Life Trading Places 2016 Australia’s best seachange towns No.3: Warrnambool

Australia’s best seachange towns No.3: Warrnambool

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When The New Daily first envisioned Australia’s best seachange towns, it had Warrnambool in mind.

The prosperous and growing community of 34,000 enjoys beautifully rugged coastline, very affordable housing and some of the best education opportunities outside of the nation’s capitals.

The former port city, located about three hours from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, is embedded between two rivers in an agricultural food bowl, with four high schools, three primary schools and is Australia’s smallest city to have both a university and a TAFE.

warrnambool trading places 2016 at a glanceMayor Kylie Gaston moved here after living in Paris for 11 years and says she is enamoured with the town.

“We have the coast and the rivers and a lot of open space. It is a really healthy place,” she said.

“We are down the bottom of Victoria so we are fortunate not to have the same effects of drought as other inland areas. It is very green and luscious.”

The population grows between May and October, when southern right whales can be seen at the nursery site off Logan’s Beach.

There are excellent hospital facilities, including a $30 million cancer facility currently under redevelopment.

Education was what drew local resident Perry Cho, an accountancy firm partner, to study in Warrnambool in 1971 after a friend in his home country of Malaysia recommended the area.

warrnambool oddball trailer“It didn’t take me long to like the place because it is a coastal town and people are exceptionally friendly,” he says.

“It is a very prosperous city and a popular place for holiday makers. The caravan parks are all full over the summer period.”

There is also a thriving community of creative minds. Local artists frequently show their works around town, and the opportunities for arts and culture continue to grow.

Victoria’s capital is always within reach, as trains depart for Melbourne daily.

The Australian film industry has already taken notice of Warrnambool. If you’d like to see more of its stunning coastline, watch the Kenny Jacobson film Oddball (2015), which tells the tale of a local hero – the penguin dog.

To protect the town’s “decimated” Little Penguin population living on Middle Island, a local had the bright idea of using an Italian Maremma dog, trained for centuries to protect sheep from wolves, to guard the colony from foxes. And it worked.

It’s not the first time the area has inspired creative types. Back in 1924, the Australian baritone Robert Nicholson recorded the song Back to Warrnambool, boasting of its “shimmering sea” and “beauty beyond compare”.

It’s all true, the locals will tell you.

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Photos: Warrnambool City Council | Getty
Reporting: Emma Manser