Published on 9th September 2021
by Kelly Pigram

A stretch of western coastline dotted with busy surf towns, laid-back hideaways and produce to spare. In partnership with Visit Victoria, we highlight where to eat, drink and stay around Geelong and The Bellarine.

A little over an hour’s drive from Melbourne lies Geelong, Victoria’s second-largest city and a neighbour to the Bellarine Peninsula. Once a town that turned its back on a prime waterfront location to make way for industrialisation, Geelong has since become a burgeoning food, art, drink – and now waterfront – destination for locals and visitors alike.

The Ford Motor Company was established here in 1925, and the city’s fortunes rose and fell with those of the automotive giant until its closure in 2016. By then Melbourne’s small bar legislation of 1994 had kicked off a wave of urban renewal, and along with Geelong’s (relatively) affordable real estate, a influx of new cafes, restaurants and bars began reshaping the town. Aaron Turner’s Igni proved you don’t need to be a Melbourne laneway location to make waves internationally, and today Little Malop Street and surrounds are leading a new charge.

All this makes Geelong an ideal spot from which to launch a full-scale assault on the dishes, produce, distilleries and markets of the Bellarine Peninsula. Taking in the coastal towns of Portarlington, St Leonards, Queenscliff, Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads, it’s a laid-back stretch of boutique accommodation, surf spots, cool-climate wineries and acres of farmland.

With so much ground to cover, no one guide can showcase everything the region has to offer. So here’s a selection of some spots worth starting with.

Explore more travel itineraries here..

Welcome to Geelong and The Bellarine

EAT

From cafes in shipping containers, to rustic restaurants overlooking wineries and slick international fusions, no taste is left unaccounted for.

Alma

Restaurant

A locally loved South American fusion restaurant in central Geelong.

Box Office

Cafe

A shipping container cafe and wine bar, born and bred in Geelong.

Sumi

Restaurant

Izakaya-style food cooked over a robata grill in central Geelong.

DRINK

With gin distilleries, cool-climate wineries and convivial breweries to explore, your esky won’t leave empty.

Anther Gin

Bar

A craft gin distillery in North Geelong’s Federal Mills Precinct.

Valhalla Brewing

Bar

A microbrewery for modern-day Vikings.

DO

Art galleries, vintage shopping, retro train rides and waterside walks abound.

STAY

Bed down at a boutique hotel or venture further afield for incredible views

R Hotel Geelong

Accommodation

Pet-friendly boutique serviced apartments by the Geelong waterfront.

McGlashan’s Wallington Estate

Accommodation

Luxury eco-villas on a winery in the Bellarine Peninsula.