Lose Yourself in the Beauty of Geelong and the Bellarine

The stunning Bellarine and ever-changing Geelong make for a wonderful weekend escape from the city.

Located an easy hour's drive from Melbourne, Geelong and its neighbouring peninsula, the Bellarine, make for an ideal destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. With fabulous dining, natural wonders and adventure aplenty, you’ll love discovering this dynamic region.

Geelong is in the midst of a reinvention with old, industrial spaces being transformed into creative hubs, urban precincts and fabulous eateries. Little Creatures Brewery and White Rabbit Brewery & Barrel Hall have established themselves at the site of the old woollen mills.

The Old Paper Mills at Fyansford, established in the 1870s and located along the Barwon River, is now an arts and culture precinct with an onsite gallery. Boom Gallery, located just off Pakington Street, is a vibrant contemporary art and design gallery also housed in an historic woollen mill.

Try wine from the impressive selection at Geelong Cellar Door
Try wine from the impressive selection at Geelong Cellar Door. (Courtesy Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine)

For cool cafés and designer shops check out Little Malop Street, where you will find great coffee at Coffee Cartel, an impressive selection of local wines at Geelong Cellar Door, Nashville-style chicken at Aaron Turner’s Hot Chicken Project and decadent late night desserts at Armageddon Cake.

Just outside the city centre, Pakington Street is home to popular venues including King of the Castle, Zigfrids Dining Hall & Bar and Geelong Fresh Foods.

Foodies will love the spectacular dining on offer in the region. A must-visit location in Geelong is Aaron Turner’s IGNI, which has won numerous accolades since opening earlier in the year.

On the Bellarine, you will find Jack Rabbit Restaurant, Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant, The Shed Restaurant at Terindah Estate and the Vue Grand Hotel. To the north of Geelong, Matt Dempsey’s Gladioli has well and truly put Inverleigh on the gourmet trail, while his second restaurant in Geelong, Tulip, continues to impress guests from near and far.

Stunning views at Terindah Estate
Stunning views at Terindah Estate (Courtesy Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine)

The Bellarine is home to an impressive collection of boutique wineries, farm gates, provedores and establishments serving up dishes featuring local produce. The best way to discover them all is by picking up a Bellarine Taste Trail map, which will take you on a delicious journey through the region.

The Bellarine is a golfer’s paradise, boasting four outstanding public courses which are consistently rated as some of the best in Australia. Take your pick from Curlewis Golf Club, Barwon Heads Golf Club or one of the two courses at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links.

The peninsula is also home to beautiful beaches. Avid surfers head to popular surf spots such as 13th Beach or Raffs Beach in Barwon Heads, while beginners can enjoy a surf lesson at Ocean Grove beach with Go Ride a Wave or Sea Earth Adventures. Families can take advantage of the pristine sand and gentle waves at the Ocean Grove main beach, considered one of the safest in Victoria.

Get up close to the wildlife at Chinaman's Hat, Port Phillip Bay
Get up close to the wildlife at Chinaman's Hat, Port Phillip Bay. (©Mark Chew/Visit Victoria)

You 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 Dolphin Swims or cruise between the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula aboard Searoad Ferries. For underwater adventures, Dive Victoria offers diving trips to explore the HMAS Canberra which was sunk into Port Phillip Bay in 2009. Tours depart from Queenscliff Harbour.

For those seeking adventure, head to the You Yangs, a go-to place for mountain biking, boasting two designated mountain bike areas with 50 kilometres of track. The Bellarine Rail Trail is a scenic 35-kilometre trail that winds from South Geelong to Queenscliff. This mostly flat trail provides easy access to many of the regions attractions and villages. Meanwhile, thousands of visitors flock to Geelong in January every year for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Cyclists can join Cadel himself in the People’s Ride which starts and finishes in Geelong.

Walk or cycle the Bellarine Rail Trail
Walk or cycle the Bellarine Rail Trail. (Courtesy Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine)

Families will love exploring the colourful Geelong Waterfront Bollard Trail, comprising 104 bollards, each representing a different character from Geelong’s history. Out of town, you will find the hugely popular Adventure Park, which houses a diverse array of water and land-based rides that cater for the whole family.

From food to fun, Geelong and the Bellarine has something for everyone.