THE south-west is gearing up for a blockbuster weekend with the Port Fairy Folk Festival, junior state surf lifesaving championships and a cruise ship all on the way.
Thousands of visitors will arrive in the region for the smorgasboard of events.
Excitement is building in Portland where the city’s first ever cruise ship, the MS Europa, is due to arrive at 8.30am tomorrow.
About 330 mostly German passengers will disembark then split up for tours to Cape Bridgewater, Tower Hill and the Twelve Apostles. A brass band, German-speaking locals and a German-themed barbecue have all been arranged for the visitors. Portland will also throw open the doors of its Maritime Discovery Centre and arts centre.
Glenelg Shire mayor John Northcott is optimistic the city will secure more luxury liners as it works to position itself as a stopover on the map.
“Once word of mouth gets out about the exclusive piece of paradise that is Glenelg Shire, I expect there will be a flurry of similar enquiries from other cruise ship companies,” Cr Northcott said.
Hundreds of small boats will also fill Portland’s bay as anglers arrive to chase prized tuna.
Music lovers are pitching tents all around Port Fairy for the sold-out Folk Festival.
“I’m pretty pleased we sold out again. We don’t take it for granted and it’s hard work to get a festival to sell out these days,” festival director Jamie McKew said.
“We’ve got 22 international acts coming and the majority of them are new.”
Meanwhile, about 1200 young athletes are expected for the Victorian Surf Life Saving Club Junior Championships in Warrnambool, accompanied by a further 2000 spectators.
Port Fairy SLSC and Warrnambool SLSC will battle it out in the surf and sand against another 34 clubs from around the state.
Across Lady Bay, keen anglers will weigh in their catch for the Shipwreck Coast Fishing Classic at 7pm tomorrow with presentations at noon on Monday.
Other events over the south-west this weekend include:
n Two-day dog obedience championships in Warrnambool at the Dog Training School, Harris Street Reserve, tomorrow and Sunday from 9am-5pm;
n Seaside Volleyball Tourn-ament in Warrnambool at the Arc stadium, tomorrow until Monday, 8am-9pm;
n South Coast Raceway Drag Races in Portland tomorrow from 11am-6pm;
n The Annual Portland Dahlia & Rose Festival at the Portland Civic Hall tomorrow 11am-5pm and Sunday 9.30am-4pm; and
n Victorian State Championships Sailing Regatta — Taipans Class. About 30 boats will compete until Monday just out from the Portland Harbour.