Portland was declared a city on 28 October 1985, in the grace of Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince and Princess of Wales. Today, Portland is a town of 9820 residents. Portland is in the Victorian Legislative Assembly electoral district of South West Coast, the Western Province of the Victorian Legislative Council and the federal Division of Wannon.
Boat marina in Portland Harbour, is facing west side . Through the 19th century Portland developed to become a significant fishing port providing for the town and later, with the connection of the railway, to the region as far afield as Ballarat and eventually Melbourne. Barracouta, Australian salmon and crayfish (now southern rock lobster) were the main catches with many fishermen working the bay, around the Lawrence Rocks and in the season, Bridgewater Bay.
Portland harbour allowed the big development of the woolgrowing industry of the Western District, but has eventually it lost its primacy to facilities at Geelong. Even in western Victoria, Portland fell behind Warrnambool as the main commercial centre. In the 20th century Portland’s role as a port revived, and its economy was also boosted by the tourism industry and an aluminium smelter. The port of Portland was sold in 1996 by the State Government to a group including the listed New Zealand company Infratil & the Scott Corporation (owned by Allan Scott), the first privatisation of port facilities in Australia. Since then, it has been traded a number of times and is now owned by two institutional investors – the publicly listed Australian Infrastructure Fund and Utilities Trust of Australia, a private infrastructure fund – both of which are handled by Hastings Funds Management. As new supertankers have emerged, Portland, along with Hastings in Western Port Bay was proposed as an alternative to the controversial plans for deepening of Melbourne’s shallower Port Phillip.
The plans are aimed to remain Victoria’s shipping status (since Melbourne has become Australia’s busiest port, the Victorian economy relies heavily on the import and export of goods). Due to environmental reasons, the plan to deepen Port Phillip has been heavily criticised, whereas Portland offers some of the necessary infrastructure with minimum environmental impact. The Port of Portland has received major assistance through public funding of an Au$18million overpass which gives better access to the port for heavy traffic The Glenelg Shire Council has recently adopted a plan for the redesign and development of the foreshore precinct including a new multi purpose marina in the north-west corner of the harbour.