Warrnambool sits at the western end of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, and attracts almost a million visitors a year.

That’s not surprising, given this small coastal city is either the beginning or the end of a drive along this world famous stretch of coastline. But what may surprise you is just how much there is to see and do. Here are some of the top things to do in Warrnambool.

Begin by immersing yourself in the rich history of the region. European settlement began in the 1840s, and the Port of Warrnambool soon became a major transport hub. The town grew quickly on the back of the Victorian Gold Rush, but the rise of rail saw the port decline in importance. Agriculture continued to drive the city’s development throughout the 20th century, and today Warrnambool plays a major part in Australia’s dairy industry.

top spots whale watching
Warrnambool. Image: Visit Victoria

To get more of the backstory, pay a visit to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village. It’s the city’s top attraction and features three different areas – The Lady Bay Lighthouse Complex, the Shipwreck Museum, and the Maritime Village townscape.

Top things to do in Warrnambool
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village. Image: Getty Images

The coastal scenery around Warrnambool is truly breathtaking, so set aside some time to relax and wiggle your toes in the sand. Building sandcastles is a given, but kids will also love the Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground. Set on 20 hectares, it’s a play-fuelled paradise of giant slides, flying foxes, a maze and more.

Related: Top 5 Regional Towns in Victoria

Nature lovers should plan a visit to Hopkins Falls and the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Formed by two ancient volcanic eruptions, the reserve occupies what is actually a partly flooded crater. The mix of wetlands and bushland harbours an unusually high degree of biodiversity and you’re likely to spot plenty of wildlife.

Top things to do in Warrnambool
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Image: Bigstock

In winter, Warrnambool is renowned as a whale watching destination. The surrounding waters are a calving ground and majestic southern right whales and their young can often be spotted from the shoreline. Whale watching tours get very busy, so it’s best to book in advance.

Need a place to stay?

Choice Hotels has three fabulous properties in Warrnambool: the comfortable Comfort Inn Warrnambool International, the Comfort Inn Western in the heart of town, and Comfort Inn On Raglan, which is a five-minute drive from the Logan’s Beach Whale Nursery.

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