Located just 30 minutes from Geelong, the once-sleepy township has risen in popularity as a holiday haven close to the beach and wineries.
According to the 2021 Census, about 4400 people called Portarlington home and the median age of residents was 62. The town’s population grows significantly in the warmer months due to an influx of tourists and holiday-home owners.
The heart of the town is located in Newcombe St, where cafes, retail stores and the historic Grand Hotel can be found. There are also a number of parks and outdoor reserves in Portarlington, while the foreshore precinct is a popular spot for a walk, run or bike ride.
Portarlington is also home to some of the region’s best fishing and seafood, including mussels - a speciality celebrated every year at the annual Portarlington Mussel Festival. The traditional owners of the land, the Wathaurung people, lived off the ocean for centuries and their shell middens can still be found along the coastline today.
There are a handful of schools in Portarlington’s immediate neighbourhood including Portarlington Primary, St Leonards Primary, Drysdale Primary, Christian College Bellarine and Clifton Springs Primary.
However, the area is also serviced by buses that run across the wider Geelong region and into the CBD, providing access to a number of other private and public schools. For older children and adults, Geelong’s Gordon TAFE branch and Deakin University campus are about a half hour drive away.
Portarlington’s residential housing is predominantly made up of older-style homes, larger waterfront homes and holiday properties, while newer townhouse developments have also been established in recent years.
According to data from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), the median house price in Portarlington is $913,000, while the median rent for a house is $415 per week. The REIV does not list any price data for units in the area.
“Recently, the market there has gone quite crazy - everything is about that $1 million range,” Mr Wade said.
“A few blocks have been chopped and townhouses have been built, and the holiday rental market appears to be quite strong now. The whole main street has been revamped.”
Mr Wade said the suburb’s cafe culture and younger demographic had grown in recent years too.
Other local drawcards include the old Portarlington Mill, which is one of the town’s main tourist attractions. Built in 1857, the steam-powered stone building has operated as a museum, wedding and function space.
The Portarlington Bayside Miniature Railway, which runs at various times throughout the year, nearby Recreation Reserve and Portarlington Pier are also popular places to visit.