South West Victoria On Line A
visitors guide to South West of Victoria and the Southeast of South
featuring independent and impartial travel
advice for the towns and cities of the region including Warrnambool,
Port Fairy, Port Campbell, Apollo Bay, Robe, Halls Gap, Lorne, Torquay,
Robe and Mt Gambier
Busy Holiday Season January 2015
Warrnambool still the most popular summer holiday destination on the Great Ocean Road.
Despite the gloomy economic outlook, Warrnambool’s tourism operators are reporting excellent numbers over Christmas period, and sustained bookings throughout the whole of January. The cities main attractions seems to be the price of accommodation and the excellent tourist facilities available.
It has been suggested the current economic conditions may be having a positive impact on local tourism as more people choose to holiday locally rather than travel to overseas destinations.
The laws of supply and demand also plays a large part in the cities popularity, smaller towns and villages along the GOR who have limited supply of accommodation are able to raise their prices, whereas Warrnambool’s larger supply of accommodation tends to keep prices to more moderate levels, for instance the price difference between a typical 4 star motel in Warrnambool and a similar motel in one of the smaller towns along the GOR can be $50 per night difference, and at a time when everyone is looking to save a few dollars this can be a deciding factor. Size also applies to other types of accommodation, from apartments to caravan parks, for example Warrnambool’s "Surfside One" caravan park accommodates between 6000 and 7000 people, this is the largest capacity park along the Great Ocean Road, plus there are another 6 caravan parks within the city.
Surfside One camping ground at near full capacity - somewhere between 6000 and 7000 visitors occupy this park over the Christmas holiday period, however is does get a bit quieter from about the second week in January.
Free Wi-Fi on the Great Ocean Road January 2015 Free Wi-Fi now available along the Great Ocean Road
Although many businesses advertise Free Wi-Fi in most cases you have to buy something before you get free wifi, however a recent initiative by the Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism will bring genuine Free Wi-Fi to 24 locations along the Great Ocean Road fromTorquay to Port Fairy.
However, typical of tourism bureaucracy, the exact locations of these Wi-Fi hotspots have not been publicised and apart from some basic information about which towns are being set up and some information about download limits, not much else is known, fortunately our local techie guru has managed to track down some vital information about where the hotspots are located and how to access the network.
Currently hotspots have been set up in Warrnambool, Torquay, Anglesea, Apollo Bay, Port Fairy, Colac, Port Campbell, Timboon and Camperdown, with each town having a number of locations. Although we don’t currently have a full list of every location, the main wi-fi location in each town/city seems to be the local visitor information centre and for anyone looking to connect to the Internet in any town we don’t have an exact location for, then a good starting point would to to try at the local Visitor Information Centre.
The signal strength of each hotspot is very good, which means you shouldn’t have any problems connecting to the network from anywhere within about 500 metres, in fact at the Warrnambool Visitor Information ( located at Flagstaff Hill ) we got a good solid connection from anywhere within the carpark.
The network to look for is “Free Wi-Fi “ ( picture below) and you will also notice the network does not have a lock icon, which means you don’t have to enter a user name or password to connect to the network. You do however have to select your country of origin and postcode on the log in page then accept the terms and conditions before it connects you to the Internet - For a full list and more information Click Here
Tipping in Australia Channel Ten's "The Project" Pro Tipping Viewpoint Channel Tenís news and current affairs program, The Project recently did a story on Tipping in Australia and for anyone looking for a proper intelligent coverage of the custom of tipping would have been sorely disappointed.
Charlie Pickering (the shows host), commenced the feature by stating that Australians were amongst the worlds worst tippers and we are considered to be meanest country in the world.
The show then trotted out a few B grade celebrities who then proceeded to tell everyone how wonderful and generous they were and how well they tipped, in particular Jamie Durie (ex male stripper) who made a point about how he felt contempt for anyone who didnít tip.
It was quickly apparent that none of the celebrity guest had any idea about why tipping was necessary and were only on the show to promote themselves. What the show failed to explain the reason why tipping is customary in America - simply because some employers are able to pay their staff as little as $2.18 an hour, whereas Australian workers are protected against exploitation and are paid a proper and fair wage.
Typically waiting staff working in local restaurants will be receiving between $20 and $30 per hour and when we contacted the manager of Warrnambool’s Mid City Motel and Restaurant, he indicated the average wage paid to their staff was actually very close to $30 per hour as most work at times when weekend and penalty rates apply. So there is no reason why any restaurant goer in Australia should feel obliged to tip anybody, as the pay they receive is fair and commensurate with the work they are doing . There is however a certain amount of social pressure to the custom of tipping, possibly due to the amount of American Television dross dumped on our screens but also shows like “The Project”, who broadcast misinformation.
In the interest of balanced comment,, the preceding is not meant to deter anyone from rewarding exemplary service or paying someone a little extra for a job well done, but it is merely to supply the correct information about Tipping in Australia - which is simply Tipping is not customary in Australia- "Anywhere"
Cheap Accommodation Prices Jan 2015 Over the last decade the Internet has dramatically changed many aspects of the tourism and accommodation industry, in particular the vast majority of all reservations are now made through the Internet.
While booking accommodation on the Internet is quick and convenient, there is a downside to this, with two giant American companies now controlling something like 90% of all online bookings made in Australia, whether you are booking a motel in the Grampians or an aparrtment in Warrnambool these two companies control most of the market.
They are, Booking.com (who also own Agoda and Kayak) and Expedia ( who own Wotif,Trivago, hotels.com and Venere amongst others) and they now dominate the Australian market. They make their income by charging between 12% and 20% commission on all booking made through their web sites. This has proved to be a very clever strategy as they don’t have to own or control any accommodation business, but are able to take a sizeable percentage of the profit made by the industry - 12% to 20% commission on the total amount of a booking, probably represents between 30% and 40% of the businesses profit.
These commissions add to the cost of accommodation and although Wotif, Trivago and Booking .Com advertise they offer the cheapest accommodation deals, it is nonsense to think that by adding to the cost of accommodation it is somehow making the accommodation cheaper
. The Cheapest Deals - By dealing directly with the accommodation owners you should get the cheapest prices, but unfortunately that isn’t immeadiately obvious, as some operators/owners do not manage their properties (or prices) with any diligence, however there are a few smart operators who use the advantage of being able to take bookings without commissions to offer better prices to guests who book directly with them, so if you want to save a few dollars on your next booking take these two this simple steps 1/ Use the Internet ( Google search ) to find your accommodation and select the property you want to book 2/ Do a direct search ( by name) of the property you intend to book and go to their own web site or phone them up, and in most cases you will find they will offer you a better price by booking direct.
A quick check of the properties listed on this web site found that about 60% offered cheaper prices through their own web sites
Halls Gap Zoo January 2015 Halls Gap Zoo is just one of the regions hidden family attractions and for some reason a lot of people seem to assume that a zoo in small village such as Halls Gap would be very two-a-penny operation, however the reality is the Halls Gap Zoo is a very high quality attraction and is real surprise for most visitors.
It is a family friendly operation, and the park has a good collection of native animals with lots of "hands on" things for the kids ( and big kids) to do.
The zoo has recently added to its collection and now ( apart from a large collection of Australian native animals ) has a range of exotic animals including Giraffe, Cheetahs, Meerkats, Lemurs and Red Pandas.
The Halls Gap Wildlife Park is a great way to fill in a day ( or half a day) The park is a few kilometres outside Halls Gap on the Ararat road.
A "hands on" expirience with one of the zoo's friendly reptiles
Cobden Miniature Rail
January 2015 The Cobden Miniature Railway Park is a great family day out. Built and operated by the local Rotary and model engineers clubs, the park has a over a dozen model trains running on both 7 inch and 5 inch tracks as well as a 18 hole mini golf course plus a family barbecue area. Neat, clean, well run plus extremely well priced and in fact you can spend an entire afternoon with the family for not much more that $20.
This is another one of South West Victoria’s hidden attractions and one of my recommend spots to visit - The only drawback is that it is only open on Sundays during School Holidays, with the next two opening dates of 18th and 25th of January
Fish and Chips
if your 'e looking for a secluded rural getaway close to the Otway's rain forest then our latest property listing might be just what your 'e looking for.
To find out more about
Kookaburra's Rest click the photo below
The Port Fairy Folk Festival isd just around the corner and although the main festival is sold out the street festival is worth a visit -
for more information have a look at our Folkie Page
The South West coast is also famous for the quality of its fish and chips and there are dozens of restaurants and take away's that serve good fish and chips. We've listed six of our favourites fish and chip shops - Click the photo to see our choices
Timboon Berry Farm
January 2015 With the strawberry season in full swing, the Timboon Strawberry Farm is one of the more decadent places to visit over the holiday season. At present the strawberries are at their best, with some the size of small apples, and there is no comparison with what you buy in supermarkets.
This is another one of those out of the way places that doesn't seem to get a lot of publicity - possibly because the locals don't want the tourists eating all those delicious strawberries. The berry farm is located opposite the golf course in Timboon and you can either bring your own container or they can provide one for you.