Located 75 kilometres southwest of Melbourne, it takes around an hour to cruise down the Princes Highway or hop on the V-Line at Southern Cross Station to Geelong. Whether you’re an art and history buff, a coffee lover or a weekend boatie, there’s plenty for everyone against the backdrop of a sparkling waterfront.
The Pickers Union Café
Boasting a fabulous house roast from local caffeine dealers Coffee Cartel, owners Bek and Sev Lah are true coffee nuts, and it shows. They’ve also put together an inspired menu, complemented by the space – a clever ensemble of vintage and handmade, with furniture built on site out of recycled timber.
3 Mackey Street, Geelong
Like plenty of good coffee houses, it happens to be tucked down a laneway. A CBD sanctuary for city workers and nearby uni students, this is a tiny space filled with the energy and passion of owner and barista Greg Matheson. The menu offers simple but deliciously well-chosen food in a contemporary industrial interior, with an array of custom and vintage bicycles and motorbikes on display.
2 Gore Place, Geelong
0423 224 808
A Spot for Joe
The perfect spot for lunch or an exquisite morsel. The mural of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann’s Palm Beach house sets the tone for the design of this kitsch interior. Clean and minimal it is and so is the food. Don’t leave without trying the Avochoke Smash, featuring La Madre’s (another Geelong success story) seeded sourdough.
33 Little Ryrie Street, Geelong
0451 419 855
A relaxed eatery housed in an old bank building (providing the perfect wine vault), the food is clever and well put together with an emphasis on share plates. Craft beers and wines are selected to offer a point of difference.
8 Malop Street, Geelong
(03) 5229 4546
The Lord Nelson
A delightfully restored Victorian pub that even features a colourful ‘ladies parlour’. Well worth a visit for the atmosphere and excellent food.
Corner Bellarine and Malop Streets, Geelong
(03) 5222 8756
Geelong Art Gallery
If you’re a fan of art history then check out the Geelong Art Gallery, which hosts an impressive collection of Australian and international art, and nearly always an interesting touring collection.
55 Little Malop Street, Geelong
(03) 5229 3645
Situated in an old wool mill in Newtown, BOOM gallery is a nod to G-Town’s distant past and contains a plethora of innovative and active contemporary art and design exhibitions from both emerging and established local artists.
1 Rutland Street, Newtown
0417 555 101
National Wool Museum
From the sheep’s back to the clothes rack – and boasting a giant 1910 Axminster Jacquard Carpet Loom that operates several times a day – this really is the place to learn all about our wool-making history. Housed in one of several bluestone wool stores, it’s a reminder that Geelong was once the biggest wool port in Australia.
26 Moorabool Street, Geelong
(03) 5272 4701
Stroll the waterfront
If you’re visiting for a leisurely day, stroll the length of the waterfront, enjoying spectacular views and colourful art. Created by artist Jan Mitchell, 104 bollards line the arc of the waterfront from Rippleside to Limeburners Point, each one representing a different character from Geelong’s history. If you walk from end to end, you’ll be rewarded at Eastern Beach and the Botanical Gardens with impressive views across the bay.
Geelong Vintage Markets
A treasure trove of things you never knew you needed and others you thought you’d never find. With over 60 stalls, you could easily fit out an entire house and wardrobe in retro style.
287–301 Melbourne Road, North Geelong
(03) 5277 1186
Operating from this Garden Street site for 17 years, owner and designer Kristen Murphy excels in selecting an eclectic and stylish range of homewares, fashion (including children’s) and lifestyle goods. Considered a destination store, the staff are of the helpful but un-stuffy variety. Give them your budget and your brief and watch them work their magic.
91 Garden Street, East Geelong
(03) 5229 5611
Frank and Dolly’s
These quirky homemade wares include clothing and accessories fashioned from vintage French tapestry, linen fabrics from old farmhouse cupboards and patterns passed down from family generations.
86 Garden Street, East Geelong
0408 550 484
Recently opened in a beautifully restored church hall, Hothouse Store features works from the eclectic world of Geelong personality, Helen Hinkfuss. Along with her own paintings, find selected homewares and ephemera and a collection of designer brand MCM’s bespoke furniture. The space also features the very stylish Adam di Biase, a well-known and talented wizard of all things coiffure.
377 Pakington Street, Newtown
(03) 5221 9023 (salon)
(03) 5221 9023 (store)