The Bellarine Peninsula – 5 Reasons You Should Visit Victoria’s Hidden Gem

Looking for beautiful hidden places in Victoria?

Do you like gourmet food, wineries, seaside villages and vintage markets?

Then visit the Bellarine Peninsula for a host of Victoria hidden gems. Just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne and part of the fabulous Geelong Region, there are heaps of Bellarine Peninsula things to do.

But you’d better get here soon.

The world is starting to catch on, and we weren’t surprised to see it listed as one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Value Destinations of 2017. 

Living on the doorstep of the Bellarine, we’ve long known of the delights it has to offer. And we’ve spent countless hours exploring it all.

It’s a truly breathtaking destination with stunning sea views, beautiful farmlands and the gorgeous Australian countryside.

It has a lazy laid back vibe but it’s not just a beautiful sleepy place. And you’ll find heaps of things to do around Bellarine Peninsula. From sporting events to farmers markets, festivals and wineries, this is one of the great places to visit in Victoria.

There are many reasons to visit this charming part of the world, but here are our top 5 reasons to visit the Bellarine Victoria.

5 Reasons To Visit The Bellarine Peninsula

1) You Can Stay In Seaside Villages

Within easy reach of each other, the towns of the Bellarine have their own individual character. Each has its own attractions and heritage, and most importantly, there isn’t a high-rise in sight.

Here are some of the more popular places to see in the Bellarine Peninsula.

Queenscliff

The historic town of Queenscliff is a lot like a British seaside resort. And with its grand Victorian heritage, it’s considered one of the most beautiful towns in the state.

Once an old fishing village, it has an abundance of 19th-century cottages, grand hotels, adorable guesthouses and beautiful wide boulevards.

You’re never left wondering what to do in Queenscliff. And visitors to the town are treated to galleries, museums, chic cafes, wineries and artisanal produce.

One of the most popular Queenscliff attractions is the Queenscliff harbour. Wander through shops, cafes and restaurants or drool over the sublime yachts moored there.

One of our favourite things to do in Queenscliff is to check out the views from the 40-metre Observation Tower. Located on the harbour it has stunning views across the bay all the way to the Mornington Peninsula.

Queenscliff Guesthouse

Queenscliff Harbour

Point Lonsdale

Point Lonsdale, the sister town of Queenscliff, is a coastal hideaway popular with day trippers and families. It overlooks the ‘Rip’, one of the most dangerous strips of water in the world.

Things to see here include a beautiful old pier and the famous Point Lonsdale lighthouse – a popular spot for wedding photographers. Perched high on the cliff the lighthouse has spectacular views and panoramic photo opportunities.

There’s a lovely cliff path above Point Lonsdale beach that leads to the lighthouse and back beach. The back beach is a favourite with surfers. And at low tide non-surfers have fun hunting for crabs in the rock pools.

A visit to Point Lonsdale wouldn’t be the same without a stroll along the pier. Where you can have a chat with local fishermen and enjoy sublime views of the lighthouse and surrounding coastline.

Point Lonsdale Pier

Ocean Grove

With the roar of the surf, coastal town vibe, and ocean breezes, Ocean Grove Victoria has been a favourite with families for generations.

And it’s not hard to understand why as there are plenty of things to do in Ocean Grove.

Situated on the southern coast of the Bellarine Peninsula, the town is surrounded by wineries, pristine beaches, golf courses and nature. There’s a wide selection of shopping facilities to choose from including major supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and speciality shops.

Grab your surfboard and hit the Ocean Grove beach. Or sign up for lessons at one of the many surf schools – they’ll have you catching waves in no time!

There are several walking tracks offering good views of the beach. And a flourishing nature reserve where you can explore the plants and animals of the wetland area.

The town has a vibrant shopping strip where you can buy surf gear, gifts, local art and gourmet produce.

Ocean Grove Street

Ocean Grove Cafe

2) You Can Treat Yourself At Bellarine Peninsula Wineries and Breweries

You won’t go thirsty on the Bellarine where you’ll be spoiled for choice with locally made beers, ciders, and speciality wines.

And trying out the local wines and ciders is one of the top Bellarine Peninsula things to do.

Flying Brick Cider House

Named for the yellow-tailed black cockatoo – a local bird with the nickname “Flying Brick” – the Flying Brick Cider House’s retro-inspired venue is popular with locals.

All Flying Brick ciders are produced naturally using traditional methods. Pressing and fermenting local Victorian apples and Packham Pears. The range comprises three core ciders – Original, Draught and Pear.

Sit outside on the lawn and share a tasting plate with friends while enjoying live music and a refreshing cider.

Flying Brick Cider House

Bellarine Wineries

Scattered along the peninsula are boutique wineries producing award-winning cool climate wines.

The area has emerged as one of the largest grape-growing regions in Victoria. And each vineyard has its own distinct growing environment that’s often compared to France’s Burgandy or Bordeaux.

Here are a couple of our favourite places to try some Bellarine Peninsula wines.

Oakdene Vineyards

Enjoy informative wine tasting at the unique and colourful Oakdene Vineyards, where the cellar door looks like an upside-down house that’s blown over in the wind.

Hello Dorothy, welcome to Oz!

The quirky décor is a huge drawcard, but the vineyard offers some of the best value wines on the peninsula. And it specialises in varieties best suited to the region – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Sauvignon, Blanc and Pinot Gris.

The cellar door is manned by a team of friendly locals who’ll help you make your selection and show you around the unique property.

Oakdene Cellar Door

Jack Rabbit Vineyard

Jack Rabbit is easily one of the best wineries Bellarine Peninsula has to offer. And if you only visit one, then make it this one.

The vineyard produces a wide range of sophisticated cool climate wines that will please the fussiest of wine buffs.

Perched high on coastal cliffs the view across the bay to Melbourne and the You Yangs will take your breath away.

The property offers two amazing dining options; you can treat your taste buds to gourmet delights at Jack Rabbit Restaurant, or try our preference the more casual  House of Jack Rabbit.

It has a large deck area and a fabulous sprawling lawn where you can kick off your shoes, and watch the passing boats and mussel farmers while sipping a glass of wine.

To book either Jack Rabbit Restaurant or the House of Jack Rabbit click here.

Jack Rabbit Vineyard

3) It’s A Coffee Lover’s Delight

Melbourne’s café culture has trickled down to the Bellarine. And no matter where you are, you’re never far from sublime coffee and mouth-watering treats.

Charlie Noble

Charlie Noble has a prime location overlooking luxury yachts on the sparkling Queenscliff Marina. And we love nothing more than escaping our hometown Geelong to enjoy its delicious food and great coffee.

It has a relaxed setting away from the hubbub in the main part of town. And Charlie Noble is the perfect place to chill out winter or summer.

Charlie Noble

Annie’s Provedore

Make your way to Barwon Heads and start your day with a hearty breakfast at Annie’s Provedore.

The shelves of this popular café positively groan under the weight of local produce, gourmet treats, and speciality wines. Soak up the rustic atmosphere while enjoying a touch of Europe with a barista-made coffee.

Annie's Provedore

Mr Grubb

Part of the Oakdene Estate, Mr Grubb is possibly our favourite café on the Bellarine. We love sitting outside in the fresh country air relaxing amongst the silver birch trees with a coffee or hot chocolate.

The food and service are always superb, and for lunch on Sundays, there’s live music to add to the ambience.

Don’t forget to take a stroll in the garden and check out the quirky artefacts and sculptures scattered around the grounds.

The more you look the more you’ll find!

Scarecrow at Oakdene

4)  It’s Never Boring

There are heaps of things to do on the Bellarine Peninsula. From sporting events to festivals, and Bellarine markets there’s enough to keep you busy for weeks.

Bellarine Peninsula Golf Courses

Bring your clubs and play a round of golf on some of the best golf courses in Victoria.

13th Beach Golf Links hosts the Victorian Open Championship and is rated one of the best public access courses in Australia. The challenging natural links style 36-hole course is positioned on true links land and offers a rare genuine links golf experience.

There are courses all along the peninsula including Curlewis, Clifton Springs, Portarlington and St Leonards.

Water Sports

With its ocean beaches, bays and rivers the Bellarine is a slice of heaven for lovers of water sports.

Grab your board and hit the beach.

As the area is fairly unpopulated you can surf world class waves without much competition. In winter you might even have the waves all to yourself.

Check out Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale for the best surf.

You’ll be surprised to learn there’s more going on under the waters of the Bellarine Peninsula than you might expect. Join an organised tour with a dive operator in Queenscliff, and discover old shipwrecks and reefs teeming with marine life – including delightful seahorses.

Or you could swim with dolphins and seals in unique marine national parks.

Of course with all this water about, there are ample piers, jetties, rocks and shorelines where you can cast a line in and catch your dinner.

Museums, Markets and Festivals

Discover another side to the area and learn about its history while visiting historical buildings and museums.

A good place to start is Fort Queenscliff.  Built to defend the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, it’s reminiscent of a medieval fortress with muzzle-loading cannons, walls, a dry moat and a keep. A part of Australian history, this is one of the more interesting Queenscliff attractions.

Also popular with visitors, and wedding photographers is Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. Keeping vigil over the Rip the lighthouse is staffed 24 hours a day making it unique in Australia as most lighthouses are now unmanned. During heavy fog, the foghorn still gives a warning blast to ships passing through.

Enjoy some of the best festivals in Australia. Held throughout the year they usually involve either food or music – and of course lots of fun. Take your pick from the National Celtic Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival, Portarlington Mussel Festival, or the Wallington Strawberry Fair, just to name a few.

There are some great Bellarine Peninsula markets to explore. And the area is flush with vintage markets, farmers markets and local community fundraisers. Where you can find hidden local treasures or try a piping hot jam doughnut!

Portarlington Mussel Festival

5) It’s Fun For Kids

Gather the kids together for days of endless fun and adventure, swim, paddle and boogie board at bay and ocean beaches.

Need a break from the beach?

Have some family fun at A Maze ‘N Games, get lost in the giant maze or play a round of miniature golf. If you really want to wear them out then head to Adventure Park, Victoria’s biggest theme park and home to the coolest water slides.

Or get up close to some wildlife at Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary a haven for sick and rescued koalas, kangaroos, dingoes and other unique Australian animals. It’s a great place to bring the kids to learn about Australian wildlife and the chance to touch or hold a koala or baby joey.

Kids at the beach

How To Get To The Bellarine Peninsula

By Car

The city of Geelong is an easy one-hour drive from Melbourne’s CBD. From here the Bellarine Hwy will take you to Queenscliff via Leopold – the Gateway to the Bellarine. Along the way, you’ll pass the Flying Brick Cider House, A Maze ‘N Games and Adventure Park.

Alternatively, you can take a scenic drive along Portarlington Road. This will take you through beautiful farmlands and wineries all the way to Portarlington.

By Ferry

Port Phillip Ferries offer daily services between the Melbourne Docklands and Portarlington.

The ferry has two-floors with plenty of seating and outside areas as well as a licensed cafe. And you can even organise tours across the Bellarine through Port Phillip Ferries.

Click here for an up-to-date timetable or to book tickets

Searoad Ferries operate two car and passenger ferries between Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula and Queenscliff.

The forty-minute crossing is one of the most popular things to do in Bellarine Peninsula. And it’s a great way to arrive!

Ferries depart both Queenscliff and Sorrento every hour on the hour from 7 a.m to 6 p.m daily.

For more inforamtion about the Queenscliff Ferry click here.  

Bellarine Peninsula Accommodation

There are great places to stay throughout the Bellarine Peninsula to suit all tastes and budgets.

Just about every town has a holiday park where you can camp or stay in a cabin. Visitors who are looking for something a bit different can stay in unique themed rooms or traditional bed & breakfasts.

Queenscliff accommodation is jam-packed with historical hotels and quaint guesthouses, as is Point Lonsdale.

Click here to learn more about the best places to stay on the Bellarine Peninsula.

Phew!

That’s about it. Now you know all about Victoria’s hidden gem, the Bellarine Peninsula.

If you’re travelling in Victoria then you might enjoy this post about the seaside town of Warrnambool.

Have you already been to the Bellarine?

Tell us all about it in the comments below and, as always, email us with any questions.

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