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The Warrnambool Breakwater

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by Michaelie Clark (subscribe)
Pun-loving freelance writer based in Victoria.
Published November 19th 2011
Warrnambool may be renowned as the place to watch whales, but those impressive creatures aren't the only marine mammals to grace the city's shore. Seals are also regular visitors, coming in to cavort at The Warrnambool Breakwater, a precinct becoming increasingly popular for its recreational merit.

Seal at Warrnambool Breakwater
Seals are regular visitors to The Warrnambool Breakwater.

Located on the edge of the Lady Bay, The Warrnambool Breakwater is no longer part of a thriving sea port as it was in the late 1880s. The large concrete barrier built for this purpose now protects the Warrnambool Beach instead, creating a safe place for swimmers further down the shoreline, while remaining a destination in itself.

The Warrnambool Breakwater
The Warrnambool Breakwater has become a recreation destination.

Now more suited to pursuits of leisure rather than commerce, The Warrnambool Breakwater offers much in the way of boating, fishing and sight-seeing, and is also the site of the recently built $3.3 million Foreshore Pavilion.

The Foreshore Pavilion Warrnambool
The Foreshore Pavilion is an important recent development at The Warrnambool Breakwater.

As well as providing seaside dining and function rooms, The Pavilion houses The Hub on the ground floor, where visitors can find out more about the area, grab a drink, hire a bike or buy fishing licences and bait.

The Warrnambool Breakwater
Seals can be seen at close range around the pier.

Fishing is a very common activity at The Warrnambool Breakwater, as the location accommodates boats, sea fishing on the surf side of the barrier, and hobby fishing (particularly for children) from the pier on the calmer bay side.

Seals in Warrnambool
Feeling a bit camera shy...

The pier is also where seals and stingrays can often be spotted. Accustomed to being admired at close range, seals frequently come in from the sea, paying no attention to their avid audiences as they float and swim around the jetty, blowing bubbles and turning somersaults in the water.

The Warrnambool Foreshore
The islands on The Breakwater side of Stingray Bay.

Less personable but still quite captivating are the stingrays, which lend their name to the smaller adjacent bay. As with the section of beach closest to The Breakwater on the Lady Bay side, Stingray Bay is practically waveless, making it a good option for families with small children who want to go swimming. Stingray Bay usually has clearer sand, making it the preferred spot, and while the water coming in from the Merri River can be murky, it is easily avoided.

The Warrnambool Breakwater Surfside
A view of relatively calm seas on the surf side of The Breakwater.

For those who want to look at the water rather than get in it, the parapet on top of The Breakwater, the walking paths across the islands near Stingray Bay and the rocks around the old aquarium domes provide excellent vantage points from which to view the boats, the bays and the more turbulent waves stemmed by The Breakwater barricade.
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Why? There's a lot to see by the sea in Warrnambool.
When: Anytime
Where: The Breakwater, Viaduct Rd, Warrnambool
Cost: Free - including free parking for cars/boats.
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