The city of Geelong – or Djilang, which means a ‘tongue of land’ in Wadawurrung language – is where the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race starts and finishes.
Geelong and the Bellarine combine charming coastal villages with a lively and evolving waterfront precinct. The must-see region transforms into a cycling mecca during the Victorian summer.
Here you can dine at award-winning restaurants, explore hip laneways, head out to nearby vineyards and breweries and enjoy the best family water play experiences in the state.
Line the start and finishing straight along Eastern Beach Road or watch the action from the Steampacket Gardens live site where big screens, food and drink stalls and all the festivities will be in full swing. Further inland, when the men’s and women’s UCI WorldTour classics re-enter
Geelong, the teams tackle the punchy Challambra Climb – first made famous in the 2010 UCI Road Worlds. Join the local street parties along Challambra Crescent or take up a position at the Challambra King and Queen of the Mountain live site.
The fastest point in the race comes with the Scenic Road decent where riders touch 85km/h before coming into Queens Park. Then, watch for the bunch sprint finish along the waterfront that will test the teams right to the end.
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 2022 The Age Good Food Guide. Or enjoy a modern Parisian bistrot experience at Bistrot Plume in Belmont.
Geelong’s industrial spaces have been converted into hip cafes, bars, restaurants, accommodation and galleries. Don’t miss ‘it’ address Little Malop Street which has become the go-to place at mealtimes.
Further afield there are some brilliant precincts for eating out, retail and creativity. Head to Pakington Street – Pako to locals, Fyansford Paper Mills and the revamped Federal Mills site in North Geelong.
This terroir is made for cool climate drops and around 60 wineries scatter The Bellarine and inland to the Moorabool Valley. It’s here too where you’ll find the adventure playground of the You Yangs and Brisbane Ranges, where wildlife and endless kilometres of hiking and mountain biking trails await.
For more things to see and do, head to the Visit Geelong and The Bellarine website.
The 35km Bellarine Rail Trail takes you from South Geelong to Queenscliff. The moderate grade ride is the perfect way to discover the Bellarine Peninsula.
Cycling along the Barwon River in Geelong makes for an easy hit out with family and friends. And, for intermediate road riders, the waterfront precinct is a great place to start and finish circuits to
North Geelong and back. Or loop down to Bells Beach and back via Moriac and Barrabool. See Great Ocean Rides for maps and details.
Some of our top picks:
Vue Apartments – Serviced apartments with views overlooking Eastern Beach.
Eden Oak – Nestled in the botanical garden’s precinct, a range of guest rooms and self-contained apartments provide easy access to the Geelong CBD.
R Hotel Geelong – Offers deluxe self-contained apartment hotel experience.
Novotel Geelong – The newly refurbished hotel is on Geelong’s bustling esplanade with views of the bay.
Warehouse Apartments Geelong – Boutique apartments in the heart of town on Little Ryrie Street. Book via Airbnb or Booking.com.
Rydges Geelong – Located in the heart of the Geelong CBD, sweeping views of the sparkling Corio Bay and only minutes from the lively foreshore of Eastern Beach.