15 Things to do in Warrnambool, Victoria
Find below a list of 15 things to do in Warrnambool, Victoria for any type of traveller. For those visiting with your family, we have also included some fun things to do in Warrnambool with kids!
Warrnambool – Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Located 260 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, lies Warrnambool the largest town on the Great Ocean Road. With nearly 650 ships meeting their fate on this striking stretch of coastline, the area is steeped in a rich history, earning its title of the Shipwreck Coast.
It takes around five and a half hours from Melbourne to Warrnambool via the Great Ocean Road, but the drive is worth every minute. From unforgettable beaches to whale watching, picturesque parks to historical museums and breath-taking views, there are so many things to do in Warrnambool for the entire family to enjoy.
Make sure you stay a night or two to make the most of it. Check accommodation options here.
15 Things to do in Warrnambool
Whether you are travelling solo, in a couple, or visiting Warrnambool with kids, there is plenty to do! Take a road trip down the Great Ocean Road and then spend a few nights to really take it all in.
1. A history lesson at Flagstaff Hill Martime Museum & Village
Warrnambool’s unforgiving coastline was the final resting place for many shipwrecks, and the Flagstaff Hill Museum gives voice to the crew and passengers who perished in the waves of the Shipwreck Coast.
At the museum, you will spot a famous survivor – the Loch Ard Peacock. It’s sailed half-way round the world, survived a shipwreck over 130 years ago and with a value of $4m it’s Australia’s most valuable shipwreck artefact.
Following the museum, head outdoors to one of the best things to do in Warrnambool with kids – the Maritime Village. With over 40 buildings, including a fire station, lighthouse and school, you can wander the cobblestone streets just like Australia’s early settlers did.
2. An unforgettable evening at Flagstaff Hill Sound & Light Show
The entertainment doesn’t stop there, as night falls at Flagstaff Hill the village transforms into a dramatic light show showcasing the region’s fascinating maritime history.
From local Aboriginal stories to the disputed whaling industry and tales of shipwrecks and survivors, experience it all through the multimillion-dollar Sound and Light Show.
The show is suitable for ages and begins at dusk (start times vary depending on the season.) Regardless of weather, the show still runs so ensure to bring warm clothing as the Wharf Theatre is open fronted.
3. Admire the Wildlife at Tower Hill
For wildlife enthusiasts, a hike around Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is an exciting thing to do in Warrnambool with kids or without. There are five routes to choose from, so finding a walk to suit all ages (or time limits) is no issue.
Set in the crater of an inactive volcano, the bountiful greenery of Tower Hill attracts a plethora of wildlife such as koalas, emus, kangaroos and sugar gliders. Find more information on their website about their guided tours of Tower Hill, where a local will educate you on the area’s flora and fauna.
4. Picnic at Warrnambool Botanic Gardens
One of the best things to do in Warrnambool is to enjoy a relaxing picnic in the Botanic Gardens. William Guilfoyle designed the gardens in 1879, just after he finished the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, offering the same tranquil atmosphere and photo-worthy vistas.
The endless paths will prove the perfect place to stretch your legs after the long drive, leading you round rare and exotic plants and more than 40 coniferous species.
Children will love the lily pond home to ducks and turtles as well as the 8.1hectares of open lawn ready for picnics, games and fun.
The gardens are open 24 hours but make sure to look at their website for updates on family fun days and events.
5. Enjoy the Free Samples at Allansford Cheese World
Allansford Cheese World is considered the “cellar door” of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter – a company which has been producing dairy delights since 1888.
Not only can you enjoy free tastings but also purchase many tempting treats such as locally produced chutneys, confectionary, wine and liqueurs.
Following a tour of the museum which shares insight into farming life with traditional machinery and artefacts from the 1900s, you cannot miss a visit to the café. Adults will love the unrivalled ploughman’s lunches and cheese platters while kids will also adore the famous fluffy milkshakes.
Allansford Cheese World is open seven days a week until 5 pm on weekdays but 4 pm on weekends and admission is free.
6. Swim at the beach
Despite the tales of the ruthless shipwreck coast, there are still some beautiful beaches that are safe to swim in. One of the best things to do in Warrnambool in Summer is head down to Lady Bay which offers protected swimming along with surfing, windsurfing and sailing for the brave.
Surf lifesavers patrol the beach outside the Warrnambool Surf Club but make sure to only swim within the flags.
A second family-friendly beach is McGennans Beach. It is part of Main Beach Warrnambool that ranges from the lifesaving tower back towards the city. It’s ideal for smaller children as there’s less risk of being hit by a surfer – they tend to avoid this beach in favour of the more impressive waves at Surfside.
7. Admire the Views & Penguins from the Promenade
If you’ve forgotten your bathers or it’s too cold to swim, head for Warrnambool’s award-winning foreshore promenade. It is one of the best things to do in Warrnambool for the entire family and the path is also suitable for bikes, rollerblades, wheelchairs and prams.
It stretches from the Warrnambool Breakwater to Logans Beach Whale Nursery. Although its 5.7 kilometres, there are plenty of rest stops for tired little legs and not forgetting, coffee stops for tired adults.
A highlight of the promenade walk is Middle Island, a breeding ground for little penguins. Yes penguins! They’re not just on Phillip Island. Here you will learn the fun story involving a local chicken farmer who had been using Maremma dogs to protect his flock.
He suggested training the dogs to also protect the little penguins and thanks to the success of his idea; a movie was released in 2015 called “Oddball” which shares this tale. You can meet the Maremmas and learn more about the little penguins here.
As a tip, save this activity for late afternoon as it’s one of the best things to do in Warrnambool for a spectacular view of the sunset.
8. Go Whale Watching
Maremmas and little penguins are not the only wildlife to be discovered. One of the most famous things to do in Warrnambool is whale watching. Between June and September, you can spot the female Southern Right whales in the shores of Warrnambool’s Logan Beach as they return from the sub-Antarctic to calve.
Warrnambool has welcomed Southern Right whales for hundreds of years. However, they were nearly extinct until whaling was made illegal in 1935. Since then, their numbers have continued to flourish.
There are specially designed platforms along the dunes, making it super easy for all ages to spot this natural phenomenon. There is no admission fee for the platforms, and they are open at all times. They also have ramps which allow access to prams and wheelchairs.
Keep updated with sightings via the dedicated Facebook page.
9. Escape the rain at Warrnambool Art Gallery
As it was established in 1886, Warrnambool Art Gallery is one of the oldest in Australia. If searching for things to do in Warrnambool on a rainy day, it’s the ideal place as there is no admission fee and lots to see.
There are paintings by prominent Australian artists alongside contemporary works which are guaranteed to keep the family entertained for an hour or two. A highlight of the gallery is the painting ‘Tower Hill’ painted by Eugene von Guérard. It is so detailed botanists used it as a historical record for regeneration of the Tower Hill area.
Also, the Warrnibald Show which runs from late July to September in the gallery is particularly captivating. It shares the portraits of local people and their fascinating stories.
10. Enjoy a Movie at Capitol Cinema
Another family-friendly thing to do in Warrnambool with kids if it’s raining is head to Capitol Cinema and snuggle up with some popcorn and a movie. It is an intimate, old school style theatre with three screens, comfortable seating and a well-stocked kiosk. Showcasing movies for all ages including the latest blockbuster hits and 3D films.
Not only can you book via the app, allowing you to skip the queue but you can purchase a family ticket for $50 which allows two adults and two children, or one adult and three children for any G or PG-rated films. Otherwise, adult tickets are $17 and children’s $12.50
11. Catch a Performance at Lighthouse Theatre
A performance at the Lighthouse Theatre is a firm family favourite and a memorable way to end your day in Warrnambool. Following a $9.3million redevelopment, the theatre now has improved access and amenities as well as contemporary theatre spaces.
The striking glass exterior has transformed the face of Warrnambool’s cultural precinct, and the iconic landmark welcomes locals and tourists alike. Check out their website for the programme as it changes regularly with family friendly shows such as Dr Suess’s Cat in the Hat, ‘Possum Magic’ and ‘Classic Kids with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’ all featuring before the end of the year.
12. Explore Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground
From sandpits to giant slides, a maze and even a flying fox there is so much fun to be had in Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground. Spanning a massive 20 hectares, Pertobe Adventure Playground is one of the best things to do in Warrnambool with kids to keep them entertained for hours.
There are also barbecue facilities and shaded seats dotted throughout the park as well as the lake itself providing the perfect backdrop for family picnics. It’s also possible to hire paddle boats as well as enjoy walking tracks and swing bridges around the lake.
The fun doesn’t stop there however as the Lake Pertobe precinct is also home to a tennis courts, an athletics track and a skateboard park. After a visit here, you can guarantee kids will sleep all the way home.
13. Play Mini Golf by the Sea
Neighbouring the Adventure Playground is an 18-hole mini golf course which thanks to its simple design and lack of fancy contraptions the entire family can play and enjoy. If you have any energy left, there is also a giant Jumping Pillow.
Mini Golf By The Sea is open all year round in rain or shine but as a tip, don’t forget a hat if you’re visiting during the day as there is no shade on the course.
14. Splash around at Aquazone
If you’re looking for things to do in Warrnambool regardless of weather, AquaZone is a guaranteed winner with all ages. From the paddling pool with splash features to the 50m Olympic sized pool – there is non-stop fun to be had.
If you’re visiting AquaZone during weekends or school holidays you can also expect giant inflatables such as the mega slide and swing. It is $5.10 for a child 3-15 years and $7 for an adult.
15. Find a Treasure at Fletcher Jones Market
Fletcher Jones was an iconic Australian clothing brand, and part of their pioneering approach to employee relations was the beautiful Fletcher Jones Gardens. Created as somewhere for the workers of the factory to relax and enjoy during their break, a visit to the manicured lawns, sculptures and floral displays of Fletcher Jones Market are a wonderful thing to do in Warrnambool.
The factory building has since transformed into a treasure trove of over 40 stalls selling vintage bric-a-brac and collectables. Although the antique market isn’t exactly inviting to energetic toddlers, the vintage cars are a fabulous family friendly addition worth stopping by.
Things to do in Warrnambool!
As you can see there are many things to do in Warrnambool which the entire family will enjoy but let us know if your favourite activity is missing from the list! Regardless of the season, you will leave Warrnambool with so many memories and a longing to return for another fun-filled trip. Make sure to check out our post on the Great Ocean Road for more things to do nearby.
Looking for things to see and do in Melbourne with kids? Take a look at our main post: Melbourne for Kids with lots of ideas and inspiration. Make sure to follow Mum’s Little Explorers on Facebook and Instagram.