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.
We visit Warrnambool in winter and discover that there’s still lots to do, especially during the winter school holidays when Fun4Kids Festival takes over the city centre.
Here are my Top 14 places to go in Warrnambool with kids (in winter).
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 start from $140 per night per room or $375 per night for the whole lodge.
Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse Lodge, 89 Merri St, Warrnambool VIC 3280, Australia (03) 5559 4600 or Toll free: 1800 556 111
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. 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
Shipwrecked! is a nighttime sound and laser show at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village that takes you on a journey during one of Australia’s most infamous maritime disasters. 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.
Shipwrecked Sound and Laser Show, 89 Merri St, Warrnambool VIC 3280, Australia (03) 5559 4600 or Toll free: 1800 556 111
– huge annual week-long event designed for kids aged 2-12 years. Over 80 live performances and an incredible array of kids activities under a 2.5 acre indoor venue in the heart of Warrnambool.
- Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve – 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.
- Warrnambool Botanic Gardens -twenty acres of tranquil gardens. Free entry.
- Logan’s Beach foreshore walk – 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 – 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.
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 visited on a long weekend unfortunately our dining out choices were 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
12. Hopkins River Artisan Bakery Pop up – A pop up store baking 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.
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.
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. We took 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.
Snout in the Trough 243 Manifold Street, Camperdown 03 5593 3303
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