Port Fairy Folk Festival - Key Facts
Held in March each year
A major Australian International Music Festival
Regarded as one of the worlds Top 5 Folk Music Festivals
Winner Australia Tourism Awards 1993, 1994 and 1995
Inducted Australian Tourism Hall Of Fame 1995
Four day attendance of over 60,000 people enjoying a unique family and community celebration
Independant of major sponsorship and government funding support
Completely sold out in 2 days from 1999 and 2005 four months in advance of the festival.
43% are 20 to 34 years old
35% are 35 to 44 years old
96.7% say they get excellent value for money
96% say they will attend a future festival.
51% come from Melbourne and environs
$1.8 million direct economic impact measured in 1998
We went to visit the glass blowing studio. They had just started a new blowing session, apparently they blow glass for a few weeks at a time and then lampwork beads for a while. It is a small studio so it was easy to chat the the blowers as they worked. Facinating art to watch and we were soooo close to the heat.
They gave us a copy of an Art Map that took us around other galleries in town. Very easy town to walk around.
Following the Art Walk Map available from the Port Fairy Tourist office, we came across Whale Bone Gallery. We were particularily impressed with this gallery as it is a co-operative run by 6 local artists. We had a long chat with the lovely lady working there who turns out to also be part of the Port Fairy glass blowing studio. She makes the most intricate glass beads that she strings up into necklaces, bracelets and earrings. It is so nice to see art work that is truely local and not inported. The gallery also had limestone sculptures and rather quirky paintings. Once again all local!
Visit the wharf at Port Fairy, interesting at any time you are sure to see some boat activity or some people fishing. The day we went we saw all of these things and were lucky enough to see a Squid Boat returning to port. It was a very unusual boat with all kinds of equipment hanging off it, the first squid boat we had ever seen.
Whilst in Port Fairy we were impressed with the tidy town, the picturesque Moyne River and the interesting waterfront and dock area. Whilst visiting the docks we saw a ferry about to commence a tour, quickly grabbing a ticket we were on board and travelling down the river to the ocean. The commentary was good and gave us an insight to the town, its history and the present purpose of this beautiful town. Outside into the ocean we travelled a few kilometers up the coast then came back close to shore to view the luxury beachfront homes. We then came to an area where when the old port was the second busiest in Australia the ships lay waiting their turn to approach the river. We saw where 17 vessels sank over the years when sudden storms caused havoc.
One of the things I found very interesting while in Port Fairy was all of the small end commercial fishing boats. The little riverway leading out to the ocean was very protected, but still had enough room to maneuver in.
Port Fairy is not all that big, but this little area is a great place for a sunset walk, to work up that appetite before eating the fish and chips at Wishart's!
The historical walk takes you past many of the quaint town's historic buildings. Many buildings from the mid 19thC are highlighted.
Due to little economic development after 1900 the town's old world character has remained.
The walk along the tree-lined streets reveals stone cottages once occupied by whalers, sealers and fishermen. There are also elaborate commercial buildings, bluestone warehouses, timber structures, grand merchants homes and some impressive public buildings showing the towns prosperity in the 19thC.
Now here is a pub with history. The building itself, the photos inside, the stories on the wall.
The beauty is that all recent landlords have been mindful of that history and it is well recorded. More power to them I say.
So, in 1844 this Dormer-windowed hotel was being built when the workers downed tools and headed for the Victorian goldfields, the great rush that gave Australia the kick start it was looking for. There is a part where you can still see the unfinished bit.
Digressing, Dormer comes from the latin dormire - "to sleep".
Once, a noted novelist of the times, Mr Rolf Boldrewood used to sell horses in the yard. Today all you can see is pictures in this popular whistle stop that is situated one block back from the main shopping area.
In the bistro they feature a steak. Without doubt this is one of the world's biggest steaks. They say that one or two people have actually managed to finish one of them but I saw someone at the table next to me order one and I, who have eaten around the world, have never seen anything remotely as big.
Though it's a sad excuse for a river, seemingly relying more on tides for flow than anything coming from upstream, it scrubs up reasonably when viewed from the southern side.
Once past the town it is virtually unnoticeable and, if you're a keen fisherman, I wouldn't get too excited about what you may get from the river. Chances are it will be small. Offshore if you can get there would be very different story though.
There is an entrance with breakwalls either side and it has two exits to the ocean, one on the south east and the other on the south west thus isolating Lady Julia's Island but, since you can walk across to it without getting your feet wet at low tide, it barely passes as an island.
Though started in 1847 by Captain John Sanders, it was taken over in the 1850's by Abijah (don't hear that name too often these days!) Brown when it was the town's social centre, a role it played until 1873 when it became a school before utimately it assumed its role of today, that of a guest house.
No one knows for certain when this historic cottage was built but it was almost certainly between 1830 and 1840. Though its bright beige paintwork tries to make it seem as one, the only portion of the original cottage remaining is the timber and stone rubble section. The second storey was added in the 1860s and the rear in the 1880s. The dwelling has been restored as an example of a typical Port Fairy working man's cottage and is run by the National Trust and you can visit it, I think in the afternoons.