Warrnambool has some top attractions to see year round. Discover the city’s maritime past, go whale watching or see the Tower Hill crater and its wildlife. There are also some fun things to do on day trips from Warrnambool from food trails to the beauty of Great Ocean Road.
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When you arrive in Warrnambool, Flagstaff Hill should be one of your first stops. It’s part maritime museum, part pioneer village also the city’s Visitor Centre. It is right next door to the Canon Hill Lookout so it’s a great spot to get the lay of the land and plan your visit.
Tourist information aside, Flagstaff Hill is one of Warrnambool’s major attractions. The pioneer village has cobblestone streets lined with dozens of themed buildings. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back to the 1800s. The maritime museum honours the history of the 200 ships lost around Warrnambool’s coast. It provides a great insight into the area known as the Shipwreck Coast.
In the evening, you can go to a hi-tech sound and light show in the village. Nine metre tall images project onto the buildings bringing the history of early Warrnambool to life. There are admission fees and packages for the various Flagstaff Hill experiences.
Between June and September Southern Right whales calve in Warrnambool Bay. Known as the Logans Beach whale nursery, there is a purpose built platform where you can go to spot the whales. It is a couple of minutes out of town across the Hopkins River. There is plenty of car parking.
The whales can get within 100m of shore, but it will still pay to bring your binoculars and some patience. When you’re talking wildlife there are no guarantees! You might get lucky on your first visit or might have to visit a few times. You can check with the Visitor Centre for whale sighting updates.
Read More : See the whales on the Nullarbor too
Located across the road from the town’s caravan park precinct, E Johnson Reserve and Lake Pertobe is a beautiful spot. Families will love it. There is a fantastic adventure playground with loads of stuff to climb, swing, spin and balance on. There’s a flying fox and a maze, tennis courts, mini golf, and a skate park too.
One of the highlights of the park are the Lake Pertobe Motorboats. You can hire the little motorboats and ‘zoom’ around the lake. Kids and the young at heart will love doing laps of the big lake and motoring under the bridges. Children 12+ can drive and younger can still steer.
If you’re beyond mazes and motorboats, the reserve is still a beautiful place for a walk and exercising the dog. Keep an eye out, all sorts of birds call the lake and parklands home.
Meet the Maremmas
This was one of our favourite activities in Warrnambool. Less than 100 metres off the mainland is Middle Island which is home to a little penguin colony. After the colony was almost wiped out by foxes, locals trialled using maremmas to guard the penguins. The story of the program was brought to life in the movie Oddball.
The program has been a great success. During the tour you learn about the penguins and hear how the dogs get trained for their important job. You then get to meet the dogs and give them a pat. For any animal lover, this is a must do experience in Warrnambool.
WARRNAMBOOL WANDERER TOUR
Tour Warrnambool, the home of Oddball and the little penguins, Logan’s Beach Southern Right Whale Nursery (seasonal) and Gutsy the Wombat. Its breathtaking lookouts are perfect photo opportunities, you may even encounter Sammie the Seal.
Photo by Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Garden
Warrnambool Botanic Gardens
These lovely gardens are a peaceful and beautiful spot to walk around. While they don’t cover an enormous area, they pack a lot in. William Guilfoyle, the once director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens was the designer. Amongst the features are a rotunda, bridges, sculptures and a fernery,
It is worth walking around with your phone. The Warrnambool Botanic Gardens website has detailed information about the garden’s plants and trees. There is an interactive map with information on many of the garden’s trees. Even if you are not a gardening enthusiast, it is still a lovely place for walk and a picnic lunch. You’ll find the gardens on Botanic road.
Thunder Point Lookout
From the formal, manicured layout of the gardens we go to the rough and rugged beauty of the coast. You can drive to Thunder Point Lookout and take in the views including some great sunsets. Or you can do the 1.8 kilometre return walk that starts at Stingray Bay near the breakwater.
It is an easy boardwalk with only a few steps along the way. Dogs on leads can join you on the walk. There are views of Middle and Merri Islands and signage about the natural history of the area. If the weather is good and the tides a right, you can get down and explore the rock pools. There is a lot of birdlife to see too.
If you like an adventure, the walk is even more fun when there is some weather around. When the wind is up the coastline is at its most spectacular. With sea spray hitting your face and the sound of the waves it’s clear how the area got its name. Have your camera handy, in any weather, there are some great shots to be had.
Breakwater and Stingray Bay
Stingray Bay, the breakwater and the mouth of the Merri River are fun to explore. The sandy banks of the river are a great family spot to play in the water. With Middle Island and the sand bar that connects them as a backdrop it is pretty place to spend some time.
The area around the breakwater has many moods. It produces lovely sunrise and sunsets views and can be a dramatic place when the weather gets rough. The waves hitting the breakwater can be huge! No matter the time of day or the weather it’s a fun place to look around or you can enjoy the views with a coffee in the café.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is 15 minutes from Warrnambool towards Port Fairy. The park is inside the crater of an extinct volcano (very cool!) and was Victoria’s first national park. Over the years it has undergone much rehabilitation to return it to its natural state.
Today, Tower Hill is a fascinating area, home to many native birds and animals. There is a Visitor Centre where you can get information about the area’s history and walks. Keep an eye out for kangaroos and koalas, many of them hang around the picnic ground near the visitor centre.
You can go on a daily guided tour of the park and there are also four short self-guided walks you can do. the longest is an hour loop to explore the crater. The walks all start near the visitor centre.
TOWER HILL WILDLIFE RESERVE TOUR
Tower Hill is a thriving reserve located in the crater of a dormant volcano rich with Australian Wildlife. Your local guide will share stories of the area including knowledge of the indigenious community that lived in the area. Warrnambol Tours…Tour With A Local…
Day Trips from Warrnambool
Warrnambool is also a great base for some fun day trips. You can get to some lovely seaside locations or go on a fantastic artisan food trail. One of Australia’s best known strips of coastal scenery is also nearby.
GREAT OCEAN ROAD TOUR FROM WARRNAMBOOL
Warrnambool is only 1 hour to the 12 Apostles. Travel in the comfort of the stylish 12 seater Mercedes which guarantees spectacular views. The Great Ocean Road Coastline Tour will give you all the beauty from the 12 Apostles right through to Warrnambool.
Port Fairy and Killarney Beach
From Tower Hill it’s only another 5 minutes to Killarney and 10 minutes to Port Fairy. Port Fairy is the bigger of the two towns. It is a relaxing place with a picturesque harbour, nice beach and a lots cafes and restaurants. Between December and March, the town hosts the Moyneyana festival, a jazz festival and a folk festival. Keep an eye out for them if you are in the area at the right time.
Killarney Beach is a beautiful spot. The couple of days we were there the weather was glorious and the water was pacific island blue. It is a great spot for a walk, exploring the rock pools or a swim. We have stayed in the caravan park at the town oval right next to the beach, it’s nice and cheap place to spend a few days.
Artisans Gourmet Trail
Another of our other favourite days in Warrnambool was following the 12 Apostles Artisan Food Trail. The trail starts at Timboon, 40 minutes from Warrnambool. We began our day at the Timboon Fine Ice Cream Shop and went from there. By the time we finished our loop in Port Campbell we’d worked our way through fudge, cheese, chocolate, berries, more cheese, distilleries and breweries.
It was a great day. The food is delicious, the staff at the stops were all super friendly and the Great Ocean Road hinterland is beautiful. Give yourself a full day to enjoy the scenery and food. There are at least 10 gourmet stops you can make. It’s a great way to explore the area inland from the ocean. Just a tip, don’t plan on a big dinner that night!
Read More : Enjoy the food & wine in the Adelaide Hills
Great Ocean Road
Warrnambool is less than hour from the 12 Apostles and even less to London Bridge and the Grotto. If you haven’t done the Great Ocean Road Drive, Warrnambool is the perfect base for seeing these iconic locations.
It can be a busy stretch of road so give yourself time to take in the sights. Port Campbell sits between the 12 Apostles and London Bridge and is a nice place for lunch. It too can be busy but there is lots of parking, plenty of options for food and there are some lovely views across the bay.
Read More : Paddle with Platypus in the Otways
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