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With place names like Queenscliff, Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads and once known as the playground for Melbourne’s elite, the brilliant Bellarine Peninsula has always been on my wish list. Having grown up in inland Victoria, nowhere near the seaside, I yearned to holiday at one of these seaside resorts. Alas I never got to go.
I remember my mum telling me that she frequently holidayed at these seaside spots on The Bellarine when she was a young girl. I even saw old black and white photos of her smiling with her long hair flowing in the wind sitting atop an old Ford sedan at Barwon Heads looking as if she had not a care in the world. This image was etched in my mind and when I finally got to see Barwon Heads I thought of my young carefree mother.
We drove to the Bellarine Peninsula via the Geelong waterfront and glimpsed Victoria’s largest regional city with its beautifully landscaped gardens and parks lining the foreshores. Amongst the many things to do in Geelong, take a stroll along the iconic Eastern Beach Promenade and stop for lunch at one of the many impressive cafes and restaurants along the way. Or experience something that’s distinctively Geelong, check the Baywalk Bollard Trail which features a hundred or more characters that have shaped Geelong’s history – portrayed by Artist Jan Mitchell, in a quirky and whimsical way.
Our first stop was the charming old 19th century seaside holiday destination of Queenscliff. It is like a blast from the past with its collection of stately and historical buildings, such as the Queenscliff Guest House and The Esplanade Hotel.
It was once a strategic defence base with the Queenscliff Fort and it’s signature black lighthouse overlooking the harbour. For history buffs the Queenscliff Historical Museum and the Maritime Museum are a must see.
The revamped harbour area is fringed by lovely parklands and can be viewed from the 42 metre high tower, giving 360 degree views. Queenscliff is also the departure point for the Queenscliff to Sorrento ferry which takes you across Port Phillip Bay to the Mornington Peninsula. Well worth the trip if you have time to spare.
Overlooking ‘The Rip’ where Port Phillip Bay meets Bass Strait is the hamlet of Point Lonsdale where there are two beautiful beaches separated at the point with a lighthouse. The front beach is tucked behind the point where it is very safe for swimming and particularly good for small children. The ocean beaches on the other side of the point are great for surfing with a large stretch of sandy beach and around the lighthouse shallow rock pools that are there for exploring.
Point Lonsdale has a delightful selection of cafes and restaurants, a few shops and a great old timber weatherboard guesthouse that takes you back in time when seaside holidaying was ‘the thing’ to do during our long hot Summers.
Located between Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads is Ocean Grove where the beach stretches for 10 Kilometres. It’s a beach that would please everyone, from beginner surfers and boogie boarders to the seasoned professionals. Anyone can catch a wave here with decent swells at times.
The main street, known as The Terrace, is lined with Norfolk Pines that adds to its coastal charm. It has a bustling retail precinct with quite a few surf shops and a variety of possibilities when it comes to dining from fish and chips shops to al fresco restaurants.
If you are after an encounter with nature, you can explore Ocean Grove Nature Reserve that covers 140 hectares and is home to more than 130 bird species and other fauna, including wallabies and koalas.
Located on the mouth of the Barwon River, Barwon Heads is as pretty and picturesque as any coastal spot you’ll find. At the top of the town, the bluff offers magical views back to Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale.
There are moored fishing boats and gorgeous glassy waters on the river that is popular for stand up paddle boarders and kayakers. The Thirteen Beach Golf Links and the Barwon Heads Golf Club are both located within a few kilometres of town and offers a bit of variety for the golf enthusiast. The iconic bar/restaurant called At The Heads on the Barwon River has fabulous views and is the ideal hang out for a drink or as a function venue.
People love to sip and shop down Hitchcock Avenue, the main street of Barwon Heads, where there is an eclectic mix of retail, including surf gear, boutique clothing and homewares. I found it to be a vibrant town, home to an artistic community, a laid-back atmosphere, and restaurants that rival the quality of Melbourne’s best. It also boasts a great old pub that has views to die for.
Whilst visiting The Bellarine do yourself a favour, (or should I say flavour!) and indulge yourself in The Bellarine Taste Trail. There are local wines, boutique breweries, farmgate produce and fresh seafood. You can sample a huge range of delectable produce, meet local producers – including winemakers, goat breeders, berry growers, beer brewers, fruit fanciers and seafood lords.
There are half or full-day tours on offer which take the hard work out of planning an itinerary. Otherwise plan your own by downloading a map from The Bellarine Taste Trail or pick one up at the Visitor Information Centre. Sounds like a great epicurean encounter not to be missed!
There is a veritable smorgasbord of places to stay on the Bellarine Peninsula. We stayed in our caravan at the Ocean Grove Caravan Park, but if you prefer hotel accommodation then there is a wide range available to suit all budgets. Search for the best deals on Bellarine Accommodation HERE
I was so rewarded by my short stay on the Bellarine Peninsula and I only wish that I had discovered this little corner of paradise a lot earlier.
Have you visited any of these seaside locations on The Bellarine?
This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset.
The Lovin’ Life Team includes:
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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