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Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village & Information Centre, Australia @VisitWarrnambool
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village & Information Centre, Australia @visitvictoria
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village & Information Centre, Australia @visitvictoria

Penguin guard dogs, a historic precinct narrating the tale of shipwrecks and a delightful Great Ocean community is a reason to linger and explore the area.

The largest town on the Ocean Road as well as the terminus for many coach tours, Warnambool is overlooked as a place to explore.  A significant Aboriginal reserve, an extraordinary story of dogs rescuing penguins and historic precinct are three great reasons to linger a while.  Warnambool is a town replete with green spaces, gardens. Combined with a vibrant cafe scene and markets visitors can spend happy hours taking it slow exploring the area.

 

1
A dog story, Maremma dogs and their best friend, the native penguin

The original Maremma dog was a bit of a rascal and was on notice that doggie behaviour was going to end up with a permanent one way eviction notice. Through trial, a dash of good luck and the will of the owners Oddball reinvented himself as a penguin rescuer. Penguins were on the brink of extinction due to pests such as foxes decimating the Middle Island colony. Maremma dogs are now a cherished part of the conservation programme for the native penguin. Warrnambool’s first fully manned lighthouse station was built on the island in 1855 and there are mentions of the birdlife being annoying in lighthouse keeper’s records. Meet the Maremma Experience is fun, educational and interactive with an opportunity to understand the dynamics of dog behaviour as penguin guardians.

Visitors are no longer allowed on Middle Island.

Middle Island is also home to short-tailed shearwater and black cormorant colonies.

2
Tower Hill Reserve

Tower Hill Reserve Warrnambool. An Aboriginal managed reserve situated in ancient volcanic crater, home to native birds, emus and kangaroos. There are self-guided and guided walks available. The striking visitor centre is an architectural showstopper. Robin Boyd’s portfolio of work is largely situated in Melbourne, hence it’s a treat to have a significant architectural gem in Warnambool. The visitor centre is managed by Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Cooperative and Parks Victoria. The environmental and cultural displays provide context for the reserve. There is an interesting gift shop with one of kind aboriginal arts and crafts for sale, as well as light refreshments.

TIP

Remember to collect trail brochures from the centre. Guided tours of the park depart 11.00am or a twilight walk. Bookings are required beforehand. Fees apply.

Tower Hill Reserve walks

  • Peak Climb, spectacular views
  • Length 1.5km
  • Duration 40 minutes

Wagon Bay loop

  • Length 1.5km
  • Duration 40 minutes

Lava Tongue Boardwalk (most popular)

  • Length 1.6km
  • Duration 40 minutes

Tower Hill Circuit Walk (around the volcano crater rim)

  • Length 8km
  • Duration 3 – 4 hours

Journey to the last volcano

  • Length 2.2km
  • Duration 1 ½ hrs – 2 hrs

Open 10..0am – 4.00pm daily. Closed Christmas Day.

3
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village & Information Centre

An interactive museum, shipwreck stories of heroism and loss of life and the impact of technology on navigation make Flagstaff Hill Precinct the number one stop for visitors. There is a very popular school holiday programme for parents thinking of what to do with the kids. Definitely a good idea for the school holidays. Bookings beforehand are required. The Sound and Light Show is a must do visitor experience. Visual images, sound and narrated tales of aboriginal food gathering practices to whaling exploits and the reputation of the coast as one of trepidation for mariners are played out on immense screens. The daily show runs daily. As it is an outdoor event showings can be affected by weather conditions. To avoid disappointment forward bookings are recommended.

4
A picnic classic venue, public gardens

Warrnambool Botanic Gardens

Over 20 acres of cultivated gardens complete with a tree database just in case you could not remember the name of the tree you are spalled under.  The garden is a classic Victorian garden designed by William Guilfoyle later to leave his mark as the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne in 1873.  The fernery, the ornamental lake complete with ducks, the band rotunda, and specimen trees make for a classic picnic lunch. There are public toilets

From WBG online resource

Garden walk Garden Walk – Warrnambool, As a walk through Warrnambool’s public gardens sites. One can move from the Botanic Gardens in Cockman Street to Swan Reserve on the highway and then Scoborio Reserve near the mouth of the Hopkins River. Scoborio Reserve was named in remembrance of Charles Scoborio, this reserve is often mistaken as being the original site of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens in 1866, the original site was in fact on the western boundary of the now Warrnambool Cemetary.

Lake Pertobe has a superb contemporary adventure kids playground and ornamental lake (swimming is not allowed). For energetic kids Lake Pertobe offers an alternative picnic location.

For garden buffs check out Cannon Hill with its sweeping views of Lady Bay and Lake Pertobe.  An opportunity for selfie moments with the backdrop of a Portuguese Padrao commemorating early Portuguese exploration of the Warrnambool area.  There are no toilets on Cannon Hill.

Fletcher Jones Gardens are a legacy of a former national clothing empire which was founded in Warnambool in 1948.  The gardens are noted for their blaze of colour in spring.  The gardens were once a quarry and feature Sir Fletcher Jone’s hawker wagon, a waterfall and wishing well.  A garden visit is not complete without a spot of holiday shopping at the Fletcher Jones Mill Markets, bric a brac galore, quirky finds and pop up food stalls make for a memorable garden visit.

5
The whale trail

Need a break late winter then Warnambool’s Southern Right Whale nursery is a crowd pleaser.  Between June to September the female Southern Right whales return to Logans Beach to calve.  They are known to swim within a hundred metres of the shore.  The viewing platforms provide visitors with a birds eye view of the nursery.  There is no charge to the viewing platforms.  The local visitor centre has provided a number of tips … For updates on sightings visit www.visitwarrnambool.com.au or follow the sightings on Facebook!

Why do the whales come to Warrnambool?

Southern Right Whales have been visiting Warrnambool for hundreds of years. Once they were hunted almost to the point of extinction, but since whaling was outlawed in 1935, their numbers have been growing.

In summer, Southern Right whales live in the sub-Antarctic. In winter, they migrate to warmer waters around the southern areas of Australia.

The females migrate to the “nursery” areas close to the shore to bear their calves, while the males, yearlings and young adults remain further out to sea.

Practical viewing tips

  • Call the Visitor Information Centre beforehand to check whether the whales are in the area.
  • Sometimes whales may not be visible at Logans Beach, even though they are in the region – make time for multiple visits.
  • Please keep off the fragile vegetation and sand dunes, and use the facilities provided.
  • Binoculars or a telescope can enhance viewing.
  • Be prepared for windy or wet conditions.
  • Nearest toilets – 1km Hopkins River.

Travel Pack Information

Warnambool heritage trail (map to be collected from Flagstaff Hill Visitor Centre. While Warnambool has a number of heritage buildings the trail guides visitors to sites where the building has been demolished. Recommended for dedicated heritage trail buffs only.

The Lone Pine story (source Warnambool Botanic Gardens online resource)

The Battle of Lone Pine was fought from 6-9 August 1915, on a heavily fortified plateau of the Gallipoli Peninsula, upon which stood a solitary pine tree. Intended to create a diversion for a British landing in Suvla Bay, the battle left between five and six thousand Turkish and 2,277 Australian soldiers dead. In September, men of the Australian 23rd and 24th Battalions arrived fighting on alternate days. From the ruins of battle, Sergeant Keith McDowell picked up a pine cone from where the tree had once stood and carried it back home to Australia … a number of travels later the pine cone had four seedlings …  The fourth was planted in Warrnambool’s Botanic Gardens, with a dedication service on 21st January 1934.’

Lady Bay Low Lighthouse

The Lady Bay Low Lighthouse in the Flagstaff Maritime Museum at Warrnambool overlooks the bay from which it takes its name. It started life, one part as an obelisk, the other part as an earlier lighthouse.

History

The square tower was originally built in 1854 as one of two obelisks on Flagstaff Hill. The light was originally used in its predecessor, the Beach Lighthouse, built in 1859. This lighthouse was the leading lighthouse but was ineffective due to lack of elevation.

During 1871-72, the light was relocated to the top of the obelisk. At the same time the old Middle Island Lighthouse was relocated stone by stone to replace the other obelisk further up Flagstaff Hill to become the Lady Bay Upper Light.

The light was originally powered by oil, then gas and finally electricity. The Lower Lighthouse is still in use.

Source Warnambool online visitor resource.

The journey is worth it.

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Warnambool four highlights encouraging you to take it slow and stay
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Warnambool four highlights encouraging you to take it slow and stay

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