If you’re seeking a place where stunning natural beauty meets rich cultural heritage, Geelong & the Bellarine Peninsula is your ideal destination. A region of enchanting coastal landscapes, renowned art galleries, beautiful historical landmarks, and lush greenery, this area is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. Let’s explore the best things to do in this magnificent corner of Victoria, Australia.
Embark on an unforgettable journey to Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, a region of astounding natural beauty, vibrant culture, rich history, and thrilling adventure. This picturesque coastal area, just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered. Whether you’re a beach lover, a nature enthusiast, a food and wine connoisseur, or a history buff, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula will exceed your expectations. So grab a coffee, get comfortable, and let’s dive into the 11 best things to do in this fascinating corner of Victoria, Australia. Let’s set off on this exploration together, and who knows? You might find your next favourite holiday destination here.
11 Best Things to Do in Geelong & the Bellarine Peninsula
let’s dive into the Best Things to Do in Geelong & the Bellarine Peninsula, Australia
1. Point Lonsdale
Point Lonsdale, a charming coastal town, is where the wild sea meets the tranquil bay. The iconic Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, a testament to maritime history, offers guided tours with breathtaking panoramic bay views. Here, you’ll feel the refreshing sea breeze as you take in the stunning vista of passing ships, the rippling water, and the expansive coastline. The nearby shops and cafes exude a quaint seaside charm, perfect for a leisurely brunch or shopping for local crafts. For the adventurous, the rock pools at low tide offer a unique opportunity to observe marine life up close.
Things To Do
Visiting Point Lonsdale, the gateway to Port Phillip Bay, is like stepping into a tranquil maritime paradise. Here, you will find the iconic Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, standing tall and proud against the azure backdrop of the bay. This heritage-listed beacon has been guiding vessels safely through the treacherous “Rip” for over a century, a testament to the area’s rich maritime history. Take a guided tour to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view that will leave you speechless.
2. Ocean Grove Beach
Ocean Grove Beach is a paradise for surfers and sun-seekers alike. Its extensive sandy stretch is a canvas for building sandcastles, playing beach cricket, or simply soaking up the sun. For water sports enthusiasts, the consistent surf break presents an exciting challenge. If you prefer more relaxing pursuits, the serene views of the azure sea from the beach are perfect for unwinding. And as the day concludes, the beach transforms into a front-row seat to one of nature’s most beautiful shows — a dazzling Ocean Grove sunset.
Things To Do
When visiting the Bellarine Peninsula, Ocean Grove Beach is an absolute must-visit. One of the most beautiful beaches in the region, it stretches as far as the eye can see, with pristine sands and vibrant blue waters that will steal your heart. The beach offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Lay down your towel, lather on the sunscreen, soak in the Australian sun, or plunge into the clear, refreshing waters for a swim. If you’re a fan of surfing, the beach is a popular spot for catching waves, with surf schools available if you’re a novice. The nearby sand dunes and nature reserves further make for excellent exploration trails. It’s an ideal setting for a picnic with family or friends as you take in the sunset over the horizon.
3. Geelong Gallery
Immerse yourself in the rich world of art at the Geelong Gallery. As one of Australia’s oldest regional galleries, it houses an impressive collection of Australian and European artwork spanning several centuries. Marvel at masterpieces by iconic artists and engage with contemporary works that provoke thought and stir the imagination. The gallery’s educational programs offer deeper insights into the exhibits, enriching your experience. It’s a cultural adventure that leaves you inspired and enlightened.
Things To Do
Next on our list is the Geelong Gallery, a hub of cultural and artistic excellence. Established in 1896, it’s one of Australia’s oldest and most respected regional art galleries. Stepping inside, you’ll be welcomed by a diverse collection of Australian and international art spanning several centuries. From Indigenous art to contemporary pieces, there’s something here to captivate every art enthusiast. Engage with the rotating exhibitions, attend enlightening lectures and events, or participate in educational programs. Whether you’re an art lover or a casual visitor, the Geelong Gallery promises a deeper appreciation of artistic expression.
4. You Yangs Regional Park
Escape to the natural sanctuary that is You Yangs Regional Park. It’s a place where majestic granite peaks coexist with quiet woodland, home to diverse native wildlife. Hiking trails of varying difficulty cater to both casual walkers and seasoned trekkers. The ‘Big Rock’ trail offers an unforgettable view of the park and its surrounding plains. For those seeking a more adrenaline-filled experience, mountain biking through the challenging trails is a thrilling option. The park’s serene atmosphere also makes it ideal for a peaceful picnic under the Australian sun.
Things To Do
If nature and outdoor activities are more your style, then head towards You Yangs Regional Park. This nature reserve is famous for its distinctive granite peaks that rise from the flat volcanic plains between Melbourne and Geelong. Offering many tracks for hiking, mountain biking, or horse riding, the park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Take the one-hour walk to Flinders Peak, the highest point in the park, for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. And if you’re a fan of wildlife, keep an eye out for koalas, kangaroos, and a wide variety of bird species that call the park home.
5. Fort Queenscliff
A trip to Fort Queenscliff is a step back in time. This historic military fort, with its well-preserved 19th-century architecture, gives you a glimpse into Australia’s military past. Guided tours explain the fort’s role in defending the country, showcased through fascinating exhibits of military memorabilia. The striking black lighthouse within the fort is another unique feature, being one of only a few black lighthouses in the world. The surrounding area, with its heritage buildings and charming antique shops, adds to the nostalgic experience.
Things To Do
Stepping into Fort Queenscliff is like stepping back in time. This well-preserved 19th-century military fort is a treat for history buffs. Once a strategic defence post, it now serves as a museum, showcasing fascinating military memorabilia. Explore the historic buildings, walk the ramparts, and take a guided tour to delve deeper into Australia’s military history. The 360-degree views from the observation tower are a bonus, offering stunning vistas of Queenscliff and the surrounding bay area.
6. National Wool Museum
Discover Geelong’s rich wool industry heritage at the National Wool Museum. Engaging exhibits take you on a journey through time, from the growth of the wool industry in the 19th century to its significance today. Interactive displays allow you to try your hand at wool sorting and shearing, providing an understanding of the labor that goes into the wool-making process. The museum also showcases the versatility of wool through diverse exhibits, including an impressive tapestry. This cultural institution truly celebrates the humble sheep’s contribution to Australian society.
Things To Do
Situated in Geelong, the National Wool Museum is a tribute to the city’s wool industry, which played a crucial role in its growth. The museum provides a comprehensive and engaging look at the wool industry’s history, its significance to Geelong, and the process from shearing to weaving. Witness interactive displays, historical machinery, and a wide range of textiles. Participate in weaving and spinning demonstrations or explore the temporary exhibitions on display. It’s an engaging and educational experience that highlights a vital part of Australia’s industrial heritage.
7. Barwon Heads
Nestled at the mouth of the Barwon River, Barwon Heads is a picturesque coastal village that offers the quintessential seaside escape. This is the perfect place to unwind and connect with nature. Go for a leisurely stroll on the golden beach, explore the vibrant marine life in the rock pools or simply watch the world go by at one of the charming local cafes. For the more active, paddleboarding on the calm river waters is a popular choice. The iconic Barwon Heads Bridge and the surrounding wetlands, teeming with birdlife, add to the beauty and charm of this peaceful hamlet.
Things To Do
Next up is the charming coastal town of Barwon Heads. This idyllic seaside village is famous for its beautiful beaches, scenic river estuary, and vibrant local community. Spend the day swimming, surfing, or fishing at the pristine beaches, take a leisurely stroll along the Barwon River, or explore the rock pools teeming with marine life. The town’s main street is lined with trendy cafes, boutiques, and art galleries worth exploring. And don’t miss the iconic Barwon Heads Bridge, a delightful spot to watch the sunset.
8. Geelong Botanical Gardens
Escape to an oasis of calm and beauty in the heart of the city at the Geelong Botanical Gardens. Established in 1851, this treasured green space boasts a rich collection of native Australian plants and exotic species. Wander through the beautifully landscaped gardens, marvel at the stunning array of colours and breathe in the delightful floral scents. The modern conservatory, housing a tropical collection, and the ‘Fern Gully’ are must-visit spots. The gardens also offer a range of educational programs for both children and adults, fostering a deeper appreciation for nature and horticulture.
Things To Do
Discover an oasis of tranquillity at the Geelong Botanical Gardens. This verdant gem, established in 1851, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Australia. Wander through beautifully manicured landscapes and marvel at a diverse collection of both native Australian and exotic plants. The gardens are home to significant trees, rare and endangered species, and a remarkable Bonsai House. Sit and reflect by the peaceful ornamental lake, breathe in the fragrance of the rose garden, or enjoy a picnic in the lush surroundings. These gardens are not just a treat for the eyes, but a haven for the soul.
9. Bellarine Railway
Take a step back in time aboard the historic Bellarine Railway. This heritage steam train ride offers a unique way to explore the stunning Bellarine Peninsula. As the train chugs along, enjoy the scenic beauty of the region, from rolling farmlands to beautiful vineyards. The railway, primarily run by volunteers, beautifully preserves the charm of yesteryear travel. Themed rides like ‘Day Out with Thomas’ and the ‘Easter Bunny Train’ make it a memorable experience for younger passengers, making this a pleasurable activity for the whole family.
Things To Do
All aboard for a trip down memory lane on the Bellarine Railway! This volunteer-operated heritage steam train service offers a unique journey through the scenic Bellarine Peninsula. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the nostalgic trip in beautifully restored Victorian-era carriages. The line runs between Queenscliff and Drysdale, offering views of rolling farmlands, vineyards, and stunning seascapes along the route. You might even have the chance to meet the engine driver or help stoke the firebox!
10. Geelong Waterfront
The vibrant Geelong Waterfront is the heart of the city, brimming with attractions for all ages. Walk along the beautifully landscaped promenade, taking in the breathtaking bay views. The historic carousel, public art, and the playful bollards depicting characters from Geelong’s past add to its charm. Here, you can also indulge in some great dining at the waterfront’s wide array of restaurants and cafes. For those seeking adventure, there’s also the opportunity to jet-ski, sail, or simply enjoy the stunning sunsets over the bay.
Things To Do
Geelong Waterfront is a hub of activity and one of the city’s most vibrant precincts. It’s an idyllic place to stroll, bike, or rollerblade along the picturesque promenade, with panoramic views of Corio Bay. The waterfront has restaurants, cafes, and pubs, making it a perfect place to sit and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere. Visit the Geelong Carousel, an intricately restored 19th-century carousel that’s a hit with kids, or the Baywalk Bollards, a collection of colourful sculptures that tell the story of Geelong’s history. The waterfront also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, adding to its lively spirit.
11. Great Ocean Road
Lastly, your visit to Geelong wouldn’t be complete without embarking on a journey along the Great Ocean Road. Known as one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, it offers awe-inspiring views, ranging from pristine beaches and dramatic cliffs to lush rainforests. Along the way, you can explore quaint seaside towns, walk through ancient rainforests, and marvel at iconic landmarks like the Twelve Apostles. This unforgettable drive is a spectacular culmination of your Geelong & Bellarine Peninsula adventure.
Things To Do
Last but not least, a trip to the Bellarine Peninsula would be incomplete without experiencing the world-renowned Great Ocean Road. Considered one of the most scenic drives in the world, it’s a spectacle of stunning beaches, lush rainforests, charming seaside towns, and iconic landmarks like the Twelve Apostles. The road offers breathtaking views at every turn, with plenty of lookout points for photo opportunities. Whether you’re driving, cycling, or walking, this epic journey along Australia’s southwest coastline promises an unforgettable adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions about Things to Do in Geelong
What are some romantic things to do in Geelong for couples?
Geelong offers plenty of romantic experiences for couples. Enjoy a sunset walk along the Geelong Waterfront, or have a romantic picnic in the Geelong Botanic Gardens. For a unique experience, take a hot air balloon ride over the city.
What are some things to do in Geelong today?
Today’s activities would depend on the current events and weather. You might visit the Geelong Gallery, or take a stroll on the Waterfront. Consider checking the local events calendar for any special happenings.
What are some things to do in Geelong this weekend?
Weekends in Geelong could be spent exploring the local markets, visiting the National Wool Museum, or taking a day trip to the Bellarine Peninsula. Adventure Park is a popular choice for families.
What are some fun things to do in Geelong for adults?
Adults in Geelong might enjoy wine tasting on the Bellarine Peninsula, exploring the You Yangs Regional Park, or catching a show at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre.
What are some free things to do in Geelong?
Walking along the Geelong Waterfront, visiting the Geelong Botanic Gardens, and exploring the public art around town are all free activities.
What are some things to do in Geelong at night?
At night, you might enjoy dining at one of Geelong’s excellent restaurants, catching a live show, or enjoying a drink at a local bar or pub.
What are some things to do in Geelong in winter?
In winter, visit the Geelong Gallery, explore the shops and cafes downtown, or take a scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road.
How do I spend a day in Geelong?
A day in Geelong might start with a visit to the Geelong Botanic Gardens, followed by a stroll along the Waterfront, a visit to the Geelong Gallery, and a delicious dinner downtown.
What is Geelong best known for?
Geelong is known for its beautiful Waterfront, vibrant arts scene, historic wool industry, and as a gateway to the Great Ocean Road.
How many days do you need in Geelong?
You could easily spend 2-3 days exploring all that Geelong has to offer. If you want to visit the surrounding regions like the Bellarine Peninsula or the Great Ocean Road, you might need more time.
What are the best things about living in Geelong?
Living in Geelong offers a great balance of city and coastal life. There’s a vibrant arts scene, beautiful natural attractions, friendly community, and it’s close to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road.
Geelong, with its vibrant arts scene, rich history, and stunning natural beauty, is truly a city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history enthusiast looking to delve into the past at the National Wool Museum, a nature lover longing to explore the You Yangs Regional Park, an art aficionado eager to see the masterpieces at the Geelong Gallery, or a beach bum who just can’t wait to soak up the sun at Ocean Grove Beach, you’ll find your place here.
If you want to unwind, stroll along the gorgeous Geelong Waterfront or find solace in the tranquil Geelong Botanical Gardens. For those who like a little bit of thrill and adventure, Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads are just the ticket. And, of course, no visit to Geelong would be complete without taking a ride on the iconic Bellarine Railway or enjoying a day out on the Great Ocean Road.
So whether you’re planning a day trip, a weekend getaway, or considering a more permanent move, Geelong promises a memorable experience. As we’ve explored in this article, the things to do in Geelong are as diverse and unique as the city itself. From its proud history to its stunning landscapes and from its bustling city center to its serene beaches – Geelong is a city that truly has it all.