Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, Ken Stepnell / Explore Australia Publishing

Population 30393

Warrnambool lies at the end of the Great Ocean Road on a notorious section of coastline that has seen over 80 shipwrecks. The best known was the Loch Ard in 1878, which claimed the lives of all but two of those on board. While the wreck site itself is closer to Port Campbell, impressive relics from the ship are held at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in town. Warrnambool, as Victoria's fifth-largest city, offers first-rate accommodation and dining as well as a fantastic swimming beach. Each year from June to September, southern right whales can be spotted from Warrnambool’s Logans Beach. There’s a purpose-built viewing platform at the beach (binoculars or a telescope are recommended), and the local visitor centre releases daily information on whale sightings.

Visitor Information

89 Merri St; (03) 5559 4620 or 1800 637 725


Nearby national parks

  • Mount Eccles National Park

    Mount Eccles National Park is Victoria’s first co-managed national park, being managed by the traditional owners,...more

  • Brisbane Ranges National Park

    In Brisbane Ranges National Park low mountains are dissected by rugged gorges and hidden gullies with basalt grasslands and woodlands. An...more

Nearby towns

  • Port Fairy

    Port Fairy was once a centre for the whaling industry and one of the largest ports in Australia. Today many visitors are attracted to its...more

  • Terang

    Terang is in a fertile dairy-farming district. It is a well-laid-out town with grand avenues of deciduous trees, and is known throughout the...more

  • Port Campbell

    This peaceful seaside resort – the base of a small crayfishing industry – is in the centre of Port Campbell National Park on the...more

In Town

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum This reconstructed 19th-century maritime village is complete with a bank, hotel, schoolhouse and surgery. Read More

Main beach: a safe swimming beach with a walkway along the foreshore from the Breakwater to near the mouth of the Hopkins River.

Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground: a great spot for family picnics; opposite main beach, Pertobe Rd.

Art Gallery: local artwork, plus European and avant-garde collections; Timor St.

Customs House Gallery: open 11am–5pm Thurs–Sun; Gilles St; (03) 5564 8963.

Botanic Gardens: pretty regional gardens designed by Guilfoyle (a curator of Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens) in 1879; Cnr Queens Rd and Cockman St.

Fletcher Jones Gardens/Mill Markets: award-winning landscaped gardens and market in front of former Fletcher Jones factory; Cnr Flaxman St and Raglan Pde. 

Portuguese Padrao: monument to early Portuguese explorers; Cannon Hill, southern end of Liebig St.

Heritage walk: 3 km self-guide walk taking in the many historic buildings around town; details from visitor centre.

Hopkins River: great for fishing and boating, with Blue Hole, at the river's mouth, a popular spot for family swimming and rockpool exploration. Cruises are available; east of town.

Proudfoots Boathouse: National Trust–classified boathouse on the Hopkins; Simpson St.

Wollaston Bridge: an unusual bridge, built over 100 years ago; northern outskirts of town.

Tours and charters: fishing, whale-watching and diving tours (including shipwreck sites); contact visitor centre for details.


Tower Hill State Game Reserve This is a beautiful piece of preserved bushland featuring an extinct volcano and a crater lake, with tiny islands. Nature walk starts at the Worn Gundidj Visitor Centre in the reserve. For further information contact (03) 5561 5315. 12 km NW, just after the turn-off to Koroit.

Logans Beach  Each year in June, southern right whales return to the waters along the south coast of Australia to give birth, raise their young and start the breeding cycle again. Each female seems to have a favourite spot to give birth, which means that many familiar faces keep reappearing at Warrnambool's Logans Beach. The beach features a purpose-built viewing platform above the sand dunes (binoculars or telescopes are recommended), and the local visitor centre releases information on whale sightings daily. 

Allansford Cheeseworld: for cheese tastings and sales; 10 km E.

Hopkins Falls: scenic picnic spot, particularly spectacular in winter after heavy rain. In spring hundreds of baby eels migrate up the falls, creating a most unusual sight; 16 km NE.

Cudgee Creek Wildlife Park: deer, crocodiles and other native fauna, plus an aviary. Picnic and barbecue facilities are provided. Cudgee; 18 km E.

Koroit: see National Trust-classified buildings, good local arts and crafts shops, botanic gardens, and an Irish festival in Apr; 19 km NW.

Fishing spots near town

Warrnambool 2 km

Warrnambool is a big, tidy city. It’s a great place to take the family for a holiday, particularly if you have fishing on your mind. All forms of angling are available, but the most popular water is the Hopkins... Find out more

Port Fairy 21 km

Port Fairy is an unimposing historic seaport between Warrnambool and Portland. While it might come across as a sleepy, seaside resort, Port Fairy always seems to attract exciting piscatorial headlines. During the 1960s... Find out more

Peterborough 41 km

Peterborough has beach and estuary fishing. The estuary system is Curdies River, a noted bream river with fish to 1.5 kg common. The best place to access the river is upstream at a place called Boggy Creek – a name... Find out more

Lake Bullen Merri 56 km

Lake Bullen Merri at Camperdown is less than 20 mins drive from Lake Purrumbete. A deep, volcanic lake with saline water, it is stocked with brown and rainbow trout, Atlantic and Chinook salmon, and Australian bass.... Find out more

Lake Purrumbete 66 km

The bulk of the serious trout-fishing action in Victoria is in the Western District crater lakes. Of these, Lake Purrumbete near Camperdown ranks in the top half a dozen trout lakes in the state in terms quality,... Find out more

Gellibrand River 69 km

A little further west from Aire River are Castle Cove and Johanna Beach; both produce fishing similar to the beach at Aire River. There is also good beach fishing at Princetown, at the mouth of the Gellibrand River. ... Find out more

Portland 76 km

‘I reckon Portland is Victoria’s best kept angling secret,’ local angler Bob McPherson told me in 2004. At the time, I believed he was right. Within two years Portland was no longer a secret, becoming... Find out more

Lake Bolac 79 km

One of my favourite fishing activities after a hot summer day is to wander along the banks of the Barwon River in Geelong, casting lures for redfin. Redfin are feisty, competitive fish that bite readily and taste great.... Find out more

Aire River 98 km

This area comprises estuary, surf and freshwater on the west side of Cape Otway. Aire River nestles in a valley along the foothills of the Otways. To get there, follow the Great Ocean Road past the Cape Otway turn-off,... Find out more

Eco-friendly activities around town

Diving and snorkelling - Port Campbell, Peterborough and Warrnambool 52 km

Best known in diving circles for its multitude of shipwrecks, most of which are reached by boat dives, this area also has some great snorkelling and shore dives. Recommended spots include the Port Campbell jetty, Wild... Find out more

Mount Eccles National Park 58 km

At Mount Eccles you can walk for 2 kilometres around the rim of a volcanic crater then descend for a swim in the lake at its heart. It is a great spot for a picnic, with koalas and kangaroos, and the camping facilities... Find out more

Golf courses around town

Port Fairy Golf Club 18 km

An endearing quality of the great links layouts of Britain and Ireland is their natural setting. Wild, windswept holes rolling between sand dunes that have stood tall for centuries are the norm. The links of Port... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Donnelly’s Restaurant

Housed in one of the original heritage-listed buildings in the town’s main street, this restaurant serves contemporary regional fare in two rooms with open fires in winter. The local fleet of cray boats ensures the... Find out more

Kermond’s Hamburgers

For 60 years, five generations of the Kermond family have worked in this bustling genuine retro shop, producing that wonderful old-fashioned variety of hamburger you thought had long gone. What started in a caravan on... Find out more

Nonna Casalinga

This elegant dining room cooks up rustic-style Italian dishes that very nearly could have come out of an Italian grandmother’s kitchen – except there is not an Italian in the house. Homemade gnocchi with gorgonzola cream... Find out more

Pippies by the Bay

Located within Flagstaff Hill maritime village, this contemporary space overlooks the ‘best view in the world’ through Norfolk pines to the sea. As its name implies, it does have a good smattering of seafood... Find out more

Nearby breweries

Flying Horse Brewery 4 km

Whales and ales are now the twin attractions for the pretty seaside Victorian city of Warrnambool, following the development of the sprawling Flying Horse Bar & Brewery complex by joint owners Matt Monk, Matt Stewart... Find out more

Purrumbete Brewing Company (Red Duck) 66 km

Scott and Vanessa Wilson-Browne are another couple of ‘ale changers’ who swapped busy Melbourne careers to move to the country, bring up their young family, and brew and market craft ales. Along the way, they... Find out more

Otway Estate Brewery 95 km

Located 12 kilometres from Colac, Otway Estate Winery was established in 1983, specialising in cool-climate wines; a microbrewery was added in 2007. Head brewer Luke Scott oversees the production of up to 15 different... Find out more

Campsites around town

Surfside Holiday Park 1 km

Across the road from this campground is a huge family-friendly park, centred on a lake and festooned with playgrounds. Nearby is the Merri River, beyond which you’ll find the enticing sheltered waters of Stingray... Find out more

Warrnambool Holiday Park 3 km

Filled with amenities, this holiday park is situated 2 km east of the centre of Warrnambool. Within its confines you’ll find a reasonable number of sites shaded by large trees, as well as a playground, a pool and a... Find out more

Killarney Beach Camping Reserve 16 km

Killarney Beach has grassy, sheltered campsites. There’s safe swimming here, while the surrounding rural region is notable for its peacefulness. A short drive east is Tower Hill Reserve, a shallow crater of an... Find out more

Port Fairy Gardens Caravan Park 21 km

This large caravan park is huddled around a sportsground off Griffiths St in the pretty town of Port Fairy, famous for its 19th-century cottages and the hugely popular folk festival it stages in Mar. Flowing along the... Find out more

Yambuk Lake Caravan Park 38 km

In Yambuk township, take the signposted turn off the Princes Hwy onto Yambuk Lake Rd and drive for 3 km; alternatively, take the Carrolls Rd turn-off to the east of Yambuk. This campground is at the southern end of Lake... Find out more

Great Ocean Road Tourist Park 42 km

Situated at Peterborough on the Great Ocean Rd, 12 km west of Port Campbell and within easy reach of the Twelve Apostles, is the Great Ocean Road Tourist Park. It’s next to the tranquil Curdies Inlet, which offers... Find out more

Port Campbell Holiday Park 52 km

It’s only a short drive from Port Campbell east down the Great Ocean Rd to the landmark Twelve Apostles, a spectacular but slowly diminishing offshore grouping of limestone towers sculpted over countless centuries... Find out more

Fitzroy River Public Purposes Reserve camping area 57 km

Surrounded by coastal scrub at the mouth of the Fitzroy River, this campground is only a short walk from lovely ocean beaches. You’ll find it 4 km down Thompsons Rd, which is 32 km east of Portland on the road to... Find out more

Camperdown Lakes and Craters Holiday Park 58 km

This scenic park is wedged between a pair of extinct volcano craters. Part of one crater has been flooded by Lake Bullen Merri, which is perfect for watersports such as sailing, waterskiing and swimming. The scenery is... Find out more

Lake Surprise camping area 61 km

Set in serene manna gum forest not far from an equally serene crater lake, this is a delightful place to stay. Walking tracks guide you along lava canals, around the rim of a crater and down to Lake Surprise itself.... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Fig Tree Holiday Village 1 km

Centrally located about 600 metres from main shopping precinct, this is a very good quality and good value park in a quiet off-highway position. It has a heated indoor pool and a tennis court but cannot fit big rigs.... Find out more

Surfside Holiday Park – Warrnambool 1 km

This is a large, very good-quality council-owned park right on the beachfront. Great for a family beachside holiday, the park has good facilities and is just 1 km from the city centre and close to Flagstaff Hill.... Find out more

Discovery Holiday Parks – Warrnambool 1 km

Across the road from the beach, this well kept park is ideal for a holiday or just a few days away. With its excellent facilities, including a popular undercover camp kitchen and a movie room, the park can be busy.... Find out more

Port Fairy Gardens Caravan Park 21 km

This is a large council-owned park about 5 minutes’ walk from the town centre and just 200 metres from the beach, with level grassy sites, good amenities and a tennis court. Bookings are required at Christmas,... Find out more

Belfast Cove Caravan Park 22 km

This is a lovely boutique park with magnificent gardens. It has very good facilities including a tennis court and a boat parking area. Bookings are required at Christmas, Easter and long weekends, with a minimum-stay... Find out more

BIG4 Port Fairy 22 km

This quality, owner-operated park has large shade trees and informal grassy sites, and is conveniently located alongside the Princes Highway just 1.5 km from the town centre. The park has very good amenities including... Find out more

Great Ocean Road Tourist Park 42 km

Situated just off the Great Ocean Road at the mouth of the Curdies River, this park is popular with those keen on fishing. It is just a short walk from the centre of town and the beach and has good facilities. Bookings... Find out more

Port Campbell Holiday Park 52 km

This park is in a scenic location close to the centre of town and adjoining the beach. It is privately managed but forms part of the national park. Bookings are required in peak periods and a minimum-length stay applies... Find out more

Camperdown Lakes and Craters Holiday Park 58 km

Perched on the rim of a crater lake high above Camperdown and adjoining the botanical gardens, this park has a fabulous outlook. It offers basic facilities at a budget price. Bookings are required at Christmas and... Find out more

Narrawong Holiday Park 70 km

This pretty park is in a fabulous, quiet beachside and riverfront position off the Princes Highway. Offering a range of accommodation, it is close to Portland and has good fishing and swimming, and a range of facilities... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

104 on Merri Apartments

These six elegant and deluxe open-plan apartments are right by the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. Some of the apartments sleep six, and they all have different colour schemes and furnishings. The luxury theme is a... Find out more

Aqua Ocean Villas

Ocean views, polished wood floors and tiles, plasma TVs, barbecues, decks, sleek lines, spas and even a double lock-up garage are part of this refined package. Park the car and you might never have to unlock the garage... Find out more

Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse

After a day exploring the historic Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, why not stay overnight in the original harbour master’s house and continue the adventure? Painted in heritage cream and white, the 1909 Federation home... Find out more

Logans Beach Spa and Fitness

The waters off Logans Beach are a nursery for whales and their calves, and watching their antics is a favourite pastime of winter visitors here, as the beach is just 400 metres from these comfortable and homely... Find out more

The Sebel Deep Blue Warrnambool

This couples retreat of 73 hotel rooms and six penthouse apartments, a couple of kilometres from the centre of Warrnambool, is sited on top of mineral-rich hot water. The naturally heated water is used for bathing in the... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Killarney Beach camping area 16 km

T/O at Killarney

Near the foreshore 2km east of the highway.

Peterborough park area 43 km

At Peterborough

On the foreshore, just off the highway.

Mortlake park area 44 km

At Mortlake

Adjacent to the highway, in the middle of town.

Penshurst park area 59 km

At Penshurst

Just off the highway and adjacent to the caravan park.

Lake Surprise Camp Area 61 km

T/O at Port Fairy

Large campground located 48 kilometres north of the highway (9 kilometres east of Macarthur) in a pleasant open forest setting near Lake Surprise in Mount Eccles National Park. Good facilities and shade.

NOTE: Access road part unsealed.

Twelve Apostles park area 62 km

86km W of Apollo Bay (R) or 10km E of Port Campbell (L)

Just off the highway at the interpretive centre near the lookout.

Fitzroy River rest area 65 km

23km E of Portland (R) or 48km W of Port Fairy (L)

Well off the highway under trees on the riverbank.

The Sawpit camping area 72 km

T/O at Narrawong

In the forest 3km (partly unsealed) north of the highway.

Deep Lake camping area 79 km

T/O at Derrinallum

Large grassed area among trees on the edge of the lake. Located 4km north of the highway via Chatsworth Rd.

Wickliffe park area 80 km

At Wickliffe

Adjacent to the highway. In the middle of town.

Picnic Point camping area 80 km

T/O at Lake Bolac

Under shady trees on the shores of the lake 2km south-east of the highway via Mortlake and Frontage rds.

Derrinallum park area 81 km

At Derrinallum

Adjacent to the highway, in the middle of town.

East Beach camping area 81 km

T/O 3km E of Lake Bolac (R) or 48km W of Skipton (L)

On the shores of the lake 3km south of the highway.

Lake Bolac rest area 83 km

2km E of Lake Bolac (R) or 49km W of Skipton (L)

Just off the highway under trees on the shores of the lake.

Nine Mile Creek rest area 83 km

41km E of Hamilton (R) or 33km W of Lake Bolac (L)

Just off the highway under some large trees.

Fishermans Point camping area 83 km

T/O 3km E of Lake Bolac (R) or 48km W of Skipton (L)

On the shores of the lake 500m south of the highway.

Branxholme park area 83 km

At Branxholme

Adjacent to the recreation area in the middle of town. 

Lake Tooliorook camping area 83 km

T/O at Lismore

Large grassed area among trees on the edge of the lake 5km south of Lismore.

Annya Forest camping area 89 km

T/O 81km E of Mt Gambier (L) or 7km W of Heywood (R)

In the forest 7.5km (partly unsealed) north of the highway.

Johanna Beach camping area 89 km

T/O 38km W of Apollo Bay (L) or 57km E of Port Campbell (R)

Near the beach 5km south of the highway via Red Johanna Rd in Otway National Park.

Lismore park area 89 km

At Lismore

Just off the highway next to the swimming pool. On the east side of town.

Nigretta Falls park area 94 km

T/O 17km E of Coleraine (L) or 18km NW of Hamilton (R)

Large grassed area 9km north of the highway at the falls lookout.

Wannon Falls camping area 97 km

T/O 17km E of Coleraine (L) or 18km NW of Hamilton (R)

Large grassed area 9km north of the highway at the falls lookout.

Colac park area 97 km

At Colac

Just off the highway under shady trees in the middle of town.

Aire River West camping area 98 km

T/O 24km W of Apollo Bay (L) or 71km E of Port Campbell (R)

In Otway National Park. Open area located over a bridge 1km past Aire River East camping area.

Aire River East camping area 99 km

T/O 24km W of Apollo Bay (L) or 71km E of Port Campbell (R)

Among trees 5.5km south of the highway via Hordern Vale Rd in Otway National Park. 

What's on around town

Sunday market: showgrounds on Koroit St; each Sun.

Hillside market: Flagstaff Hill; operates throughout summer.

Wunta Fiesta: family entertainment, food stalls, music; Feb.

Tarerer Festival: Indigenous culture and music; Mar.

Racing Carnival: Grafton Rd; May.

Fun 4 Kids: children's festival; June.


Warrnambool Cycling Classic: Oct.

Flower shows: held in spring.

comments powered by Disqus