Warrnambool is Victoria’s largest coastal city (outside Port Phillip Bay), situated about 250km west of Melbourne. It’s traditionally a summer destination as visitors often combine it with a road trip along the famous Great Ocean Road.
However if you visit Warrnambool in winter you’ll discover there’s still lots to do, from whale watching to attractions both during the day and at night. There will be something to suit everyone!
Here are my top places to go in Warrnambool with kids (particularly in winter).
For accommodation options in Warrnambool, I recommend checking out what’s available on Booking.com.
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Things to Do in Warrnambool
Warrnambool best playground is Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground. This 8ha adventure playground has a huge sandpits, giant slides, flying foxes, a maze, rock structure with water play and you can even hire boats for paddling. Recent enhancements completed in 2022 include a new toddler play area and a super large modern slide.
There are picnic and BBQ facilities.
The Lake Pertobe precinct is also home to lawn tennis courts, mini golf, an athletics track and skatepark.
Lake Pertobe Adventure playground, Pertobe Road, Warrnambool
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is a maritime museum with Australia’s richest shipwreck collection and a reconstructed 1870s outdoor village overlooking Lady Bay.
Lady AB and I enjoy exploring the village’s shops and buildings, feeding the ducks and sampling the scones in the tea rooms.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village 89 Merri St, Warrnambool VIC 3280, Australia (03) 5559 4600 or Toll free: 1800 556 111
The Flagstaff Hill Sound and Light Show is a nighttime sound and laser show at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village that takes you on a journey of the village through projections onto a nine-metre high water wall.
Guests are seated undercover but it’s open to the elements so dress warmly. I don’t think it is really suitable for younger children due to the loud noises and late starting times (after sunset).
Flagstaff Hill Sound and Light Show, 89 Merri St, Warrnambool VIC 3280, Australia (03) 5559 4600 or Toll free: 1800 556 111
The award-winning Deep Blue Hot Springs in Warrnambool is a geothermal mineral bathing Sanctuary. Visitors can experience the thrill of bathing among a myriad of curated rockpools, sensory caves and cleansing waterfalls while benefiting from therapeutic minerals and heat of the natural earth drawn waters.
Whether passing through or staying over, the Deep Blue Hot Springs is one of Warrnambool’s absolute must do experiences and will leave you feeling completely rejuvenated.
Numerous time allocated sessions are offered daily and suitable for children age 5+. (Night time sessions are reserved for adults age 16+).
Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs Warrnambool, Worm Bay Road, Warrnambool VIC 3280, (03) 5559 2000, email@example.com
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is Victoria’s first national park and home to many native birds and wildlife. You’ll likely spot koalas, kangaroos, emus and much more on your visit. The visitor centre is managed by Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Cooperative and features a collection of aboriginal arts and crafts. Free entry.
Enjoy a stroll through twenty acres of tranquil gardens at Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. Free entry.
Warrnambool is a major dairy farming region and Allansford Cheese World is a museum with free cheese tastings, a licensed restaurant, and a wide selection of local and regional wines.
Admire Warrnambool’s coastline with a walk starting at Logan’s Beach around to Lady Bay foreshore until you reach Thunder Point. Enroute you’ll find the whale watching lookout where you might be able to see humpback whales and their calves around June – October.
Middle Island Maremma Project isn’t strictly a tourist attraction but it is one of Warrnambool’s most famous projects.
The children’s book Chooks in Dinner Suits is a warm, funny account of one man’s quest to save a penguin colony, assisted by two very unusual helpers – Max and Mimi, the Maremma dogs. Inspired by the world-first Middle Island Maremma Project in Warrnambool, this is an incredible true story about one town’s efforts to protect their population of Little Penguins.
Faced with the decline of their feathered friends, the people involved in the project undertook a radical approach and trained two Maremma dogs to become penguin guardians. There are guided ‘Meet the Maremma’ tours offered in Summer at low tide which are run by the Warrnambool City Council.
Where to eat in Warrnambool
Warrnambool still has a country town feel to it so don’t be surprised if you find that cafes and shops shut in the early afternoon on a Saturday and don’t open Sundays or public holidays. As we visit on a long weekend, unfortunately, our dining out choices are limited.
Proudfoot’s Boathouse in a heritage boathouse built in 1885 at the mouth of the Hopkins River.
The dining room serves enormous meals of classic pub grub with gorgeous views.
Proudfoot’s Boathouse, 2 Simpson St Warrnambool, Victoria 5561 5055
Bohemia Cafe & Bar is a relaxed cafe with a fairly standard cafe menu.
Prime seating is by the bay window and we try the decent pancakes and a classic avo smash.
Bohemia Cafe & Bar 127 Kepler Street, Warrnambool 03 5562 7533
A bakery with a range of artisan products including handmade sourdough breads, naturally fermented breads and rolls, pastries pies and pasties. They also sell their wares at the fortnightly Fresh Market Warrnambool.
Pavilion Cafe offers great coffee and spectacular views over Lady Bay, the Southern Ocean and Middle Islands. In the early hours of the morning you might spot race horses training on the beach. It’s also the perfect starting point for a long stroll along the promenade.
14. Day Kitty
A cafe focusing on healthy fare with a great variety of vegetarian/vegan options. They also sell house-made ice-cream (including cones), cold-press juices and smoothies, a range of coffees and teas.
Elements Restaurant & Bar ( located at the centre of town on Raglan Parade) is open at dinner times and offers great food including popular Hot Stone steaks, Burgers and Parmas. Best of all, they have a great indoor play area for the kids.
Where to stay in Warrnambool
Lighthouse Lodge is the former lighthouse keeper’s lodge at the base of the Lady Bay Lighthouses.
The fully renovated accommodation retains the heritage aspects of the house with interesting historical artefacts and pictures along with modern conveniences such as free wifi, BBQ, large screen TVs and heating/cooling systems.
The lodge consists of three Queen/King rooms with a shared lounge/kitchen/outdoor area, or you can book the whole lodge exclusively. Each room has its own ensuite with shower, TV and DVD player and ipod docking station working desk.
It is walking distance to the front entrance of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village and visitors get discounted entry into the Flagstaff Hill and the Shipwrecked Sound and Light Show.
Rates are available on a per room basis, or you can book the whole lodge!
Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse Lodge, 89 Merri St, Warrnambool VIC 3280, Australia (03) 5559 4600 or Toll free: 1800 556 111
Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs is Warrnambool’s icon for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. With an idealistic coastal location, guests rest comfortably in hotel rooms adorned in soft seaside tones and with many boasting ocean or partial ocean views to admire the surrounding beaches, walking tracks and coastal attractions.
Each room offers additional comforts for the modern day traveller with in-room movies and entertainment. The Deep Blue provides the perfect setting to enjoy a comfortable night’s stay or for those with a little more time a visit to the Indoor Bath house, Swimming Pool, Day spa, Sauna, Salt Therapy and more.
Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs, Worm Bay Road, Warrnambool, +61 3 5559 2000, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more accommodation options in Warrnambool, I recommend checking out CozyCozy, a website that allows you to compare prices of accommodation across multiple online booking sites.
Where to stop when driving to Warrnambool
There are two major highway routes to get to Warrnambool – along the Princes Hwy or along the winding coastal Great Ocean Road.
You can also book a 2-day Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne to see all the major sites and stop at popular spots along the way.
We take the faster inland route and stopped at Winchelsea and Camperdown on the way there and Colac on the way back.
The perfect pit stop for travellers on the Princes Highway. It’s next to the Barwon River, a playground, BBQ area, public toilet block and public pool. The cafe is actually within an old house and the main room is perfect for children, with high chairs, lots of toys and a hand-carved wooden rocking boxing kangaroo!
Café La Hoot 1 Willis St, Winchelsea +61 407 528 999
A building that used to be a bank, a grocery store and an electrical shop is now a charming cafe with retro furniture, a small providore and a menu of good simple food.
It’s a little bit of Melbourne cafe culture in the country and I enjoy my corn and zucchini fritters, stacked high with avocado and smoked salmon.
A popular cafe with the locals and on the highway. The food and coffee are decent and will it get you through the last leg of your journey back to Melbourne. They have high chairs and kids books and get can busy on weekends.
The Farmer’s Son 136 Murray St, Colac, Victoria 52315666
HELPFUL TRAVEL TIPS
- If you’re looking for accommodation, check-out Booking.com.
- Rent a car from Europcar or a campervan from Jucy.
- Book your tours and activities prior to departure with GetYourGuide or Viator.
- Accidents do happen. In case they happen to you, make sure you have a travel insurance. We recommend Cover-More or VisitorsCoverage.
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