What to do in Geelong and the Bellarine

Geelong foreshore

Mia Woolrich

Posted December 10, 2021

Just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula have long flown under the radar as a holiday destination, but that’s quickly changing as savvy travellers are now discovering the endless gems the area has to offer. 

The bustling regional city and the surrounding region have some seriously fine wining and dining options, fascinating history and art, and world-class outdoor adventures, so it’s time to hop in the car and explore this exciting area. 

Geelong highlights

Explore the waterfront and botanic gardens

With sweeping views over Corio Bay, Geelong’s waterfront offers a lively ambience well worth checking out. Take a stroll along the cosmopolitan strip and you’ll find restaurants, cafes, well-maintained gardens, a Ferris wheel, and local art.

You can’t miss the iconic Geelong Bollards standing tall along the waterfront, which were created by a local artist and offer a quirky visual history of the city.

Another beautiful spot for a stroll is the Geelong Botanic Gardens, which is free to enter and showcases some magnificent plant collections and peaceful lawns. There’s also a quaint teahouse to grab a cupper or a light meal.

Check out the art scene

The Geelong Gallery is one of Australia’s oldest and best regional art galleries and boasts a marvellous collection of classical and contemporary art, as well as a dynamic program of temporary exhibitions.

If street art is more your thing, Geelong also has a series of murals and graffiti works that add a dose of life to the city’s walls. Perhaps the most well-known would be ‘To the Unknown Mariner’, a 60ft tall piece paying homage to Geelong’s rich maritime history.

Learn the local history

Did you know that Geelong was once known as the wool centre of the world? The first woollen mills opened in the city in 1868 and the National Wool Museum, housed in a gorgeous old bluestone building, tells of this rich history.

Another must-see museum is the Geelong Gaol. Here you can take a walk in the footsteps of Victoria’s convict past and learn the fascinating history of Victoria’s longest running colonial gaol.

RACV Members also save on a range of attractions and experiences in Geelong.

Geelong Art Gallery

Geelong Art Gallery Credit: Visit Victoria 

Bellarine highlights

For the epicurean

The Bellarine Peninsula is perhaps Victoria’s best kept epicurean secret. The cool-climate region produces some world-winning wines and a visit to the local wineries and restaurants is a must for any discerning foodie.

Terindah Estate, Oakdene and Scotchmans Hill are some of the better-known wineries, but a self-drive tour through the region will uncover some hidden and smaller family-run gems. The peninsula is also home to multiple breweries, distilleries and a cider house, so every palate will be well and truly satisfied.

Don’t forget a picnic basket and an esky either, a leisurely drive through the peninsula is a great chance to stock up on gourmet pantry essentials, seasonal farm-stand produce, and fresh local seafood.

Speaking of seafood, what’s a visit to a coastal Victorian town without tucking into some fish and chips? The sleepy seaside village of Portarlington is the place to get some fresh seafood straight off the boat, and nearby Queenscliff also boasts a great classic fish and chip shop.

For the outdoor enthusiast

As far as beaches go, the peninsula offers the best of both worlds- renowned surf beaches on one side and the peaceful waters of Port Philip Bay on the other.

Surfers and families alike flock to Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale to frolic in the waves, and the quiet beaches of Portarlington and Indented Head are perfect for safely dipping the toes in.

Barwon Heads is also a unique spot worth checking out, offering sandy river estuaries that are popular for swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing.

The peninsula is also a golfer’s mecca. Catering to the weekend enthusiast as well as the seasoned pro, there’s a course for everyone. The ones to hit? RACV Torquay Resort course.

For the history buff

The seaside town of Queenscliff is a must-visit for any history buff. This historic town was once a strategic defence post for Geelong and Melbourne, and much of the original architecture remains.

Delve deep into the rich maritime history by taking a tour at Fort Queenscliff, or just take a wander down the town’s main streets to admire the historic old shopfronts and grand hotels.

You could also take a maritime history tour departing Queenscliff for Port Phillip Bay and learn about the history of the area. 


Torquay Resort Gold Course

The spectacular golf course at RACV Torquay Resort.

RACV Members save more on amazing travel experiences.
Discover more →