Geelong and its surrounding areas are home to some of Australia’s best regional dining. Must-visits include Geelong’s latest eatery IGNI as well as 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 the chef’s second restaurant in Geelong, Tulip, continues to impress.
Old becomes new
As Geelong moves further away from its industrial past, old manufacturing spaces are being taken over and converted into hip new cafes, bars, restaurants, accommodation and attractions. The new Devlin Apartments, which opened in April this year, boasts 37 luxury self-contained short-stay apartments and rooms and is located in the heritage-listed former Gordon Junior Technical School. Nearby, Little Creatures Brewery and White Rabbit Brewery & Barrel Hall have firmly imprinted themselves at the site of the old woollen mills. The Old Paper Mills at Fyansford, built in the 1870s and located along the Barwon River, has quickly established itself as an arts and culture precinct with an onsite gallery and a winery and function centre set to open soon. Back in town, Boom Gallery, is a vibrant contemporary art and design hub housed in an historic woollen mill.
Cool urban precincts
Geelong boasts two inner city precincts where visitors will find cool cafes, wine bars, restaurants and designer shops. In the heart of the city, along Little Malop Street, Coffee Cartel serves some of the best coffee in town, while Geelong Cellar Door has an impressive selection of local wines on offer. Nashville-style chicken can be enjoyed 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 many of the most popular venues in town, including King of the Castle, Zigfrids Dining Hall & Bar and Geelong Fresh Foods.
All summer long, visitors flock to The Bellarine Peninsula to enjoy its 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 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. The mouth of the Barwon River in Barwon Heads is ideal for paddling in the shallow water, exploring rock pools or gliding over the smooth surface on a stand up paddle board. The rock pools at Point Lonsdale are also a must, as is the sheltered and family friendly bay at Portarlington.
Bountiful local produce
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 takes visitors on a delicious journey through the region. Or check out the detailed website, which includes all the information needed to plan a gastronomic journey in advance.
Untapped wine region
The Moorabool Valley, to the north of Geelong, is home to quaint villages, rolling hills, beautiful scenery and award-winning wineries. The region has a history stretching back to 1842, when Swiss immigrants planted the first vines. It is now considered one of Australia’s finest cool-climate wine growing areas, which can easily be explored on a leisurely weekend away. Top wineries include Clyde Park Vineyard & Bistro, Lethbridge Wines, Moorabool Ridge Vineyard and Austins & Co.
A water lover’s paradise
With a spectacular coastline hugging the region from Geelong right through to Barwon Heads and beyond, it is no surprise that there are find plenty of water based activities to choose from. Visitors 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 Dolphins Swims or cruise between the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula aboard Searoad Ferries. For underwater adventures, Dive Victoria offers diving trips to explore the ex HMAS Canberra which was sunk into Port Phillip Bay in 2009. Tours depart from Queenscliff Harbour.
Outstanding public golf courses
The Bellarine is a golfer’s paradise, with four outstanding public courses which are consistently rated as some of the best in Australia. Top spots to tee off include Curlewis Golf Club, Barwon Heads Golf Club, and the two courses at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links. The golf courses at Queenscliff (on the scenic Swan Island), Portarlington and Point Lonsdale provide even more options – meaning golfers are truly spoilt for choice in this part of the world.
Two wheeled adventures
The Geelong Bellarine region is home to cycling trails suitable for all abilities. The You Yangs are the go-to place for mountain biking, with two designated mountain bike areas and 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 region’s 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.
Endless family fun
In both Geelong and The Bellarine you will find ample activities to keep the family entertained. In Geelong, the stunning waterfront truly comes alive during summer. Youngsters can discover the old world charm of the beautifully restored Geelong Carousel, while older kids will love the diving boards at the historic early century beach promenade at Eastern Beach. All members of the family will enjoy exploring the colourful Geelong Waterfront Bollard Trail, comprising 104 bollards, each representing a different character from Geelong’s history. Out of town, the hugely popular Adventure Park houses a diverse array of water and land-based rides that cater for the whole family. The wider region also boasts a large number of award-winning, family friendly holiday and caravan holiday parks, providing the ideal base for a few days, a week or longer.
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