While the region transforms into a cycling mecca from 30 January until 2 February, there’s plenty to do out of the saddle. Here are our top picks.
Geelong, the Bellarine and Surf Coast regions combine charming coastal villages with lively and evolving waterfront precincts. While you’re in town for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, here’s what you need to know about dinning at award-winning restaurants, vineyards and breweries, exploring hip laneways, immersing yourself in nature and experiencing the best family waterplay in the state.
- One of the biggest names in Geelong is chef Aaron Turner. Aaron’s Ryan Place restaurant IGNI is two-time winner of Gourmet Traveller’s best regional restaurant in Australia and was awarded two hats in the 2019 Good Food Guide.
- Award-winning chef Matt Dempsey’s Inverleigh Cellar and Kitchen is also hugely popular for its European cuisine made of fresh seasonal ingredients.
- Geelong’s industrial spaces have been converted into hip cafes, bars, restaurants, accommodation and galleries. Don’t miss ‘it’ address Little Malop Street.
- The nearby Moorabool Valley is famous for its the cluster of cool-climate vineyards and breweries.
- When it comes to waterplay, Sea All Dolphin Swims takes you snorkelling with wild dolphins, seals and colourful reef fish. While Victoria’s biggest theme park, Adventure Park is right in town.
Visit Barwon Heads and the Bellarine
- Studded with superbly sculpted, five-star golf courses, Barwon Heads is home to three of Australia’s Top 50 public access courses (Ausgolf magazine). Tee off at either the Creek Course designed by six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo, or the Beach Course designed by Tony Cashmore.
- Swim in the wide and picturesque river estuary or along the sandy foreshore at the river mouth. Cast a line for a spot of fishing or, for more heart-racing surfing adventure, head to the Bluff at Thirteenth Beach.
- Barwon Heads is dotted with friendly cafes and the best of the Bellarine wineries, micro-breweries, whiskey and gin distillers, and a cider house are all close by.
- The Bellarine Taste Trail brings together the most delicious produce, food and drinks in an easy to follow farm-gate trail.
Visit Torquay and Bells Beach
- Learn to surf or capture the spirit of the surf culture at the world’s largest surfing museum, the Australian National Surfing Museum.
- Don’t be afraid of the name, snorkelling at Point Danger Marine Sanctuary is a great way to see the diversity of underwater inhabitants in the region.
- Split Point Lighthouse – where Round the Twist was filmed – has clifftop walks with sweeping ocean views.
- Take a hike to Erskine Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the Otway region.
- If rest and relaxation is what you’re after, Saltair Day Spa recently received an ‘Icons of Industry award from Australia’s Spa+Clinic and is entered into Tripadvisor’s Hall of Fame.
Visit the Great Ocean Road
- The 12 Apostles – magnificent rock stacks rising from the Southern Ocean – are an itinerary must. The Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay to the Apostles is sure to keep your fitness levels up!
- For nature lovers, immerse yourself in the Otway Ranges, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve or track down the stunning waterfalls in the region.
- Beach-goers relish the famed breaks at Bells Beach and Discovery Bay.
- For the best local produce, check out the Otway Harvest Trail and 12 Apostles Food Artisans dotted along this Gourmet Trail.
- Dan Hunter’s inimitable Brae featured on the 2017 World’s Best Restaurants list. Greek Australian a la grecque, the Forrest Brewing Company and Merrijig Kitchen are also hot dining spots on the coast.
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