Geelong and its surrounding areas are home to loads of travel attractions for people looking at a short drive from Melbourne. Rich pickings await those keen to immerse themselves in the city’s history and heritage, its cultural precincts, its gardens, its high quality and wide ranging local produce, its dining and café culture, its bright, busy and extensive retail centres, and many entertainment options.
Head to the Werribee Mansion and Werribee Open Range Zoo. Werribee Mansion is a living, breathing postcard of 19th century Australia. Built by wealthy sheep farmers in 1877, the building features Italianate-style architecture and Victorian period interiors. After inspecting some of the Mansion’s 60 rooms, wander through the extensive surrounding gardens.
At the Werribee Open Range Zoo you will find an amazing array of animals living on 225 hectares of wide, open savannah. Come face-to-face with gorillas, a pride of lions, monkeys and cheetahs on the Pula Reserve Walking Trail and head out on safari across grassy plains to see rhinoceros, hippos (pictured) giraffes, zebras and antelopes grazing together.
Located next door to the Werribee Open Range Zoo is Shadowfax Winery, here you can enjoy premium and boutique style wines at the cellar door, a delicious meal at the restaurant and a guided tour of their underground cellar.
No.2 Little River
Little River is the gateway to the You Yangs – one of Melbourne’s favourite adventure playgrounds. Adventure seekers can commute the short distance to the park entry either via taxi or bicycle (if you bring your own bike). The area is particularly well known as a mountain biking destination, boasting two designated mountain bike areas with 50 kilometres of track. The You Yangs are also a popular location for rock climbing, abseiling and horse riding and there are BBQ and picnic areas available.
Score another nature fix at the nearby Serendip Sanctuary. The sanctuary is an excellent example of the open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains. Here you can view 150 different species of birds and learn about and experience birdlife and wetlands ecology.
No.3 North Geelong
The Geelong Museum of Motoring + Industry is located a short stroll from the North Geelong train station in the historic Federal Mills building. Recently opened, the museum is home to an impressive collection of motor vehicles and pays tribute to the industry and manufacturing heritage of Geelong.
Also located in the Federal Mills building is the Geelong Vintage Market, which boasts over 2000sqm of vintage wares. Browse one of over 60 stalls for home wares, vinyl records, vintage fashion and collectables. Before you leave be sure to stop by The Pickers Union Café for freshly brewed single origin coffee and tasty homemade fare.
Begin your visit by checking out the city’s cultural precinct around Little Malop Street. The Geelong Gallery is home to a magnificent collection of 19th and 20th century Australian and European paintings and decorative arts.
Nearby the Metropolis Gallery on Ryrie Street is home to a collection of works from artists from the Geelong and Bellarine region, Melbourne and interstate. From there take a stroll through the picturesque Jonhstone Park towards the Waterfront and make your way along the Geelong Waterfront Bollard Trail. Stop along the way and experience the old world charm of the beautifully restored Geelong Carousel and meander to the early century beach promenade at Eastern Beach.
Central Geelong is also home to a myriad of shops, restaurants and cafes. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee at Coffee Cartel Roasters on James Street and explore the Little Malop Street precinct for trendy cafes and bars.
No.5 South Geelong
Lovers of a fine brew matched with tasty food must visit hugely popular Little Creatures Brewery. Located in a renovated historic woollen mill, the venue incorporates brewing facilities, a restaurant and large bar serving up the range of Little Creatures offerings including Geelong’s own beer, a refreshing ale named Furphy.
For more information go to www.visitgeelongbellarine.com.au