Stay close, go further
It's time to celebrate the good life. Share sunny days and warm nights with friends and family in Geelong & the Bellarine this summer.
Here are our top tips for a summer trip:
1. Fresh produce
Savour summer's bounty at Tuckerberry Hill or Surf Coast Strawberry Fields, where you can pick your own bright strawberries and blueberries. Slurp a fresh berry ice cream to cool off.
It's seafood season: buy mussels, prawns other maritime delicacies from Mi Shell's Seafood's family boat at Queenscliff. Sit down at Little Mussel Cafe (open daily during Christmas holidays) just outside of Portarlington for a lunch of juicy mussels or a famous scallop pie.
Pop in to Lonsdale Tomato Farm to select firm, fragrant tomatoes from the vine and add them to your salad. Summer eating doesn't get sweeter.
2. Water fun
Surf or swim the glittering waves at Point Lonsdale, 13th Beach, Ocean Grove main beach or Barwon Heads. Beginners can join in with surf lessons right from the sand. Scuba dive the reef at Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, or roll up your jeans for a spectacular coastal walk.
Join the crowds at the Festival of Sails from Jan 22-26 and see racing, technology and tradition along the Corio Bay waterfront and Royal Geelong Yacht Club. The Festival includes the traditional Melbourne to Geelong Passage race (first held in 1844) and live music, market stalls and entertainment across five days.
There's nothing like exploring Port Phillip Bay on your own boat or a charter for a lazy day of fishing, on-water picnics and coastal sightseeing. Snorkel with playful dolphins on a Sea All Dolphin Swims tour from Queenscliff. And if all that sounds too strenuous, book a picnic boat in Geelong with GoBoat. You can laze the afternoon away on the bay, nibbling cheese and sipping prosecco, steering your own private vessel. It's a tough life...
3. Bellarine Taste Trail
Get into the holiday groove on the Bellarine Taste Trail. Tour cool climate wine producers and cellar doors, farm gates, provedores, casual cafes and sophisticated restaurants.
A guided tasting will help you enjoy award-winning minimal intervention cool-climate wines at Jack Rabbit Vineyard. It's a top dining tip, too: book for an exceptional meal with unrivalled coastal views. Nearby Terindah Estate shares the bounty of both land and sea. Taste the cellar-door offerings, settle in for lunch and take a stroll among the vines.
Coastal Geelong's sensational waterfront at Eastern Beach is a summer playground for young and old, with an art deco pool for cooling off, long stretches of sand and grass for playing and picnics, and barbecue facilities for alfresco eating.
Settle in for a meal at one of the many waterfront dining spots, including Pavilion (plus its sister venue, Caledonia Shores, right upstairs) and Fishermen's Pier. The beer garden and rooftop bar at Sailors' Rest is an ideal place to pause and soak up the sunshine, or you could try The Wharf Shed, which does a roaring trade, seven days a week – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
To cool off in a cultural fashion, explore the diverse art on display at Geelong Gallery, one of the oldest regional art galleries in Australia.
5. Seaside villages
You'll find plenty of historic seaside villages perfect for that laid-back holiday vibe. Trace the mouth of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads, where you can muck around on the sand, explore the shopping strip, hit Thirteenth Beach for a surf or take brunch with a view at At the Heads.
The wide stretch of sand at surf-loving Ocean Grove is perfect for waves, sandcastles and beach cricket. Sit down to lunch at The Dunes Ocean Grove and study the surfers doing their thing.
Take your pick of fresh seafood at Portarlington; you'll find The Little Mussel at its new home on the Portarlington main drag, just up from the pier. Connect to the Mornington Peninsula across the bay from historic Queenscliff on the Searoad Ferry – it shuttles cars and passengers to Sorrento hourly, every day.
Geelong's waterfront has plenty of spots to bed down to the sounds of the sea. Boutique option Vue Apartments has all latest technology plus brilliant views over Eastern Beach.
The BIG4 in Queenscliff (or BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Queenscliff Beacon, to give it its full title) will have the whole family slumbering in villa, cabin or apartment options in native garden surrounds. You can camp or glamp, and there's a pool, a day spa, and plenty of activities for the kids.