Warrnambool is the largest city in western Victoria, a great service centre but also a great place to base yourself to explore the Great Ocean Road and hinterlands. A little further along you come to Port Fairy which is one of Victoria’s earliest settlements based on whaling in the Bass Strait. It has a lovely seaside feel and you can easily stroll around most of the attractions.
Top 5 Things to See and Do
Historic Wharf precinct – Port Fairy
Once the second busiest port in Australia, the wharf is still home to an active fishing fleet. A great place to sit under the pines and watch the world go by. Walk the boardwalks, drop a line or take a picnic and sit in the shade.
Festivals – Port Fairy
The Port fairy folk festival is on the labour day weekend www.portfairyfolkfestival.com – a great time to wander the streets and the foreshore. Apart from the various street musicians playing, you can enjoy the eclectic mix of street food.
Other festivals throughout the year include winter I port fairy, the book fair and Port Fairy Spring Mustic Festival www.portfairyspringfest.com.au
Flagstaff Hill and Shipwrecked - Warrnambool
Flagstaff Hill maritime village, sets you back in time to the early days of the 1870's. By night 'Shipwrecked' is a world class sound and laser show here. This area of coastline is notoriously treacherous and numerous ships have been lost.
Immerse yourself in the sea at one of Warrnambool or Port Fairy’s surf beaches, visit the local rock pools, take your dog for a run on one of the many dog-friendly beaches, or throw a line in to catch some local fare.
Whale watching during the winter months from June to October provides views of the Southern Right Whale breaching and nursing their young.
Explore Tower Hill just 14km east of Port Fairy, nestled inside a volcanic crater. Koroit is midway between Warrnambool and Port Fairy where you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of this historic township.
Northwest you’ll find Mount Eccles, one of several volcanoes that helped for the volcanic plains of western Victoria.
Heading further west you’ll discover Portland and Cape Bridgewater. Portland is the oldest town in Victoria and situated on a natural deep-water harbour with some interesting historical buildings and a restored cable tram. Cape Bridgewater, around 20 minutes further on is home to a colony of fur seals as well as the Blowholes and Petrified Forest.
Heading east through Port Campbell (around an hour) you can view the majesty of the twelve apostles rising up from the sea, or stop along the way to enjoy spectacular views of the Bay of Isles.
An easy weekend getaway from Melbourne for a couple, group or the whole family. Or, a perfect stop on a longer touring trip with easy ferry access to the Bellarine Peninsula and on to the Great Ocean Road.
When to go?
Enjoy the full force of the winter weather with a visit to Port Fairy, and then cosy up in front of a log fire. Winter is also the best time for whale watching, or you can enjoy the beaches in the summer, touring in autumn and spring, fishing, exploring this unique history of the area at any time of the year.
If you plan to visit for one of the popular festivals, particularly the folk festival, make sure you book accommodation well in advance, as the township swells from 2,500 to around 40,000 during these times.
Average summer temperatures are 22 degrees with winter cooling off to 14 and below.
How to get there?
Warrnambool lies at the intersection of the inland Princes Highway and the winding, scenic Great Ocean Road. 263km from Melbourne, Warrnambool can be reached in just a few hours. Drive on a little further to get to Port Fairy, is 291km west of Melbourne.
Alternatively, trains run daily from Melbourne to Warrnambool with connecting bus services to Port Fairy.
How long to go for?
A weekend would be the minimum, but, being so close to Melbourne this is a popular weekend away, so if you can visit mid-week you’ll encounter smaller crowds. To see and do everything on the Great Ocean Road, you’d need a week or more.
Where to Stay? There are a huge range of accommodation in Warrnambool, plus some great places to stay in Port Fairy itself.
For visitor information go to www.visitportfairy-moyneshire.com.au/ however, once you get there, most of the main attractions and accommodation have local visitor information handy.