Free WiFi 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

Find the Cheapest Accommodation

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 apartment in Warrnambool these two companies control most of the market. They are, (who also own Agoda and Kayak) and Expedia ( who own Wotif,Trivago, 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.

Warrnambool - Still No 1 Destination

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.

Port Fairy Folk Festival

The 39th annual Port Fairy Folk Festival will get underway on the 6th of March and with all 11,000 tickets sold, all looks set for another successful event. The three day festival is held within a fenced off area at Port Fairy’s Southcombe park and admission is restricted to ticket holders only.
Over the years the festival has spawned a secondary event around the streets of Port Fairy and attracts large numbers of day visitors along with the inevitable craft markets and food vans selling everything from Kangaroo Burgers to Asian stir fries. Originally the festival was predominately centred around Irish ( celtic) music however over the years the music base has broadened and now incorporates a more diverse range of music. Last Year, Aussie rock legend, Normie Rowe made his debut performance at the Folkie.
The photo above shows the “Railway Stage” which is the main “Free” entertainment stage for those without tickets and although you don’t see the top acts outside the main festival, the standard of entertainment is good enough to warrant a visit to Port Fairy even if you don’t have a ticket.
There are a number of other smaller stages around the town plus numerous buskers, food stalls and all variety of arts, crafts and clothing that is part of music festival these days. The Folk festival runs for 3 days over the March Labour day weekend 6 - 9 March and craft seller plus all the standard set which is the the centre of the action over the three days of the festival with . The old Railway station site is the main venue for entertainment during the festival with three or four acts each days providing free entertainment for the day visitors to the town.

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