Wander Geelong & the Bellarine
We've done the research for you. Here are no less than 10 inarguable reasons to get on down to G-town and the bewdiful Bellarine. By the time you've finished wandering, you're bound to have a bunch of reasons all of your own. It's like that down here.
Here's one to start with (this doesn't count in the 10 reasons) – it's less than an hour's drive from Melbourne to Geelong, so you can easily while away a day or get away for a weekend or a long, languid summer holiday.
Reason 1: Dining with a capital D
Fact: This region is home to some of Australia's best regional dining. If you wanted to prove us wrong, you definitely should not try IGNI (you really should), the place that's ignited Geelong's dining scene. Inverleigh is hot on its heels thanks to Matt Dempsey's Inverleigh Cellar and Kitchen – his Tulip in Geelong also impresses.
Further proof is found beyond Geelong at a cluster of tantalising winery restaurants – Jack Rabbit Restaurant, Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant, The Shed Restaurant at Terindah Estate and the Vue Grand Hotel.
Reason 2: Too cool for school
The best part about Geelong's manufacturing past is that the converted industrial spaces are perfect for hip cafes, bars, restaurants, accommodation and galleries. The old tech school is now the swish Devlin Apartments accommodation, while the former woollen mills are now milling with bright young things enjoying the ales at Little Creatures Brewery and White Rabbit Brewery & Barrel Hall. On the Barwon River, the Old Paper Mills is now a bustling art and culture precinct, and Boom Gallery occupies another wool mill.
Reason 3: Laneway culture comes to the Big G
If Melbourne's laneway culture was kickstarted by hyped cafes, bars and boutiques, then Geelong is on its way. Little Malop Street is the new 'it' address, home to Coffee Cartel, Geelong Cellar Door and Armageddon Cake. And it ain't hip if there's no fried chicken, so give thanks for the Hot Chicken Project. Bringing it to Little Malop is the always-buzzing Pakington Street, where you'll find King of the Castle, Zigfrids Dining Hall & Bar and Geelong Fresh Foods.
Reason 4: Life's a beach
Sand between your toes, salt on your skin. They're the sensations memories are made of, and they don't get much more memorable than summer days on the Bellarine Peninsula.
Surfers vie for the waves at 13th Beach or Raffs Beach in Barwon Heads, and beginners get the lowdown on hanging 10 at Ocean Grove with Go Ride A Wave or Sea Earth Adventures. Ocean Grove and its pristine beach is also one of the best spots for good old-fashioned family beach fun, but then again there's the mouth of the Barwon River in Barwon Heads for a bit of that, too. Plus the rock pools at Point Lonsdale and Portarlington. Don't forget to Slip Slop Slap.
Reason 5: All about the bounty
If the wines are anything to go by, the soil in this part of the world sure knows how to grow good food. So do the farmers and gardeners, of course. So grab a copy of the Bellarine Taste Trail map and embark on a lip-smacking gastronomic journey throughout the region.
Reason 6: Nothing to wine about
Say it loud and say you're first in the know – Moorabool Valley is where it's at for wine. More than the quaint villages, rolling hills and beautiful scenery, it's the cluster of cool-climate wineries making fine drops from the vines first planted by Swiss immigrants in 1842. Don't miss Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro, Lethbridge Wines, Moorabool Ridge Vineyard and Austins & Co.
Reason 7: Watery paradise
With all that spectacular coastline as the backdrop to your Geelong and Bellarine days, there's no surprise that lots of the fun is water-based. Join Dive Victoria on a dive down to the ex HMAS Canberra, or splash about where the dolphins do with See All Dolphin Swims. Cruise between the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula aboard Searoad Ferries, or get the lowdown on the maritime past with South Bay Eco Adventures.
Well, Reason 8 really, and it's golf. Why not, when four of Australia's best golf courses are found on the Bellarine? Tee off at Curlewis Golf Club, Barwon Heads Golf Club and the two courses at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links. Venture over to Queenscliff, Portarlington and Point Lonsdale for more golfing action.
Reason 9: Wheely exciting adventures
Off-road or training wheels, Geelong and the Bellarine have you covered for cycling fun. The 50 kilometres of track makes You-Yangs the go-to spot for mountain biking, while the 35-kilometre Bellarine Rail Trail is a more gentle family ride between South Geelong and Queenscliff. For the more serious cyclist there's the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong every January.
Reason 10: All about the family
There's all ages fun to be found all around Geelong and the Bellarine, starting with Geelong's thrilling waterfront. Kids adore the restored Geelong Carousel and the diving boards at the historic Eastern Beach promenade, and there's endless delight in meeting the characters on the Geelong Waterfront Bollard Trail. Further afield is the wildly popular Adventure Park, and holiday and caravan parks abound to prove that old-school, no-frills family holidays are timeless and magical.
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Geelong & the Bellarine
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Geelong & the Bellarine
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