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Port Albert:OnVictoria's South East Coast

A short run south west from Yarramwill take you to this quiet little former busy port, where many of the earlybuildings can still be seen.

Explorer/navigator George Bass firstsailed into Corner Inlet in 1788 and marked it on his map. As a frontiertown in the early days, it was the gateway into Gippsland, then being openedup by the Macmillan families, to run cattle for the Melbourne and Tasmanianmarkets. Some farmers also ran sheep for wool or meat and of course fishing,whaling and sealing were also industries that attracted new settlers to thetownship.

In 1892, Port Albert became therailhead for the Great Southern Railway, but the eventual advent of newoverland routes and the discovery of the entrance to the Gippsland lakessent this bustling port into steady decline. No longer are fortune hunters,vagabonds and customs officers to be seen and heard around the township, butit has become a popular holiday venue for boaties and fisher folk, with aforeshore caravan park, hotel and B&B accommodation, plus boat mooringsat the mini marina.

The township has had several namechanges over the years. First it was known as New Leith, then The Stockyard,before it was finally named after Queen VictoriaŠs husband.

There are a number of really note-worthy buildings to admire, including the two storey Port Albert Hotelopposite the pier and jetty. There has been a hotel on this site since 1844and the current building dates back to 1860. The present establishment has afriendly, welcoming atmosphere, well priced, nicely cooked food and a bigroaring fire in the bar in winter months. Here you can enjoy some tastytucker with the beverage of your choice and look out over the foreshore atthe same time. It also has a more formal dining room at the rear.

The former Derwent Hotel, built in1859, is to be seen opposite the Maritime Museum in the main street. It hashad a chequered career, having also been a boarding house, a print works, astore and the government receipt and pay office. It is now two well keptprivate residences.

The Maritime Museum is small but wellworth a visit. Built in 1862, It was formerly a bank, and there gold, fromthe Omeo, Grant and Crooked River diggings was stored during the gold rushperiod. At its peak in 1861, ships were taking away over 1000 ounces (30kgs)of gold per week. There are numerous authentic exhibits such as boats, minesand whale oil rendering pots in the gardens and indoors there are many moreinteresting artefacts to be seen in the various display rooms. The entry feeis small and goes towards the upkeep of the place.

Opposite the museum is the bar of theShip Inn. It is all that remains of a far more extensive establishment builtin 1856. The upper storey was a wonderful viewing point during regattas, itis claimed. A hitching rail and lamp have been erected in front of theremains of the old building.

The 1856 Bond Store and warehouse isone of the oldest in Victoria The store has an unusual hit and miss brickvent in the gable. The present St JohnŠs Church of England was built in1885 and is quite attractive. Some of its furnishing are reputed to havecome from that early wreck - the ®ClonmelŠ. Take a slow cruise aroundthe streets, or walk, if you prefer and enjoy some of the delightful oldcottages and their attractive gardens. One of the prettiest is the old tollhouse at the entrance to the township.

One of the much newer buildings and ofno architectural significance can be found right at the end of the mainstreet, past the jetty. That is the fresh fish shop, that also sells what isreputed to be the finest fish and chips in Victoria. The only thing is thereis nowhere to eat inside. You choose your fish, have it fried, then gooutside and eat it at the big wooden tables overlooking the inlet, if theyare not already occupied and nearby the gulls and pelicans will be waitingfor the remnants, if you can spare any.

On the way back, if you are passingthrough Yarram, make sure you stop for coffee or hot chocolate and pastriesin the old Coffee Palace. ItŠs a real gem and not expensive.