Stay and play – Warrnambool, VIC
Recently labelled the nation’s most liveable city, vibrant Warrnambool occupies a wonderful coastal position along the Great Ocean Road.
Warrnambool is 255km southwest of Melbourne (3hr 10min drive) or 345km in the same direction if taking the scenic route along the Great Ocean Road (5hr 15min drive).
To relax or explore; for a couples’ escape or a family adventure; for its scenery or history. The city and its surrounds are bursting with exciting and diverse experiences.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village
Regarded as one of Warrnambool’s best attractions. Indoors, the museum retraces the area’s maritime past with much focus on fascinating tales of shipwrecks. A highlight is the famous Loch Ard Peacock statue, valued at $4 million and complete with its own interesting backstory.
Outside, the maritime village recreates life from a time gone by with its collection of colourful old buildings. Then, in the evening, a dramatic sound and light show recounts the past in stunning fashion.
Warrnambool is a whale-watching hotspot from June-September, and the best place to gaze at these giants of the ocean is from the excellent designated viewing platform at Logans Beach. Southern right whales are known to swim to within 100m of the shore, making for an enthralling sight.
Outside of this period, the lookout is a great spot to witness the ocean’s power at play and watch boarders at this renowned surf beach.
For calmers waters, try Lady Bay, which suits the likes of swimming and is patrolled during summer. It also features interpretive signage relating to various shipwrecks.
Warrnambool Foreshore Promenade
This picturesque path extends for roughly 5km and is perfectly suited to walking, running, or cycling. It links Logans Beach with a spot known as the Breakwater. Near here is one of Warrnambool’s best cafés, Pavilion, which is a great option for brunch or an arvo cocktail after working up a sweat.
For a bigger challenge, tackle the 37km-long Warrnambool to Port Fairy Rail Trail.
Meet the Maremma Experience
Middle Island is home to a little penguin colony, vulnerable to threats from predators such as foxes. To combat this problem, Maremma guardian dogs were placed on the island in 2006, and this ongoing project has successfully led to increased penguin numbers.
Tours from December-April introduce you to these cute dogs and detail the world-first project, with funds going towards the venture. Note: There is no public access to Middle Island; the tours are held on the beach adjacent to it.
Warrnambool Botanic Gardens
A great Warrnambool budget tip is to pack a picnic and head to these gorgeous gardens. Among its features are a lake and rotunda, and budding botanists should spy the gardens’ beautiful Dutch elm as well as the rare Wollemi pine.
Lake Pertobe Playground
Looking for things to do in Warrnambool with kids? They’ll likely burn energy at this popular attraction. The outdoor playground is packed with amusements and has barbecues on site for longer stays. There’s mini-golf nearby, too.
Cannon Hill lookout
A popular spot with locals and visitors, Cannon Hill fires off pretty panoramas overlooking the likes of Lake Pertobe and Lady Bay. It features old cannons that give the hill its name and were originally set up in response to a perceived threat of invasion from Imperial Russia.
Or head to Thunder Point, which is a revered spot for soaking up a stunning sunset.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
The reserve is rich with indigenous heritage and home to a massive volcanic crater, various geological features, a lake, wetlands, wildlife, and native birds. Various walking trails reveal its ample treasure.
Distance: 16km west of Warrnambool.
A must for photographers, the 90m-wide falls create a spectacular sight. Dedicated viewing platforms provide various perspectives of this natural attraction, which doubles as an inviting picnic spot complete with barbecues.
Distance: 15km northeast of Warrnambool.
The fishing village pours on the charm and features striking streetscapes, a lively port, boutique shops, galleries, and plenty more.
Distance: 29km west of Warrnambool.
This collection of offshore limestone stacks is a star of any Great Ocean Road drive. Elevated platforms easily reached via the car park allow for excellent viewing ops and photos. Nearby Loch Ard Gorge is not to be missed, either.
Distance: 72km east of Warrnambool.
A Life in Australia study by global market research firm, Ipsos, ranked ‘Warrnambool and the South West’ as the nation’s most liveable region.
The results, which were released in September 2019, placed the city and its surrounds on top for such factors as sense of community, feeling safe, and access to the natural environment.
Warrnambool – or the ‘Bool as it’s commonly referred to – has a population nudging just over 30,000.
If you’re searching for somewhere to stay in Warrnambool, look no further.
There are two BIG4 parks in the city, both offering a wide range of cabin accommodation and caravan and camping sites as well as pet-friendly options.
BIG4 Warrnambool Figtree Holiday Park
Park type: Holiday
Figtree belies a location that’s within walking distance of the city centre thanks to its peaceful vibe and tranquil surrounds. Leading facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, tennis court, games room, barbecue area, and indoor camp kitchen. A major renovation of the park's apartments and ensuite sites was recently completed.
BIG4 NRMA Warrnambool Riverside Holiday Park
Positioned on the banks of the Hopkins River, as its name suggests, this pretty park has ample facilities that include both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, mini-golf, recreation room, tennis court, and bouncing pillow. There’s easy access to a jetty for fishing, too.
Park type: Holiday
Whether staying in a cabin or caravanning or camping along the Great Ocean Road, plan your next break with BIG4 now.