2. Vintage gem
In industrial North Geelong, the quirky Pickers Union cafe (3 Mackey Street) hides at the back of Geelong Vintage Market. You can get something to eat and some great coffee and then poke around in the market, which is in an old glass factory. Local traders sell a variety of clothing, old wares and books. Nearby Powerhouse Geelong (40 Mackey Street) is an industrial space with street art.
3. Beer time
Geelong has a reputation for craft brewing, and people love to hang out at Little Creatures Brewery (corner of Fyans and Swanston Streets) at the weekend. It’s one of the haunts we like to bring friends or family to see. Little Creatures opened about three years ago in a restored textile mill. You can tour the brewery most days. Also on site is the Canteen for food, and the Creatures Craft Market (second Sunday of the month) with its homewares, preserves, jewellery, coffee and beer.
4. Dome attraction
Since it opened last November, the futuristic dome at Geelong Library and Heritage Centre (51 Little Malop Street) has been packing people in. It’s a jaw-dropping, five-level complex with a function room that has views across the bay to the peaks of the You Yangs. You can take tours most days. It’s part of the arts precinct and next door is the Geelong Gallery. Afterwards wander out into Johnstone Park and the war memorial.
Just 10 minutes from the CBD is the start of 20 kilometres of trails along the Barwon River. People like to walk, run, ride, row and water-ski here, in the stretch from Fyansford to South Geelong. Look out for the wildlife, birds and, if you’re lucky, platypus. Barwon Valley Fun Park at Belmont is popular with littlies. Families stay at the caravan parks on the river.
6. Woolly stories
The National Wool Museum (26 Moorabool Street) gives an insight into why Geelong was once the wool centre of the world. Sheep farming began here in 1835 and there were lots of woollen mills by 1868. The museum shows how wool was produced and why it was so important to our economy, and it’s worth signing up for a tour. It’s also an arts space. RACV members save 20% on all ticket entries.
7. Cafe culture
Geelong is a cafe-culture town. You can’t turn a corner without finding one and generally the food’s fantastic. The best eats are in “Pako” – Pakington Street – which runs from Geelong West to Newtown. Winter’s Cafe (330 Pakington Street) has won several Golden Plate awards. Boss Burger Co (#206) is a great hamburger joint and Two Sugars (#146) is a nice Italian eatery. My daily coffee place in Westfield is Launch Espresso Bar and Kitchen (95 Malop Street). Coffee Cartel is an interesting coffee roaster in an industrial suburb of Breakwater (35 Leather Street, and also in the city at Little Malop and James Streets). Two other good spots are James St Bakery (10 James Street) and A Spot for Joe (33 Little Ryrie Street). Enjoy Australian cuisine and picturesque dining at Jack Rabbit Vineyard (85 McAdams Lane, Bellarine).
8. Splash zone
One of Victoria’s biggest water parks is Adventure Park (1249 Bellarine Highway), about 20 minutes’ drive from central Geelong. Little kids love the splash zone, the train and the carousel, while older ones opt for the aqua racer and the wave swinger. Go-karts, archery and mini-golf are also available. It opens from November to April.
9. Green thumbs
The Geelong Botanic Gardens in Eastern Park is walking distance from the CBD and it’s a really pretty place to wander around. Dating from the 1850s, it includes a rose garden, a fernery, a children’s space and a teahouse. There are 36 heritage-listed trees. During summer holidays, look out for performances such as Alice In Wonderland.
10. You Yangs
The You Yangs are granite peaks that rise above the volcanic plain between Geelong and Melbourne. There’s a lovely 3.2 kilometre walk to the summit, Flinders Peak. From there, you can see all the way to Melbourne, the Brisbane Ranges and Geelong. It’s only a 30-minute drive from Geelong and it’s popular in summer. There are two mountain bike areas and 50km of trails. After a walk or a ride, it’s nice to have a barbecue at one of the picnic areas.
Wineries, museums, sightseeing flights, surfing lessons … members get discounts and benefits all around Geelong, Torquay and the Surf Coast when they show their RACV member card. For details, go to racv.com.au.