Warrnambool is located on Lady Bay on the Victorian coastline, 260 km south-west of Melbourne.
The name Warrnambool is taken from the language of the Kuurn Kopan Noot people, meaning either "two swamps" or "ample water", both of which could refer to the location Warrnambool, between the Merri and Hopkins Rivers.
The first European known to have seen the area was the French explorer Captain Nicholas Baudin, who visited the Warrnambool district in 1802 in his ship La Geographe. The area was subsequently exploited by whalers and sealers, some of whom surveyed and named Lady Bay, on which Warrnambool is located, in 1844. Among the first settlers in the Warrnambool area were the Boldens and Thomas Manifold, who both established stations during the early 1840s.
Warrnambool was surveyed in 1846 by Robert Hoddle and Lieut. Pickering. It became a township in 1847, in time for the economic and social boom of the goldrushes, and a free port in 1854, benefiting from the fact that the port at Port Fairy was privately owned. Warrnambool became a municipality in 1855 (with a population of 1500) and a borough in 1863.
The Warrnambool region became a district in 1854. The Shire of Warrnambool was constituted in 1863.
The prosperity of the town was obvious in 1866 when 20 acres were set aside for the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. It was thirteen years before a suitable design was found, and took another twenty years for the Gardens to become established. A local woollen mill was established by public subscription in 1874. Although it burned down in 1882, it reopened in 1910 and is still operating today.
Warrnambool became a town in 1883. The railway arrived in 1890 and the Merri River Water Supply Scheme provided a reliable water supply in 1893. The Town of Warrnambool issued a medal in 1897 to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria (NU 20471). This medal named W.J. Hickford as Mayor.
In 1918 Warrnambool became a city. The City of Warrnambool and part of Shire of Warrnambool united on 23 September 1994 to form the Warrnambool City Council. The Corangamite Shire Council was created on the same day from parts of the Shires of Warrnambool, Mortlake and Otway, the Town of Camperdown, and the Shires of Hampden and Heytesbury.
The City of Warrnambool in the early 21st century is a centre for textile manufacturing, and for historic and environmental tourism.
Blake, L. (1977). Place Names of Victoria.
People's Voice: Australian Community History On-line web site http://www.peoplesvoice.gov.au/stories/vic/warrnam/warrnambool_c.htm
Fairfax Walkabout website http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/VICWarrnambool.shtml.