The largest city on Victoria’s scenically stunning Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool takes its name from the Aboriginal Kuurn Kopan Noot people’s term for ‘two swamps’ or ‘plenty of water’.
French navigator and explorer Nicolas Baudin was the first European to sail into Lady Bay in 1802 and whalers used the natural harbour as a seasonal base for a number of years before graziers began to settle in the hinterland in the 1840s.
Today Warrnambool, 257 kms south-west of Melbourne, is an important commercial centre with a population of 30,000 people, as well as a key tourist destination for those exploring the delights of the Great Ocean Road.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum recreates a late 19th century port complete with original lighthouses and replicas of a sailmaker’s loft, bank, town hall and chapel.
Logan's Beach in Warrnambool is an important Southern Right Whale nursery and whales with calves can often be seen from the viewing platform, just minutes from the centre of the town, usually between the months of June and September. A great way to get there is to walk along the 5.7 kilometre Lady Bay Promenade from the Breakwater along the coast to Logans Beach. Other lovely walks in the area include the city centre Heritage Walk and the 22km Mahogany Trail from Warrnambool to Port Fairy.
Warrnambool is a water sports enthusiast's paradise, with the Merri and Hopkins Rivers, the ocean and spectacular beaches. Lady Bay offers a protected swimming beach which is patrolled during the summer. Here too, you can enjoy surfing, sailing and windsurfing. Stringray Bay, at the mouth of the Merri River, is a sheltered bay with interesting rock pools. At low tide, wade across to Middle Island where there is a colony of fairy penguins.
Visit the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens, designed by the man who also designed the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, and featuring wide paths, a fernery and a duck pond. Fletcher Jones Gardens features a waterfall and a wishing well.
And of course, there is the Great Ocean Road itself. The sinuous road winds around between the cliffs, offering magnificent ocean views, lush forests and charming villages.
Things to do:
Whale watching in season (June to September)
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum
Swimming, surfing, sailing
Warrnambool Botanic Gardens and Fletcher Jones Gardens
Walks including 5.7 kilometre Lady Bay Promenade, city centre Heritage Walk and the 22km Mahogany Trail from Warrnambool to Port Fairy.
Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground - a must for those with children
In the area:
Explore the Shipwreck Coast section of the Great Ocean Road.