Welcome to 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.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, a fascinating recreation of an 1870s coastal port with an entire recreated town, tumbles down the bluff. Part of the complex is at the top, along with a historic lighthouse and fort, and steep cobbled streets descend to a lake complete with heritage boats and harbour buildings.
The Merri River comes around the city from the west, and part of the old wetlands below the bluffs 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 Logan’s Beach and a specially constructed platform designed to overlook a whale nursery (between June-September) that is used every year by female Southern Right Whales and their calves.
Warrnambool has a vibrant shopping precinct with some particularly good clothes shops, perhaps a legacy of the city’s s connection to Fletcher Jones and high-quality clothing.
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.
Warrnambool’s Scenic Walks and Trails
There’s no better way to enjoy the coast and the countryside. Make it as relaxed or as energetic as you like and take in the fresh air and beautiful surrounds on your way. Please comply with all regulatory signage.
Warrnambool to Port Fairy Rail Trail
This 37km rail trail from the Moyne River in Port Fairy through Koroit to Warrnambool is currently under construction. The first 23.5km from Port Fairy to Illowa is completed and rideable with the section including tunnel access under the highway. The section from Illowa to Levy’s Point is under construction and is planned to be completed by the May 2012. This uncompleted section is across Kelly’s Swamp.
The railway line from Warrnambool to Melbourne was opened in 1887. The construction of the line to Port Fairy, via Koroit, started in late 1888 and it was completed in 1890.
Between Warrnambool and Belfast (Port Fairy) there were 12 gate keepers’ cottages. Stations were situated at, Warrnambool, Illowa, Koroit, Crossley Kirkstall, Moyne, Rosebrook and Port Fairy where farmers shipped their produce directly to Geelong and Melbourne.
Koroit became an important hub with the line to the north (Ararat line) joining the Port Fairy to Warrnambool line some 300 yards to the west of the station. Remnants of the cattle loading yards can be seen near North Street. The goods shed, one of the largest in the area is opposite the station. Also, remnants of the sidings and goods sheds at Port Fairy, Koroit and Illowa can be seen along the trail.
Some thought the line so beneficial that they felt the farmers should not require compensation for it passing through their property. For a time, the soon to decline ports, handled large quantities of railway materials. J Wilson and Company supplied 5,100 tons of equipment to the project.
The line came to provide an important recreational aspect to the area. Special pleasure trains ran to the seaside towns for Sunday school picnics, school excursions and social gatherings.
The line closed in September 1977 due to low usage.
Thunder Point Coastal Reserve, minutes from the City Centre and adjacent to Warrnambool’s main beach, offers some of the best coastal scenery in the area.
Location: Off MacDonald Street.
Duration: 30 mins return.
A rugged ocean beach, accessed via a walking track from Thunder Point.
Location: Off MacDonald Street.
Levy’s Point Coastal Reserve
Levy’s Point is a beautiful and often deserted surf beach, located to the west of the City. Excellent surfing and fishing, dangerous rips do exist. Access is via dunes.
Location: Off Swinton Street.
Promenade…just minutes from the Lady Bay Resort!
Warrnambool’ award winning Foreshore Promenade is a wonderful 5.7 kilometre track that stretches from the Breakwater along the coastline to the mouth of the Hopkins River. The promenade is very popular and you can walk, run, ride or skate along this scenic trail.
3km Heritage Walk to some of Warrnambool’s most famous and attractive historic buildings. For more detailed information and a guide map see contact the Visitor Information Centre.
Location: Warrnambool Central Business District.
Duration: One hour return.
Victoria’s Southern Right Whale Nursery
Grey skies and rainy days can really blow, but that’s a good thing when you’re travelling alongside pods of playful whales, spectacular coastlines, remarkable limestone structures and spirited landscapes, all while the crowds of summer fade.
Winter brings the Great Ocean Road to life. The vibrant symphony of the rainforest adds to the powerful drama of the ocean-meets-cliff theatrics, while whales arrive to bask in the warmer waters of the Southern Ocean.
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. If we could talk whale, we’d guess they’d say there’s nowhere they’d rather be, and we’ve never related to anything more!
The whales often swim within a hundred metres of the shore. They can be viewed from a specially constructed platform in the sand dunes or from the beach.
Location: Logan’s Beach Road, off Hopkins Point Road, Warrnambool
Open: Access all times.
Information: Warrnambool Visitor Information Centre (03) 5559 4620
Why do the whales come to Warrnambool?
Southern Right Whales have been visiting Warrnambool for hundreds of years. Once they were hunted almost to the point of extinction, but since whaling was outlawed in 1935, their numbers have been growing. In summer, Southern Right whales live in the sub-Antarctic. In winter, they migrate to warmer waters around the southern areas of Australia. The females migrate to the “nursery” areas close to the shore to bear their calves, while the males, yearlings and young adults remain further out to sea.