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Looking for things to do in Warrnambool, Australia? You’ve come to the right place! We share 15 of the best things to do in Warrnambool for families – from exploring the beautiful coastline to visiting family-friendly attractions that are sure to keep the kids happy!
This is the ultimate guide to visiting the coastal city of Warrnambool with kids and you’re sure to have plenty of ideas on what to do and where to go for your first (or next visit) to this quaint coastal Victorian town!
Best Things To Do In Warrnambool Victoria
Not only is Warrnambool the largest city in Victoria’s southwest region, but it is also home to some pretty cool attractions and natural landmarks, making it a popular stop on a Victorian road trip, towards the western end of the Great Ocean Road.
While the Great Ocean Road route officially stops just before Warrnambool, you would be missing out on some really spectacular scenery and activities if you don’t keep going.
In fact, we recommend you go all the way to Portland Victoria (or even across the South Australian border to Mount Gambier) if you can. But definitely make the time to visit Warrnambool!
Here are some of the best things to do in Warrnambool with kids (or without them… no judgement here!):
1. Spend A Day At Lake Pertobe
Lake Pertobe is one of the best places to spend a day with kids in Warrnambool! There are so many fun things to do here in the 8-hectare outdoor space.
Kids will love the Lake Pertobe adventure playground with loads of fun play equipment to challenge kids of all ages – giant slides, climbing frames and flying foxes galore. Our kids could have spent a day here just playing at the playground!
There are also walking tracks, and picnic areas with plenty of shady trees to lay down a picnic blanket!
Or if you want to try something a little different, you can hire motorboats to ride around the lake. They fit up to 1 adult and 3 kids or 2 adults and one child. We didn’t try these but they did look like a lot of fun!
There is also a skate park, mini golf, tennis courts and other sporting facilities within Lake Pertobe Parklands.
2. Visit The Beaches
Warrnambool is home to some beautiful beaches that might not get as much recognition as some others in Victoria, but are still pretty darn incredible! If you are visiting during the summer months, spending a day on the sand and in the water is a must-do activity.
And even if you are visiting outside of the summer season, you won’t want to miss the chance to take a sunset stroll along the Warrnambool Foreshore Promenade!
Here are some of the most popular beaches in Warrnambool:
- Logan’s Beach: This Warrnambool beach is famous for its whale-watching opportunities. Female Southern Right Whales migrate to these waters between late May and early October to give birth and raise their calves each year.
- Lady Bay Beach: This picturesque bay is the main beach in Warrnambool and offers a protected area for swimming, windsurfing and surfing. The beach is patrolled during the summer months making it a safe place to take the kids swimming.
- Breakwater & Stingray Bay: This historic 1890 Breakwater gives scenic views of the harbour and Warrnambool city, while Stingray Bay at the mouth of the Merri River is a lovely sheltered cove for fishing and exploring the rock pools.
Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water. Even on a cloudy day, the Victorian sun can be really potent and it’s so easy to get sunburnt! We have learnt this the hard way in the past. Ouch!
Grab our beach packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything essential!
3. Spot Wildlife At Tower Hill
If you love the chance to see native Australian animals in the wild, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is a fantastic place to do this! We only had a short time to spend here on our last visit and still managed to see an emu (pictured above) and two koalas!
Tower Hill Reserve is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape and it sits within a large volcanic crater. This makes the landscape rather fascinating too, with its volcanic cone-shaped hills rising from the lakes. Don’t worry, it’s a dormant volcano!
You can explore one of the many walking trails and boardwalks through the conservation reserve, or join a guided tour with a local guide.
Tower Hill is located just outside Warrnambool, and it’s definitely one of the best places to go if you want to get up close and personal with some of Australia‘s most iconic wildlife species – for free!
Note: During our visit in 2023, the Visitor Centre was closed for renovations with no date for reopening. This means there is nowhere to buy refreshments currently so make sure you bring your own with you, especially if you are planning to do any walks.
4. Visit Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is a living museum that brings the maritime history of Warrnambool to life. Visitors can get a feel for what maritime life was like for early settlers and sailors who lived and worked in the Warrnambool area.
The Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum has loads of interactive activities and displays to entertain families and kids, plus educational experiences for all ages.
This Warrnambool attraction recently underwent a major upgrade and now has a nightly sound and light show called ‘Tales of the Shipwreck Coast’.
The night show is definitely a must-see when you visit! And an exciting way to learn about the regions whaling history and the famous Loch Ard Shipwreck and Loch Ard Gorge.
By day, explore Victoria’s largest maritime and shipwreck collection, the 1858 heritage-listed Warrnambool Lighthouse and either a guided or self-paced tour through the village.
5. Go Whale Watching
This region of Victoria is well known for its whale-watching opportunities and Warrnambool is definitely a great place to visit if you want to see these majestic creatures in the wild!
You will find a viewing platform at Logan’s Beach which is a popular spot to enjoy the natural scenery and hopefully spot a whale during their migration season between May and October.
During the rest of the year, the Southern Right Whales spend their time in the sub-antarctic but migrate to the warmer waters of Australia for birthing their calves in the Logans Beach whale nursery area.
If you want an even closer look at the Warrnambool whales, there are various boat tours available, departing daily during the peak whale season. This is one of the top things to do for wildlife enthusiasts visiting Warrnambool and a lot of fun for kids too!
But if you want to keep your travel budget down, Logans Beach whale watching platform is a perfect free attraction that might just get you some epic sightings within the Southern Ocean.
This is by far one of the best things to do in Warrnambool in winter!
6. Visit The Middle Island Penguins
Have you seen the Australian film Oddball? It’s a true story about the Maremma Project on Middle Island.
After the little penguin colony was devastated by fox attacks, a local chicken farmer, Swampy Marsh suggested using Mareema dogs as guardians to protect the little penguins. Since this time, they have been flourishing and there has been no evidence of fox attacks since!
The small islands are also home to other native birds and wildlife, making it an essential conservation area in Victoria.
There is no public access to Middle Island, to ensure the protection of the penguin colony, however, you can take a ‘Meet The Mareema’ tour to learn more about this fantastic program and the island’s precious residents.
7. Walk Along Warrnambool Foreshore Promenade
If you love spending time in the great outdoors, the Warrnambool Promenade is a fantastic stretch of rugged coastline to spend it!
The Foreshore Promenade stretches 5.7 kilometres from the Warrnambool Breakwater and Thunder Point to Logans Beach Whale Nursery. But there’s no reason you need to walk the entire length and back. Plus there are plenty of great spots along the way!
This is a beautiful walk to enjoy the sunset in the afternoon over the ocean. It also takes you past Middle Island.
Not so keen to walk it? It’s perfect for bike riding, and skating, plus pram-friendly too if you are visiting Warrnambool with a baby or toddler!
8. Stroll Through Warrnambool Botanic Gardens
The Warrnambool Botanical Gardens is a must-visit for anyone interested in botany or gardening, but this is also just a lovely place for a relaxed walk and some fresh air.
These gardens were commissioned by William Guilfoyle, who also designed the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens!
The Warrnambool Botanic Gardens feature a wide variety of plants from around the world, including rare and exotic species. You can take a guided tour (by appointment) or simply wander through the gardens at your own pace.
There is a large pond with lily pads and plenty of ducks who call it their home. Plus kids will enjoy the nature play area.
9. Get A Dairy Fix At Allansford Cheese World
We spotted Allansford Cheese World along our Great Ocean Road drive and had to stop! We rarely pass up the chance to sample cheese and this place is heaven for cheese lovers!
Allansford Cheese World is located near Warrnambool and it’s home to a wide variety of award-winning cheeses from the Allansford Dairy. There is both a storefront and a restaurant here.
Visitors can sample some of the delicious cheese products (made here and others from around Victoria), and purchase fresh produce. There are also locally made beverages such as craft beer and wine and other unique food gifts and souvenirs.
The other cool thing is the Cheese World Museum! The museum opened back in the mid-90s in tribute to the hard-working dairy farmer families in the region. It has an extensive collection of antique items and farming machinery.
We had fun showing our kids historic variations of things they know now, like dial telephones and typewriters.
10. Explore The Warrnambool Art Gallery
This historic and contemporary art gallery features a wide range of exhibitions and events throughout the year, showcasing the work of local and international artists.
The Warrnambool Art Gallery first opened back in 1886 and is operated by the Warrnambool City Council as a memorial to Sir Fletcher Jones. The gallery is said to be one of the oldest in all of Australia.
Entry to the gallery is free, making this a good option if you are looking for free rainy-day activities in Warrnambool.
11. Play Mini Golf
Who doesn’t love a game of mini golf? There is no denying that mini golf is a great family activity and one that the kids are sure to love!
You can find Mini Golf by the Sea adjacent to Lake Pertobe and the Warrnambool foreshore. This is an 18-hole mini golf course. There is also a giant jumping pillow for the kids to let out some of their excess energy!
The mini golf course is open daily although hours differ depending on the time of year. You don’t need to book ahead. There is a car park here too.
12. Shop At The Warrnambool Markets
If you love wandering around markets, you’re in luck! There are a few great options for markets in Warrnambool each month.
- The Fresh Market Warrnambool – This local produce and handmade creators’ market is held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month at Lake Pertobe.
- The Fletcher Jones Markets – Located within the Old Fletcher Jones Clothing Factory, you will find a variety of new and used items. This indoor market is open daily from 9:30 am until 5 pm.
- Undercover Weekly Market – Held each Sunday at the Warrnambool showgrounds with a variety of second-hand goods, fresh food, clothing and handmade items, with approximately 70 undercover stalls.
In the month of January, there is also a twilight market and outdoor movie theatre held at Lake Pertobe, with plenty of delicious food and drink stalls before you settle in to watch a movie under the stars. Don’t forget your picnic blanket or chairs.
13. Soak In The Deep Blue Hot Springs
One of the most popular attractions in Warrnambool is the Deep Blue Hot Springs. Natural geothermal waters are said to have healing properties, as your body absorbs restoring minerals and heat from the thermal pools.
Here you will find open-air rock pools, cleansing waterfalls and sensory caves, along with a range of spa treatments on offer. There is also a rainforest cave, the Passage or stargazing in Reflection Bay if you visit at night.
Prices vary depending on the session time you choose. You can bring kids to the Deep Blue Hot Springs so long as they are over 5 years of age. Although, they are unable to attend the twilight sessions as this is an adults-only experience.
14. See Native Animals At Warrnambool Wildlife Encounters
One of the best ways to delight kids when travelling around Australia is a chance to see and interact with native wildlife! And that’s exactly what you can do at Warrnambool Wildlife Encounters.
Located in nearby Cudgee, which is around a 20-minute drive from the city centre, you can meet some of Australia’s most iconic native wildlife – koalas, kangaroos, possums, wombats, dingoes and more.
The park has a focus on education and conservation, with guided tours that offer an interactive wildlife experience. The tours take approximately 90 minutes and can be booked online.
15. Take In The Views At Hopkins Falls
If you’re looking for a great family activity that is free, then you can’t go wrong with a visit to Hopkins Falls. Located only 15 minutes from Warrnambool, it’s an ideal spot to take stunning photos of the falls and the surrounding landscape.
The falls are part of the larger Hopkins River and happen to be the largest along the river, and amongst the widest in Victoria, at a mammoth 90 metres. The viewing platforms or the foot of the falls are the best spots to take in the view.
The area nearby is a perfect place for a picnic or a BBQ, with gas BBQ facilities and toilets. There are plenty of walking tracks to explore. Many people also come to Hopkins River for fishing.
The best time to visit the falls is after heavy rainfall or during winter when there is more frequent rainfall. There is also a cool natural phenomenon that happens every summer over a few days when baby eels migrate upstream.
Day Trips From Warrnambool
While we have covered plenty of fun things to do in Warrnambool with kids, there are also some incredible day trips from Warrnambool that should not be missed.
Although if you are visiting as part of a larger Victorian road trip, you might have already visited a few of these places along the way. If not, here are some day trips you should definitely make time for:
Warrnambool is less than 1 hour drive from some of the most famous landmarks on the Great Ocean Road, in Port Campbell National Park!
Here you can see the remaining Twelve Apostles rock formations, the London Bridge (or London Arch), Loch Ard Gorge, the Grotto, and Gibsons Steps. You can easily see all of these beautiful places in a single day.
Port Campbell is a beautiful coastal town and when you’re this close already, you definitely can’t miss seeing all these natural attractions!
I may be a little biased since Portland is my childhood hometown, but it really is a beautiful town. It also happens to be Victoria’s birthplace, so there is some really unique history to discover here too.
And it’s only an hour and 15 minutes from Portland to Warrnambool.
Visit the Visitor Information Centre where you will find the Portland Maritime Museum. This is a cool little museum that has plenty to see and do. The foreshore playgrounds are a load of fun for the kids.
Or take a drive out to Cape Bridgewater Bay to see the Petrified Forest. There is also a seal walk which takes around 2 hours and you can see a huge colony of fur seals in the natural habitat! Don’t forget the sunscreen. Lots and lots of it!
More Day Trip Ideas
Other options for day trips from Warrnambool include Lorne to enjoy the beach, Lorne Sea Baths, Erskine Falls and the best view on the Great Ocean Road at Teddys Lookout.
Or head to Port Fairy for some of the best fish and chips in Victoria, right on the wharf.
Apollo Bay Distillery and Mariner’s lookout are great reasons to visit Apollo Bay too.
And for longer stays, such as a weekend trip from Warrnambool, you will find plenty of fun things to do in the Victorian capital of Melbourne!
Best Places To Stay In Warrnambool
When it comes to finding family accommodation in Warrnambool, there are quite a few options from holiday parks to resorts and hotels. We recommend booking early if you are planning to visit during the school holidays, especially during summer!
Planning Your Warrnambool Visit
Now that you know what to do in Warrnambool, it’s time to plan your stay! Here is a guide to visiting Warrnambool with kids:
Where Is Warrnambool?
Warrnambool is a coastal city located on the southwest coast of Victoria, Australia. It’s approximately 260 kilometres from Melbourne and just under an hour’s drive from Port Campbell National Park.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Warrnambool?
The best time to visit Warrnambool depends on what you plan to do. If you are hoping to see the migrating whales, the winter months are the best time to visit, otherwise, the summer months are perfect for enjoying the outdoors and beaches.
What Is The Best Way To Get Around Warrnambool?
The best way to get around Warrnambool is by car as most attractions are spread out. You can get a rental car from Melbourne Airport upon arrival. If you don’t have your own vehicle, there is a local bus service around town and taxis available.
Is Warrnambool On The Great Ocean Road?
Warrnambool is not directly on the Great Ocean Road, as it officially ends in Allansford. However, it is only a short distance past this point and many people do continue on to Warrnambool when doing the Great Ocean Road drive.
Is Warrnambool A Good Place To Visit With Kids?
Warrnambool is a great place to visit in Victoria with kids, with a perfect combination of outdoor activities, family-friendly attractions and historic landmarks to cater to the whole family.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Warrnambool Victoria for visitors of all ages. This is a great coastal town to base yourself in for a few days or just to spend a few hours when passing through, with plenty of great attractions and natural scenery to enjoy. If you are looking for more places you shouldn’t miss on your visit check out…