Warrnambool is a regional city on the south-western coast of Victoria, Australia in the City of Warrnambool Local Government Area. The city has a population of 33,922. It is situated on the Princes Highway and is near the western end of the Great Ocean Road.
The word "Warrnambool" originates from the local Indigenous Australians name for a nearby volcanic cone. It is interpreted to mean many things including land between two rivers, two swamps or ample water. A popular legend is that the first Europeans to discover Warrnambool were Cristóvão de Mendonça and his crew who surveyed the coastline nearby and were marooned near the site of the present town as early as the 16th century, based on the unverified reports of local whaler's discovery of the wreck of a mahogany ship. The ship's provenance has been variously attributed to France, China, Spain and Portugal. There is no physical evidence to suggest that the Mahogany Ship existed.
The Lady Nelson under Lieutenant James Grant sailed along the coast in December 1800 and named several features, followed by Matthew Flinders in the Investigator and French explorer Nicholas Baudin, who recorded coastal landmarks, in 1802. The area was frequented by whalers early in the 19th century.The first settlers arrived in the 1840s in the Lady Bay area, which was a natural harbour. The town was surveyed in 1846 and established soon after, the Post Office opening on 1 January 1849.
Warrnambool attracts approximately 715,000 visitors per year, and is a comprehensive regional service centre. The town's tourism benefits from the views from the Great Ocean Road, and its nearby beaches, some of which are used for surfing. In the winter months, Southern Right whales can be seen in the waters near the city at the Logan's Beach nursery, and boats make whale-watching tours. Visitor levels are usually higher during the winter school holidays due to Australia's Biggest Children's Festival, the Fun4Kids Festival.
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