52 Great Weekends

No 43: Family Fun in Port Fairy & Warrnambool

With two seaside towns to explore the young, and the young at heart are sure to have a great weekend in Port Fairy and Warrnambool. Learn to surf on gentle rolling waves, scoot along promenades to sheltered swimming bays and visit historic lighthouses. Be a-mazed at the lakeside adventure playground, go crabbing in rockpools, wonder at waterfalls and enjoy good old fish and chips by the water. Just some of the all ages adventures on the Western End.

STAY & PLAY IN PORT FAIRY

Discover the beautifully preserved historic fishing village and family holiday destination of Port Fairy. Scoot to Griffith’s Island Lighthouse or learn to surf at family friendly, East Beach – walking distance from your riverside Caravan Park. Enjoy waters-edge fish & chips or catch your own from the Moyne River Boardwalk. Become a Captain for the day and cruise Port Fairy Bay then go crabbing in the rockpools before an old world treat on the main street.

STAY: PORT FAIRY GARDENS CARAVAN PARK

Your home away from home at Gardens Caravan Park is perfectly located on the idyllic banks of the Moyne River. Just 600 metres from the Port Fairy town centre, beside the picturesque Botanic Gardens and only a few metres from the ever-popular East Beach this dog-friendly caravan park is ideally situated for all of your favourite holiday adventures. The grassy open spaces are surrounded by iconic Norfolk pine trees that provide a tranquil break for the whole family. Smell the sea air and enjoy the natural open spaces from the deck of your self-contained cabin or choose one of the spacious, grassed camping sites for your stay.

GRIFFITHS ISLAND & LIGHTHOUSE

Bike, skate and scoot the 1.2km return trail to Griffith’s Islands Eastern tip and discover the historic Port Fairy Lighthouse, built in 1859. This local bluestone lighthouse is still operational but today is solar powered and fully automatic – the last lighthouse keeper left the island in the early 1950’s.

Griffith’s Island is a natural sanctuary for native animals. Keep an eye out for wallabies, blue-tongue lizards, echidnas and over 80 species of birds. It’s also the perfect nesting ground for the Short-tailed Shearwater or ‘Mutton bird’ and a great location for whale spotting from June to October.

SURFING AT EAST BEACH

Surf’s up at East Beach! Perfect for learning to surf with family-friendly waves. This beautiful 5.8km crescent shaped surf spot stretches from the mouth of the Moyne River to Reef Point with a patrolled area located out the front of the surf club. If there’s no surf, grab a snorkel and check out the small kelp forest and the fish that call it home near the front of the surf club.

FISHING FROM THE MOYNE RIVER BOARDWALK

Like to catch your own lunch? Let the kids throw in a rod from the boardwalk of the Moyne River. This is one of the busiest ports in Victoria and it’s well worth a watch as the local fisherman offload their morning catch of crayfish and abalone. Guided fishing charters can also take you out to sea if you fancy.

LUNCH: WATERS EDGE FISH & CHIPS AT THE WHARF

Nothing biting? You’ll catch a great feed that the whole family will love at The Wharf – only metres from where the local fisherman unloaded their catch only hours ago. Whether you are looking for classic takeaway fish & chips or to dine-in on the freshest seafood – it doesn’t come fresher than this.

GO CRABBING AT THE PEA SOUP ROCKPOOLS

A big hit with young families are the Pea Soup rockpools. Crabs, sea stars and all kinds of other ocean critters can be easily discovered. It is also a sheltered swimming spot so if the weather is a little wild Pea Soup remains one of the safest beaches around.

CRUISE PORT FAIRY BAY ON A MULLOKA BOAT CRUISE

Want to set off for the high seas? Mulloka Cruises offers fun and informative half hour bay cruises around the picturesque Port Fairy Bay with great views of town and Griffiths Island. You will see some of the various ship wrecks that are in the bay and if the kids are lucky, they might even be able to steer the ship. The cruise leave from Port Fairy’s main fisherman’s wharf, right in front of The Wharf fish and chip shop where you had lunch earlier.

PORT FAIRY CONFECTIONERY

After a huge day the kids deserve an ol’ world treat on main street. Parents can relive their childhood too with classic favourites such as umbrellas, lollypops, licorice blocks, sherbert fountains and jars of boiled English lollies or spoil themselves with a little something from the specialty chocolate range.

GO WILD IN WARRNAMBOOL

Nestled on the South West Coast amid green dairy country and overlooking the Southern Ocean Warrnambool is a natural playground. Scoot, skate and bike the foreshore promenade to the safe shores of Stingray Bay and Merri River or the family favourite paths and parks of Lake Petrobe. Kids will love the exhilarating eight-hectare Adventure Playground complete with maze, giant slides, flying foxes and boat rides. Adults will love the walking tracks around the lake, the tranquil picnic spots and that the park is right across the road from your Surfside Holiday Park. Make sure to step back in time at the historic maritime village of Flagstaff Hill with spectacular evening lightshow. Just some of the all ages adventures on the Western End.

STAY: WARRNAMBOOL SURFSIDE HOLIDAY PARK

The wonders of Warrnambool lay out before you at Warrnambool Surfside Holiday Park. The sand and surf of Warrnambool Beach and the expansive parkland of Lake Petrobe are on your doorstep with the heart of town only a 10minute stroll away.

You’ll find plenty to see and do for the whole family from your six-star environmentally-rated lodgings or coastal campsites at the Surfside Holiday Park. Enjoy your pick of flat, grassy powered and unpowered campsites protected by lush, coastal scrub. Or enjoy a country cottage or stunning Surfside Beach Chalet with a six-star energy rating and timber deck.

LAKE PERTOBE ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND

Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground is a must see year-round family favourite attraction in Warrnambool. It’s even listed in the “Top 10 Parks in the South Pacific Region” on Trip Advisor. And no wonder – this eight hectare adventure playground is paradise for kids with giant slides, flying foxes, maze, skate park and boat rides. There are lovely walking tracks around the lakes, and the park features delightful picnic areas, lawn tennis courts and sheltered barbecue facilities.

MINI GOLF & JUMPING PILLOW

Keep the games going at Mini Golf by the Sea – located next door to the Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground. This course boasts 18 holes plus a giant Jumping Pillow. Up the playing stakes and try to score a Hole in One certificate or even better, get your name up on the ‘World’s Best Scores’ board.

FRESH PRODUCE MARKET AT LAKE PETROBE

Spend your Sunday trying the freshest produce as you stroll with your morning coffee at The Fresh Market Warrnambool – it’s a ‘Market by the Sea’. Held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month at Lake Pertobe this year-round market showcases the region’s finest producers, creators and designers. Enjoy the tunes, chat with your favourite producers, attend a workshop and even pat the famous miniature sheep!

SCOOT, SKATE AND BIKE WARRNAMBOOL PROMENDADE

This award-winning Foreshore Promenade is a scenic 5.7km sealed path starting at the 1890 Lee Breakwater, passing Lake Pertobe, following Lady Bay, crossing the mouth of the Hopkins River Estuary and finishing at the famous whale nursery at Logans Beach. It’s suitable for all forms of wheeled transport including bikes, rollerblades, wheelchairs and prams. You’ll pass by two cafes, multiple beaches and swimming spots, a playground and Hopkins River Mouth – jump on and off as you like!

ICE CREAM AT WARRNAMBOOL KIOSK

Make sure to stop for a treat at Main Beach Kiosk – the iconic beach side cafe located along the Promenade walking track and across the road from Lake Petrobe. Sit in the front courtyard and enjoy great coffee, ice-creams, drinks and meals with relaxed, friendly vibes.

SWIM AT STINGRAY BAY AND MERRI RIVER – BY MIDDLE ISLAND

The Warrnambool coastline offers a selection of protected swimming beaches, exposed surf breaks and fun water adventures. Did you know, there over 29 known, although not all found, shipwrecks in the area! A favourite sheltered swimming spot is Stingray Bay, at the mouth of the Merri River. A beautiful, calm cove where you can explore crystal-clear rock pools, the rope bridge and the flowing stream of the Merri River. From the shores you can see Middle Island, famous for its Maremma Project – a unique environmental program that uses a special breed of Maremma dogs to protect birds and penguins from fox and dog predation. It has even been turned into a film ‘Oddball’ staring the local Maremma dogs and Shane Jacobson.

VISIT HOPKINS FALLS

On the way home make sure to stop at the largest waterfall on the Hopkins River. Located 15km from Warrnambool, the 90m wide, 12m tall Hopkins Falls is well worth a pitstop. Winter is the best time to view these curtain-like falls and the two viewing platforms even have their own camera stands to help you snap an Insta-worthy family shot. Take the easy path to the pools below making sure to get the kids to keep an eye out for the baby eels jumping out of the rocky ledges… they are making their winter migration too.

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Top 5 things that made the weekend great

  • Biking Griffith’s Island and visiting the historic Port Fairy Lighthouse

  • Scooting the award-winning Warrnambool Promenade to beaches and whale watching lookouts

  • Playing at the Lake Petrobe Adventure Playground

  • Cruising Port Fairy Bay and looking for shipwrecks

  • The spectacular Maritime lightshow at Flagstaff Hill

The Great Ocean Road is one big playground for family fun.


 

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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.