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Victoria is home to some of Australia’s most spectacular coastal scenery.
Rugged and wild, nearly a million tourists visit this part of the country every year. They come to see ancient rock formations, forests, amazing flora and fauna, the Great Ocean Road and to visit delightful seaside towns.
We decided to visit one of these towns, Warrnambool, on an overnight trip from Geelong. It was a spur of the moment decision (the best ones usually are) and we had no idea about the many things to do in Warrnambool.
Of course, we knew about the Warrnambool whale watching but it was the wrong time of year for that. We needn’t have worried though as we soon discovered there are plenty of other Warrnambool attractions to see.
With museums and gardens, walking trails, adventure playgrounds, and spectacular beaches this is a great place to spend a few days. In fact, one night wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything.
In this article, we list all the best Warrnambool things to do to help with your travel planning. But, we’ll tell you a little bit about the town first.
Warrnambool Vic is Victoria’s fifth largest city and the largest town on the Great Ocean Road. But, with a population of around 30,000 people, it still retains a relaxed seaside vibe.
It has fantastic beaches, beautiful parks and gardens, breathtaking views, recreational activities and notorious shipwrecks. And each winter the Southern Right Whales arrive for their annual calving.
It’s well set up for tourism and Warrnambool accommodation is first-rate with a variety of options from camping to luxury apartments.
Click here to find the best places to stay in Warrnambool.
Where is Warrnambool?
Warrnambool Victoria is located 260 kilometres south-west of Melbourne via the Princes Highway. It lies at the western end of the Great Ocean Road on a dangerous stretch of coastline that has seen over eighty shipwrecks.
It takes about three hours travelling inland, to get from Melbourne to Warrnambool by car, but most visitors include it as part of their Great Ocean Road itinerary. To get from Melbourne to Warrnambool via the Great Ocean Road it takes five and a half hours without any stops.
Tip: Do not underestimate driving times on the GOR as traffic can be slow and you’ll definately want to stop to admire the view.
7 Things To Do In Warrnambool
1) Admire the view at Cannon Hill Lookout
If you’re wondering what to see in Warrnambool, then Cannon Hill lookout is a great place to start.
With panoramic views across Lake Pertobe, Warrnambool Beach and the spectacular Southern Ocean, Cannon Hill is all about the views.
Located at the top of Liebig Street the lookout is popular with both locals and visitors alike. On the day we visited there were quite a few dog walkers and people clustered around catching up on the gossip.
Cannon Hill was named for the military hardware that was installed there in the mid-1800s in case of a Russian invasion. The hill is also home to the town’s war memorials, including the infamous ‘Dirty Angel’ statue.
The statue was erected in 1925 as a memorial to the services of Australian war veterans. It was given the cheeky ‘Dirty Angel’ nickname in typical Australian style, due to its unfortunate silhouette when viewed from the side.
FYI the angel is holding a wreath!
2) Visit Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village And Museum
The spectacular coastline around Warrnambool is the final resting place for dozens of shipwrecks. The unforgiving seas claimed many lives as ships desperately tried to find the narrow shipping route into Port Phillip Bay.
And fabulous Flagstaff Hill Museum tells the stories of the crewmen and passengers whose lives were claimed by the Shipwreck Coast.
It’s here you’ll learn about 19-year-old Tom Pearce – one of only two survivors of the sunk clipper Loch Ard – who upon hearing the cries of Eva Carmichael heroically rushed back into the icy seas to save her.
The only other survivor was the stunning Loch Ard Peacock. A highlight of the museum, at $4m the statue is Australia’s most valuable shipwreck artefact.
As awesome as the museum is, it was the reconstructed outdoor village that we really loved. It was a highlight for us and we had fun wandering the cobblestone streets.
The village is a taste of what life was like for Australia’s early settlers. There are more than 40 buildings to explore including a school, dressmaker’s, blacksmith’s workshop, fire station, and even a lighthouse. And the whole village overlooks the beautiful Lady Bay Warrnambool.
The only disappointment was that the cafe was closed. And we were really looking forward to scrumptious scones in the cute Tea Rooms.
Tip: The Tea Rooms don’t open until 11.00 a.m.
In the evening be sure to attend the Sound and Light Show, where you can experience the stories of those who braved the Southern Ocean in search of a new life.
Shows begin at dusk and are not weather dependant but you do need to rug up in winter.
Flagstaff Hill has different price packages. For more information and to book your tickets click here.
3) Whale Watching Warrnambool
Wondering what to do in Warrnambool in winter?
Well, one of the most thrilling Warrnambool activities is whale watching.
Southern Right Whales have been visiting Logans Beach Warrnambool for hundreds of years. They were given the name Southern ‘Right’ Whale as they were thought to be the ‘right’ type of whale to hunt. And sadly they were hunted almost to extinction. But the good news is whaling was outlawed in 1935 and they are slowly making a recovery.
The Warrnambool whales spend summer in the sub-antarctic and move to the warmer waters of southern Australia in winter – between June and September. It’s here that the females birth their calves in the ‘nursery’ areas close to shore, while the rest of the pod remain further out to sea.
The best place to spot whales in Warrnambool is from the specially built viewing platform at Logans Beach.
Here’s what the platform looks like.
Tip: For your best chance to see whales be sure to check this Facebook page for up-to-date information. Don’t forget your binoculars!
4) Visit Allansford Cheese World
Allansford Cheese World is run by the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory. Visitors can enjoy free tastings of award-winning cheeses, and browse a wide selection of locally produced cheese and wine.
The Cheese World museum has an extensive collection of farm machinery, household items, and mementos from the early 1900s. It’s a trip back in time that provides a glimpse of what life was like for hard-working farming families.
In addition to the museum, there’s a lovely cafe serving breakfast, light lunches, and snacks. Unsurprisingly, cheese platters, and plowman’s lunches are the house specialty. But it’s their famous creamy milkshakes that keeps people coming back.
Allansford Cheese World is open 7 days a week. Weekdays 9-5, Weekends 10-4. Admission is free. You’ll find it at 5330 Great Ocean Road.
5) Walk The Warrnambool Foreshore Promenade
If you’re like us and enjoy getting out and walking, then head to the Foreshore Promenade.
The Promenade stretches from the Warrnambool Breakwater and Thunder Point all the way to Logans Beach Whale Nursery. At 5.7 kilometres it’s a decent length but there are plenty of places to stop and rest. And you can even grab a coffee and something to eat along the way.
The walk takes you past Middle Island a breeding ground for Little Penguins. And the setting of an incredible true story about the town’s efforts to save the Warrnambool penguins.
A local chicken farmer, Swampy Marsh, had been using Maremma dogs to help protect his free-range chickens. He believed the dogs could also be used to protect the penguins from foxes and other predators.
The Warrnambool locals decided to test out his theory and Maremma dogs were trained and placed on the island. The program was so successful – and people loved the story so much – it was made into a movie. Called “Oddball” it was released in 2015. I dare you to watch it without shedding a tear!
If you would like to meet the Maremmas and learn more about Little Penguins click this link.
The path is suitable for all forms of wheeled transport including bikes, rollerblades, wheelchairs, and prams.
Tip: The promenade is particularly stunning at sunset.
6) Visit Fletcher Jones Warrnambool
Fletcher Jones Gardens
Fletcher Jones was an iconic Australian clothing brand with a reputation for quality products. Its factory was a major employer in Warrnambool and the company was known for its progressive approach to employer/employee relations.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the beautiful Fletcher Jones Gardens. They were built by David Fletcher Jones as part of a program to look after the welfare of his workers.
The workers loved them. And no wonder. What a beautiful place to have your lunch break.
The factory is closed now but the gardens remain open and it’s well worth popping by for a look. They’re kept in excellent condition with colourful flower beds, manicured lawns, sculptures, and plenty of bench seats.
Tip: Check out the reconstructed Fletcher Jones Plus 8 Man in the gardens; he lights up at night.
Fletcher Jones Market
Inside the old factory is a vintage market where you can find unique one-off items that you can’t find anywhere else.
Spread over two levels there are over 40 stallholders selling antiques and collectibles, old books and records, vintage clothing, and anything else you can think of!
Enter through the garden and learn a bit about the history of the iconic clothing company.
61 -77 Flaxman St Warrnambool, Open 10-5, Admission is free.
7) One For The Kids – Run Amok At Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground
We stopped by this playground on our way out of town. It looked so good we wished we had our grandsons with us. Spread over a huge 8-hectare area, the park offers so much to explore the kids won’t want to leave!
There are plenty of climbing options, a flying fox, sandpits, giant slides, and even a maze. It’s suitable for all ages with enough equipment to keep the kids busy for hours. Dotted throughout the play areas are picnic tables, shady seats, and sheltered barbecue facilities.
The lake itself is speckled with small islands and there are walking tracks, swinging bridges, and birdwatching hides. We’re told it’s possible to hire boats to paddle on the lake but we didn’t see any when we were there.
The Lake Pertobe precinct is also home to tennis courts, mini-golf an athletics track, and a skateboard park.
Accommodation In Warrnambool
There are plenty of great hotels in Warrnambool. But we chose to stay in an apartment instead. We like having a kitchen and the extra space you get with an apartment.
Click here for a list of the best Warrnambool accommodation.
We stayed at the Lady Bay Resort which was perfect for our needs.
Lady Bay Resort is an apartment style venue that boasts a beachfront location. It has one, two and three bedroom fully self-contained apartments. Each comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, washing machine and dryer, comfy beds and free high-speed wi-fi – that didn’t drop out once.
We particularly like the ocean facing balcony.
There’s also an onsite restaurant, outdoor pool, free parking, gym and day spa.
The resort is in a great location right next to the promenade and Middle Island, and it’s perfect for an evening stroll.
Click here for more information and to check the availability of Lady Bay Resort.
So there you have it 7 fun things to do in Warrnambool.
And we really did have a lot of fun and we look forward to visiting Warrnambool again.
Have you been? What’s your favourite Warrnambool attraction?
If you are visiting Victoria then you might find these posts about the Bellarine Peninsula and Wilsons Promontory useful.
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