Five Reasons The Bellarine Should be Your Next Road Trip
If your keen to escape for the weekend, or even take a few sneaky days off work for a bit of R&R, you can hop in your car and feel a world away after just an hour’s drive in the Bellarine Peninsula region. Need some convincing?
1. It's a haven for foodies
While nearby Geelong has fine dining such as Aaron Turner’s celebrated IGNI, just a bit further out towards the Bellarine you’ll also find some top-notch places such as Jack Rabbit Restaurant, Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant, The Shed Restaurant at Terindah Estate and the Vue Grand Hotel.
Here you’ll also find some of the freshest produce, especially if you’re a fan of mussels. There’s also plenty of farm gates and boutique fine food provedores to choose from. Visitors can grab a copy of the Bellarine Taste Trail map, available at a variety of locations locally, online and as a downloadable app. The map makes it super easy to eat you way around the Peninsula visiting places such as The Flying Brick Cider Co (with its 100 per cent natural ciders), Drysdale Cheeses, Manzillo Olive Grove, Advance Mussel Supply and Farmer’s Harvest which is full of locally sourced meats, cheeses and more. Using the Taste Trail Map means you’ll enjoy an incredible gastronomic tour with everything just under a 30 min drive.
Quaint little converted roadhouse cafes such as PIKNIK and Elk Horn Roadhouse are also a great place to stop for a bite with plenty of local produce and wines available. At PIKNIK in particular, you can enjoy home-churned ice cream, since you’re treating yourself after all.
2. Taste wine at hidden cellar doors
What’s great food without some well paired wines? While the region isn’t as well-known (or touristy) as the Yarra Valley, there’s an enormous number of award-winning wineries, all there waiting to be enjoyed.
The region has a history stretching back to 1842, when Swiss immigrants planted the first vines and is now considered one of Australia’s finest cool-climate wine growing areas. Oakdene Vineyards with its quirky cellar door, Terindah Estate, Jack Rabbit Vineyards and Scotchmans Hill are just a few worth checking out.
3. Stay at luxury accommodation
If you thought the region was all campgrounds and holiday parks, think again. Luxury accommodation such as Starhaven Retreat is so welcoming and comfy, you’re not going to want to leave. Set up as a luxury bed and breakfast, it feels more like staying at your friend’s super-swish weekend home than it does a hotel. It also comes complete with a private gold-class style cinema, a sauna, swim spa, free Apple TV with more free movies than you could possibly watch, a games room with a full-sized billiards table and gorgeous rooftop where you can enjoy a drink over views of Port Phillip Bay.
Better still, it’s adults-only and since it can only accommodate no more than 5 couples at a time. There’s plenty of privacy making it ideal for a romantic weekend away. A generous breakfast is included and the beach immediately across the road.
4. Surf or hike in spectacular surrounds
Speaking of beaches, why bother with the mega-crowds in St Kilda when The Bellarine has some equally beautiful beaches. Avid surfers can head to popular surf spots such as 13th Beach or Raffs Beach in Barwon Heads, while beginners can enjoy a surf lesson at Ocean Grove beach with Go Ride a Wave or Sea Earth Adventures.
If you are travelling with young ones or aren’t a confident swimmer, Ocean Grove main beach is considered one of the safest in Victoria with its gentle waves.
If you’re a keen hiker, there are plenty of coastal and bush walks to choose from including a beachside walk from Port Lonsdale to the mouth of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads. There’s also shorter walks that won’t take more than an hour round trip from Barwon Heads where you can make your way to Ocean Grove with pretty spectacular views along the way.
5. It's a adventure's playground
If you’re the type that simply can’t sit still and want to get your heart pumping, you can hire a bike and tackle the 35km Bellarine Rail Trail. It’s a scenic and mostly flat ride from South Geelong to Queenscliff. No bike? No problem. Many locals pop on their walking shoes and enjoy walking along the trail as well.
In Barwon Heads you’ll also find options for stand up paddle boarding as the water is shallow and the rock pools there are ideal for exploring. You can also get up close to nature on a tour with South Bay Eco Adventures, swim with the dolphins with See All Dolphins Swims or you can get your Scuba on and have an underwater adventure exploring an actual shipwreck with Dive Victoria who offer diving trips to the ex HMAS Canberra sunk into Port Phillip Bay in 2009.
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