Visit Warrnambool

Visitor Information - About Warrnambool

Visit Wonderful Warrnambool

Warrnambool has a dramatic location on a plateau behind a steep bluff, defined by rivers to the east and west, overlooking sheltered Lady Bay. There are interesting historical buildings and attractive streetscapes, but perhaps the biggest surprise is the range of superb beaches right at the city's front door.

Great Attractions

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, a fascinating historic precinct that includes the state heritage listed Lady Bay Lighthouse, Warrnambool Garrison and a 1870s coastal port with an entire town. Winner of 4 Victorian Tourism Awards in the past 5 years it a not to be missed part of Warrnambool heritage.

Location - 89 Merri Street Warrnambool, www.flagstaffhill.com

Rivers and Nature

The Merri River comes around the city from the west, and part of the old wetlands below the bluff have been transformed into the 20 ha Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground.

The Hopkins River estuary is on the eastern side of the city. It's a large and beautiful estuary with an important role in the lifecycle of short-finned eels (once a staple for a large Aboriginal population). There are some elaborate historic boatsheds, now converted into a restaurant complex.

To the east of the Hopkins lies Logans Beach and a specially constructed platform designed to overlook a whale nursery that is used every year by female Southern Right Whales and their calves.

Great Shopping

Warrnambool has a vibrant shopping precinct with quality clothing stores, perhaps a legacy of the city's s connection to Fletcher Jones. With large retailers that you would expect to see and smaller boutique high end stores you will be spoilt for choice.

There is a good selection of interesting restaurants and cafes, particularly at the south end of Liebig St. The arts precinct, including an excellent regional gallery, is also at the south end of Liebig St.

History

The Peek Woorroong Aboriginal people lived around Warrnambool, which was a rich environment with plentiful seafood, eels and birdlife. The sealers and whalers who first settled in Portland and Port Fairy knew the bay, for although it did not give shelter to the dreaded easterlies and southeasterlies, it did give some shelter from the west. Altogether, however, it was not a safe harbour. There are 29 known shipwrecks in Lady Bay.

The first permanent European settlers were graziers, including the Manifold family, and a township began to emerge in the 1840s. Despite the dangers of Lady Bay, the rich hinterland needed an outlet for its agricultural produce (wool, wheat, potatoes and onions).

There was enormous competition between Portland, dominated by the Henty family's interests, Port Fairy, which was effectively privately-owned by James Atkinson and William Rutledge, and Warrambool, which was a free port. A number of companies were started to compete with Portland and Port Fairy and at one stage Warrnambool's port rivalled Melbourne's and Geelong's.

It took 1.5 days to get to Melbourne by ship, but anything up to six weeks by bullock dray. By the 1880s there were daily shipping services. Long jetties were constructed into Lady Bay to reach ships beyond shallow water, but ships continued to be wrecked when the southeasterlies blew.

Work on the construction of a breakwater finally began in 1880, but this created sand movements that filled the harbour and made it virtually unusable. In 1912 an attempt was made to dredge the harbour and extend the breakwater, but after the breakwater collapsed the project was abandoned.

In any event, by the 1890s competition from the railways had ended much of the coastal shipping trade. Shipping to the smaller settlements along today's Great Ocean Road kept a fleet of ketches and schooners going until the 1920s.

Warrnambool has continued to grow steadily with a healthy mix of industry (especially dairy processing, woollen mills and clothes factories), services (especially schools and hospitals) and tourism.

Granny’s Grave

In 1904 a monument was erected to commemorate the first European woman buried in Warrnambool. The monument marks the final resting place of Mrs James Raddleston who died in 1848, when the Warrnambool settlement was less than a year old.

LOCATION: The Promenade, off Hickford Parade overlooking Lady Bay

Proudfoot’s Boathouse

Proudfoot's Boathouse is an unusual, highly-ornamented Victorian-era boathouse, recognised by the National Trust. Thomas Proudfoot first applied to build a jetty in a 1885 and he established a leisure-boat business. The early single-storey sections are thought to date from this period. The two-storey second stage probably dates from 1893. The renovated complex now includes reception facilities, several bars and a restaurant. It was a great spot with a lovely view in 1885, and it still is today. 

LOCATION: 2 Simpson Street (on Hopkins River)

Wollaston Bridge

The property Wollaston was selected by Thomas Manifold in the early 1840s and inherited by Walter Manifold in 1884. A punt operated across the Merri River until Arthur D Dobson, who constructed the Breakwater, built the Wollaston Suspension Bridge in 1890 for Walter Manifold. The bridge which used cables from the Melbourne Tramway Service cost £5000 and is classified by the National Trust.

LOCATION: Wollaston Road 

War Memorial

An impressive monument was erected in 1925, at the south end of Liebig St, to recognise those who served in World War 1. It now also commemorates soldiers from all the subsequent wars that have involved Australians. The monument is made from red granite and the soldier and the angel are carved from Italian marble.

LOCATION: Liebig Street

Warrnambool & the National Song

The story of Waltzing Matilda began at the famous Warrnambool races. Christina Macpherson was at Warrnambool's Annual Steeplechase Race Meeting in April 1894 when she heard the Warrnambool Town Band play the traditional Scottish tune, Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigie-Lea.

Christina memorised the tune and in 1895 played it to Andrew (Banjo) Paterson at Dagworth Station in Queensland. Banjo Paterson, inspired by a local event, wrote some words to match the tune and the national song, Waltzing Matilda, was born. Christina's original 1895 manuscript of the music is held in National Archives Canberra.