Stay close, go further
Cooler weather means it's time to get outdoors and get active. Hop on a bike or jump in the car and explore Geelong and the Bellarine this autumn. Here are our top tips for making the most of the season.
The best way to go undercover as a local is to jump on a bicycle. Hire a bike (or bring your own) and ride the autumnal hills and coastlines.
There are lots of planned routes to choose from. Most feature beautiful coastal views or top-notch cafes to stop at. Casual riders will love a slow roll along Geelong's famous waterfront or the banks of the Barwon River, while those after something a little more structured will enjoy the Bellarine Rail Trail and its 32.5-kilometres of scenic terrain. The more experienced take on Cadel Evans' gruelling 115-kilometre Great Ocean Road Race.
2. Wine bars, cideries and distilleries
Toast the autumn leaves with an al fresco tipple, or head indoors for a cozy pint by the fireplace.
At Flying Brick Cider House you can sample ciders made from 100% fresh apples and pears in a retro-inspired landmark venue. In north Geelong's historical Federal Woollen Mills you'll find Anther Distillery, home of Australia’s Champion Gin in 2018 and 2019. Taste the range and hear gin experts explain the unique native ingredients that go into every bottle.
Geelong Cellar Door, in the heart of the CBD, showcases the best of Geelong's cool climate wines. Peruse the extensive wine list while munching away on cheese or charcuterie–or both.
3. Local markets
Geelong and the Bellarine's farmers' markets are the best places to connect with the locals and sample the tastes, sight and smells of the region.
Stock up on fresh fruit, veggies, breads, olives, wines, jams, spreads, plants and more, all with an eco-friendly slant, at Golden Plains Farmers’ Market. Browse the stalls of locally-made and fresh-grown produce and support local vendors at South Geelong Farmers Market. Or, spend hours at Geelong Vintage Market, combing through vintage furniture, collectable, industrial items, jewellery, records and lots more in a beautiful old glass factory. Vintage heaven.
4. Geelong Botanic Gardens
In autumn, Geelong's Botanic Gardens glow with earthy hues over 200 stunning acres and a variety of gardens and lawns. Try to spot the iconic Geelong bollards and walk amongst the assortment of sculptures scattered throughout the garden.
5. Food stores and provedores
Fill your basket at one of the many delis and gourmet food stores in the region, all stocking a carefully curated selection of local wares. Annie's Provedore in Barwon Heads has fresh produce, farmhouse cheeses, freshly baked breads, and homemade cookies that are perfect for any picnic. Farmers Harvest gathers fresh food from the Bellarine and nearby towns so you can fill your plate with the finest produce.
Grab a basket at Wallington's Local Pantry to connect with more than 50 local artisans in the one shop, or get your fill of melt-in-your-mouth pastries at Ket Baker in Wallington.
6. Swim with the dolphins
Where else can you snorkel with wild dolphins, seals and colourful reef fish all in one day? Hop aboard with Sea All Dolphin Swims to get up close and personal with some new aquatic friends, then relax on the boat with a hot chocolate or go for a dip in the on-board spa.
7. Go on safari
Complete your trip with a stop at Werribee Open Range Zoo, located between Geelong and Melbourne. Jump on a guided safari across the savannah and spot rhinos, giraffes and zebras. Come face-to-face with a pride of lions, visit one of the world‘s largest gorilla exhibits, see cheeky monkeys at play and discover a family of hippos in their wetland home.
R Hotel Geelong is the coolest kid on the block. Enjoy highly-rated, self-contained luxury within a heritage-listed building overlooking Austin Park and just a few minutes' walk from the beach. Pets are welcome. Indulge in boutique accommodation at Vue Apartment Hotel, or settle in for a comfortable stay at Quest Apartments Geelong.