FIRST TIME VISITING WARRNAMBOOL? HERE'S YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDEby PETER BURCHELL
About three hours south west of Melbourne, Warrnambool is a holiday destination for everyone and anyone! From families and couples, to single travellers, or those just passing through on their way along the coastline.
There's so much to learn about this regional city (around 34,000 people live there) and its surroundings that we've hand-picked a few essential facts to point you in the right direction:
For beach goers
From June to September it’s whale-watching season in Warrnambool. Southern right whales can be spotted from an expansive designated viewing platform at Logans Beach, which is just a stone’s throw from the car park. Better yet, these giants often swim within just 100 metres of the shore. At worst you can soak up excellent views of the powerful coastline.
Logans Beach is also renowned for surfing, while protected Lady Bay suits swimming and other water leisure and is patrolled during summer.
For the path pounder
Walking trails in Warrnambool offer countless rewards for varying tastes. Try this trio:
- Warrnambool Foreshore Promenade: Hive of activity, particularly during summer, with its 5km-plus path that suits walking, cycling, or skating.
- Warrnambool to Port Fairy Rail Trail: Smooth, mostly flat 37km long path that links these two locations. Ample highlights along the way; favoured by both cyclists and walkers.
- Warrnambool Heritage Trail: Traces the city’s oldest structures over 3km. Maps are available from the Warrnambool Visitor Information Centre on Merri Street.
For the nature lover
Take the 15 minute drive from the city centre to Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. It’s home to a massive volcanic crater and bursts with fascinating geological features, a lake, wetlands, and indigenous heritage. Wildlife includes kangaroos, emus, and koalas, and various native bird species. View it all on a series of walking trails of varying difficulty and length.
On a sunny day, the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens are ideal for a relaxing stroll or a picnic. These tranquil surrounds have several notable features, including a Dutch elm, a Wollemi pine, lake, and rotunda.
For the photographer
A few key spots include:
- Stingray Bay: Sheltered cove with gin-clear rock pools and endless angles for framing photos.
- Bluehole: Also known as the mouth of Hopkins River. Features craggy cliffs, fabulous formations, and rock pools.
- Heritage buildings: Grand old structures scattered throughout Warrnambool warrant time in front of the lens. The striking T&G building is a landmark.
- Hopkins Falls: Spectacular 90 metre drop with two viewing platforms. A 15 minute drive from the city centre.
- Logan’s Beach: The viewing platform we mentioned earlier is as accommodating for cameras as it is people.
- Thunder Point: Pick of the places for a stunning sunset pic overlooking the ocean.
- Cannon Hill: Lookout point with sweeping views over Lady Bay, Lake Pertobe, and more.
For the family
Make sure you take the family to one of Warrnambool’s key attractions - Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village. It's here you can explore the area’s rich maritime past and retrace the compelling stories of the many ships that came to grief in these treacherous waters. At night, they hold a dramatic sound and light show.
Lake Pertobe Playground has equipment for children and adults! It's right by Lake Pertobe, where you can ride a motor boat. Close by is Mini Golf by the Sea. There are barbecue facilities if you want to make a whole day of it.
The Warrnambool Art Gallery showcases thought-provoking permanent and touring exhibitions. Year-round highlights include various Aboriginal artifacts as well as artworks depicting Tower Hill game reserve. A portrait of Warrnambool icon, David Fletcher Jones, is prominent.
For the adults
Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Springs is where you'll find the outdoor geothermal pools. For adults only, the healing mineral waters from deep in the earth are pumped up into 15 different pools (surrounded by gardens, caves and rockeries) with differing temperatures. There's also a Nourish Dome where you can take a break from the baths for some fantastic food and beverages, including health shots.
When you get hungry
There are loads of different eateries in and around Warrnambool, from takeaway and family restaurants, to foods from different cultures and fine-dining. Some suggestions:
And, finally, what's that Silver Ball?
Approaching the city from the east, you might notice a large silver sphere protruding from the skyline and balanced atop an orange ‘tripod’. Apparently, it’s a water storage bowl, which is part of the iconic and colourful Fletcher Jones Gardens.
And a quick history lesson: the gardens are on the site of the Fletcher Jones & Staff trouser factory, which was once a major employer in Warrnambool but is now closed. The gardens remain open to the public, though, and are well worth a look.
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