Welcome to Warragul, the heart of West Gippsland
STORY: MARGARET LINLEY PHOTOGRAPHY: VISIT VICTORIA
With 16,000 residents, Warragul is the main population centre and service town of the West Gippsland region. It is about the same distance east from Melbourne as Geelong is heading west. As such it is an ideal commuter town. The Princes Highway is a straight and straightforward route to Melbourne and the train from Warragul is handy for those who want to sleep or read during the commute.
To the south are the Strzelecki Ranges and to the north lies Mt Baw Baw and the Great Dividing Range. The dairy industry formed the backbone of Warragul for many years and still features strongly. This is the milk capital of Victoria.
The main streets of Warragul are wide, the architecture is often ornate and a number of buildings are heritage listed. The railway station and the shire hall are two such examples.
The town is well serviced with plenty of education options. At the primary level there are two government schools, two church-based schools and a specialist primary school. A further two church-based schools and one government school are offered at the secondary level. There is also a TAFE campus.
Sporting enthusiasts are also well catered for with soccer, basketball, netball, football, Little Athletics, triathlon, harness racing, greyhound racing, golf and cycling. The leisure centre has three indoor pools, a sports stadium and gymnasium. Warragul is the type of town where no one is home on Monday nights; Monday being netball night. I expect the same to be the case on Saturday afternoons.
A lovely flat bike path leads through farmland to Drouin, 8km away, and takes in wetlands and stunning views of the Baw Baw Ranges and Mt Worth.
“The dairy industry formed the backbone of Warragul for many years and still features strongly. This is the milk capital of Victoria.”
It’s easy to see that the locals take pride in their town; gardens are flourishing and houses are well-maintained. You can buy a lovely renovated or new-ish family home for around $500,000 or for a million more you’ll get a hectare of land, stunning gardens, a pool and an expansive house. Move further out-of-town and there are small farmlets for hobbyists.
The median house price is $490,000, an increase of 6.5 percent over the last 12 months.
The median price for a unit in Warragul has increased by 9.3 percent in the same time period, to $323,500.
Warragul has a number of well-maintained and well utilised parks. Civic Park is particularly beautiful. On the days I visited, it was being used by a large group of worshippers, a few groups of office workers lunching, a bunch of kids with their parents in tow, a clutch of romantic couples, and someone working on their laptop at one of the tables. There is a large lake here, an historic rotunda, walking paths, a waterfall and an excellent playground.
The town is well-provided for culturally with the impressive West Gippsland Arts Centre, situated at the edge of the Civic Park, offering a smorgasbord of events. This is no ordinary venue. It seats 760 theatre goers and has conference and restaurant facilities. It is testament to Warragul’s position as a hub for neighbouring towns.
A farmers’ market is held monthly. There is also a regular twilight craft and makers market at nearby Lardner Park which is also home to Victoria’s largest agricultural show and the Gippsland Garden and Home Expo.
The town is no slouch when it comes to food and wine. The focus here is on paddock to plate and no wonder with the region boasting some of the best land for agriculture. There are any number of dining out options and Melbourne people can be assured of a perfectly good cup of coffee. Cooperation between farmers, vignerons and producers has resulted in the popular Gourmet Deli Trial which fans out from Warragul.
The Gunaikurnai people are the traditional owners of a large areas of Gippsland that includes the town of Warragul.
WATTLE ROAD 🖤 With a daily train and bus route to Melbourne, Warragul is a commuter town, but it also has a great sense of identity as the centre of West Gippsland and all this beautiful region has to offer in terms of a country lifestyle.
DISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE: 104.7km
Who lives here?
According to the 2016 Cencus:
♦ The median age of people was 42 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 18.3% of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 21.2% of the population.
♦ 81.8% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were England 3.2%, New Zealand 1.0%, Netherlands 0.8%, India 0.6% and Germany 0.5%.
♦ The most common occupation included professionals 20.1%, technicians and trades workers 16.1%, labourers 12.3%, clerical and administrative workers 12.2%, and managers 11.8%.
♦ Of the families in Warragul, 39.6% were couple families with children, 42.6% were couple families without children and 16.5% were one parent families.
CLIMATE: This is a city with significant rainfall, but the climate is warm and temperate. The average temperatures in June are min 4.9ºC and max 13.5ºC. The average temperatures in December are min 11.0ºC and max 23.1ºC.
PROPERTY PRICES: The median house price is $490,000, an increase of 6.5 percent over the last 12 months. The median price for a unit in Warragul has increased by 9.3 percent in the same time period, to $323,500.
TRANSPORT:There are daily train services and a bus route that runs between Warragul and Melbourne, making it an ideal place for commuters.
HEALTH CARE: In addition to a wide range of allied health services and a number of general practitioners, the West Gippsland Hospital is headquartered in Warragul.
MAJOR EMPLOYERS: Healthcare, agriculture and education. The major industries in Mt Baw Baw Shire are manufacturing, construction and agriculture.
SCHOOLS: Within the Baw Baw Shire there are 25 Government primary schools and four Government high schools. In addition, there are seven private primary and four private high schools in the shire.
NBN Connection: Fibre To The Node (FTTN)
SPORT AND RECREATION: Sporting enthusiasts are also well catered for with soccer, basketball, netball, football, Little Athletics, triathlon, harness racing, greyhound racing, golf and cycling. The leisure centre has three indoor pools, a sports stadium and gymnasium.
ARTS & CULTURE: Warragul is the creative centre of the region’s arts activities. There is a writers’ network, a local municipal band, arts markets, and the Baw Baw Arts Alliance which promotes local galleries and exhibitions. The town also hosts The West Gippsland Arts Centre which seats 760 theatre goers and has conference and restaurant facilities.
Lachlan Rodger, 15, and his brother Couper, 5.
Lachlan: I moved here about seven months ago from Melbourne. I do most of my commuting by walking around, so I like that Warragul is a lot smaller. I walk 10 minutes down the road and I’m at the shops. It gives me more independence. I can meet my friends more easily. You don’t have to ring up and arrange it and have someone drop you there. Now I can just walk and meet them.
Life here is a lot more laid back. I don’t stress as much. It’s a lot more positive. In Melbourne I was more worried about the crime rate. Here it feels safer. The class sizes here are smaller and the teachers are nicer.
There is also much more to do here. You can go 10 or 15 minutes and camp. I ride my dad’s motorbike up through the twisties (winding bush roads). I definitely spend more time outside here than I did in Melbourne.
Couper: Everything is good in Warragul. I like to go for bike rides.
Travel time is approximately 60 minutes.
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