Its delectable provedores and farm gates, world-class golf courses, boutique shops and magical beaches just 90 minutes from Melbourne makes it one of the best undiscovered hidden gems in Victoria.
The seaside region is set to become the state’s newest wellness destination with the much-anticipated opening of the Lon Retreat in October. The luxury accommodation and mineral spa, opening on Friday 5 October, is perched on a hill on the edge of Point Lonsdale with 360-degree views of The Heads, the lighthouse, Ocean Grove and the Bellarine. The lavish new waterfront ultra-private boutique hotel Campbell Point House is also set to open in October. Set on 16 hectares, flanked by Lake Connewarre, the high-end mansion features eight luxury suites.Lon Retreat, 25 Gill Road, Point Lonsdale, Victoria, 3225. (03) 5258 2990; Campbell Point House, 199 Matthews Road, Leopold, Victoria, 3224.
Opened in April 2017, Merne is operated by former chef at Tulip, Josh Smith and Caleb Fleet from front of house roles at the Vue Grand and Pettavel Winery. The menu is based around share food and uses delicious regional, local, fresh and from the garden food where possible. Merne is indigenous for ‘food from the earth’ and is a further addition to the region’s booming food and wine scene. 648 Andersons Road, Drysdale, 3222. (03) 5251 5541.
3. The Whiskery
The Whiskery is the cellar door/tasting room for Bellarine Distillery. Produced onsite, visitors can sample whiskies and gins, including the original Teddy and the Fox gin, in the tasting room. Set on a former Cobb & Co horse watering hole, guests can devour small Italian style pizzas and local produce grazing plates in front of the beautiful fireplace or outside.
2102-2120 Portarlington Road, Drysdale, Victoria, 3222. 0410 688 142
Curlewis Winery is home to some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines on the Bellarine. Established in 1985, the winery uses an artisan approach to handmade cool-climate winemaking. Curlewis has just opened a new boutique cellar door this year, which is opens on weekends and offers their full suite of wines, food platters and chosen craft beers to have by the fire. Wines are uniquely offered for tasting in a test tube flight. Curlewis owners also hold cooking classes to pass on their grandparents’ and parents’ recipes for Italian salami, cacciatore and sauces.
55 Navarre Road, Curlewis, Victoria, 3222. (03) 5250 4567.
5. The Q Train
The Q Train offers a truly unique and moving dining experience – literally. A restaurant on board an historic train made up of Queenslander rail carriages, The Q Train travels along the picturesque Bellarine Railway from Drysdale to Queenscliff return. Showcasing local food, wine and beer from the region, in a delicious six course degustation. 0474 968 309.
Portarlington is world-renowned for its Mussels and visitors can get them fresh at Advance Mussel Supply. The family owned farm-gate café features an enclosed alfresco area to enjoy the favourites, including Mussel Chowder, Mussel Tasting plates, Chilli Mussels, Oyster with lemon, Oyster Kilpatrick and Arancini balls, Mussel pies and Scallop pies. Or passers by can call in and pick up a fresh Portarlington mussels and oysters by the kilogram or box. Mussel are best consumed when washed down with a Bellarine Brewing Company Mussel Stout beer. 230-250 Queenscliff Road, Bellarine, Victoria, 3221. (03) 5259 1377.
Queenscliff Brewhouse is home to over 200 craft beers and ciders and is all about local – local wines, beers, produce and live music. With an onsite microbrewery, whisky bar, regional produce tasting room, bistro, bar, beer garden and terraces with views of the bay, there is something for everyone. The brewhouse offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and all day tasting plates with the focus on local and seasonal produce. 2 Gellibrand Street, Queenscliff, Victoria, 3225. (03) 5258 1717.
8. Basils Farm
Basils Farm specialises in handcrafted wines with minimal intervention. After a stop at the cellar door, visitors can enjoy stunning views over Swan Bay to Queenscliff over lunch at the quaint cottage café or keep warm around the fire pit during winter in the sustainable garden. The farm is home to some furry friends including llamas, sheep, ducks and chickens. Basils Farm regularly holds Animal Feeding Sessions for children under 12 years during the school holidays. 43-53 Nye Road, Swan Bay, Victoria, 3225. (03) 5258 4280.
Established in 1982, Scotchmans Hill produces premium cool maritime climate wines. Located in the heart of the Bellarine Peninsula, Scotchmans Hill has been a leading local winery for over thirty years and is rated among James Halliday’s Top 100 Australian Wineries. Scotchmans Hill has a new cellar door that is a gorgeous old French provincial farmhouse or ‘barn’ that is situated among the vines on the estate overlooking magnificent views of Port Phillip Bay. 190 Scotchmans Road, Drysdale, Victoria, 3222. (03) 5251 3176.
Visitors can avoid the traffic and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Port Phillip Bay from Melbourne to the Bellarine on board Port Phillip Ferries. The daily passenger service operates between Victoria Harbour in Docklands and Portarlington on the peninsula. The 75-minute commute is an enjoyable alternative to the car as passengers appreciate the comfort of the new 400-seat high-tech catamaran ferry which includes free Wi -Fi, charging stations and drop-down trays and licenced café. (03) 9514 8959.
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