10 Reasons to Visit Warrnambool This Winter

10 Reasons to Visit Warrnambool This Winter

  1. Whale Watching

From May to September, our winter is a whale’s summer, and the giants of the deep journey from the Antarctic for their annual babymoon, breeding, birthing and raising their calves in our backyard. The Whale Trail through Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland, also known as the ‘whale corridor’, is one of the only places in the world where whales breed within 100 metres of the shore. Southern Right, Humpback, Blue and the occasional Orca, like to slap, spyhop and tail throw their way back to this stretch of coast year after year. Logans Beach Whale Nursery in Warrnambool, is one of the only places in the world where you can watch Southern Right mothers and calves frolic just 200m from the shore.

Hopkins Falls, Warrnambool

  1. Hopkins Falls

The largest and most picturesque falls on the Hopkins River, these falls are among Victoria’s widest, cascading dramatically over a 90-metre span. In winter, or after heavy rainfall, the falls are transformed into a spectacular torrent, offering breathtaking views from both the elevated viewing platform and the base. Hopkins Falls is a perfect spot for a memorable picnic, thrilling fishing adventure, or a scenic walk, with amenities like gas BBQs and toilets provided. While the falls have a tranquil charm in the warmer months, they are absolutely mesmerising in winter when the water flow is at its most powerful, creating a truly awe-inspiring natural display.

  1. Flagstaff Hill Day & Night Package

By day, Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is the best way to understand the history of the Shipwreck Coast. This maritime village and museum holds Victoria’s largest maritime and shipwreck collection, featuring the $4 million Loch Ard Peacock, a priceless relic from the 1878 wreck of the Loch Ard at the now famous Loch Ard Gorge. The village, set on 10 acres, boasts over 40 buildings brought to life by volunteer characters in costume, making you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Immerse yourself in the captivating “Whales Beneath the Surface” exhibition, where you can discover the fascinating world of the giants of the deep that grace the Southern Ocean. From their awe-inspiring migrations to their haunting calls echoing through the depths, explore how whales have shaped the coastline and the lives of those who inhabit it.

Nightly at dusk, the “Tales of the Shipwreck Coast” experience takes you on a journey through the ages. This spectacular show tells three epic true stories through light projections onto a nine-metre water wall. From local creation stories of the Gunditjmara people, to the colourful whaling past, and the most notorious shipwreck on the Great Ocean Road, the wreck of the Loch Ard, you’ll not only learn about history but also experience it.

 

  1. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

As winter settles over Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, it becomes a haven for some of Australia’s most beloved wildlife. Emus, kangaroos, koalas, swans, ducks, and blue wrens find refuge within this magnificent dormant volcano near the Great Ocean Road. Amidst the crisp air and misty mornings, wander across wetlands, craters, and bushland, tracing the footsteps of early settlers who once exploited the land.

Nestled within a large volcanic crater, Tower Hill stands as one of Victoria’s most captivating geological marvels. Volcanic cone-shaped hills emerge from mist-covered lakes, painting a picture of unique beauty against the winter landscape. A mere detour from the Great Ocean Road, the reserve beckons with a plethora of walking opportunities suitable for all abilities – from gentle boardwalks to invigorating scenic climbs.

 

  1. Deep Blue Hot Springs

Amidst the crisp air and frost-kissed surroundings, discover a sanctuary of open-air rock pools, sensory caves, and cascading waterfalls. Let the warmth of the therapeutic waters envelop you, providing a blissful escape from the winter chill. Rich in minerals and heat, these natural springs offer a rejuvenating experience like no other, soothing both body and soul. As the snowflakes dance around you, immerse yourself in the ancient ritual of bathing, embracing its profound healing properties. Learn about the centuries-old tradition and why it remains a cherished practice, especially during the winter months.

 

  1. Childers Cove

Uncover the hidden coastal marvels of Childers Cove, Sandy Cove, and Murnane’s Bay. Despite their proximity to the bustling Great Ocean Road, these secluded gems offer an unparalleled sense of tranquillity and isolation, even during peak times. The beach, with its low, flat shoreline is perfect for leisurely strolls. As you wander, you’ll be awe-struck by the impressive towering sandstone stacks and vibrant sandstone and limestone cliffs. Childers Cove, steeped in maritime history as the site of the Children’s shipwreck, invites you to immerse yourself in the region’s captivating past amidst breath taking winter seascapes. Walking these secluded beaches is a rare and exhilarating experience, combining solitude with the awe-inspiring power of nature.

 

  1. Winter Shopping in Warrnambool’s Boutiques

Experience a treasure trove of boutique stores and specialty shops nestled in the heart of Warrnambool. Along Liebig Street, both national chains and independent traders have carved out their own space, offering a diverse and captivating array of options to cater to every shopper’s desires. As you wander through the city centre, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and discover an inviting selection of fashion boutiques, artisanal crafts, locally sourced produce, and unique gifts. Engage with the spirited locals who eagerly share stories of their offerings, infusing your shopping journey with warmth, authenticity, and a sense of community.

9. Sreet Art

As you explore the streets, don’t miss the opportunity to encounter Warrnambool’s vibrant street art scene, adding a splash of color and creativity to your shopping experience. Admire the colony of bronze Little Penguins perched atop a sandstone wall, each with its own unique personality, a playful homage to the city’s famous penguin colony. Wander down the laneway behind Fishtales restaurant to discover the captivating optical illusion of foxes and penguins, offering endless photo opportunities and whimsical interactions. And don’t forget to marvel at “Seal,” a towering three-meter-tall steel sculpture erupting from the pavement, a majestic ode to the oceanic wonders that surround Warrnambool.

 

10. Day Trips

Perfectly situated, Warrnambool is an ideal hub for day trips. With its central location on the Great Ocean Road, you can easily embark on memorable journeys to iconic sightseeing locations:

  • Port Fairy (20 minutes): This charming historic fishing village offers a delightful mix of 19th-century cottages, a bustling arts scene, and beautiful beaches. It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll and exploring local boutiques and cafes.
  • London Bridge (45 minutes): Once a natural double-arched bridge, London Bridge partially collapsed in 1990 but remains a spectacular sight. The rock formation is part of the Port Campbell National Park and provides stunning coastal views.
  • 12 Apostles (55 minutes): The most iconic landmark of the Great Ocean Road, these towering limestone stacks are best viewed at sunrise or sunset. The visitor centre provides excellent amenities and information.
  • Budj Bim National Park (just over an hour): This World Heritage site is significant for its ancient Aboriginal aquaculture system. Visit Tae Rak (Lake Condah) and take a cultural tour to learn about the history and lifestyle of the Gunditjmara people, who engineered this extensive aquaculture system thousands of years ago.
  • Portland and Cape Bridgewater (1 hour): Portland, the oldest European settlement in Victoria, features historic architecture, a picturesque harbour, and whale-watching opportunities. Nearby Cape Bridgewater is known for its stunning coastal scenery, the Petrified Forest, and a large colony of Australian fur seals.
  • Grampians National Park (just over an hour): Known for its rugged mountain ranges, spectacular wildflower displays, and Aboriginal rock art sites, the Grampians is perfect for hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife spotting.

The scenery along the wide-open road, whether it’s rolling green pastures with cows or the sight of the wild southern ocean, is breathtaking and definitely worth the ride.

About The Author

Warrnambool Visitor Information

Find us at the Visitor Information Center, we are a dedicated team of locals sharing our knowledge and passion of Warrnambool.

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.