Point Ritchie or in local Gunditjmara language, Moyjil, is a rocky headland at the mouth of the Hopkins River in Warrnambool, Victoria. For thousands of years Aboriginal people visited the area to gather food including eels from the Hopkins River and shellfish from the ocean. For decades much of the focus of Australian archaeology has been directed at finding the oldest sites of Aboriginal occupation. The archaeological discovery of Aboriginal remains at Lake Mungo in the 1970s created considerable excitement because it pushed the date at which Australia was colonised by humans to beyond 40,000 years ago.
Australia may be referred to as a relatively young nation, but the well preserved ancient landscape provides many precious windows into the past. The Kanawinka Geopark’s, meaning Land of Tomorrow from the Buandik people, is a spectacular and intriguing volcanic landscape covering South West Victoria through to East South Australia enabling visitors to travel back in time thousands and thousands of years. The surface geology is a striking contrast of sweeping plains and spectacular cones which are largely the product of volcanic activity. In fact, with six sites of international significance and 14 of national significance, this area is Australia’s most extensive volcanic province. The Kanawinka Geopark was declared the 57th Member of the Global Network of National Geoparks assisted by UNESCO on June 22, 2008.
Tower Hill is a important natural landmark between Warrnambool and Port Fairy as a giant maar or volcanic explosion crate and it is the largest of its type in Australia and is of international and national geological significance. Tower Hill looms dramatically on the horizon and is divided into three principal areas: Main Island, Fairy Island and Hat Island measuring 3.2km by 2.4km wide whereby visitors can enjoy a BBQ picnic, walk the boardwalk lava trial or join a guided walk by a trained Park Ranger to see its amazing wildlife and rich geological history.
When you think of winter holiday destinations, you don’t automatically think of the beach do you? Well in Victoria, many people do, and the reason is to welcome home some VIW’s (very important whales) from their long migration up from the colder antarctic waters.
Middle Island is located just off the Warrnambool foreshore and has a unique tale to tell.
Home to a colony of Little Penguins for many years in early 2005, a sharp decline in numbers was noted and it is believed at this time only 10 Little Penguins remained. Due to the close proximity of the island to the shore with the shifting sands over the years foxes began making their way to the island at low tide and devastated the Little Penguin colony.
Tower Hill, just to the west of Warrnambool, is one of the most fascinating geological formations in Victoria. It has an important place in local Aboriginal history and it teems with wildlife.
Tower Hill is an enormous volcanic crater rimmed by beds of volcanic ash. The swampy floor of the crater is punctuated by conical hills which, after good rains, virtually become islands surrounded by a shallow lake. The inside of the crater, and the island-hills are now a wildlife reserve and there are substantial populations of native birds and wildlife. It's easy to see koalas, kangaroos, emus and much more.
The Thunder Point walk is an outstanding walk alongside the coast and coastal wetlands, with great views of the Merri River estuary, and a rocky shoreline. From the Breakwater, walk towards the river and the white sands of tiny Stingray Bay at the river mouth. During low tide, this sheltered area is ideal for a swim or a picnic.
A footbridge takes you across the river to Thunder Point Coastal Reserve with its weathered sandstone cliffs and rockpools. The walk continues to Pickering Point and Shelly Beach.
The official opening of the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Railway line took place on 25 February 1890. The last train came in September 1977. Railway Place was the site of the Station, The Goods Shed and the Station Master’s Cottage both of the latter still remain.
The Warrnambool - Port Fairy Rail Trail is a continuous 37.32km walking/cycling pathway which meanders through a highly scenic, diverse and relaxed part of south-west Victoria. Encompassing historical, agricultural, Indigenous and nature-based themes, it is a 'must do’ for anyone visiting the region.
In the 1880s, the Port of Warrnambool handled more cargo than the Port of Melbourne and was a thriving deep sea port. In 1874, a plan was approved by Government to provide protection to shipping by constructing a breakwater utilising huge concrete blocks weighing 32 tons each.
The blocks were transported to the breakwater site by a specially built railway line, and construction was not completed until 1890.
Rich in volcanic soil and river flow, Warrnambool provides refuge for plenty of the regions native flora and fauna. Exploring outside of the famed national parks will often uncover hidden gems away from the crowds.
Pick your own adventure and walk, bike or drive to some of the local parks, gardens and rivers. Don't forget the picnic basket and rug.