On the western side of Port Phillip Bay, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula sit opposite the Mornington Peninsula. Just as gentrified, but much quieter, the Bellarine Peninsula is a mix of history with a modern twist. As the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, several days are recommended to take in the region’s hidden gems.
As Victoria’s second largest city, Geelong is a bustling port, a center of industry and a peaceful home to more than 150,000 residents. Settled in the early 1800s, like other Victorian cities, Geelong has city streets dominated by grand architecture. Of particular importance is the beautiful Christ Churchthe oldest Anglican church in Victoria, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Catholic Churchand Custom House. The City Hall is Victoria’s oldest surviving timber building and a beautiful one National Wool Museum traces Australia’s history on the backs of the “sheep”. In its heyday, wool was auctioned in the historic wool shops before being shipped around the world. Geelong’s waterfront is a myriad of colors and movements with the ever popular East beach swimming enclosureexcellent seafood restaurants and beautiful Promenade to walk.
Read also: Explore Knysna
2 Geelong Carousel
One for the kids and kids at heart is the carefully restored steam powered Carousel centrally located on Geelong’s waterfront. Originally built in 1892, this handcrafted wooden carousel is a rare sight. More than 40 layers of paint were scraped off each horse to reveal the original color scheme, and it is said that more than 300 hours of work went into restoring each horse. Large glass windows provide spectacular sea views as you ride one of the beloved steeds to the sound of carnival music. With free admission to the Carousel building (tickets to ride are $3.50), this is a chance to relax and make memories.
Address: 1 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong
3 Bayside Bollards
Fun-filled and whimsical, the waterfront walk is punctuated by local characters and the history of Geelong carvings. Once the pylons of one of Geelong’s pillars, local artist, Jan Mitchell, painstakingly created a full exhibition spanning the length of the Promenade. From an image of a group of rescuers wrapping themselves in a buoy to a military brass band pumping out a tune, each installation brings a smile to people of all ages. The bolder people have become Geelong’s signature as one of the area’s top tourist attractions.
4 Barwon Heads
As the setting for the popular Australian long-running television series, Sea Change, Barwon Heads continually welcomes new residents and visitors. The sweeping 13th beach is known for its surf, and the Barwon Heads Golf Club offers visitors a memorable lap among the sand dunes with views of the rolling waves. The mouth of the Barwon River is sheltered and a great place for a picnic, and the small charming town is full of atmosphere. Located over the bridge over the Barwon River Ocean Grovean equally popular holiday destination, especially during the summer months.
5 Geelong Vintage Market
With more than 60 stalls and 2,000 square meters of indoor space, the Geelong Vintage Market is carving out a name for quality antiques and just plain quirky stuff. This trip down memory lane is as good for window shopping as it is for serious collectors. The cafe makes for an easy lunch stop, and there are also several other second-hand traders and other shops in the immediate area.
Address: 287/301 Melbourne Road Geelong
Official site: https://www.geelongvintagemarket.com.au/
Handsome old hotels reminiscent of past grandeur dominate the elegant town of Queenscliff. Although not as popular as Sorrentoits counterpart on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, this small Victorian town offers something even more appealing. Filled with art galleries, stylish restaurants and excellent shopping, it’s easy to while away the hours. Queenscliff Fort dates back to 1860 and played an important role in the defense of the Victorian coastline.
Today it is an excellent museum and is considered one of the best preserved forts in Australia. The black lighthouse on the fort is one of the few unpainted in the entire world. Full of mysticism, in the same area, Buckley’s Cave is where the escaped convict, William Buckley, lived for many years among the local indigenous population. This is where the local expression “you’ve got Buckley’s chance” comes from.
7 Queenscliff Vintage Trains
Both steam and diesel trains operate from the Bellarine Railway station Queenscliff on most weekends. With experiences like The Blues Train, Heritage Ridesand A day out with Thomas, there is something for all train enthusiasts. There is even an opportunity to experience driving one of the locomotives. In addition to operating the trains, the station houses a unique collection of rolling stock.
Official site: https://bellarinerailway.com.au/
8 Point Lonsdale
A few kilometers away Queenscliff, the sleepy township of Point Lonsdale is a world within a world. Many Melburnians escape to this quiet paradise for weekends. The lighthouse provides a perfect spot to watch ships negotiate the Rip, the two-kilometer stretch of water through the Port Phillip Bay Heads. Every pleasure and industrial vessel must pass through this narrow crossing, and Point Lonsdale offers the best views. The old pier is also considered a prime location for photographers, especially at sunrise.
9 Bellarine Surf Beaches
Catching waves on one of the many beaches of the Bellarine Peninsula, the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, is a great way to enjoy a favorite sport of the locals. Miles of pristine sand and perfect waves stretch out Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove Unpleasant Torquay, the official start of the Great Ocean Road. Pack a picnic, take a walk along the coast or go bird watching, the scenery is breathtaking.
Where to stay in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula for sightseeing
We recommend these unique hotels, apartments and guesthouses in Geelong and the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula:
- Starhaven Retreat: luxury bed-and-breakfast, wonderful hosts, bay views, stylish design, floor-to-ceiling windows, jet stream swim spa and sauna, private cinema.
- Novotel Geelong: 4-star hotel in Geelong, views of Eastern Beach, comfortable rooms, waterfront restaurant, beautiful indoor pool.
- BIG4 Beacon Resort: affordable Queenscliff resort, apartments with kitchenette, games room, kids club, indoor pool and wellness centre.
- Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong: budget hotel Geelong, city centre, water views, modern decor, small outdoor pool.