Gourmet getaway in and around Geelong
A hidden pocket of wild, sprawling coastline, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula are Victoria’s rising wine-and-dine stars.
By Chloe Cann
Sandwiched snugly between two of Victoria's headline attractions, Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, Geelong has long been overlooked. Once among the largest manufacturing centres in Australia – home to wool and paper mills, ropeworks and a car factory – it was known as little more than a gritty port city.
But since those days, Geelong and its surrounds have quietly come of age: Victoria’s second city now boasts all the trappings of a mean gourmet getaway. Craft breweries occupy converted warehouses and lay hidden down laneways. A glut of great waterfront cafés dish up specialty coffee and creative brunches, innovative, internationally recognised restaurants exploit the bounty of fresh local produce, and award-winning wineries and dynamic food experiences dot the surrounding countryside of the Bellarine Peninsula. The best part: this is all within a one-hour drive of Melbourne.
Days 1 and 2: Melbourne to the Bellarine Peninsula
- Drive time: 1 hour
Drive for just over an hour southwest of Melbourne, bypassing Geelong – for now – to reach the spoils of the Bellarine Peninsula. While it may not be as well-known outside of Victoria as its eastern cousin, the Mornington Peninsula, this sweet spot offers up a bounty of beaches, wineries, luxury accommodation and great food for those in the know.
Although you can drive from one side of the Bellarine Peninsula to the other in just half an hour, plan to spend two days here to soak up all it has to offer at a suitably holiday-like pace: it was, after all, a supremely popular summer holiday destination in the 1800s. Flit between the Victorian-era seaside village of Queenscliff, the beautiful beaches of Barwon Heads, the historic coastal town of Portarlington and all the juicy bits in between.Show more
Day 3: Point Lonsdale to Geelong via Barwon Heads and Drysdale
- Drive time: 1 hour
Start your morning with a salty lick of sea air as you pull up a pew on the deck at At The Heads – a café perched on a jetty that juts into the water in Barwon Heads, 20 minutes from Point Lonsdale. Dine on breakfast classics paired with strong coffee before ambling along the beach.
Jump back in the car and head towards Drysdale, a 20-minute drive inland, to embark on what is surely the region’s most unique dining experience: the Q Train. It’s not every day diners get to feast on ever-changing scenery as well as a five-course degustation menu. This three-hour mobile banquet travels along the historic Bellarine Railway between Drysdale and Queenscliff and back as it spotlights the best in Bellarine produce.Show more
Day 4: Geelong
Day trippers on foot can catch the ferry from Melbourne’s Docklands across Port Phillip Bay to Portarlington or Geelong. Visit Port Phillip Ferries for information on timetables and the packages and experiences on offer.
Start the day right with breakfast at one of the city’s most anticipated openings, The Beach House. Located in a former bathers’ pavilion, this restored, two-storey Art Deco building is also slap-bang on Geelong’s waterfront, offering beautifully framed views of the sea. Dishes range from the nostalgic and decadent (fish finger sandwiches) to the on-trend and virtuous (chia pudding with fruit).
Next, wander through the city’s laneways, now a trove of Geelong’s best eateries, boutiques and cafés. One such example is Cartel Coffee Roasters, which works directly with farmers across the world, and offers caffeine addicts coffee cuppings (Fridays) and barista training (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Spend the rest of the morning at the Geelong Art Gallery.Show more