17 Best Attractions & Things to Do in Warrnambool

Warrnambool has lots of attractions and things to see and do year round. Discover the city’s maritime past at Flagstaff Hill, go whale watching or see the Tower Hill crater and its wildlife. There are also some fun day trips from Warrnambool from food trails and the Great Ocean Road to relaxing at nearby Port Fairy.

Featured Image Warrnambool Coastal Reserve © Ben Savage

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Getting to Warrnambool

Melbourne to Warrnambool is just over a 3 hour drive via Geelong. It is a drive through mostly agricultural country. One highlight is the volcanic cones dotted across the landscape and the lovely boulevard as you drive into Camperdown.

Mt Gambier to Warrnambool is just over 2 hours. The coastal route goes through Nelson, a detour to Cape Bridgewater and Port Fairy is the most scenic route. The more direct and less interesting route is via Dartmoor and Heywood.

Adelaide to Warrnambool is a 6.50 to 6.75 hour drive with the pick of the routes being through Padthaway and the Coonawarra wine region. If you are travelling with kids, a stop at the Naracoorte Caves is also worth doing.

Things to do in Warrnambool

Warrnambool Tours

Warrnambool FAQ’s

Best Time to Visit

Best time to visit Warrnambool

Warrnambool is an interesting place to visit year round. In the warmer months you can make the most of the beaches at Stingray Bay and Logans Beach. Winter is whale watching time and the perfect time to enjoy the stormy weather at Thunder Point Lookout

Free Things to Do

Free Things to do in Warrnambool

There are a lot of fun free things to do in Warrnambool and in the region. The Great Ocean Road is nearby and a great day trip. Relax at a beach, walk through the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens, go whale watching in winter or go explore the 3 km Warrnambool Heritage Trail.

Things to do with Kids

Things to do with kids in Warrnambool

Warrnambool is a great place for a family holiday. The whole family will love stepping back in time at Flagstaff Hill, the kids can spend hours exploring the playgrounds at Lake Pertobe – the little motorboats are fantastic, or check out the wildlife at the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.

Things to do in Warrnambool

Flagstaff Hill

Flagstaff Hill

When you arrive in Warrnambool, Flagstaff Hill should be one of your first stops. It’s part maritime museum, part pioneer village and also the city’s Visitor Centre. It is right next door to 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.

Tales of the Shipwreck Coast

In the evening at Flagstaff Hill, you can see a hi-tech sound and light show. Nine metre tall images project onto the buildings brining the history of early Warrnambool to life. There are admission fees and packages for the various Flagstaff Hill experiences.

Read More :  If you loved Flagstaff Hill visit Old Tailem Town in SA

Logan Beach Whale Watching Platform
Logan Beach Whale Watching Platform

Whale Watching

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

Lake Pertobe

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.

Middle Island Maremmas

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 penguin. 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. Run by the Penguin Protector group, this is a must do experience in Warrnambool for animal lovers.

Warrnambool Botanic Gardens
Warrnambool Botanic Gardens

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 and a nice 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 garden enthusiast, it is still a lovely place for walk and a picnic lunch. You’ll find the gardens on Botanic road.

Fletcher Jones Garden
Fletcher Jones Garden

Fletcher Jones Markets & Gardens

In its heyday, fashion retailer Fletcher Jones employed hundreds of people at its Warrnambool factory. With the business closing in 2012, the sites iconic gardens and factory are still an important Warrnambool attraction. The gardens continue to be a beautifully manicured space with lots of wide open space, lovely garden beds, water features and sculptures. The old factory building is now home to the Fletcher Jones Markets which have around 60 stalls of antiques, collectables and vintage clothes.

Warrnambool Art Gallery
Warrnambool Art Gallery

Warrnambool Art Gallery              

If the Warrnambool weather takes a turn for the worse, go for a look through the Warrnambool Art Gallery – The WAG. Open 10-5 weekdays and 10-3 on weekends, this contemporary space hosts permanent and travelling exhibitions. Their collections are many, varied and often changing so just head in for a look to see what’s going on or check out their website for current displays.

Thunder Point Boardwalk

Thunder Point Lookout

From the formal, manicured layout of the Warrnambool Botanic 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.

Read More: Reed Lookout + The Balconies in the Grampians

Warrnambool Attractions: Stingray Bay

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 a 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 enjoy the views with a coffee in the café.

Tower Hill Lookout
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
Tower Hill Koala
Tower Hill Emus

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.

Warrnambool Heritage Trail
Warrnambool Heritage Trail

Warrnambool Heritage Trail

If Flagstaff Hill isn’t enough Warrnambool history for you, there is the 3km self-guided CBD Heritage Trail to explore. Get a map from the Visitor Information Centre and weave your way past over 20 historic buildings including churches, shops, cottages and factories that have all played a part in making Warrnambool what it is today. Some areas like Swan Reserve and Fairy Street have multiple sites so the map is very useful for making sure you see everything.

Hopkins Falls
Hopkins Falls

Hopkins Falls

In winter, or if there has been some rain, take a short 15 minute drive to Hopkins Falls. These falls are most impressive for their width, at 90 metres across it is a fantastic sight when there is a curtain of water dropping over the 12 metre high dark, volcanic rocks. There are a couple of viewing platforms and a nice area to have a picnic lunch or let the kids burn off some energy. If you want to make a bit of a day of it, continue on for 10 minutes to the Cheese World and Museum 10 minutes away.

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. Warrnambool is also a good base for getting to some of the most popular attractions on the Great Ocean Road.

Port Fairy
Port Fairy

Port Fairy & 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 lot of 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 an easy 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 was 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

Great Ocean Road

Warrnambool is less than one 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.

Warrnambool Day Trips

Mantra Deep Blue Resort
Mantra Deep Blue Resort © Robert Blackburn

Warrnambool Accommodation

  • Lady Bay Resort – Just 100m from Beach Promenade. Outdoor pool, hot tub, BBQ, Fitness Centre, private balconies
  • Quest Warrnambool – Modern rooms with access to outdoor swimming pool, 5 min walk from Flagstaff Hill
  • BIG 4 Figtree Holiday Park – Indoor heated pool with water slide, communal fire pit, 10min walk to town centre. 1, 2, 3 br cabins
  • Surfside Holiday Park – Beachfront holiday park close to Flagstaff Hill & Lake Pertobe, 1 or 2 br cottage or chalets
  • Lighthouse Lodge – Overlooking Lady Bay, self contained 3br holiday home. 3 min walk to Flagstaff Hill

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Things to do in Warrnambool
Things to do in Warrnambool
Things to do in Warrnambool
Things to do in Warrnambool
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1 thought on “17 Best Attractions & Things to Do in Warrnambool”

  1. I really love to be there and I have been dreaming that’s my country, Victoria is a beautiful and nice place. I love Australia. 🥰


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