Warrnambool is a coastal town in Victoria, Australia, sometimes considered to be at the end of the Great Ocean Road, although some consider the extra journey to Port Fairy.
It is 260 km west of Melbourne, and has a population of 35,000 (2018). It is the largest town in southwestern Victoria and makes a good base for travellers to explore the surrounding area.
Origin of the name
The name "Warrnambool" originated from Mount Warrnambool, a scoria cone volcano 25 km northeast of the town. Warrnambool (or Warrnoobul) was the name of both the volcano and the group of Aboriginal Australian people who lived there. In the local language, the prefix Warnn- designated home or hut, while the meaning of the suffix -ambool is now unknown. William Fowler Pickering, the colonial government surveyor who in 1845 was tasked with the initial planning of the township, chose to name the town Warrnambool. The traditional Indigenous owners of the land today are the Dhauwurd Wurrung people, also known as the Gunditjmara.
Visitor information centre
- 1 Warrnambool Visitor Information Centre, 89 Merri Street, toll-free: 1800 637725.
Warrnambool has an airport approximately 15 km north of the CBD, although there are no scheduled commercial flights. Mount Gambier is 2 hours drive away to the west and has scheduled flights, but the best choice is generally Melbourne that has many more services and facilities and is a 3.5-hour drive to the east. Due to Avalon Airport's location between Melbourne and Geelong, 204 km from Warrnambool, flying to Melbourne, renting a car and driving on to Warrnambool is much easier from Avalon Airport than from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport.
V/Line operates three daily train services from Melbourne (Southern Cross Station) to Warrnambool. The journey of 3.5 hours operates via Geelong, and trains have a buffet car on board serving snacks. As a long distance service with reserved seats you should book tickets with V/Line in advance. Go online, call or go to the station. However, you will usually be able to buy a ticket just before travel, and there are conductors on board who sell paper tickets (Myki cards are not used on this route). Tickets are $39.20 each way from Melbourne.
- 1 Warrnambool railway station.
From Melbourne, Warrnambool can be reached on the inland Princes Highway in approximately 3.5 hours. Another possible route is going along the Hamilton Highway, which takes approximately 3.5 hours as well; however, local traffic on these narrower roads may slow you down. Alternatively, you can take the Great Ocean Road. This takes approximately 5.5 hours (without stopping), but is well worth it for the spectacular views.
V/Line runs a coach along the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool three times a week, and daily bus services to Hamilton and Mount Gambier in South Australia.
Warrnambool is easy to navigate by car. Metered parking in the city costs 70c per hour, but it is easy to find unmetered parking.
Transit South West operates 10 bus routes within the city of Warrnambool. Most routes run hourly, and the city terminus is a short walk from the railway station. Tickets are $2.00 for 2 hours, and $3.40 for a full day (half price concession/children's tickets).
- 1 Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG), 26 Liebig Street, ☏ +61 3 55594949. M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su and public holidays 10AM-3PM, Christmas Day and Good Friday closed. The WAG, owned and run by the Warrnambool City Council, has a collection of about 5000 artworks. In changing exhibitions it showcases contemporary art. Free.
- Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum. 9AM - 5PM. A substantial museum, with a replica community and many exhibits. A nighttime show "Shipwrecked" tells the story of the wreck at Loch Ard gorge, projected onto a water fountain in the lake
- Lake Pertobe and Foreshore area.
- 2 Logans Beach Whale Watching Platform. Southern right whales can be seen between June and September, when they migrate to warmer waters from the sub-Antarctic. Check with the visitor's information center for confirmed sightings. From the viewing platform whales can often be easily seen without binoculars. Southern right whales were hunted nearly to extinction until it was prohibited in 1935. Free.
- 3 Botanical gardens, Botanic Road.
- 4 Moyjil - Point Ritchie (take bus route 4 or 9 to Marfell Road, and walk for about 700-900 m). This rocky headland is at the mouth of the Hopkins river. It is a significant Aboriginal site and people lived and gathered here for thousands of years. Please respect the area and help to preserve it by staying on the paths. Southern right whales can be seen from here in winter and spring.
- 5 Hopkins Falls (15 km north-east of Warrnambool). The falls are about 90 m wide and 10 m high. There are picnic areas. For a few days in summer, baby eels migrate upstream across the falls.
- 1 Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, Entrance Road, Tower Hill (Princes Hwy, 14 km west of Warrnambool), ☏ +61 3 55659202. Tower Hill (traditional Aboriginal name: Koroitj) is an extinct volcano which erupted at least 34,000 years ago. There is evidence that the Gunditjmara, the traditional owners of the area, were living there at that time. Once European settlers arrived in the 1830s, nature degraded due to clearing of lands for farming and cattle. It was only in 1961, when large efforts were undertaken to restore flora and fauna to their former state. The wetlands in the 3-km-wide crater now offer great hikes. Emus and koalas are among the many wildlife that can be spotted there. Local guides offer tours at 11AM and 1PM from the visitor's center.
- 2 Port Fairy - Warrnambool Rail Trail. A 37-km-long bicycle trail connecting Port Fairy with Warrnambool via Koroit which is roughly in the middle of the route. The track surface is mainly gravel.
- 3 The Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool, 185 Timor Street, ☏ +61 3 55594999.
- 1 The Fresh Market Warrnambool, 33 Pertobe Road, ☏ +61 4 06480746. Every first and third Sunday of the month 8:30AM-1PM. Outdoor food market selling local products.
- Jane Dough, Shop 3, Centre Point Arcade, 147 Liebig Street, ☏ +61 4 39923733. W-F 8AM-2PM, Sa 8AM-12:30PM, Su-Tu closed. Artisan bakery selling hand-made breads, cakes and doughnuts.
- Kermonds Hamburgers, 151 Lava Street. Original 1950s-style hamburgers.
- 1 Noodledoof Brewing and Distilling, 128 Commercial Road, Koroit, ☏ +61 3 55453178. Tu-Th 8AM-3PM, F Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 8AM-5PM, closed Mondays. An independent brewery. Snacks and food available.
There is lots of accommodation, including motels and rental houses.
- 1 Elm Tree Motel, 179 Kepler Street, ☏ +61 3 5562 4133. Airconditioning, electric blankets.
- Comfort Inn Warrnambool, Corner Timor and Kepler Street.
- Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs Warrnambool, Worm Bay Road, ☏ +61 3 5559 2000, fax: +61 3 5559 2111, email@example.com. 80 guestrooms, including Deluxe suites and Premium suites with spa baths.
- 2 Hotel Warrnambool, Corner of Koroit and Kepler Streets, ☏ +61 3 5562 2377. Restaurant, pub and accommodation. Eight rooms with en-suite bathroom and four with shared bathrooms.
Telstra has proper 4G coverage here.
- Wind your way west on the world's largest war memorial; the Great Ocean Road
- Complete a GOR trip at Port Fairy
|Routes through Warrnambool|
|END ←||W E||→ Terang → Melbourne|
|Mount Gambier ← Port Fairy ←||W E||→ Camperdown → Melbourne|
|END ←||W E||→ Peterborough → Torquay|