I'm in Melbourne often enough - so why not write a bit about some places I've seen :)
Published June 7th 2012
So Geelong may seem like a world away from Melbourne city, but really it isn't. And a visit to the Geelong Waterfront is worth the trip.
Allow a little over an hour to drive down to Geelong. The traffic is generally easy going on the highway (you won't get too much car congestion on this side of the bay!) If you want to take it easy and leave the car at home then jump on a V-Line train, which depart hourly from Southern Cross Station. The trains are quick to Geelong main station, taking just on one hour. They might be a bit delayed departing from Melbourne, but the comfortable seats and country views will make the trip fly by.
So now you're Geelong and you've got the whole day to fill in. What to do? Well, perhaps the question is- where to start!
Take a walk along the waterfront and check out the fantastic iconic bollards featured along the pathways. These bollards stretch from Rippleside to Limeburners Point. Created by local artist Jan Mitchell, the 100 bollards depict events and history about Geelong, from the Wautharong traditional custodians to modern days. A fantastic way to learn about this lovely part of Victoria, enjoy the outdoors and natural scenery, and take a few funny happy snaps in front of the bollards.
Enjoy views like this as you follow the bollards along the waterfront
While on the waterfront, don't walk past the Carousel without taking a ride on board. The gorgeous carousel, featuring horses as well as sea-dragon chairs is fun for the whole family. A mere $3.60 will get the kids on, and adults are only $4.10. Not much to pay for an unforgettable experience watching the scenery of Geelong circle around you. The carousel is wheelchair accessible and there is no fee for carers, making it something everyone can enjoy. For opening times and more information on the carousel, click here.
Panache Cafe and Creperie on the waterfront is a perfect spot to sit and relax and eat delicious pancakes with friends. Panache isn't unique to Geelong, nor is it only found on the waterfront in Geelong - but there is something magical about sitting on the sidewalk on a lovely day, watching the sun glimmer off the water while eating pancakes. Granted, the isn't always perfect in Geelong, which is why there is plenty of seating inside and doors that close to block the elements out! The options on the Panache menu are endless and will satisfy any appetite. Panache is found on Eastern Beach Road, right opposite the Steampacket Gardens.
For those florists-lovers among us, the Geelong Botanical Gardens is a must see. Just up the hill (it's not too steep!) from the waterfront precinct is a world filled with gorgeous greenery, tremendous trees, and flowers to fill the senses with joy. The Gardens were established in 1851 and cover over 200 acres of ground. Featuring on the Victorian Heritage Register, the Gardens are home to a range of some of the finest flora in the area. There are well marked pathways to take a stroll with friends and family or plenty of seats to sit and watch the world go by.
If you want to head out of the city centre for a bit, head to the semi-rural town called Lara. About 15km east of Geelong, here you will find the small mountain range called the You Yangs. The name You Yangs comes from the local Wautharong Aboriginal dialect meaning 'big mountain in the middle of a plain'. And that is exactly what you get from the You Yangs. Matthew Flinders was the first European to trek the hills in 1802, and you can follow his footsteps on the walk up to Flinders Peak. There are a number of walks to do up and around the mountain range. The walks are a bit steep and rough, so if you'd prefer to relax then why not set up at one of the many picnic spots around the park. The You Yangs are best accessed by car as they are around 5km out of the town centre. The national park is open 8am-4pm daily, and stays open until 6pm during daylight savings.
These are just a few options of things to see and do around Geelong. Once you are in this beautiful town, you will realise that there are endless activities. You might find yourself planning that trip down here more than once, and for that no one will blame you.