillip Ferries now offer a family pass year-round, with a return trip costing $80 for two adults and two children. Check out the Port Phillip Ferries timetable and start planning your Portarlington adventure now.
Note: based on the current schedule, the best days for day trips are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.