Everyone knows a movie from the “old days” played in a small town where everyone knows each other. Cars are honking to greet each other, the latest gossip is caught up at one of the busy town cafes and phones are not necessary because you see each other every day anyway. Adding a strong cycling community with a famous local club race that convenes in a community hall to announce new racers or famous returning locals before every race and you think I am dreaming.
Well, maybe there is a reason for the town name but I felt like in a fairy tale when I had a chance to visit Port Fairy. This “old days” mentality is vividly ingrained in the 3000ish soul town with gorgeous beaches, beautiful architectural town structure and welcoming and community oriented people.
I, myself, had the fortune to meet one of the most active couples in the Port Fairian community: Jenny and Jeff. If they did not work on maintaining the cycling rail trail, they are leading a group ride for their fellow Port Farians or help kids new to cycling with their first ride.
A word about cycling in the Port Fairy region:
Although I havent quite recalled a Swiss climb in this region (the steepest and most vicious climb is getting out of a crater which is an experience in itself), cycling is not all fairy-talish. The wide open region (which reminds me very much of the American Midwest) gives the wind full access through the countryside like a leaf blower. A good workout is guaranteed!
And yes, there is a crater in the region filled with wild animals….basically anything that could knock you off your bike. But as an European, it is quite entertaining if a mega-duck…oh wait….an emu is running across the street.
And there is this infamous spoon race….
The local bike race called the spoon race substantiates this extraordinary community. All racers meet in a community hall before the race. The race promoter mentions every racer by its name and introduces newbies and welcomes returning local heroes. After the ceremonial introduction, the race starts casually in waves according to strengths of the racers. But dont underestimate the importance of this event as the winner receives one of the most highly sought spoons in town. Some people have been racing for years and still eat their soup with a fork.
Oh and just a word of caution, you may or may not get lost if you dont know the course. Let’s say I speak from experience. This might be the secret way of the locals to gain advantage so the spoons never leave the town. 🙂
Port Fairy has kept its small town character despite its attraction to tourists. If you seek a weekend escape from Melbournian’s hustle and bustle, Port Fairy is the place to be.