Port Fairy Lighthouse Walk

The walk out to Griffiths Island to see the Port Fairy Lighthouse is a great way to see some of Port Fairy’s coastal scenery and wildlife. There is a long walk and a short walk to the Port Fairy Lighthouse. We did the longer walk, which still only took an hour, but this guide will explain the two options you have and what you will see.

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Griffith Island
Griffith Island

About Port Fairy Lighthouse & Griffiths Island

Port Fairy is a beautiful historic fishing village in southwest Victoria. It is best known for its many heritage buildings, beautiful beaches, relaxing views along the Moyne River and the annual Port Fairy Folk Festival held in March.

It is a great base for exploring nearby Warrnambool or even the western end of the Great Ocean Road. It’s also close to the historic Irish village of Koroit and Tower Hill, an amazing wildlife reserve surrounded by water in the middle of a dormant volcano.

Griffith Island Rotunda
Griffith Island Rotunda

Where to Start the Griffiths Island Lighthouse Walk

There are a few options for where to start the walk to Griffiths Island Reserve and the Port Fairy Lighthouse.

If you want a longer walk, you could start from anywhere in the township and just weave your way towards the Moyne River and follow it to the Port Fairy Lions Club Playground Reserve which is next to the carpark for the walk.

Your other option is to drive to the Griffiths Island car park which you will find on Ocean Drive.

The walk to the island starts near a rotunda full of information on the area’s history, geology, marine life and birdlife. Look for the sculptures of the flying birds for the start of the trail.

Shearwater Colony
Shearwater Colony

Short-Tailed Shearwater Colony

Besides the Port Fairy Lighthouse, a feature of the walk is the short-tailed shearwater reserve that the longer loop trail circles and the shorter out and back trail goes past.

Also known as mutton birds, the shearwaters start arriving at the nesting ground from Alaska in September – a journey of around 15,000 kms. The birds breed in November, the chicks hatch in January then the parents start the flight home in April. The young birds follow the adults a couple of weeks later.

We were walking around in early October, so the adults had just returned; they come back to the same burrow each year. The journey is so tough, many are weak with starvation when they arrive. As a result, they are easy prey and we saw several shearwaters that had fallen victim to the local ravens and pacific gulls.

It is all part of the circle of life but if you are walking around here with kids at this time and want to avoid the scene, maybe stick to the shorter walk as we only noticed this on the first half of the longer loop track.

Griffith Island Breakwater

The Short Lighthouse Walking Trail

If you want to go straight out to the lighthouse, the shortest route is an easy 2.45km return walk along the North Track that follows the Moyne River on one side and the shearwater bird colony reserve on the other.

On your way back to the information rotunda you can either return the way you came or take a slightly longer (it’s less than 100m extra) path along the beach.

The walk starts on a sealed track along the breakwater then becomes a dirt path out to the lighthouse. There are some great views as you cross the breakwater with the colour of the water and black basalt rocks creating some nice colour contrasts.

Griffith Island Boardwalk
Griffith Island Boardwalk

Port Fairy Lighthouse Loop Walk

Despite some dodgy looking weather, we decided to do the longer loop trail out to the lighthouse and back to the Rotunda.

The longer Lighthouse walk is about 2.9km and takes you from the sealed breakwater, onto dirt tracks along the sand.

If the tide is in, there are a couple of parts of the longer track you might struggle to get around, so it is worth checking the conditions before you set off.

Griffith Island Beach
Griffith Island Beach

Walking to Griffiths Island

The loop walk starts with a stroll across a cement path to Griffiths Island. At the end of the path is small plaque commemorating the islands namesake, Captain John Griffiths. As well as bringing the first white settlers from Tasmania to the Port Fairy area, Griffiths also turned his industrious hand to ship building, whaling, farming and brewing.

You then follow a dirt track with the coast in front of you and the shearwater reserve to one side. The narrow path is flat and easy walking. It ends at the beach where you get your first glimpse of the lighthouse in the distance.

From here you walk along the first of two beaches towards the Port Fairy Lighthouse. The foreshore is littered with boulders of black basalt and the contrast of the black rocks against the turquoise water is stunning.

A clump of rocks separate two beaches you walk along. You will need shoes to get across the rocks and this is also the section that could cause you trouble at high tide.

We noticed the high tide mark would have covered the rocks so check where the tide is at before starting the walk.

Griffith Island Bay
Griffith Island Bay

Our Favourite Part of Lighthouse Loop

We continued across another small beach before moving back onto a dirt track for the walk towards the lighthouse.

This next section of the loop was our favourite part of the walk. You go past an old quarry site then up a small hill where the view opens out onto a stunning circular pool with sand on one side and black rocks closing the circle on the ocean side.

It is a beautiful sight. The path takes you back onto the sand as you follow the arc of the pool around to the lighthouse. From there you return to the path where you get great views of the lighthouse across a field of basalt boulders.

Port Fairy Lighthouse
Port Fairy Lighthouse

 The Griffiths Island Lighthouse

The Griffiths Island Lighthouse was built in 1859. It was constructed with basalt blocks from the old quarry you walked past on the way along the beach. There used to also be a lighthouse keepers’ cottage on the site, but when the last keeper left in 1953 the cottage was demolished.

Whether you are a history buff or just like the look of a lighthouse at sunrise, sunset or against a stormy backdrop, the Griffiths Island Lighthouse is a great site. Standing 13 metres above sea level, the white tower with its red cap, door and balcony makes for a nice picture.

Griffith Island Walk
Griffith Island Walk

Last Part of the Griffiths Island Loop Walk

The final part of the walk is the return track for the short walk to Griffiths Island on the North Track. There is a little detour you can take onto the sand before rejoining the main path to leave the island.

This part of the walk is also the spot where you could see some of the area’s resident swamp wallabies. As our luck with the weather ended and light rain started to fall, we missed the chance to go wallaby spotting for too long.

Some of the best views of the lighthouse are at sunrise and sunset. But regardless of when you can get do the walk, it is a part of Port Fairy to explore.

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Port Fairy Lighthouse Walk
Port Fairy Lighthouse Walk
Port Fairy Lighthouse Walk
Port Fairy Lighthouse Walk
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