With epic beaches, coastal walks, mountain biking, top-notch wineries and the regional city of Geelong nearby, whatever your question, the Bellarine Peninsula is your answer.

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Wadawurrung people who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.



  • Waves for days on Bellarine Peninsula
  • Mountain biking in the You Yangs Regional Park
  • Beautiful coastal trails to traverse


Between Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, this area is a bit of a hidden gem in my opinion. Like its cousin across the bay (the Mornington Peninsula) this place has it all, including hiking and cycling trails, great beaches, seaside food and accommodation, and more wine than Aunty Mary could knock back at Christmas. 

However, unlike the Mornington Peninsula, it’s still somewhat undiscovered as an adventure region and doesn’t get as packed in the summer months. So come and enjoy a weekend of adventures that offer the best of both worlds – a stunning coastal retreat paired with a thriving regional hub.


Brisbane Ranges Circuit

Despite what the name suggests, this walk is smack bang in the middle of Victoria, and luckily for you, not far from Geelong. The 32km overnight loop has a campsite at Old Mills, about 19km into the trail. Just make sure you bring plenty of water cause the creeks can run dry if there hasn’t been a lot of rain.

You Yangs Regional Park

The You Yangs has a ton of varied walks for whatever length and difficulty you’re looking for. My top pick is the Northern Range Circuit. The 13km track is mostly pretty cruisy but there are a couple of more technical sections. If you’ve still got some gas in the tank at the end, make the short but steep climb up to Flinders Peak and treat yourself to some incredible views.

Coastal Walks

There are a tonne of coastal tracks on the Bellarine Peninsula. Two that I’d recommend are Portarlington to St Leonards and Ocean Grove to Barwon Heads. But don’t let me tell you how to live – pretty much anywhere you head there’ll be a nice coastal track to wander so pack your best hiking shoes and search out your own.


Wild Swimming

Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula can really turn it on in summer. There are beaches every which way you look, with sheltered city beaches all the way up to rough ocean ones that cop the full force of the Southern Ocean.

If you’re heading out for a dip in the big blue, make sure you check the conditions before you go, only swim at a beach that matches your ability and swim between the flags where possible.


Eastern Beach Reserve

Eastern Beach Reserve in Geelong is absolutely iconic. It was built in the 1930s and has an enclosed sea bath, pool, pontoon with a diving tower, and playgrounds. Many people say it’s perfect for ‘a family outing’, but I’m a 27-year-old man with no kids and it sounds pretty bloody delightful to me.

Ocean Grove

If you’re after something a little more au natural, Ocean Grove has your name all over it. The main beach is 2km long and great for getting back your sea legs, with lifeguards patrolling it in season. If you’re not getting any luck with the surf, there’s also a popular skate park and walking tracks along the beach.

Swim With Dolphins

For something extra special, take a dip with wild dolphins and seals through Sea All Dolphin Swims. Based out of Queenscliff, the eco-tourism business takes you snorkelling in southern Port Phillip Bay where you can see dolphins and seals playing in their natural environment.

It’s a not-for-profit organisation supporting research and sustainability initiatives. The crew are also more than happy to take out people with disabilities where possible, just reach out to them and they’ll try to accommodate your needs.


Scuba Diving

Want to know what it feels like to breathe underwater? Scubabo runs scuba diving experiences at Queenscliff, and if you fall in love with the feeling, why not sign up to do a full open water diving course?


Sitting at the beginning of the Surf Coast, it’s unsurprising that there’s plenty of surf to be found on the Bellarine Peninsula. What might surprise you though is just how close to Geelong you can find good waves.

Ocean Grove

Not just good for a swim, Ocean Grove also has a perfect beginner’s wave. The headland provides good shelter from south westerly winds making it a clean and fun wave perfect for first-timers.

There are plenty of board hire shops around to snag a foamy for the day or reach out to Go Ride A Wave for a surf lesson if you’re looking to learn.

13th Beach

Chuck ‘13th Beach’ into Google and the first thing that comes up are award-winning golf courses, but that’s not what we’re looking for. 13th Beach in Barwon Heads has got 20km+ of exposed reef break that can work any time of year.

Point Lonsdale

Somewhat similar to 13th Beach with a long exposed reef break, Point Lonsdale works best on a northerly wind and can crank at any time of the year. 

Both 13th Beach and Point Lonsdale are much more exposed than Ocean Grove so make sure you know the conditions and your skill level before heading out.


Kayaking / SUPing

It’s not only the beaches and ocean that’ll keep you occupied, there’s plenty of freshwater to explore too.


Barwon River Estuary

The Barwon River Estuary is one of the biggest in the area at 19km long. Parks Victoria has done significant conservation work to restore and maintain the ecologically important wetlands and you can explore it all by kayak or SUP. If you need to hire some, Sea Earth Adventures in Ocean Grove has got you covered.

Geelong Waterfront

The waterfront down at Geelong is pretty sheltered, making it perfect for a SUP on a calm day. And with so many cafes and restaurants down by the water, you can get a core workout in on the SUP and then indulge afterwards.

Mountain Biking

If you need to dry out after all the water adventures, hitting the trails on a mountain bike or e-bike is not a bad way to do it.


You Yangs Regional Park

Only 30 minutes from Geelong, You Yangs has some epic mountain biking trails, with more than 50km of trails in two sections of the park. Kurrajong Plantation has some easier tracks perfect for those still getting the hang of mountain biking, while the Stockyards area has some more intense cross country and downhill trails. 


Bellarine Taste Trail

If you like your cycling paired with good food and wine, then the Bellarine Taste Trail is the one for you. It brings together 40 superb farm gates, wineries, restaurants, cafes, provedores, and breweries along a scenic biking route. Pick a few of your favourites to weave between or try and hit them all – either way you’re going to leave with a full belly and a big smile.

If you need an e-bike, reach out to the crew at Bella Bike Hire for an electric boost to get you through the food coma and onto your next delicious tasting.

Where to Refuel & Stay


Where to eat?

Starting in Geelong, there’s the fabulous Beach House which does a delicious breakfast or lunch. As you’d expect, it’s right by the beach so pick a good day and you can take a stroll or a dip after you’ve fueled up.

If you’re hunting for a good cafe out on Bellarine Peninsula, Pier Street cafe in Portarlington is the place to go. My tip? Go for the seafood, they’re known in the area for it and there’s a good reason why!

Continuing the theme of relaxed beachy restaurants and cafes, you should make time to stop at The Dunes. The Ocean Grove restaurant has beautiful views out over the main beach and food to match.

Lastly, for a feed at a local icon, swing by the Queenscliff General Store. The store’s been around since the 1800s, albeit with a couple of renos since then. They’ve got a nice beach cafe vibe going and the seasonal menu will hit your cravings no matter what time of year you visit.

Where to drink?

When the sun’s setting and it’s warm out you can’t beat a rooftop bar, and Sailors’ Rest in Geelong has exactly that. The waterfront restaurant and bar has beers on tap, local wines, and great food if you want a bite to eat.

To drink straight from the source, hit up The Whiskery, the cellar door for the Bellarine Distillery. You can do a tasting of the gin and whiskey they make on-site, or try their selection of local wine, beer, and cider.



Now this wouldn’t be a complete list without some of the wineries the Bellarine Peninsula is known for. In the Moorabool Valley, Austin’s Wines or Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro are great options. Both have stellar views and even better wines. 



Over on The Bellarine, you won’t be disappointed by Jack Rabbit Vineyard, which has won awards for the incredible food and drinks on offer at the restaurant, cafe, and cellar door. If there were hospo awards for views, they’d win those too. 

Where to stay?

Up on the hills or down by the coast, secluded cabin or luxury glamping, take your pick cause Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula has it all.

Escape the crowds inland at Boar Gully Campground in Brisbane Ranges National Park. The secluded bush camp has drop toilets, picnic benches, and communal fire pits. There are normally plenty of kangaroos around and if you’re lucky, you might spot a koala or two. It’s also a great base for all the walks in the area.

For beachside camping, Barwon Heads Caravan Park is where it’s at. It’s right on the beach so you can practically step out of your tent and into the water. As expected, it’s got powered and non-powered sites including camp kitchens, but also has food trucks that come by in summer. If your dream holiday doesn’t involve tents, Barwon Heads Caravan Park also has waterfront cabins.

Speaking of cabins, my pick would be The Woods in Ocean Grove. These beautiful secluded cabins are a little oasis in the bush and perfect as a base for your trip, or to just as a spot to hole up there and escape the real world for a little while.

For those looking to treat themselves, feast your eyes on McGlashan Estate Luxury Eco Villas. Staying at a winery has many advantages as I’m sure you can imagine, but not least is that they include a complimentary bottle of McGlashan wine with every stay. You’re also not far from the waves with just a five-minute drive to either Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads or Point Lonsdale.

Essential Gear

  • Your shred stick (surfboard)
  • First aid kit
  • Hat, sunnies and plenty of sunscreen
  • Bike (or you can rent one easily)
  • Hiking shoes
  • Camera

How To Get There

Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula are only an hour and a half from Melbourne. Just cruise out on the Princess Freeway and it’ll take you right there, you can’t miss it.

Don’t have your own set of wheels? No stress, there are plenty of other options! 

Port Phillip Ferries run twice daily ferries between Docklands and Geelong and Docklands and Portarlington. Searoad Ferries also run regular ferries from Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula to Queenscliff on Bellarine. 

The VLine Train is also an option! Head straight to Geelong Station to get into the heart of the city, or stop in at Lara Station on the way to check out You Yangs Regional Park. 

If you’re visiting from even further away, it could be worth looking into a flight! Avalon Airport is only a 20 minute drive from Geelong!

Leave No Trace

Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula are absolutely stunning, and pristine to boot. At We Are Explorers, we reckon it’s a good idea to keep it that way, so make sure to take all of your rubbish with you, minimise your plastic use as much as possible, stick to the paths and try not to disturb the area or animals. Mother Nature will thank you for it!



Stoked on Geelong and Bellarine and want to know more? Visit Geelong & Bellarine has everything you need to take an unforgettable trip to the region!



Photography by @ben.savage and Visit Vic