Stay close, go further
Make the coast your cosy friend this winter, with wine bars, top dining, seaside walks and culture for miles. Here are our top tips for experiencing the chilly season in Geelong and the Bellarine.
1. Wine bars and wineries
Get acquainted with the region's cool climate wines at intimate Geelong Cellar Door – pair a pinot with cheese or charcuterie. Watch the weather roll across the picture windows at Jack Rabbit Vineyard on the Bellarine, tasting award-winning drops from blanc de blanc to pinot noir. Provenance Wines draws you inside a historic bluestone paper mill for a cellar door experience worthy of the Gourmet Traveller Star Cellar Door Award 2020.
2. Bellarine Taste Trail
Get the flavour of this coastal climate on the Bellarine Taste Trail, chock-a-block with outstanding local producers and provedores. Stock your pantry with cold-pressed Bellarine olive and citrus oils at Lighthouse Olive Oil. Picnic indoors with farmhouse cheese, home baking and chutneys from Annie's Provedore, or eat in at Saltbush Fine Foods – famed locally for its crispy pittas and Portuguese custard tarts.
3. Geelong Botanic Gardens
Stroll through Geelong's Botanic Gardens across 200 stunning acres of gardens and lawns. Look out for iconic Geelong bollards and sculptures, and join a volunteer guided tour – learn about plants important to the local Wadawurrung people and trace botanical history back to Gondwana.
4. Stomach warmers
You're in the right spot for hearty winter feasting. Along trend-setting Little Malop Street in Geelong, The Continental delivers up European share plates, cocktails, Sunday lunches and home-baked sourdough. Just off Little Malop on Downes Lane, fine diner Felix delivers style on its decadent plates and in its chic leather and wood fit-out. Head to Pavilion Geelong, a restored 1920s beach pavilion on the Geelong waterfront, for all-day brunch fare and daytime-appropriate cocktails.
5. Art (and) history
When it's dark outside, find some light in the collection of Australian and international paintings and decorative arts at Geelong Gallery – in the business of creativity since 1896.
Fitting for the former 'wool centre of the world', Geelong is home to The National Wool Museum: learn the history of this important industry inside the bluestone wool store and explore Linda Gallus's contemporary paintings in The White Farm: Art Heritage and the Bellarine.
6. Coastal walks
Get a healthy dose of salt air along Geelong's Eastern Beach, and walk on water across Corio Bay on the 440-metre Wangim Walk. Discover more than 100 painted bollards of characters from the city's past along the waterfront, and follow the Waterfront Art Trail past giant fin-like sculptures, a barcode fountain, curious cargo boxes and more.
Head into the You Yangs for bushwalking. Walk (and surf, if you're up for it) Thirteenth Beach at Barwon Heads, and walk (or cycle) a section of the Bellarine Rail Trail.
Keep cosy with a sleep at the R Hotel Geelong, a pet-friendly luxury apartment and hotel stay within easy walk of the waterfront, with ocean views to match. Find out what the fuss is about with a night in the beautifully restored rooms at historic Portarlington Grand Hotel.