With its palm-fringed, ‘50s-inspired waterfront and breezy, laid-back outlook, Geelong is firmly on everyone’s must-visit list. At its heart is the utterly charming Little Malop Street precinct, where an enticing melting pot of food, wine, bars, coffee and culture awaits.

Tucked away from the bustling regional city’s major commercial throughfares, Little Malop Street is Geelong’s emphatic answer to Melbourne’s famous laneways and eat streets. A mecca not only for foodies, but lovers of live entertainment and a cheeky cocktail or two.

Coffee and culture

During daylight hours, any exploration should begin with a heart-starter from Cartel Coffee Roasters before wandering up to Geelong Gallery, featuring a trove of permanent and revolving exhibitions that hero renowned local talent such as Rone, as well as hosting touring displays of national and international significance.

Next door, the stunning Geelong Library is an architectural marvel, set over five floors featuring a diverse collection of print, multimedia and heritage items, and offering spectacular views across the city and the bay.

Take a tranquil walk through adjoining Johnstone Park with its palm trees and heritage rotunda, then stroll back past the imposing edifice of Geelong Town Hall.

If it’s lunchtime, pull up a chair at Pistol Pete’s Food ‘n Blues for a Southern-inspired feed of gumbo or PoBoys, or get into Sober Ramen for dumplings or the hot and fresh ramen noodles they’re renowned for. 

See more, do more

There’s plenty of shopping in the nearby streets and malls to fill an afternoon. Alternatively, take a stroll along the waterfront past the imposing woolstores-turned-university campus and a heritage-listed children’s carousel, get a water-borne view of the idyllic Geelong Yacht Club from the Wangim Walk wave attenuator, and cruise onwards to postcard-pretty Eastern Beach.

Later, Little Malop Street begins to bustle as drinkers and diners alike converge on a plethora of options. Pull up a pew on The Arborist’s front deck for pre-dinner refreshment, or get lost in the wine list at Geelong Cellar Door. Adjourn to northern Italian cuisine specialist Caruggi, Greek restaurant Mav’s, or acclaimed modern French restaurant Felix, for a fine feed. 

After dark delights

What to do after dinner? Choose your adventure. Sabroso Dessert Bar or Augustus Gelatery around the corner will satisfy a sweet tooth. Meanwhile, Piano Bar, Westend and Beav’s Bar buzz with live music and good times, and the newly renovated and expanded Geelong Arts Centre is a mecca for headline live performances. 

Later still, adjourn to Union Street Wine Bar to sample more of the region’s wonderful tipples; or find the tiny doorway and narrow, steep set of stairs that leads to the award-winning 18th Amendment Bar, a dimly-lit cocktail den styled after the prohibition era for which it’s named.

No exploration of Geelong is complete without a thorough exploration of thriving Little Malop Street.