Geelong Music Bus Tour: A weekenders guide to Geelong, the regional epicentre of rock’n’roll music
31.03.2022

Geelong Music Bus Tour: A weekenders guide to Geelong, the regional epicentre of rock’n’roll music

Jumping on the Geelong Music Bus Tour? Make the most of your trip with all the best things to do, where to eat and where to stay in Geelong.

In a first for the region, the Melbourne Music Bus Tours will rebrand itself for Geelong as part of the Surround Sounds – Geelong & the Bellarine Music Festival to provide immersive local tours of musical hotspots.

The tours – Geelong Music Bus Tours – will be hosted by musicologist Bruce Milne, a lifetime resident of Victoria who has been involved with Triple R since its fledgling years, founded the iconic independent record store and label Au-go-go Records (who signed Magic Dirt in 1994), managed artists, worked at EMI in A&R and now co-owns Greville Records.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

Delivering a 90-minute tour of Geelong’s rock ‘n’ roll history, Milne will lead busloads of music fans around the region in the Geelong Music Bus Tours, exploring the city’s famous music venues, laneways, recording studios, rehearsal spaces, artists’ homes, important Indigenous music spots and places which have inspired teenagers to form a band.

Each bus tour will feature a very special guest who grew up in Geelong to share their personal stories on the bus, including Mick Thomas on April 23 Mick Thomas (Weddings Parties Anything), Adalita on April 30 and May 7 with Billy Gardener (Anti-fade Records) along with Maree Robertson who recently published the 678 page “This Was Geelong” book celebrating the legacy surrounding the late Dave Thomas from Bored!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Adalita (@adalitax)

The bus tours will run twice each day – at 1pm and 3pm – giving music lovers plenty of time to indulge in the best bits of Geelong, with an abundance of other events, restaurants, bars and stays to ensure a weekend to remember.

To help you make the most of your chosen weekend to visit, we’ve collated a huge guide to help you level up your Geelong experience.

Getting There

Each Saturday the bus tours kick off at 1pm, with a second run at 3pm, making this event perfect to organise a weekend away around.

For Melburnians coming into the regional city, getting here has never been cruisier. Leave the car keys at home for a no-fuss, stress-free trip to the city centre on a world-class ferry. Thanks to Port Phillip Ferries you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Port Phillip Bay in unmatched comfort on the way to your destination – and all for just $18 one way. On Saturdays, the ferry leaves Docklands at 11am, arriving in Geelong at 12:30pm, leaving you plenty of time to Uber or taxi to the Barwon Club Hotel for departure.

If you prefer to make the most of the day by arriving in Geelong early, the V/Line is your best bet. With trains departing from Southern Cross every 40-50 minutes, the one-hour journey is a breeze.

Of course, driving is your alternative (with the added convenience of having your car for the weekend). From the CBD, it’s about an hour drive (73.5 km) via the M1.

Coming from interstate? Avalon Airport is a 20-minute drive from Geelong. See the Avalon Shuttle for services. Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne is approximately 90 minutes from Geelong. See Gull Shuttle for services.

Where To Eat & Drink

We’re quite blessed in Geelong. Whether you’re after a quick bite, a group celebration or a fancy date night, there’s a huge range of places to eat, both in the city and in the surrounding suburbs, precincts and regions. Formal restaurants awarded hats by The Age Good Food Guide, quick and cheerful cafes with better-than-average coffee and loads of venues that take advantage of our position on the coast to offer views, alfresco and an amazing range of local produce.

For fans of brunch, Geelong is home to some of the best cafes in the area. Pakington Pantry has cemented itself as a staple within the Geelong brunch scene with hearty options like ancient grains porridge, shakshuka eggs, chai French toast or of course the ever-faithful chilli scramble; while next door Winters Café comes equipped with a local, seasonal focus meaning you’re always going to get the best locally sourced ingredients Geelong has to offer. Sodi on Pakington Street is the dog-friendly café that serves up brunch options (think panacotta French toast and smashed avo to sticky pork salad) for humans, plus treats for their four-legged friends. Closer to town, Café Go is bringing the best vibes to your next brunch with delicious eats, an indoor fire for the chilly winter months, and an outdoor area dedicated to comfy couches and A LOT of plants.

If you’re really wanting to go all out for brunch, we recommend The Village Door and their delicious breakfast platter. Perfect for a breakfast date for two or one very hungry person, the aptly titled ‘Ultimate Breakfast Platter’ boasts eggs your way, bacon, sausage, ćevapi, mushroom, tomato, beans, hash browns and dutch pancakes, with your choice of toppings. There’s lemon and sugar, fresh strawberries, jam and cream, Nutella and ice cream, or maple syrup and ice cream! Honestly, we’d eat this every day if we could.

When it comes to lunch and dinner, take a simple stroll down Little Malop Street and you’ll come across some great cafes and restaurants for any time of the day. There’s the Hot Chicken Project for lovers of fried chicken, Pistol Pete’s for an authentic Southern feast, mouthwatering steaks from Parkers Steakhouse, authentic ramen from Shinya Ramen and Sober, Mexican eats from Tacos Y Liquor, elevated pub feeds from Westend Geelong or there’s Poké Geelong which is renowned for redefining the traditional Hawaiian Poke Bowl. We’re loving the OpenTable app, which gives you a rundown of participating venues and what time slots they have left. Very handy for the indecisive among us.

If you also feel like pulling up a stool at a cocktail or wine bar, rest assured Geelong’s bar game is strong. If you’re into wine, slink into a booth with a cheese platter at Geelong Cellar Door or Union Street Wine, work your way through the wine list at Archive Wine Bar or check out one of the many surroundings wineries for quality drops and even better views. If a cocktail is more your style, head to popular speakeasy 18th Amendment Bar for a world of discovery, kick back at Manhattan Bar, pull up a stool at Doni Bar on Pako or make your way to the likes of Recess, Wah Bah or Black Sheep for some of the best cocktails in the heart of Geelong.

Where To Stay

We’ve spent the most part of the past two years dreaming of a weekend away from home so why not make the most of the weekend and book a cheeky night away to save the stress of travelling in a day.

With the music bus tours running in the CBD and a lot of other events happening in central Geelong, your most convenient stay would be one close by – and luckily, there are actually a number of great options that still have availability across the three weekends (some dates won’t be available for some hotels).

Belmercer Motel: Located in the heart of Geelong the Belmercer Motel is only a short walk away from the iconic Waterfront. Set back just one street the Belmercer Motel is only 50 metres from the beginning of the boardwalk; which is home to Eastern Beach, as well as Geelong’s very own carousel and gorgeous Botanical Gardens. This four-star motel has a total of 23 rooms, including spa rooms with views overlooking the beautiful Corio Bay.

Novotel Geelong: Novotel Geelong is the city’s premier hotel and conference venue, located in the heart of the waterfront with breathtaking views across the bay. Offering the best for business and leisure travellers, Novotel Geelong features 109 refurbished guest rooms with balconies, six flexible function spaces. restaurant and bar, complimentary Wi-Fi, indoor pool, steam room and fitness centre. It can be pricey but you won’t be disappointed.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Novotel Geelong (@novotelgeelong)

Rydges Geelong: Conveniently located Rydges Geelong offers stylish and affordable Geelong accommodation for business and leisure travellers alike. With sweeping views of the sparkling Corio Bay and only minutes from the lively foreshore of Eastern Beach, this Geelong hotel is the perfect blend of inner city convenience and that scenic holiday feel – especially with 138 spacious guest rooms, apartments and suites, pool area and a spa.

Riverglen Holiday Park: If you’re after super affordable and don’t mind the camping vibes, Riverglen Holiday Park offers a great range of accommodation from ensuite tent sites to spa cottages. All cabins are fully self-contained with ensuites and cooking facilities. Riverglen Holiday Park is only three and a half to four kilometres away from the city centre of Geelong so it’s a bad option at all – especially with an 8.6 rating on Booking.com.

Of course, there are many other options around the Geelong area that would also do the trick. Visit Geelong and Bellarine have listed a range of local accommodation options to suit every lifestyle and budget which you can check out here. Alternatively, check out sites like Booking.com, Airbnb, Stayz, Last Minute and Riparide to discover something new.

Things To Do

So we know you’re taking an epic bus tour of Geelong, discovering the vast musical history of our regional city, but you’ll have plenty of time to immerse yourself in activities beyond that. With the bus tours being just one part of the Surround Sounds music festival, why not check out who of Australia’s biggest names and indie heroes will be coming to the region while you’re here.

For those taking a tour with Mick Thomas on Saturday, April 23, you’ll be pleased by the other events coinciding with this date. Award-winning icons Crowded House will be bringing their Australian Dreamers Are Waiting Tour to Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong, on Saturday 23 April in what will be the band’s first visit to Australia in 12 years; our old friends Brian, Julia, Dugald and the rest of the RocKwiz OrKestra will take to Costa Hall in the CBD from 7:30pm that same night for RocKwiz Live; INXSive – INXS tribute show will be on at the Potato Shed at 8pm, plus Checkboard Lounge will be performing at Pistol Pete’s Food & Blues from 9:30pm.

If you’re on tour with Adalida on Saturday, April 30, stick around town for The Bay City Collective who will present WavRiders at The Deck from 6pm, or get ready to get up on your feet, dance and enjoy a night with none other than Human Nature. Hitting Geelong with their bespoke concert for the first time in 15 years, the homegrown heroes and ARIA Hall of Fame inductees will be returning to their roots, bringing together 30 years of performances for a never-before-seen intimate tour of the Australian heartland, People Get Ready! This one kicks off at 8pm at Costa Hall, giving you plenty of time to recoup and get dinner before the show.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Human Nature (@humannaturelive)

For the music lovers who are taking the tour with Maree Robertson and Billy Gardner on Saturday, May 7, the second last day of the festival, you’ll also be able to hit up Costa Hall for Geelong Symphony Orchestra presents Beethoven’s ode to hills and dales, Symphony No.6, the Pastoral; spend your night with the Piano Bar crew for an evening of classic Piano Bar entertainment by one of their fabulous piano men and superstar vocalists; or check out Late, Late At Night at the Potato Shed, the new stage adaptation of Rick Springfield’s compelling and searing memoir, the New York Times best-seller, Late, Late at Night.

Alongside the traditional tourist activities (checking out Eastern Beach, the Geelong Botanic Gardens and Geelong Gallery) that you should also get around while you’re in town, there’s plenty of fun, quirky and relaxed things to do in Geelong that will make it a weekend to remember. You could show off your swing at the Curlewis Driving Range, check if any creative workshops are running (here’s a whole list of our favourites), get your skates on at the rollerway, ghost tour the old Geelong Gaol, suss the virtual golf green at X-Golf, lace up your bowling shoes at Tenpin bowling, or try your luck with a horror escape room at Containophobia. We’ve compiled a few more quirky ideas here if you need more inspiration.

If you feel like spending some money supporting a local producer, there are plenty of cute homeware stores along Pakington Street, like Frankie Says Relax and Ampersand; we’ve blessed with a tonne of indoor and outdoor plants stores for any plant-lover to go wild, Satellite Hearts is Geelong’s premier Crystal shop if you’re feeling witchy this weekend, or head to the Amazing Mill Markets – a bargain hunters haven with all the classic market stalls; books, vinyl, clothes, jewellery, and even a bunch of awesome Australiana.

If you’ve got time to kill on the Sunday before you head home, you could go hike the You Yangs, or chase waterfalls in Lorne. If you prefer a slower pace you could head out to Bellbrae and check out the Brownie Festival at the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie, or take a drive out to Slip Point Lighthouse and embrace the nostalgia of an Aussie classic.

If you can’t pack everything into one weekend, the Surround Sounds Festival runs for four whole weeks, so head to Surround Sounds Geelong website for the full program and to purchase tickets to even more events. 

Surround Sounds Geelong and the Bellarine Music Festival is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and 94.7 The Pulse – Surround Sound Festival Partners and proudly supported by the City of Greater Geelong.