An easy hour’s drive from Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula are great getaways for a day trip or extended holiday.
Geelong and its neighbouring peninsula, the Bellarine, are ideal road-trip destinations from Victoria’s capital Melbourne.
The region has loads to explore, from great restaurants and arts precincts to beautiful beaches and great outdoor adventures.
Geelong and its surrounding areas are home to some of Australia’s best regional dining. Must-visits include IGNI, Jack Rabbit Restaurant, Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant, The Shed Restaurant at Terindah Estate and the Vue Grand Hotel. Enjoy shared-dining experiences at Geelong’s South America-inspired ALMA Restaurant and the Bellarine’s Merne at Lighthouse which boasts great views to go with wonderful food.
Old becomes new
As Geelong moves farther away from its industrial past, old manufacturing spaces are being taken over and converted into hip new cafes, bars, restaurants, accommodation and attractions. The Devlin Apartments boasts 37 luxury self-contained short-stay apartments and rooms and is located in the heritage-listed former Gordon Junior Technical School. Nearby, Little Creatures Brewery and White Rabbit Brewery & Barrel Hall have firmly imprinted themselves at the site of the old woollen mills. The Old Paper Mills at Fyansford, built in the 1870s and located along the Barwon River, has quickly established itself as an arts and culture precinct with an onsite gallery and a winery and function centre set to open soon. Back in town, Boom Gallery, is a vibrant contemporary art and design hub housed in an historic woollen mill.
Little Creatures Brewery.
Cool urban precincts
Geelong boasts two inner-city precincts where visitors will find cool cafes, wine bars, restaurants and designer shops. In the heart of the city, along Little Malop Street, Coffee Cartel serves some of the best coffee in town, while Geelong Cellar Door has an impressive selection of local wines on offer. Nashville-style chicken can be enjoyed at Aaron Turner’s Hot Chicken Project. Put on your dancing shoes and visit Geelong’s Piano Bar where you can request to hear your favourite song and enjoy the nightly shows featuring Australia’s best entertainers. Just outside the city centre, Pakington Street is home to many of the most popular venues in town, including King of the Castle and Geelong Fresh Foods.
All summer long, visitors flock to the Bellarine Peninsula to enjoy its beautiful beaches. Avid surfers head to popular surf spots such as 13th Beach or Raffs Beach in Barwon Heads, while families can take advantage of the pristine sand and gentle waves at the Ocean Grove main beach, considered one of the safest in Victoria. The mouth of the Barwon River in Barwon Heads is ideal for paddling in the shallow water, exploring rock pools or gliding over the smooth surface on a stand-up paddle board. The rock pools at Point Lonsdale are also a must, as is the sheltered and family friendly bay at Portarlington.
Untapped wine region
The Moorabool Valley, to the north of Geelong, is home to quaint villages, rolling hills, beautiful scenery and award-winning wineries. The region has a history stretching back to 1842 when Swiss immigrants planted the first vines. It is now considered one of Australia’s finest cool-climate wine-growing areas which can easily be explored on a leisurely weekend away. Top wineries include Clyde Park Vineyard & Bistro, Lethbridge Wines, Moorabool Ridge Vineyard and Austins & Co.
Clyde Park vineyards.
Water lover’s paradise
With a spectacular coastline hugging the region from Geelong right through to Barwon Heads and beyond, it is no surprise that there are plenty of water-based activities to choose from. In Geelong, the stunning waterfront truly comes alive during summer. Youngsters can discover the old world charm of the beautifully restored Geelong Carousel, while older kids will love the diving boards at the historic early century beach promenade at Eastern Beach. All members of the family will enjoy exploring the colourful Geelong Waterfront Bollard Trail, comprising 104 bollards, each representing a different character from Geelong’s history. Visitors can discover the region’s rich maritime past and get up close to nature on a tour with South Bay Eco Adventures, swim with the dolphins with See All Dolphins Swims or cruise between the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula aboard Searoad Ferries. For underwater adventures, Dive Victoria offers diving trips to explore the ex-HMAS Canberra which was sunk into Port Phillip Bay in 2009. Tours depart from Queenscliff Harbour.
Get in the swing
The Bellarine is a golfer’s paradise with four outstanding public courses which are consistently rated as some of the best in Australia. Top spots to tee off include Curlewis Golf Club, Barwon Heads Golf Club, and the two courses at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links. The golf courses at Queenscliff (on the scenic Swan Island), Portarlington and Point Lonsdale provide even more options – meaning golfers are truly spoilt for choice in this part of the world.
With a 114-year history, RACQ has plenty of stories to tell. This is just one of them.