In 1834 Edward Henty and his family, who had migrated from England to Western Australia in 1829, then moved to Van Diemen's Land, ferried some of their stock across the Strait in search of the fine grazing land of the Western District. They established a landing place at Portland Bay which eventually became the town of Portland. There they were discovered by the explorer Thomas Mitchell in 1836. The settlement was illegal since Victoria had not yet been opened for settlement.
Through the 19th century Portland was an important port for the woolgrowing industry of the Western District, but eventually it lost its primacy to the better 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. Today Portland is a pretty and prosperous tourist centre with 9,700 people.