We’ve often found that some of the best stops on a road trip are found when you take a detour. On our way to Port Fairy in Victoria, we came across a tourist signpost and decided to take a short detour. We discovered The Crags, Port Fairy lookout, at the very start of the famous “Great Ocean Road.” Here we discovered some of the most beautiful scenery the Shipwreck Coast has to offer.
Lookout at The Crags, Port Fairy.
Just 12 kilometres from Port Fairy, the lookout provides spectacular views of the rugged coastline. Rocky limestone outcrops, dating back many thousand years are home to hundreds of bird species. The lookout provides breathtaking scenery of the rugged stone formations that give the “Shipwreck Coast” its’ name.
It was a cold, windy July day when we visited. So you could well imagine the challenges of seafarers attempting to navigate the treacherous coastline in these winds.
The Crags conservation project
The area is now a conservation area for protected flora and fauna. Much of this has been depleted over the years by natural erosion and human intervention. It is also a preservation area for many items of archaelogical and cultural significance, including a number of aboriginal midden sites.
Well fenced pathways lead you to the viewing platforms at the lookouts, weaving through now dense natural vegetation. Natural erosion, farming and tourism over many have had a serious impact on the area. Local groups have been undertaking major conservation replanting in recent years to revegetate the area.
The very rocks themselves are prone to crumbling, so the lookout provides a safe, close up view of the spectacular scenery.
The Crags, Port Fairy
Lady Julia Percy Island
From the lookout you can see Lady Julia Percy Island, six kilometres off the coast. The island is home to one of the world’s largest colony of fur seals and a rookery for fairy penguins. Seal hunting during the 19th century threatened the species which are now protected. While you cannot land on the island, it is possible to take a tour from Port Fairy to view the seals.
The island is a major volcanic site and of cultural significance to the local indigenous people, who were traditionally buried with their heads facing the island.
Rookery for endangered birdlife
The beach area below the lookout is a breeding ground for Hooded Plovers, one of Australia’s most threatened bird species as well as numerous other bird life. Watching the rocks, you can see the flurry of birdlife in the sheltered rookeries.
Arvo Anson Memorial
Here you will also find Arvo Anson Memorial to four Air Force personnel who lost their lives in 1944.
During a submarine mission from Mt Gambier, they attempted to land their plane on Lady Julia Percy Island during an air emergency. In such an inhospitable natural surrounding, you could well imagine the weather conditions which sealed the fate of the crew, just like the seafarers before them.
Spectacular coastal scenery along the rugged coastline at The Crags, Port Fairy was well worth the short detour on our way.