Warrnambool (Maar: Peetoop or Wheringkernitch or Warrnambool) is a city on the south-western coast of Victoria, Australia.
- Area:65.516 km2
- Elevation:26 m
- Local Government Area:Warrnambool City Council
Warrnambool (Maar: Peetoop or Wheringkernitch or Warrnambool) is a city on the south-western coast of Victoria, Australia. At June 2016, Warrnambool had an estimated urban population of 35,214. Situated on the Princes Highway, Warrnambool (Allansford) marks the western end of the Great Ocean Road and the southern end of the Hopkins Highway.
## Origin of name
The name "Warrnambool" originated from Mount Warrnambool, a scoria cone volcano 25 kilometres northeast of the town. Warrnambool (or Warrnoobul) was the title of both the volcano and the clan of Aboriginal Australian people who lived there. In the local language, the prefix Warnn- designated home or hut, while the meaning of the suffix -ambool is now unknown. William Fowler Pickering, the colonial government surveyor who in 1845 was tasked with the initial planning of the township, chose to name the town Warrnambool. The traditional Indigenous owners of the land today are the Dhauwurd Wurrung people, also known as the Gunditjmara.
## Aboriginal Australians
Aboriginal Australians have been occupying the site of Warrnambool for at least the last 35,000 years. The vicinity around the Merri River was inhabited by people known as the Merrigundidj, part of the larger Gunditjmara nation. They spoke a language called Bi:gwurrung, which was a dialect of the Dhauwurd Wurrung language. These people constructed large stone and timber weirs called yereroc across various waterways in the region in order to facilitate the trapping of eels. The area at the mouth of the Hopkins River was known as Moyjil. At the beginning of British colonisation of the region in 1841, there were approximately 400 Aboriginal people living around the coastal parts of the Merri River including a number of Koroitgundidj people residing in a village at what is now known as Tower Hill. There are several Maar placenames for locations in the area including: 'Kunang' referring to a waterhole on present-day Koroit Street which was a celebrated place for kangaroos to drink, 'Wirkneung' referring to the site of Warrnambool cemetery, 'Puurkar' referring to the Western Hill area of Warrnambool, and 'Peetoop' which is one of the names for the area meaning 'small sandpiper'.
## European maritime exploration
A popular legend is that the first Europeans to visit the region 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 whalers' 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 it ever existed.
The first documented European exploration of the area occurred under Lieutenant James Grant, a Scottish explorer who sailed the Lady Nelson along the coast in December 1800 and named several features. This was followed by that of the English navigator Matthew Flinders in the Investigator, and the French explorer Nicholas Baudin, who recorded coastal landmarks, in 1802. The area was frequented by whalers early in the 19th century.
## British colonisation
British colonisation of the land in the region began in 1838 when Captain Alexander Campbell, a whaler based at nearby Port Fairy, took possession of 4,000 acres around the mouth of the Merri River. He set up a farm there and built his main hut where Warrnambool now stands. The township was planned and surveyed in 1845, with the first allotments being sold in 1847. A Post Office opened on 1 January 1849.During the Victorian Gold Rush, Warrnambool became an important port and grew quickly in the 1850s, benefiting from the private ownership of nearby Port Fairy. It was gazetted as a municipality in 1855, and became a borough in 1863. Warrnambool was declared a town in 1883, and a city in 1918. Post Offices opened at Warrnambool South in 1937 (closed 1973), Warrnambool East in 1946, and Warrnambool North in 1947 (closed 1975).
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