Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road have all the ingredients for a memorable visit – historic seaside villages, beautiful beaches, national and state parks and award-winning wineries. Geelong is Victoria’s largest regional city, with its new-look waterfront that is packed with attractions and activities, great restaurants and sweeping bay views. The city also offers lively shopping precincts and a number of excellent galleries and museums to explore.
More seaside fun can be found along the coast with sandy bay beaches from Portarlington to Point Lonsdale. Surf’s up at Point Lonsdale back beach, 13th Beach and Ocean Grove, while Barwon Heads offers a gentle river beach. At the historic seaside village of Queenscliff, magnificent Victorian-era architecture, lighthouses, a huge military fort and modest fisherman’s cottages reflect the colourful past. Swim with dolphins, dive the bay’s depths and experience fascinating maritime and military history. Explore the shops and galleries, many housed in old churches and other historic buildings. At nearby wineries you can walk among the vines, taste and buy from cellar doors.
Fresh food is a Bellarine Peninsula speciality – freshly harvested mussels are on sale at Portarlington, you can pick your own juicy strawberries at a Wallington farm, or sample some locally grown and bottled olive oil. If you like a round of golf, the Bellarine Peninsula’s courses are among Australia’s best and most challenging.
Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula’s fertile soils and perfect climate have spawned a major wine industry. Geelong’s Wine Region became Victoria’s largest winemaking district in the late 1870s until a pest decimated vines across Victoria.
Today the region produces a diverse range of subtle and elegant wines, from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay to highly sought-after Shiraz.
Many of the wineries offer wines for sale at their cellar doors and some have restaurants serving their wines against a backdrop of breathtaking bay and country scenery. Other dining highlights in the region include the beautiful waterfront restaurants in Geelong which range from fine dining establishments to casual cafes, all with stunning views of Corio Bay.
The region also has a rich farming and maritime heritage. Buy fresh seafood straight off the boat from the harbour at Queenscliff or stop off at Portarlington and pick up fresh mussels. Or head inland and visit one of the berry farms around Wallington and Drysdale and pick up some fresh berries in season. Call in at one of the region’s regular Sunday markets for the best local homemade and home-grown produce, all in one spot.
In the 1860s, Geelong was the most important winemaking area in Victoria, surpassing the plantings of the Yarra Valley. Now, 140 years later, it is regaining its place amongst the State’s most popular wine destinations. Sweeping views of the bay and the ocean add an extra dimension to the vineyards.
Plantings are increasing both inland from Geelong and on the Bellarine Peninsula, where the magnificently restored Spray Farm and vineyard with its parterre garden and original stables is a popular function and event venue. Wine and music weekends are also hosted by the ultra-modern Shadowfax winery with its elegant neighbour, The Mansion at Werribee Park.