THE WHALE TRAIL

THE WHALE TRAIL is a must do winter road-trip for whale sightings along the Great Ocean Road, from Warrnambool through Port Fairy to Portland (or the reverse order if you’re coming from South Australia).

This section of coastline is known as the ‘whale corridor’, because in the winter months Whales from the Antarctic make the journey to warmer waters along this coast, in order to breed, birth and nurse their young. 

3 Days
180 Km

GREAT OCEAN ROAD

THE WHALE TRAIL

Port Fairy

Just what the doctor ordered, a Great Ocean Road Trip while crowds are small and winter swells are raging! This winter experience more than just the 12 A’s. Explore the hidden secrets of the Shipwreck Coast, like the epic story of Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael at Loch Ard Gorge, discover the remnants of the Whaling industry, an industry worth $8 billion by today’s standards, eyeball a whale only a few hundred metres from shore as they migrate and nurse their young, uncover rich Aboriginal culture and marvel at wildlife in breathtaking natural landscapes.  

If you choose to begin your Winter Whale Trail with a stop at the 12 Apostles, be sure to check out some of the lesser selfie-ed spots like Loch Ard Gorge, and Wreck Beach to learn about the shipwreck stories. Explorer Matthew Flinders said ‘I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline’ referring to the Shipwreck Coast, which reaches from Cape Otway to Port Fairy and has claimed approximately 638 vessels – find out why!

Follow the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool, the first of the Whale spotting destinations. On the way why not check out secret beach Childers Cove, or stop for the best milkshake in the World at Cheese World.

Car Trip

73 KM | 1 hour 41 minutes

Highlights

    • 12 Apostles
    • Gibson Steps
    • Loch Ard Gorge
    • Wreck Beach
    • Childers Cove
    • Cheese World

Direction

  • Wreck Beach - Gibson Steps, 31 minutes, 26km
  • Gibson Steps - 12 Apostles, 2 minutes, 1km
  • 12 Apostles - Loch Ard Gorge, 3 minutes, 4km
  • Loch Ard Gorge - Childers Cove, 40 minutes, 45km
  • Childers Cove - Warrnambool, 25 minutes, 28km

GREAT OCEAN ROAD

THE WHALE TRAIL

Port Fairy

Find Accommodation

Port Fairy  

Things to do

Port Fairy  

WARRNAMBOOL

A DAY IN WARRNAMBOOL

Port Fairy to Port Fairy

Welcome to Warrnambool!

As the biggest destination on the Great Ocean Road with so much to do, see and love – we recommend at least 2 nights here to avoid disappointment.

Whale Watching! First stop Logans Beach Whale Nursery, watch southern right whales and their calves frolic in the bay only 100 metres from shore. This is a protected bay so not boats or drones can approach the magnificent creatures. (Insider Tip: Best times for whale spotting is when the sun is out. Logans Beach is is the most reliable whale spotting destination as it’s a designated nursery for mothers stay and nurse their young for weeks rather than just passing through on their winter migration). 

A visit to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village is a must when visiting Warrnambool. The museum holds many treasured shipwreck artifacts with enchanting stories behind each one, while the 1800’s maritime village is like stepping back in time. Volunteers in costume including a blacksmith, dress maker, lighthouse keeper and more, as well as interactive digital installations will have you soaking up the unique history. Don’t forget to book in early for ‘Tales of the Shipwreck Coast’ an epic sound and light show that will bring to life many of the shipwreck, whaling and Aboriginal stories you will encounter on your Whale Trail journey. (Insider tip, the Dinner and Show option is to die for, you can eat at one of Warrnambool’s six best restaurants, and they even have boutique Lighthouse Keepers Cottage accommodation. With a Visitor Information Centre on site, this is great first stop to plan your trip and talk to a local).

Turn left at the roundabout when exiting Flagstaff Hill and drive down to Lake Pertobe – a 20 hectare adventure playground with numerous activities for children (and adults) of all ages.   The area also features lovely walking tracks around the lakes, delightful picnic areas and barbecue facilities. 

Start your day the Warrnambool way, by watching the races horses swim in Lady Bay. From 8am races horses and their trainers can be seen running on the sand and swimming in the chilly ocean waters while you sip warm coffee or tasty breakfast at the Pavillion Café.

Next check out Warrnambool’s trial of breath taking lookouts and secret beaches, bring your camera and your walking shoes. 

Check out the CBD! Warrnambool is a progressive town in the midst of an exciting transition. An influx of creative entrepreneurs are bringing a lot of vibrant energy to the CBD and setting up modern cafes, bars, barber shops, social initiatives, and a blooming arts and music community in Warrnambool. #hipster

Warrnambool is thriving with Street Art, why not explore the CBD and surrounds by taking a self-guided Street Art Tour 

Brunches, Lunches, Wining and Dining. Hungry travellers should know that high quality produce from local farms, milk processing plants and fisheries are celebrated in many of Warrnambool’s best restaurants, cafes and bistros. As a result the food matches the best you can find in Melbourne. Warrnambool is also extremely multicultural which can be seen in the wide array of cuisines on offer. Whether you’re looking for paddock to plate, or the freshest seafood – we have you covered. Check out your options here
(Insider tip: The first zone of the ‘City Centre Renewal’ Project was completed in November 2017, the second zone is underway and due to be completed later this year. During the renewal take the scenic route and enter Liebig Street restaurants from the rear carpark entrances).

CBD must do’s include a visit to the Warrnambool Art Gallery, a show at the Lighthouse Theater and don’t forget Warrnambool has an exciting live music scene, check the What’s On for gigs, Local Farmers and makers Markets, Festivals, Exhibitions, Shows and School Holiday Programs!

Time to warm up! Plunge into the geothermal pools at  Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Springs! With proven health benefits, plunge pool, private baths, infrared sauna and day spa treatments available it’s perfect pamper time or a family dip! (Insider tip: wear dark coloured bathers and shorts)

Next a 10 minute drive in land to Hopkins Falls in Wangoom, after heavy rain this water fall is quite a sight! Take a 5 minute drive from the falls to the Wangoom General Store and Tearooms for delicious cakes and old fashioned service.

Highlights

    • Logans Beach Whale Nursery
    • Horses swimming in Lady Bay
    • Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum & Village
    • Lake Pertove Adventure Playground
    • Lookouts and Secret Beaches
    • Street Art Tour
    • Brunches, Lunches, Wining, Dining
    • Warrnambool Art Gallery
    • Lighthouses Theatre
    • Wet Weather Activities with kids
    • Deep Blue Hot Springs
    • Hopkins Falls 

WARRNAMBOOL

A DAY IN WARRNAMBOOL

Port Fairy to Port Fairy

Find Accommodation

Port Fairy   Port Fairy

Things to do

Port Fairy   Port Fairy

PORT FAIRY

A DAY IN PORT FAIRY

Tower Hill to Yambuk

A twenty minute drive from Warrnambool, is charming Port Fairy. Before you explore the town enjoy the scenic drive with rolling green hills and nature reserves.

Travel 14 km west out of Warrnambool along the Princes Highway (A1) to Tower Hill, a dormant volcano (last erupted about 30,000 years ago).   Carefully make a right hand turn and descend into the volcanic crater observing the layers of ash from repeated eruptions which make up the crater walls. The cones of the volcano are surrounded by a lake and are a haven for wild life – birds, koalas, emus, kangaroos.   There are walks of varying degrees of difficulty, picnic and barbeque areas, and the Worn Gundidj Visitor Centre which features local Aboriginal arts and crafts.  As you leave the Reserve, turn left and drive around the crater rim to enjoy the magnificent sea and rural views from the Lookouts.   Continue around the crater rim or turn off to explore the town of Koroit with its many beautiful old buildings and historic botanical gardens. 

Return to the rim drive and continue onto the Princes Highway (A1) at Killarney. (Insider Tip: visit the secret Killarney Beach half way between Warrnambool and Port Fairy, it’s truly a hidden gem!)

Turn right and proceed along the Princes Highway (A1) to Port Fairy.

Turn left at Regent or Bank Streets and discover the beautiful Moyne River Wharf excellent for fishing, walks, photos and eating Fish and Chips!

Located across the bridge from the picturesque harbour, Battery Hill is worthy of exploration, with cannons and fortifications positioned here in 1887 to protect the town from foreign warships. You'll also encounter resident black wallabies. It was originally used as a flagstaff, so the views are good. (Insider tip: Book an appointment to view the Life Boat).

Hit the Coastal Trails; Griffith Island can be reached via walking tracks and a causeway and is a great place to explore with the nesting birds and the iconic Port Fairy Lighthouse. The island is home to the mutton bird colony, which spend our winter months around the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. In 1835 a whaling station was established on the island and this is where you may spot a whale if you’re lucky!

Take a step back in time with the Port Fairy Historic Town Walk. Explore over 70 buildings with historic significance to Port Fairy. The best way to appreciate the history is on foot. There are 2 walking trials within the township, a history town walk and a shipwreck heritage walk – both maps can be collected from the Visitor Information Centre.

Port Fairy is thriving with artisans and galleries, take the Arts Trail to discover them all, again drop in the Visitor Information Centre for full details!

A visit to East Beach is a must, you might even spot a whale! If no whales can be spotted drive further on from east beach and check out the surfers at the Passage.

CHECK OUT PORT FAIRY WINTER WEEKENDS

Highlights

    • Tower Hill
    • Killarney Beach
    • Moyne River Wharf
    • Battery Hill
    • Griffiths Island
    • Port Fairy Lighthouse
    • Historical Building Tour
    • Arts Trail
    • East Beach
    • Port Fairy Winter Weekends

Direction

  • Warrnambool - Tower Hill, 15 minutes, 15km
  • Tower Hill - Killarney, 4 minutes, 5km
  • Killarney - Port Fairy, 10 minutes, 9km

PORT FAIRY

A DAY IN PORT FAIRY

Tower Hill to Yambuk

Find Accommodation

Tower Hill   Yambuk

Things to do

Tower Hill   Yambuk

PORTLAND

A DAY IN PORTLAND

Port Fairy

Say goodbye to Port Fairy and drive west along the A1, you will come to the Crags lookout on your right. Take a breath of fresh air and take in the spectacular views of the rocky, calcarenite cliffs of Lady Julia Percy Island, and keep your eyes peeled for a whale!

Follow the Princess Highway and drive past Codrington Wind Farm with 34 Wind Turbines that is visible from the highway. Park the car and take a listen of the turbines pumping through the wind. You might even grab a selfie with the Codrington Crow.

Follow the Princess Highway/Henty Highway for 39km to Portland Strawberry’s. Some of the freshest and most delicious strawberries on the Great South Coast. You might want to pick some and top it off with a snack of ice cream before lunch.

Continue along the Henty Highway onto New Street into Portland Discovery Centre (Visitor Information Centre) to discover the Foreshore and harbor, here you can view a whale skeleton to fully appreciate the size of these great creatures.

Watch for whales at the Wade Street Viewing Platform, with a vantage point that provides some of the best views of Portland Bay, across to Narrawong and around to the Port of Portland, ensuring people don’t miss a minute of the Southern Rights during their winter migration. (Insider Tip: During summer this is only location in the world where you can view Blue Whales from land).

Jump on the Portland Cable Trams at the Percy Street Depot Take an historic and picturesque journey through Victoria’s birthplace, along spectacular coastline, past museums, gardens and lookouts. 

Visit The Enchanted Forest where an old land slip below the level of the clifftop has been covered by dense vegetation. A 45-minute round trip walk passes through dense, almost tropical vegetation which creates a unique and enchanting canopy to lookouts and boardwalks with views over the ocean and spectacular cliff formations.

Next take the Cape Nelson scenic drive is a pleasant 24 km round-trip from Portland. At the end of the drive, the spectacular Cape Nelson Light-station stands 32 metres tall and dates back to 1883.

From Cape Nelson to Cape Bridgewater we go, a 20-30 minute drive to another coastal gem.

In ‘Bridgie,  as the locals call it, be sure to visit the Petrified Forest which is accessible from the end of Blowholes Road. Theory has it sand engulfed an ancient forest of coastal trees that once covered the sea cliff, petrifying them for all time. The resulting rock formations are unlike anything else you’ll see in the world.

The Seal colony is a must visit. Either take the seal walk or join a Seals by the Sea Tour in a boat for a terrific experience.

Finish a big day of exploring with a wine at the Cape Bridgewater Kiosk, an authentic beach kiosk.

Car Trip

90KM | 1 hour 30 minutes

Highlights

    • The Crags
    • Codrington Wind Farm
    • Wade Street Viewing Platform
    • Cable Tram
    • The Enchanted Forrest 
    • Cape Nelson Light-station
    • Cape Bridgewater
    • Petrified Forest
    • Seals by the Sea Tour

Direction

  • Port Fairy - The Crags, 11 minutes, 15km
  • The Crags - Codrington Windfarm, 15 minutes, 20km
  • Codrington Windfarm - Portland, 35 minutes, 50km
  • Portland - Enchanted Forrest, 10 minutes, 10km
  • Portland - Cape Nelson Lighthouse, 11 minutes, 11km
  • Portland - Cape Bridgewater, 20 minutes, 23km

PORTLAND

A DAY IN PORTLAND

Port Fairy

Find Accommodation

Port Fairy  

Things to do

Port Fairy  

Whale Sightings