If you’re looking for the perfect Melbourne weekend getaway, be sure to visit The Bellarine Peninsula!
The Bellarine is a little piece of paradise just 100 km southwest of Melbourne.
It can easily be reached by car or ferry in an hour and a half.
This makes it ideal for a Melbourne weekend getaway.
And with a great selection of restaurants, cafes and accommodation, it’s the perfect fit for an extended stay.
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It is possible to visit the area in a day. But it’s so much better when you take your time.
Our hometown, Geelong, is located on the Bellarine’s doorstep and we’ve spent countless hours exploring all the region has to offer.
One of our favourite things to do in Geelong is to take a leisurely drive through the rolling hills of the Bellarine Peninsula.
Just about everywhere you turn you’re rewarded with a stunning vista or hidden gem.
Visitors will find pretty seaside towns, historic villages, farmers’ markets, spectacular wineries, and a smorgasbord of water activities.
What’s so amazing about this region, is that it is still relatively unknown outside of Victoria.
This means it doesn’t attract hordes of tour coaches like the Great Ocean Road and it has a much more relaxed vibe.
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Why You Should Plan a Melbourne Weekend Getaway on the Bellarine Peninsula
- Proximity to Melbourne – You don’t have to spend hours of your precious time getting there.
- The Bellarine is surrounded by pristine beaches, world-class wineries and captivating villages.
- It has top-notch dining options.
- There’s a great range of accommodation from camping and caravans to grand hotels and gorgeous B&Bs along The Bellarine.
- Because no matter how you like to spend your weekend, whether it’s relaxing or on-the-go The Bellarine really packs a punch.
Things To Do on the Bellarine Peninsula
You would be amazed at the number of great things to do on The Bellarine! Here are a few of our favorites:
1) Explore Historical Towns And Seaside Villages
One of the great things about The Bellarine is how close together everything is.
Most of the townships are within a 15-minute drive of each other, so you can manage to see a fair bit with limited time.
They are all quite diverse and offer their own individual character and charm.
The heritage town of Queenscliff is a lot like a British seaside resort, with wide boulevards and stately Victorian buildings.
Visit the historic fort, maritime museum and heritage pier.
Then wander over to the modern Queenscliff Harbour and check out the yachts while enjoying a refreshing drink.
Queenscliff’s sister township Point Lonsdale is a favourite of ours.
It overlooks ‘The Rip’ one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world.
We love walking along the clifftop path that leads to the lighthouse and back beach where you can explore the rock pools at low tide.
On the other side of the peninsula, you’ll find Portarlington proudly overlooking Port Phillip Bay with Melbourne’s skyline on the horizon.
This beautiful old fishing village is famous for the delicious Australian Blue Mussels grown just offshore.
Every year they’re celebrated at the Portarlington Mussel Festival on the second Saturday in January.
Other towns worth visiting include Drysdale, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads and St. Leonards.
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2) Spend Your Weekend On The Bellarine Taste Trail
You know you’re on to something good when a region has a map of places to eat, drink and be merry.
The Bellarine Taste Trail highlights the best wine, beer, cider, coffee, and culinary treats that this part of Victoria has to offer.
With over forty different venues to choose from this is foodie heaven!
And there are so many goodies to tempt you managing to try them all is no easy feat.
Make a weekend of it on a self-drive itinerary and prepare for a food coma when Sunday comes around.
Grab a map from the information centre.
If you’re after some local produce to take home with you, a great place to start is at Tuckerberry Hill Berry Farm for pick-your-own berries.
Sweet and juicy this is a fun activity for the whole family.
Add olives to your basket from Manzanillo Grove or beautiful Australian honey from the beehives of The Peninsula at Wattle Grove Honey.
As you’re wandering down country lanes keep an eye out for farm gates where you can buy the freshest seasonal produce.
Visitors to The Bellarine are spoiled for choice when it comes to locally made beers, wines and ciders.
And no visit is complete without taste testing a tipple or two.
Dotted throughout The Peninsula are boutique wineries producing award-winning cold climate wines.
Each vineyard has its own distinct growing environment and the area is one of the largest grape-growing regions in Victoria.
Here are a few of our favourites.
Jack Rabbit Vineyard
For the picture-perfect vineyard experience and fabulous dining, you can’t go past Jack Rabbit Vineyard.
Perched high on coastal cliffs the view across the bay toward Melbourne is only surpassed by the quality of the wines that are produced here.
For a taste of quirky and a dose of the unusual head to Oakdene Vineyard where the cellar door looks like an upside-down house that’s been blown over by the wind.
The distinct décor is a huge drawcard but Oakdene offers informative wine tasting and friendly locals who’ll show you around this unique property.
Sitting on the shores of Swan Bay, Basils Farm is home to a vineyard, café, cellar door and produce gardens.
The property is all about sustainability with a pesticide-free garden and lovely fruit trees that grow to produce for the cafe.
Adding to the farm like atmosphere are chickens, sheep and llamas.
Basil’s Farm is the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet drink overlooking the vineyards and blue waters of Swan Bay.
Other wineries worth checking out include Scotchmans Hill, McGlashen Estate, Leura Park, and Yes Said The Seal.
Cider, Beer And Whisky
Along with fine wine, The Bellarine produces unique blends of beer, cider and whiskey.
With over 400 craft beers to try, Queenscliff Brewhouse is a craft beer junkies dream.
It offers only the best craft beer on tap, including brews from Queenscliff Brewery and its sister company Prickly Moses Handcrafted Beer.
Located in an old Aussie pub, the Brewhouse has a whiskey bar, tasting room, bistro, and cellar door.
Flying Brick Cider House
The Flying Brick is all about relaxation with a beautiful expanse of lush lawn that’s perfect for chilling on a summer’s day.
It produces delicious craft cider that’s made from fresh local fruit using traditional methods.
The range has three core ciders – Original, Draught and Pear.
Boutique specialty batches are also available for people wanting a more unique cider.
Occupying an old tin shed, The Whiskery is located on a seven-acre property that was once a Cobb & Co watering hole.
Now it’s home to Bellarine Distillery, the first distillery on the peninsula, and makers of their own ‘Teddy and the Fox’ gin.
Everything is produced on-site, and the distillery’s own single malt whiskey will be available in 2020 depending on maturation.
After a day of exploring why not stop by for a relaxing gin and tonic?
3) Get Out on the Water
One of the great things about the Bellarine Peninsula is that on one side it has rugged surf beaches and on the other sheltered bay beaches.
So, whether you like surfing, paddle boarding, boating or diving, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Located on the doorstep of the world-famous breaks of the Great Ocean Road, The Bellarine offers superb surfing.
Experienced surfers will enjoy the strong, steady waves at Point Lonsdale, Ocean Grove, and 13th Beach near Barwon Heads.
Alternatively, beginners can sign up for lessons at one of the local learn-to-surf schools. They’re sure to have you standing up in no time!
There’s a lot more going on under the waters of the Bellarine than you might expect.
These protected waters are teeming with coloured fish, dolphins and seals, shipwrecks and other unique marine life, including our favourite, the delightful sea horses.
Spend a day out on the water and join an organised tour with a dive operator or for something truly special go swimming with dolphins and seals.
Other activities include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, boating and chartered fishing trips.
4) Take in a Festival
The Bellarine is host to loads of fun festivals and community events that attract thousands of locals, holidaymakers and visitors alike.
Why not plan your Melbourne weekend getaway to coincide with a fab festival and enjoy everything from world-class sporting events, cultural and music festivities and fine wines and local delicacies?
Here are just a few for you to choose from.
Queenscliff Music Festival
For music lovers, the Queenscliff Music Festival is not to be missed.
Practically the whole town turns into a concert hall with music in the cafes, halls and parks and even on the trains!
Established by locals to fill a void in the region’s tourist season, the festival has gone on to win several major tourism awards.
Held on the last weekend in November, the vibe at this festival is unbeatable.
Barwon Heads Festival Of The Sea
Dating back to the year 2000, The Festival Of The Sea is a free community event that celebrates Barwon Head’s unique link with the sea and natural landscape.
Festival organisers bring together an array of fun and entertainment including local musical talent, art and craft, food and knowledge of the sea and coastline.
Planned and delivered by volunteers this festival is a great way to meet and hang out with locals.
Held on a weekend in March all the action takes place on the foreshore close to the iconic bridge.
National Celtic Festival
Regarded as Australia’s premiere Celtic Folk Festival, this winter festival is held over the long weekend in June.
For three jam-packed days and nights, the quiet bayside village of Portarlington comes to life in an explosion of sights, sounds, and smells.
Featuring Celtic performers from across the world the festival celebrates the Celtic culture and its many interpretations within the Australian setting.
Other Bellarine Peninsula festivals and events include the Wallington Strawberry Fair, Portarlington Mussel Festival, and Toast To The Coast.
Where to Eat on the Bellarine Peninsula
The Bellarine has dining options aplenty from award-winning bakeries and chic cafes to gourmet restaurants.
Visitors can even eat on a train.
And no matter whether you’re after a hearty breakfast, an evening of fine dining, sweet treats or a quick bite between activities you’re bound to find something to satisfy your taste buds.
These are a few of our favourites:
- Rolling Pin Pies is one of Australia’s leading pie makers winning over 150 awards. The cute bakery also bakes sausage rolls, pasties and a selection of cakes and slices. Located in Ocean Grove.
- Decadent donut heaven Daniel’s Donuts has set up shop in Portarlington. This fact alone should have you heading to the sleepy town.
- Annie’s Provedore is a mecca for foodies. The space is loaded with gourmet treats, local produce and specialty wines. Start your day with a touch of Europe and a barista-made coffee at Annie’s in Barwon Heads.
- For a unique culinary experience hop on board the Q Train an award-winning rail restaurant that serves a six-course degustation feast.
- For a menu brimming with the freshest local produce and sensational views head to 360Q at Queenscliff Harbour.
Where To Stay On The Bellarine
Whether you’re after a boutique hotel, luxury retreat, old-fashioned B&B, or budget accommodation you’ll find it on the Bellarine.
Here are a few of our favourites to choose from.
Enjoy some of the best views on offer in the heart of historic Queenscliff at Salt Loft. This private retreat offers apartment style accommodation for up to two guests.
Built in 1884 the Point Lonsdale Guest House has been providing accommodation for over 100 years. The fabulous hosts ensure your stay is relaxing, comfortable and memorable.
Offering luxury ensuite retreats and spacious guest areas, Drysdale House Bed And Breakfast is set in the heart of the Bellarine Peninsula.
How to Get to the Bellarine on a Melbourne Weekend Getaway
From Melbourne it’s an easy one-hour drive along the Princes Hwy to Geelong.
Here signs will guide you to the Bellarine Hwy which will take you to Queenscliff.
Along the way you’ll pass the Flying Brick Cider House, A Maze ‘N Games and Adventure Park.
This is the road to take if you want to visit Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads.
An alternative route is to take the Portarlington Road for a scenic drive through the rolling hills of the Australian countryside all the way to Portarlington.
If you don’t have a car Port Phillip Ferries offer daily services between the Melbourne Docklands and Portarlington.
Did You Know? The convict William Buckley escaped in 1803 and lived among the indigenous Wathaurong people on the Bellarine Peninsula for 32 years.
He eventually surrendered and was later pardoned and given the position of interpreter to the indigenous people.