Returning home for a summer holiday… How exciting! Not only because we have a break from our everyday busy life, but we also got to spend our Christmas holiday at home.
Warrnambool is a coastal city located on a plateau behind a steep bluff, defined by Hopkins and Merri Rivers to the east and west, overlooking the sheltered Lady Bay.
It has magnificent beaches, breathtaking views, rugged coast and cliffs, with continuous swell and waves rolling in from the Southern Ocean.
Lying at the western end of the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool is located approximately 256km south-west of Melbourne and is easily accessible by car, train, bus or plane. It takes about three hours travelling inland, to get from Melbourne to Warrnambool by car. However, most visitors preferred the scenic way via the Great Ocean Road, which takes about five and a half hours.
A Brief Overview
Warrnambool is a city along the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria, Australia. It is Victoria’s fifth largest city and the largest town on the Great Ocean Road. But, with a population of around 35,000 people, it still retains a relaxed seaside vibe.
Its main beach covers both the McGennans and Surfside beaches and runs in front of Lake Pertobe Adventure Park. The nearby Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village explores the area’s seafaring history through a large shipwreck collection.
Logans Beach is where southern right whales arrive each winter for their annual calving. Surf, rock, sea and river fishing are popular, particularly at Levy’s Beach, Killarney Beach and on the Hopkins and Merri Rivers. It is a popular holiday destination in the summer months.
A two-story white house sits on the hill, surrounded by a colourful and beautiful garden. The lush green lawn surrounds the magnificent willow tree standing tall at the end of the drive way.
We love a house that is ‘lived in’ with clutter here and there. A book left open, a cardigan on a chair, and a smell of something cooking. This is our home; the house Stephen grew up in.
So here we are, for several weeks of blissful summer beach holiday!
Its Holiday Time!
Having lived in the Bayside suburb in Melbourne, our home visit was always overwhelming. Living away has sharpened our senses and magnified our appreciation of this stunning coast.
Waking up in the morning with the sun streaming in and the fragrance of the honey suckle, we were breathing deeply and energised by it.
Every morning we had our breakfast and a cup of tea in the sun porch while looking out the glass windows, discovering the landscape of our garden.
We did not realize how much we would miss all of this until we had to live without it… so this summer holiday reaching for our wetsuits and surfboard is more critical than ever.
There are many fantastic beaches and interesting historic buildings to visit in Warrnambool and to help you out, we have listed our favourite ‘must visit’ beaches and places below!
We lived in walking distance from McGennans Beach – this was the local beach tucked away between the Beach Kiosk and the Breakwater, this sheltered section of surf is a favourite for beginner surfers, boogie boarders, body surfing and swimming. The waves are kind but still fun, there are no rocks and loads of parking!
When we felt more adventurous our choice was The Flume Beach – this place gets unreal with 4ft-8ft waves holding up most of the time, it is a favourite spot for intermediate surfers. Also, a great location to sit and view the wide blue sea and walk along the boardwalk.
Or perhaps the sandy beach Stingray Bay – where we could just relax and sunbathe between the wall of rocks and large limestone islands. Also, a go-to sunset location for locals.
If you happen to be here in winter, we recommended Logans Beach – a favourite spot for whale viewing, where the Southern Right Whales visit each year, between June and September. It is possible to see whales up close that come to within 100 metres of the shore.
The Historical Buildings and Attractive Streetscapes
Proudfoot’s Boathouse – an unusual, highly-ornamented Victorian-era boathouse, recognised by the National Trust. It is our go-to place for afternoon coffee and leisure.
Wollaston Bridge – a Suspension Bridge built in 1890 by Arthur D Dobson. The bridge which used cables from the Melbourne Tramway Service cost £5000 and is classified by the National Trust.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village – a state heritage listed site overlooking the Lady Bay. It is a re-creation of a late 19th century coastal port complete with cobblestone streets. A path leads to the re-created village where each building portrays an important aspect of 19th century port life.
Granny’s Grave – a monument was erected in 1904 to commemorate the first European woman buried in Warrnambool. The monument marks the final resting place of Mrs James Raddleston who died in 1848, when the Warrnambool settlement was less than a year old.
The place we had always visited after Christmas lunch for an afternoon walk was Thunder Point – a powerful name for a powerful place, offering a 180-degree view of the wild Southern Ocean. Or explore off beaten track with its rocky ocean scenery at Thunder Point Coastal Reserve.
A fifteen-minute drive from our home brought us to Hopkins Falls – an impressive sight (especially in winter). Measuring 90 metres wide and plunging 12 metres over dark basalt rocks, the curtain-like Hopkins Falls is the largest in the Hopkins River.
Another good spot for a walk is Lake Pertobe Adventure Park – only a short walk from our house, the Pertobe road flanked by the Norfolk Pines, standing guardian throughout Warrnambool. It is a sanctuary for bird life, kids, families, young and old. It is also an extensive area of parkland, picnic grounds, playgrounds, lakes with boat rides and paddle boats. There is also mini golf and many walking paths.
Fishing is one of our favourite pass times. There is nothing more relaxing (some may say frustrating) than dropping in a line and watching the world go by as we wait for the fish to bite.
See what is biting off The Breakwater – a fisherman’s paradise with no breaking waves on the eastern side. Most of the time we fish during the day. We were not lucky enough to hook some of the seasonal favourites like snapper or salmon though! Nearby is the Pavilion Cafe right on the beach, serving great coffee & food.
However, our favourite experience was night fishing off The Hopkins River Bridge – a popular fishing spot with both local and visiting anglers, it provides a premier fishing experience for highly valued recreational species. We hooked hundreds of fish over the years from this river, and shared many exciting tall tales and true afterwards.
Other Attraction in the Area
- Lady Bay and the Beachfront – is an easy walk along the foreshore with great views across the bay.
- Cannon Hill – the lookout offers panoramic views across Lady Bay and Lake Pertobe. It is named for the World War I howitzers and the anti-aircraft gun.
- The Former Warrnambool ‘Standard’ Office – this attractive grey building dates from 1872 and was once a skin and hide dealer. It was sold in 2008 and during restoration it was found to possess hidden tiling at the entrance, an old bank-style vault, pressed ceilings and it was actually three buildings which had been developed at different times. It was the home of the Warrnambool Standard until 2008
- St John’s Presbyterian Church – the Warrnambool Presbyterian Church, was built in 1865 and partially destroyed by fire in 1920.
We have always enjoyed our times in Warrnambool. Walking along the sandy beaches; watching the sand colour change, enjoying the smells of the ocean and the sea breeze.
It is the land and sea that rejuvenates us in all seasons, from pristine summer days to windblown stormy day. This is where we belong and where we long for when we are away.
We have visited many places in Warrnambool over the years, and we only have listed a few of them above.
We did not get to post Fletcher Jones, that was an iconic Australian clothing brand with a reputation for quality products. The Middle Island, the home to a small fairy penguin colony, lies a very short distance offshore from Stingray Bay. Or the tranquil and beautiful park of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens, and many more…
Not to mention the old familiar shops; the famous Kermond’s hamburgers, the T&G corner clock, the Liebig street fish and chip shop, or the Tuscan style restaurant Bojangles, and the list goes on…
Warrnambool is a very special place for us, and the rugged coast add to the powerful feeling of this area. So many things to see and do in this coastal city. We would definitely recommend a visit, to explore a little deeper what Warrnambool has to offer.
Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.