Warrnambool has some nice beaches. You can walk over suspension bridges to islands on the lake.
We spent some time out looking around this area but it was quite cool from the ocean breeze and so we didn't stay long.
Overlooking Lady Bay is Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village - a recreation of an 1800's coastal port typical of this region of Australia. As you enter there is a theatrette that shows some genuinely informative films and documentaries relating to maritime themes free of charge all day (some date back to the 1920s).
After you pay your entry fee (approx. $12 Aus.) you are ushered into a standing only slide and movie show which lasts about 15 minutes and then you head, via a simulated rocking boat, into the area where relics are on show. This is new and is called the Great CIrcle Gallery.
Features include an elaborate local tapestry which depicts historic themes and the Schomberg Diamond. An encrusted lid was brought up from the site of the 1855 Schomberg shipwreck in 1975. A couple of years later, when it was cleaned up, a diamond ring was found in the moulded top of the lid.
An outstanding lifelike and lifesize earthenware statue of a peacock from Minton Potteries at Stoke-on-Trent is the piece de resistance however. Modelled by Italian artist Comolera it was fashioned in Majolica, a tin-glazed earthenware that originated in Islamic countries in the 9th century. It was being transported from England to Melbourne aboard the clipper Loch Ard in 1878 for the 1880 International Exhibition when it sank in a gorge near Port Campbell with only two survivors. The statue washed ashore and was found by local landowner Charles McGillivray, virtually unharmed in its packing case, save for a slightly damaged nose and, ironically, was finally a feature at the Brisbane International Expo in 1989.
You then head out of this building onto the path taking you around the recreated village, though some are original buildings, including the chart room, two operating lighthouses and the lighthouse keeper's cottage which houses the Shipwreck Museum where you can glean many details of the wrecks around here.
Recreated buildings, using authentic materials, include St Nicholas Seamen's Church, the Steampacket Inn, the Bank of Australasia (which is staffed by actors in period costume on Friday afternoons), a brass foundry, newspaper office, ship chandler's office, slipway, steam-powered workshop, shipping agent, Masonic lodge, gaol, sailmaker's loft, cooper's workshop, armoury and officers' huts, port medical officer's surgery, school house, bond store, and a public hall which features
There is also a working blacksmith's, a shipwright's workshop (with beautifully crafted boats), a leadlighter, a photographic studio, a glassblower with imagination and, in the December-January school holidays, there are re-enactments in period costume on a daily basis.
The small lake features two restored ships - Rowitta (a Tasmanian steamer) and Reginald M (a sailing cargo ship). There is also a gift shop, family history research facilities, gift and souvenir shops, a tearoom, restaurant and bar.
There is a light and sound show at night which takes place at the Wharf Theatre. While I thought parts of it were very good, at $20Aus I also thought it was a bit overpriced. Children would probably get more out of it than a cynical adult like myself. The feature is the wrecking of the Loch Ard, one of an estimated 180 to come to grief on southern Australian shores.
This photo shows an 80 pounder gun, originally installed because of a late 1800's fear that the Russians were coming (they didn't) but its claim to fame is that the first time it was fired it shattered the windows in the lighthouse at far left. Its range was 5,484 metres (6,000 yards).
If you are one of those who like to wander and have time then the self-guided historical tour may be right up your alley (as you might find yourself up somebody else's if you do it!). The meandering route (available from the tourist office - look for the "I" signs) takes you to picturesque wrought iron buildings like this and many other sites too numerous to mention here but, suffice it to say that some of the historical background really brings them to life.
While wandering around Flagstaff I was highly entertained by some of the quotes from olden days and how out-of-synch they are with today's thinking.
From the school there were 10 covenants for teachers to adhere to. I present two of them here:
6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls or gets shaved in a barbers shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
Can't get much more draconian than that!
From the wall on the bar:
"Ladies of the Night
Available as desired at the warehouse of Mr. William Radcliffe adjoining his house dwelling in the hills.
Between the hours of 12 midnight and 3 in the morning nightly."
Overriding them all in my mind was the poignant wisdom: "If it is to be man against the ocean, then surely the oceans will prevail."
Every building reflects a different aspect of 19th century port life. The Upper Lighthouse (see photo) and outbuildings (1859) were moved here from Middle Island in 1871-72, and the Lower Lighthouse was erected on Lady Bay Beach in 1859, dismantled in 1871 and the light placed atop an obelisk at Flagstaff Hill. The hill receives its name from the occasion in 1854 when a flagstaff (still preserved) was placed on the hill as a navigational aid.
The fortifications on Flagstaff Hill were completed in 1887.
Fletcher Jones is a noted Australian clothing manufacturer whose headquarters are in Warrnambool. Normally clothing factories aren't much to look at but, thanks to the foresight of one Leslie (Darby) Boucher, the front of the premises are a standout attraction in Warrnambool.
From 1947 to1964 she transformed three unsightly quarries in what you see today and it is literally a living memorial to her dedication to the task.
They are not expansive but a wander through them (as distinct from just driving past in your car) is, if you like this sort of thing, very rewarding.
“Shipwrecked” is a very new attraction for Warrnambool. It's a multi million dollar sound and light show spectacular done with lasers, illusion, mist effects, giant water screens and more, and takes you back in time to the old Seafaring days. It also tells the famous tale of the wreck of the Loch Ard ship which hit a reef near Port Campbell in 1878, with only 2 survivors out of 54 aboard. These were an 18 year old cabin boy & a female passenger, also aged 18, who he managed to rescue.
The exhibits at the Museum attached to the Maritime Village include items recovered from shipwrecks in the area.
My very favourite is a large glazed pottery peacock (about 5 feet high) which washed ashore in its packing case, days after the Loch Ard tragedy, miraculously intact.
It had been made in England especially for the opening of the Melbourne Exhibition Building.
Over 180 ships are believed to have been wrecked along the Great Ocean Rd.
You didn't have to go far for entertainment at Manor Gums. Just open up the blinds and there were birds everywhere.
The Sulphur Cockatoos were one of our favorites.
Even when it isn't warm, as it wasn't when we were last here, you can still enjoy the beach and hope to catch some surfers or watch the boats...
The Maritime Village is an excellent first stop to learn more of the all important seafaring history of Warrnambool.
The Flagstaff Maritime Village consists of old wooden buildings, set around an artificial port. It's mostly a static display of the time period of the late 1800’s.