A 48-hour itinerary of what to eat, where to drink, walks to do and where to stay overnight.
Geelong is often noted as being the gateway to the Great Ocean Road for Melbournians, and visitors recognise it as an essential stop on their way to some of Australia’s most picturesque landscapes.
Instead of making Geelong a pit stop, we want you to immerse yourself in the full experience of Victoria’s second largest city; to see it for what it is – a place worthy of your undivided attention.
Born and Bread Bakehouse, Newtown
Whether you’re flying into Avalon, or on the road from interstate, Saturdays are reserved for revelling in the hustle and bustle of the community. Mornings in Geelong are no different, and one of the best places in town to feel that Saturday buzz is at Born and Bread Bakehouse. The focus here is on producing simple baked goods to perfection. Ben Gower, the owner, comes from a long line of bakers, and the pride and workmanship is evident in every offering. Why not start your day right with a freshly poured coffee and a savoury, and make sure you grab a loaf to take home.
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After you’ve stocked up on the necessary coffee, and that spring in your step has returned, why not head back to your accommodation to unload all the unnecessary extras. There are plenty of options when it comes to staying the night in Geelong, whether you’re after an apartment with ocean views or something more novel (here’s a list of our favourites). Airbnb is the go-to if you’re after a beautiful ‘country escape in the city’, with weatherboard homes on offer in central Geelong like East Emerald. If something a little adventurous is more your style, why not try one of Leigh and Gracie’s gorgeous accommodation offerings on Riparide.
Little Creatures, Geelong
After a little freshen up, you’ll no doubt be eager to see what else Geelong has to offer. Despite starting off in Fremantle, Little Creatures has been adopted by locals, and treated with pride now like its very own. The Geelong site was built as a wool mill in 1923, and it exudes character from every brick. Furphy Hall is the place to go to knock the head off a couple of beers, with room for upwards of 150 people, expect to see a hive of activity. If beer isn’t your thing, rest assured there is something to satisfy everyone’s thirst on the extensive menu in the beer hall.
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For some years, Igni has been the crowning jewel for fine dining in Geelong, and is a must (at least once) for visitors. Its understated burnt/black-out styled exterior alludes to the presence of its moniker Igni, translating to fire in Latin. Whilst the exterior reflects all the bleakness of a fires wake, the interior offers the stark juxtaposition of its presence. Igni’s heart, both literally and metaphorically, is the wood-fired grill. This ‘flaming heart’ influences the totality of the menu, in surprising and novel ways. A focus on fire is not the only novelty to expect when visiting, diners must remember that experimentation is constant, resulting in an ever-evolving menu. Guests should expect the unexpected, whether that means eating meals that can’t be seen elsewhere in the restaurant, or even elsewhere on your table. Six courses is the set menu, and diners have a choice to either peer into the kitchen from high-backed stools, or enjoy their meal from a standard table. An eclectic range of light snacks will begin proceedings, including the salt and vinegar saltbush, and chicken skin paired with cod roe. Mains and desserts are too seasonal and ever-changing to note, but ingenuity is assured. Geelong locals are blessed to have the team at Igni bringing some of Australia’s finest dining to their neighbourhood.
Barwon River or waterfront
There’s no better way to explore a city than by pounding the pavement, and Geelong has some beautiful tracks to consider. If you really want to stretch the legs, the Barwon River loop is the trail for you. The full track is just shy of 13km, and takes around two and half hours. This track will have you forgetting you’re so close to the heart of Geelong, with native wildlife and plants always nearby. If you’d like to soak up the coastal scent, the Eastern Beach walk is the perfect alternative. Popular with visitors and locals alike, the walk can be started at any point along the foreshore and passes by Geelong’s pier and gardens.
That Place, Belmont
Pair your stroll with a coffee and cake to take home from That Place. A Belmont favourite, sell-outs are standard for this patisserie’s exotic goodies. Ashlea Allen, owner and head chef has international credentials, having trained and worked in Paris to hone her craft. Her products are evidence of her skills, with recent options like the sticky date croissant always quick to sell out.
Bistrot Plume, Belmont
Top off your weekend for Sunday lunch. Picture this: you step off a busy street into an understated atmospheric space, filled with bottles of stacked wine, glasses full on tables, flavoursome French food, and a warm buzz of diners deep in conversation. That’s the romantic ideal of a Parisian dining experience, and Bistrot Plume is offering just that (minus the busy street) on an unassuming strip in suburban Geelong. Kate and Nathan Veach are fans of France, to say the least. The pair have their hands full: renovating a cottage in the French countryside, hosting culinary tours of regional France, and also running Bistrot Plume. You should expect to be authentically transported to another place whilst you dine. Whether you’re enjoying streak tartare or scallops, pairing it with soufflé or duck, make sure you’re finishing it off with something sweet. This place is an absolute gem, and a great way to finish a Geelong getaway.
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