Sunday, June 30, 2013

Long weekend in Warrnambool

Strange name - Warrnambool, what does it mean. It's believed that it comes from the indigenous Australian's word for "land between two rivers". That could be the case as the town is situated between the Merri and Hopkins rivers as they make their way to the ocean.

In the past I've been to Warrnambool several times but you tend to forget and as you mature, you look at things differently. Always in the back of our minds, we are always considering the prospect of retiring from the city and Warrnambool is not outside our thoughts. It would need to offer a lot as Launceston, Tasmania is still high on the list.

Warrnambool has a maritime history, the ocean and some rich architecture from its founding years. It currently has a population of 34,000 and I expect that this grows dramatically during the holiday seasons.

The south west coastline of Victoria has much to offer in tourism, the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and the many rural towns along the way. We took the short route along the Princes Highway via Colac, Camperdown and Terang. I remember these towns from the 1980s when I rode the classic Melbourne to Warrnambool 165 mile cycling road race.
Driving was much less strenuous. However I did arrive quite tired just the same. We did a few circuits of the town before booking into our Motel just to acquaint ourselves with the town.

Warrnambool is famous for many things in its history but the main reason for Sue was the whale watching and fortunatly for her, she wasn't disappointed, nor was I.

I've had to enlarge this shot many times - the best I could get. The mother and calf were just rolling with the waves up and down the bay.
So after a very nice breakfast at a local cafe on Saturday morning, we drove down to Logans Beach where you might just be lucky to spot a Southern Right Whale with a calf just rolling with the waves.
And we were lucky because there she was, it looked like a reef, or rocks causing a slight disturbance in the sea. It was no more than 100 metres from the beach. On closer observation we discovered the movement. Sue had brought binoculars and had this great view of mother and calf and I'm afraid my photos don't do it justice but, can I say - we were there!!!

After Whale watching we took off to Port Fairy via Koroit. The town of Koroit is Irish based and known for its potato growing in years gone by. Its a nice little interlude on the way to Port Fairy. It has a great hotel with art nouveau architecture and many other interesting buildings worth a visit.

Koroit was a very Irish populated town in fact so was a lot of the district.
How far to Kilkenny and Cork?

Port Fairy is a fishing village from early days and a prominent whaling port. After seeing the mother and her calf at Logans Beach, I have to say that I'm very proud of Green Peace and the Australian Government standing strong against the Japanese whaling in the Great Southern Ocean. These species are starting to re-establish their numbers from possible extinction. Please take the time to research what the Japanese are doing to the eradication our whale population.

Today Port Fairy has a very strong sailing club, a very well attended Folk Festival  and a very  relaxing community that one could warm to.
The town has a few Pubs as many early Australian communities do. But in the country centres, much of the early architecture and features remain such as this lead light window.
This building housed a gourmet food product store - Sue went balistic.
I bought some wine. Its nice to know that these things are available in the rural districts.
Port Fairy retains some of Victoria's earliest examples of architecture, stretching from Georgian to Victorian, Edwardian and Art Nouveau. Oh yes and some of todays very modern homes.
Port Fairy turned our heads and took our hearts. Its a beautiful seaside village with population of around 3000 but grows over the year with its many festivals. It has a folk, blues festival in March and later in the year, a classic music festival. Somewhere in between it also has a festival of words where writers come to talk about their books - oh yes and there are book sales as well.

Up the road in Koroit - they have their Irish Festival. That means lots of Guinness, and things to do with potatoes.

On the way back to Warny (read that as Warrnambool) we stopped at Tower Hill. Are we so glad we did?
Tower Hill is an unbelievable piece of geological history. It is an extinct volcano that possibly erupted as the local indigenous people roamed this land. Today it is a national park and has a one way road that allows you to enjoy the base of the crater. Today it is home to emus, kangaroos, swamp birds and so many other local wildlife.
To the left is the wall of the extinct volcano
Looking down into the crater
Today it is the protected sanctuary to many of our local wildlife.

And the home of much wetland bird life.
We decided that although we were tired, we would finish our day with a walk around Warrnambool's Maritime Museum - Well there was dinner to come at a rather special Warrnambool restaurant.
The Maritime Museum is actually rather special as it gives a fascinating incite to the districts founding years and the many shipwrecks on the treacherous coast of the southern ocean.

Ducks on the pond and all Sue could think of was Confit Canard.
I hope we don't need this gentleman's services for some years to come.
And as our day drew to a close, a rainbow appeared on the horizon.
Flagstaff Hill and the reproduced maritime village on 10 acres of land deserves a few hours to reflect on the pioneering spirit of the people that populated the village in the mid to late 1800s.
It was late in the afternoon when we arrived and it only allowed an hour before they closed the gates but it was well worth the short visit - after all, we had packed so much into one day - Whale watching, Koroit, Port Fairy, Tower Hill and Warrnambool's Maritime Village, not to discount a wonderful meal at one of Warrnambool's lovely restaurants. Hmmm yes, another one for the list of retirement choices.

We went back to Logan's Beach to say goodbye to the mother and her calf and she waved goodbye and wished us a safe journey - hope they have the same with those Japanese whalers out there.


  1. Such an interesting read, and glad you saw those whales. Nice to know that they are growing in numbers again. But, was that a corn grinder I saw in the undertaker photo. Could do with that bit of kit here!

    1. Vera, I stole it from the museum - where shall I post it to?
      We had a magic weekend and need to plan more.

  2. Very interesting guys. It looks like a lovely community. The extinct volcano is wonderful!
    What a treat to see whales - you're timing was perfect!

    1. Craig - it is a nice community, the decision is - is it right for us in our search for a retirement. I see people from the UK retiring in France/Italy and think what a big decision.

  3. So glad that you saw the whales I have only ever seen them once at the cape with many visits! Sounds like a really nice place to spend a few days and it just rolls off the tongue :-) Keep well, D & N
    I cannot read these stupid words to prove I am not a robot, one more try and I give up!!

    1. Diane - yes very stupid words but without them, so much spam unfortuately. Enjoying your travels. Hope our very tall friend Nigel is well, and you too.

  4. Warrnambool is quite a decently sized country town and so their lovely architecture and facilities are expected and welcome. But Port Fairy is tiny. I wonder where the money came from to build very fine Georgian and later buildings. And to preserve them!

  5. Hels,
    I think Port Fairy inspired us more that Warnambool. Small yes but big on personality.
    Because Port Fairy was a major Port in its foundation years, much was of early architecture and then the village laid dormant and unchanged until recent decades - its now quite trendy.

  6. I like Warnambool a lot. It is not too far from Melbourne which might be more practical than Tasmania. I know, it is a big decision to make but take your time. In the meantime, we are discovering new places along with you.

    1. Nadege - do you know that it takes 4 hours to drive to Warrnambool.
      To Launceston, it takes 1 hour to Melbourne airport airport, 1 hour flight time and 1/2 an hour to Launceston CBD. Even if you get to the airport with an hour to spare, you have 1/2 an hour less.
      Yes - big decisions for the future but we keep our options open.


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