If you’ve never been to Warrnambool, heck if you’ve never been to Victoria and you’re keen to hit the West coast and discover the best things to do in Warrnambool, then my friend.. you have come to the right place!
Being born and bred in Victoria makes it relatively easy when it comes to writing about your home state but suffice to say we have visited Warrnambool only twice in our lives and for the life of me I can’t figure out why!
Surrounded by some of Australia’s most incredible beaches, home to a migrating Southern Right whale colony in the winter months and the cutest Little Penguin colony that was once on the verge of extinction, Warrnambool certainly has it all.
Earlier in the year we managed to sneak out of the city for a week away in Warrnambool; and what better way to share our journey with you than to lay out the road map for exactly what to do in Warrnambool.
Whale watching Warrnambool
It wasn’t until I did my research on Warrnambool activities that I realised how unique this place was at certain times of the year!
The cool wintery months of June to September pave the way for a spectacular natural event hosted off the Southern Coast of the Bass Strait.
A unique Warrnambool attraction, whale watching can be one of the most incredible sights to see, particularly if you happen to catch one breaching!
Logans Beach Whale Nursery is one of the best spots to see these guys at any time of the day, with an established boardwalk and viewing platform.
This section of the beach has been deemed a ‘Nursery for the purpose it serves the Southern Right Whales.
’Unfortunately Laura and I were not so lucky this time round to catch a glimpse of any whales, but they are definitely there watching you!
Read More >> Use our 2022 guide to the Great Ocean Road to plan your next holiday
To see all of what Warrnambool and it surrounds has to offer, we recommend looking at this full day trip from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road with the crew at Get Your Guide. Free 24 hour cancellation, expert guides and food provided this is a fantastic option when your time limited.
These beautiful creatures were once almost hunted to the brink of extinction but since the outlawing of whaling in 1935, their numbers have dramatically increased and are now a protected species.
Fortunately if you don’t happen to see any whales, the view from the balcony is just as stunning, offering views along a vast strip of sandy coastline as far as the eye can see.
We definitely recommend heading out to Logans Beach whale Nursery for an early morning chill session.
For more details on the nursery, you can visit the Warrnambool shire website for the most up to date information.
Go Walking with Emus
TowerHill Wildlife Reserve
Laura and I are fascinated by the natural world, so it comes as no surprise that one of the best things to do in Warrnambool is getting out there and being surrounded by nature.
There really is no better way to do that than by visiting TowerHill wildlife reserve.
I’m sure if we’d seen whales earlier in the day then that would have topped our list of what to do in Warrnambool, but things don’t always go as planned.
Thankfully we were given a second chance by being able to walk with Emus!
A prehistoric flightless bird, Emus really are something out of Jurassic Park.
Think of a smaller version of a velociraptor with a really long neck and no arms.
But fair warning, these cheeky buggers have become very complacent with human activity and may show some avid hunger for your sandwich.
Tower Hill is home to other animals like Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallabies, Swans and Ducks in the surrounding lake.
One surprising fact about Tower Hill is that it sits atop Victoria’s only non-active Volcano.
Yup, you heard it, we have a bloody Volcano in our backyard.
The crater surrounding the park has turned into a Lake that encompass the reserve, giving life and a home to the many bird species that live here.
Things to do in Warrnambool: Furry residents of Middle Island
Of all the Warrnambool activities, we found ourselves constantly being drawn to wildlife and nature, hence If whales & Emus haven’t tickled your fancy yet then surely these little guys will.
But first, a history lesson in 20 seconds!
A mere few hundred metres off the coast of Warrnambool lies a rocky structure called Middle Island.
It used to be home to a colony of Little Penguins whose numbers had sharply declined due to the invasion of an ever increasing Fox species on the island.
The receding tides had literally paved the way for the Foxes to decimate the Penguin population and it was believed their numbers dropped to as low as 10.
A local farmer affectionately known as ‘Swampy’ had used the instinctual protective nature of the Italian Sheepdog breed, Maremma, to safeguard the Penguin population on Middle Island.
Since 2006 the population has boomed and the Little Penguin colony is safe once again.
This has also led to increased restrictions for human activity, thus the general public are not permitted to enter Middle Island.
However every Summer you have the chance to visit Middle island in a Warrnambool initiative called ‘Meet the Maremma Project’.
The aim of the tour is to get visitors to experience first hand the vital work that the Maremmas perform in their protective duties and see how successful the project has become.
For more up to date information on the project you can head over to the Warrnambool website for more information right here.
Getting to Middle Island
Although pedestrian access to Middle Island isn’t permitted under normal circumstances, the boardwalk surrounding Middle Island and its neighbouring Merri Island is a Warrnambool attraction in and of itself!
To get here from the main road (Princes’ Highway) the most direct route is to take Banyan st which will turn into Pertobe rd.
Once you hit the roundabout you will follow the road to the left which will become Viaduct road which will ultimately lead you to the break water and Warrnambool Pier.
Before you get to the breakwater, half way down there is a gravel car park on the right that foreshadows Merri Bridge which will lead you to the board walk across Sting-Ray Bay.
The boardwalk continues along the coastal reserve to Thunder Point lookout as well as Pickering point lookout.
From here enjoy the sunrise or sunset and head for a coffee or breakfast at Pavillion Restaurant.
Take a Day Trip to Port Fairy
Although not strictly in Warrnambool itself, the allure of charming neighbouring towns is what draws visitors and tourists into this side of the city every year.
Port Fairy, one of the West coast’s most popular fishing villages is only a short 25 minutes drive from Warrnambool where you can visit the Port Fairy lighthouse on Griffitts island for a beautiful early morning sunrise.
On the way here you’ll get the chance to walk through some bushland that’s now home to a myriad of species in particular wallabies and Eastern grey Kangaroos.
Port Fairy also hosts one of Victoria’s biggest folk festivals, Port Fairy folk festival. Beginning in 1977 it has grown to become one of Australia’s and the world’s most regarded folk festivals on the calendar.
Being inducted into the Australian hall of fame for outstanding folk festivals, if you plan on taking a trip out Wes The 45th Port Fairy Folk Festival will take place on 11 – 14 March 2022
Where to eat in Port Fairy
Straight after your Lighthouse experience you can drive straight into town to enjoy what’s hopefully a bright and sunny morning for coffee and brekky at Bank st & Co.
If the name is anything to suggest, its right on Bank st in the centre of town.
Laura and I are suckers for a good Dirty Chai latte and a perfectly splendid smashed Avo on toast with a green salad sprinkled in Dukkah!
Prices are fairly standard here and you can expect to pay anywhere from the $10-$20 price point for brekky.
Flagstaff Hill and Maritime Village
For the history lovers and museums buffs this is your chance to geek out and share in Victoria’s rich history.
Most definitely a unique and specific Warrnambool attraction, Flagstaff Hill is a maritime village and now museum turned state-heritage site built around 1858.
Home to Victoria’s largest maritime and shipwreck collection, it’s most stunning and impressive feature is a $4million Loch Ard peacock statue, a relic from the Loch Ard ship that sank in 1878.
Interestingly enough when driving the Great Ocean Road, some of Victoria’s most notable lookouts and monuments are The 12 Apostles & Loch Ard Gorge, the location named after the same ship that sank there 142 years ago.
Make sure you check the times and schedules for the tours as they only run guided tours once daily.
Getting here is not dissimilar to getting to Middle Island, in that when you come down Banyan st from the main highway, turn left at the intersection of Merri st and the village will be on your right!
Travelling to Warrnambool
If you have never been to Victoria or perhaps you live in Victoria and have never ventured west of the city, then one of the world’s most famous drives awaits you!
The Great Ocean Road is a seriously fantastic drive in almost any weather.
Spanning 243 kilometers from the surf city of Torquay to Allansford just East of Warrnambool is the amazing stretch of road that will take you through some pretty amazing landscapes.
Some of which don’t exist anywhere else in Australia.
Of all the things to do in Warrnambool, this one again is not quite specific to Warrnambool, however is a super important part of getting to here as there are alternative routes that just aren’t quite as spectacular and definitely won’t add more marvel to your trip!
The road takes you through winding forest of The Great Otway National Park where you can stop and climb the many hundreds of metres of suspension bridges orchestrated through the weaving of gigantic trees hundreds of years old.
As you venture outside of the trees you will find your way onto the coastal strip of the Great Ocean Road where you’ll be driving along winding roads that hug the waters edge high up in the cliffs.
We’ve now done this loop a few times and it really is one of the wonders of Victoria, and speaking as a Victorian, it should 100 percent make your list of all the things to do in Warrnambool!