There’s a section of coast between Cape Otway and Port Fairy in Victoria that holds a fascinating chapter in Australian maritime history. Base yourself in Warrnambool and discover the stories for yourself.
More than 700 cargo and passenger ships came to a grief along Victoria’s south west coast in the 1700-1800s, but only around 200 have been documented.
There’s a section of the coast, between Cape Otway and Port Fairy that’s specifically called the Shipwreck Coast.
Warrnambool is a great place to base yourself to experience this section of coast – a must-do experience when visiting the Great Ocean Road region.
Here are 5 facts to entice you to stay for a few days and truly immerse yourself in the fascinating chapter of Australian maritime history.
The Shipwreck Coast is officially between Cape Otway (1.5 hours from the South Australian border) and Port Fairy (about 3 hours from Melbourne).
I recommend you base yourself in Warrnambool, so you can travel to Port Fairy and back on one day and to Cape Otway and back the next.
There are plenty of other things to do and see in Warrnambool, so make a long weekend of it…or stay a while!
Infamous British explorer Matthew Flinders notably said he’d never seen a “more fearful section of coastline”.
Nature is still a powerful force along the coastline and there are operating lighthouses at:
– Airey’s Inlet
– Cape Nelson
– Cape Otway
– Port Fairy
– Portland (Whalers Bluff and Portland Bay)
Once you personally see the raw and rugged coastline of the south west coast, you can understand how these ships came to grief, either due to weather or human error (and some where even said to be caused by foul play!).
The remains of the ships lay where they met their demise and you can see anchors at Wreck Beach.
Any time of the year is magnificent in the Great Ocean Road region, but, if you come during Autumn and Winter, you’ll beat the crowds and have a better chance of having the beach to yourself, seeing a whale and truly experiencing the exhilarating coastal conditions.
The replica maritime village perfectly illustrates what life was like in the 1800s for a small coastal town. You can discover artifacts from the famous Loch Ard Gorge shipwreck and attend the ‘Tales of the Shipwreck Coast’ sound and light show any night of the week. It will blow the whole family away!
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.