Port Fairy to the Coonawarra wine region

The drive from Port Fairy is around 200 kms to Mount Gambier or 260 kms to Penola.  We have included accommodation and dining options in both to cater to a range of driving time tolerances.

As you may have arrived late afternoon in Port Fairy you will probably want to spend some time taking in the sights of this delightful colonial village and enjoying a leisurely breakfast.

The drive to Portland/Cape Bridgewater is about 80 kms and follows an inland route through farming country.  The trip is broken only by the village of Yambuk with its famous buffalo cheese facility and the wind farms of this area.

Portland is a commercial port and city of 10,000 residents.  It has a large stock of buildings from the 1800’s and its Maritime Museum attracts large numbers of visitors.  Cape Bridgewater  is a ten minute drive from Portland and offers the panorama of the Southern Ocean and the white dunes of Discovery Bay.  Walk or take a rubber boat tour to the seal colony below the cliff tops.  There is a cafe at Cape bridgewater for lunch or return to Portland for more options.  We have included accommodation in Portland for those who decide to take longer walks and the seal boat adventure on Cape Bridgewater.

The road to Nelson skirts the Lower Glenelg National Park on your right and mainly pine forests on your left.  The pine forests screen those brilliant white sand dunes, so look for opportunities to drive in for a better view.  There are small lakes along this stretch and the tracks in to these are usually OK for normal cars.  Try the track to Swan Lake.  It’s about 70 kms from Portland to Nelson.

Nelson is a small village on the Glenelg River.  There are some very picturesque river outlooks and boat tours on weekends and holidays.

About 20 minutes driving will bring you to the provincial town of Mt Gambier.  This region is marked by crater lakes, sinkholes and underground rivers and attracts scuba divers throughout the year.  Blue Lake and the Umpherston Sinkhole are within the city boundaries, as is a sunken garden right in the commercial centre of town.  The time spent at these sight-seeing spots probably determines whether you stay here overnight or continue to the Coonawarra.

Penola is the gateway to the Coonawarra wine region.  It’s a 30 minute drive from Mt Gambier.  There is a reasonable range of accommodation and dining either in Penola or scattered amoung the wineries of the region.

After an overnight stay in Mt Gambier or Penola there is at least a day of winery visits for wine lovers, some interesting walks and sight-seeing in Penola and the World Heritage listed caves at Naracoorte.

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