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Wander Geelong & the Bellarine

We've done the research for you. Here are no less than 10 inarguable reasons to get on down to G-town and the bewdiful Bellarine. By the time you've finished wandering, you're bound to have a bunch of reasons all of your own. It's like that down here.

Here's one to start with (this doesn't count in the 10 reasons) – it's less than an hour's drive from Melbourne to Geelong, so you can easily while away a day or get away for a weekend or a long, languid summer holiday.

Reason 1: Dining with a capital D

Fact: This region is home to some of Australia's best regional dining. If you wanted to prove us wrong, you definitely should not try IGNI (you really should), the place that's ignited Geelong's dining scene. Inverleigh is hot on its heels thanks to Matt Dempsey's Gladioli – his Tulip in Geelong also impresses.

Further proof is found beyond Geelong at a cluster of tantalising winery restaurants – Jack Rabbit Restaurant, Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant, The Shed Restaurant at Terindah Estate and the Vue Grand Hotel. 

Reason 2: Too cool for school

The best part about Geelong's manufacturing past is that the converted industrial spaces are perfect for hip cafes, bars, restaurants, accommodation and galleries. The old tech school is now the swish Devlin Apartments accommodation, while the former woollen mills are now milling with bright young things enjoying the ales at Little Creatures Brewery and White Rabbit Brewery & Barrel Hall. On the Barwon River, the Old Paper Mills is now a bustling art and culture precinct, and Boom Gallery occupies another wool mill.

Reason 3: Laneway culture comes to the Big G

If Melbourne's laneway culture was kickstarted by hyped cafes, bars and boutiques, then Geelong is on its way. Little Malop Street is the new 'it' address, home to Coffee Cartel, Geelong Cellar Door and Armageddon Cake. And it ain't hip if there's no fried chicken, so give thanks for the Hot Chicken Project. Bringing it to Little Malop is the always-buzzing Pakington Street, where you'll find King of the Castle, Zigfrids Dining Hall & Bar and Geelong Fresh Foods.

Reason 4: Life's a beach

Sand between your toes, salt on your skin. They're the sensations memories are made of, and they don't get much more memorable than summer days on the Bellarine Peninsula.

Surfers vie for the waves at 13th Beach or Raffs Beach in Barwon Heads, and beginners get the lowdown on hanging 10 at Ocean Grove with Go Ride A Wave or Sea Earth Adventures. Ocean Grove and its pristine beach is also one of the best spots for good old-fashioned family beach fun, but then again there's the mouth of the Barwon River in Barwon Heads for a bit of that, too. Plus the rock pools at Point Lonsdale and Portarlington. Don't forget to Slip Slop Slap.

Reason 5: All about the bounty

If the wines are anything to go by, the soil in this part of the world sure knows how to grow good food. So do the farmers and gardeners, of course. So grab a copy of the Bellarine Taste Trail map and embark on a lip-smacking gastronomic journey throughout the region.

Reason 6: Nothing to wine about

Say it loud and say you're first in the know – Moorabool Valley is where it's at for wine. More than the quaint villages, rolling hills and beautiful scenery, it's the cluster of cool-climate wineries making fine drops from the vines first planted by Swiss immigrants in 1842. Don't miss Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro, Lethbridge Wines, Moorabool Ridge Vineyard and Austins & Co.

Reason 7: Watery paradise

With all that spectacular coastline as the backdrop to your Geelong and Bellarine days, there's no surprise that lots of the fun is water-based. Join Dive Victoria on a dive down to the ex HMAS Canberra, or splash about where the dolphins do with See All Dolphin Swims. Cruise between the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula aboard Searoad Ferries, or get the lowdown on the maritime past with South Bay Eco Adventures.

Reason Fore!

Well, Reason 8 really, and it's golf. Why not, when four of Australia's best golf courses are found on the Bellarine? Tee off at Curlewis Golf Club, Barwon Heads Golf Club and the two courses at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links. Venture over to Queenscliff, Portarlington and Point Lonsdale for more golfing action.

Reason 9: Wheely exciting adventures

Off-road or training wheels, Geelong and the Bellarine have you covered for cycling fun. The 50 kilometres of track makes You-Yangs the go-to spot for mountain biking, while the 35-kilometre Bellarine Rail Trail is a more gentle family ride between South Geelong and Queenscliff. For the more serious cyclist there's the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong every January.

Reason 10: All about the family

There's all ages fun to be found all around Geelong and the Bellarine, starting with Geelong's thrilling waterfront. Kids adore the restored Geelong Carousel and the diving boards at the historic Eastern Beach promenade, and there's endless delight in meeting the characters on the Geelong Waterfront Bollard Trail. Further afield is the wildly popular Adventure Park, and holiday and caravan parks abound to prove that old-school, no-frills family holidays are timeless and magical.

Destination dining

Cool Geelong

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Treat your tastebuds

Food & wine

Wineries

Clyde Park Vineyard & Bistro

Park yourself here for great wines, pizza and tasting platters. Specialty wines include pinot noir and gris, shiraz, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

Restaurants

Vue Grand – Grand Dining Room

Experience sophisticated, award-winning fine dining accompanied by a knockout list of regional wines at Queenscliff’s famous and historic hotel.

Wineries

Lethbridge Wines

Sit down with the winemakers to learn about styles and techniques and taste high quality pinot noir and shiraz along with Meredith farmhouse cheeses.

Wineries

Moorabool Ridge Vineyard & CafŽe

Deep in the Valley perched on the edge of the Moorabool River is a shepherd's cottage built in 1856. This historic building is now home to Moorabool...

Restaurants

Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant

The award winning Oakdene restaurant is the perfect place to match estate grown wines with the menu of seasonal, local and regional produce prepared...

Wineries

Jack Rabbit Vineyard

Hop to it for sophisticated cool-climate wines, an award-winning restaurant, cellar door, tasting room, bistro-style cafe and stunning coastal views.

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Experience

Geelong

Adventure Park

Super charge your summer at Victoria's biggest theme park, Adventure Park Geelong. With awesome...

South Bay Eco Adventures

Take a spectacular coastal and wildlife ecotour of the bay to spot dolphins, seals, whales and more.

SeaEarth Adventures

SeaEarth Adventures are based on Victoria's Surfcoast and Great Ocean Road. Formed from two...

The Carousel

The Carousel is an Armitage-Herschell portable steam driven, hand-carved wooden carousel was...

You Yangs Regional Park

The distinctive granite peaks of the You Yangs rise from the flat volcanic plains between Melbourne...

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Take in some of Victoria's most spectacular coastal scenery on this elite one day cycle race.

Go Ride A Wave - Ocean Grove

When you join a surfing lesson with Go Ride A Wave, you are learning to surf with Australia's...

Sea All Dolphin Swims

Snorkel with wild dolphins; spot seals and sea birds; and swim with loads of colourful reef fish.

Thirteenth Beach Golf Links

Thirteenth Beach Golf Links is a Nationally Ranked 36 hole golf and residential precinct located in...

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Things to do

Nature and wildlife

From wetlands to coastal woodlands, the Geelong and Bellarine region is the feeding ground for many native animals, marine life and migratory birds.

Geelong & the Bellarine

Events

Get out and about and enjoy everything from world-class cycling races and rock festivals to fine wines, local delicacies and aerial acrobatics.

Art & culture

Public art

Discover the wealth of public art works along the Geelong waterfront from the whimsical Baywalk Bollards to the Cargo Boxes and Paving Splats.

Outdoor activities

Cycling

Hop on a bike and have a truly spectacular cycling experience in a setting of rolling hills, scenic wine regions and breathtaking ocean views.