Make the most of your weekend out of lockdown with these day trip options close to Geelong
10.09.2021

Make the most of your weekend out of lockdown with these day trip options close to Geelong

Photo by Josh Britton at Gibson Steps

Make the most of the weekend.

Regional Victoria, we’re freeeeeee (sorry Shepp).

As we emerge from what’s hopefully our last lockdown, we’re all buzzing with the small amount of freedom we’ve been gifted as the state lifts the five reasons to leave home, the 5km travel limit, the reopening of retail, hairdressing and hospitality, and the ability to gather in public with some of our closest mates.

And while the capacity restrictions might mean some of our favourite hospo venues are either booked out (yay) or closed, this might be the perfect time to hit the road and do some exploring. After all, we’ve all been confined to our four walls and a 5km radius for the past few weeks so it seems a little ludicrous to want to spend the weekend at home.

So why not fill up the tank, load up on snacks, download a banging playlist and take a little day trip? Luckily Geelong has plenty of day trip options that might tickle your fancy, especially while we can’t venture into Melbourne – and they’re just an hour or so drive away.

Hike You-Yangs Regional Park

Situated only 22km North of Geelong the 340-metre high granite peaks of the You Yangs prove themselves to be one of the hottest day trips just outside of Geelong.

With magnificent views and birdlife, you’ll find a diverse range of landscape and scenery. Towering with sparse native trees and eucalypts, you may even spot a koala and other wildlife along your voyage. As part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape, ensure to respect the deep connection of the Wadawurrung People and feel the culture of the traditional owners of the land.

Have a knack for bike-riding? No problem, take your mountain bike along and explore more than fifty kilometres of trails, perfect for beginners and experts. You can even reach the highest point and prepared to be amazed by the views of Melbourne and Geelong.

Hot tip: the hike is incredible at dawn or dusk so you can see the stunning golden sky over the entire bay.

Find out more info here. If you’re with the kids, we recommend also checking out this You Yangs Big Rock walk.

Explore the beauty of Hepburn Springs

About an hour drive from Geelong is the mesmerising Hepburn Springs, Australia’s largest conservation of mineral springs.

We recommend sussing out the Tipperary Walking Track, which runs from picturesque Lake Daylesford to the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve, following Sailors Creek and Spring Creek through foothill forest for most of the way. The 16km track can be walked in five to six hours, is mostly level to gently undulating and is quite easy walking.

If you’re looking for a shorter walk, there is a track between Lake Daylesford and Bryces Flat on both sides of Sailors Creek allowing for loop walks of various lengths.

There’s even a pretty decent 18-hole golf course if that’s more your style – just watch for the resident wild kangaroos, and of course the Hepburn Springs Mineral Reserve, Australia’s first Mineral Reserve created in 1865 and houses the historic Bathhouse and Pavilion buildings. If you can get yourself a booking, the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa has just reopened to regional Victorians.

Treat yourself to a night away from home

We’ve spent the most part of this past year dreaming of a weekend away from home and away from this desk, so why not make the most of the weekend and book a cheeky night away.

While usually it would be impossible to score a booking over the weekend on such short notice, but tourist and accommodation venues across the Geelong/Surf Coast region have a lot of empty beds, thanks to the lingering effects of Melbourne’s latest COVID lock-down.

If you were ever looking for a chance to discover something new – even in your own backyard – now’s the time.

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.

 

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Chase Waterfalls in Lorne

We are very fortunate in regional Victoria to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state – all located an hour away. If you’re feeling like getting out of the house for a day and exploring the beauty that is the Great Ocean Road, there’s at least 10 waterfalls located in Lorne that will keep you both busy and mesmerised for an entire day. There’s Erskine Falls which plunges (or trickles, depending on recent rainfall levels) down a 30-metre drop into the Erskine River; Henderson Falls which cascades over a moss-capped cliff face to a small pool below; Cumberland Falls and its dramatic but magnificent cliffs, gentle streams, peaceful pools, and never ending views, among others.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 of our favourites here, along with links to their locations if you’re ready to go chasing waterfalls.

Looking for some holiday inspiration instead? Check out eight of the most unique, off-grid holidays in regional Victoria.

Hit up the driving range

Whether you’re with a date or going solo, the Curlewis Driving Range is perfect for anyone looking to get out of the house! Take it as seriously or as casually as you like – I’m terrible at it but on the rare occasion my golf ball does score some air time, I feel blissfully accomplished!

While restrictions are pretty heavy at the moment, they are open for individual bookings for 45 minutes each – meaning you and a couple of mates can each book out a session and hit balls side by side. No food or drinks will be served in the bays at this stage.

The driving range is located at 1201 Portarlington Rd, Curlewis.

Test yourself at Live Wire Park

If you’re feeling agitated after months indoors, then this might be just the thing to get your blood pumping! Known as one of Australia’s most electrifying adventure parks, it’s all about unplugging, recharging and setting your senses alight with the beauty of the Great Ocean Road whilst zip lining, roller coasting, climbing, exploring and wandering through this world class adventure experience.

At Live Wire Park, you’ll find the ‘Shockwave Zip Coaster’ (Australia’s most extreme zip line), epic ropes courses and the treetop canopy circuit. All the ingredients for experiencing nature supercharged.

It’s located in Lorne, so just over an hour from Geelong but you will have to book ahead. There are a few different experiences on offer too, so it caters to any type of adventurer – whether you prefer a nice, cruisy treetop walk, or you’re wanting to challenge your physical and mental abilities.

If high intensity is what you’re after, we recommend checking out the ‘Super Circuit’, which features 53 mid-air trails, suspended bridges, tree-scaling activities, an electrifying tarzan swing and a supercharged 10m QuickJump bungee. Definitely not for the faint hearted.

Prices start at $12 and you can book here.

 

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Weekend is here… who’s ready to fly?

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Head to Kyneton for Australia’s best pie

If you love your pies and you’re willing to drive an hour and a half, then this is a bucket list item for any local day-tripper.

Victoria’s Country Cob Bakery, located in the darling regional town of Kyneton, was named the winner of Australia’s Best Pie with their pepper-beef pie for the third year in a row last year – and that’s just something you have to taste for yourself to understand why. If you’re not a fan of pepper-beef, they’ve also won prizes for Australia’s best plain beef pie; best gourmet pie (for the barbequed pork and quail egg creation); best flavoured beef pie (another win for the pepper-beef); and best vegetarian or vegan pie (for the curried cauliflower, lentil and chickpea), catering to absolutely any taste bud.

The bakery is open 6am to 3pm daily, and is located at 130-132 Mollison St, Kyneton. Visit the website for more info.

 

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Who doesn’t love a good pie, yes many good pies here!!! More than 30 flavours to choose from. Its a pie heaven.

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Hike Hanging Rock Reserve

If you’ve left enough time on your pie-eating mission, then we recommend you also check out Hanging Rock Reserve, a 17-minute drive from Kyneton or an hour and a half from Geelong if you’d prefer to bypass the famous pie (why would you though?).

The massive 105-meter-high extinct volcano, now eroded into columns, was the location for Peter Weir’s iconic film, Picnic at Hanging Rock, based on the book by Joan Lindsay. The rock is also an important aboriginal landmark and was reputedly a refuge for bushrangers during the Gold Rush.

If you’ve got your walking shoes on, Hanging Rock Reserve is truly a beautiful spot to hike in the fresh eucalyptus-tinged air. The round-trip climb to the top takes about 50 minutes, with plenty of secret nooks to slither in along the way and beautiful views over the countryside. You can also explore the other hiking trails that weave through the reserve. Definitely a bucket list visit for regional Victorians.

You can find out more here.

Treat yourself at Great Ocean Road Ice Creamery and Chocolaterie

There’s no denying this venue’s pull. Chocolate and ice cream, is there anything else you need in life? This sweet retreat features a showroom filled with thousands of chocolates, chocolate tastings (with social distancing measures in place) and an international team of six chocolatiers. Located just 30 minutes from Geelong, it’s the perfect excuse for an afternoon of browsing handcrafted chocolates, enjoying ice cream, and sussing out the sweet and savoury delights to take-away – including lasagne. Oh, and did we mention there are 15 acres of landscaped grounds to discover too? The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery is located at 1200, Great Ocean Road, Bellbrae. Open every day from 9am-5pm.

For more information visit the website.

Admire the Lake Wendouree Precinct

Located just a little over an hour’s drive from Geelong, you won’t regret taking a roadie to see the jewel in Ballarat’s crown — Lake Wendouree and the adjoining Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Providing the perfect escape from reality, you can admire the local swans glide along the glistening waters as you walk, run or ride around the six-kilometre Steve Moneghetti track. Stop by one of the lakeside cafes for a takeaway coffee, or picnic by the water’s edge, then meander along pebbled paths at the historic Ballarat Botanical Gardens and soak up the beauty of the grand floral displays, heritage oak trees, Italian marble statues and the iconic Prime Ministers Avenue.

There’s actually plenty to do in Ballarat. We’ve compiled a little guide here of a bunch of free activities if you’re just looking for a fun, cheap day out of the house.

Fun fact: the lake hosted the rowing and canoeing during the 1956 Olympics.

 

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Some days are simply better than other days. @visitballarat @benro_australia @maxxum.pty.ltd

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Give the Surf Coast Walk a go

Grab your best walking shoes (and your mask) because this beauty is just a short drive away and will keep you occupied for a few hours. Spanning 44 kilometres, The Surf Coast Walk is an adventure that boasts total immersion in nature and the sanctuary of coastal villages within easy reach along the way.

The world-class multi-use trail is located at the start of the Great Ocean Road region from Torquay to Aireys Inlet and in its entirety, the Walk connects the coastal towns of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet and will see you exploring the likes of Point Impossible, Bells Beach, Bird Rock, Airey’s Lighthouse, and Fairhaven.

If you’re not quite up for the 44km adventure, the walk can be split into 12 distinctive tracks, each inviting you to explore inspiring landscapes on foot or bike beyond the edge of Victoria’s beautiful Great Ocean Road.

If you’ve got the time, it’s also a good opportunity to check out the food and retail outlets around town.

You can find out more here.

Take a drive to Portarlington

With uninterrupted bay views across to the You Yangs and, on a clear day, Melbourne, Portarlington is a beautiful bayside town with loads of local flavour. The coastal road from Portarlington to St Leonards is glorious, hugging the water closely and showing off big blue skies, clear calm water and the surrounding wineries and olive groves. If it’s a nice enough day, take a slow walk and have a swim at the bay beach, kick back on the beautiful foreshore or try your luck with the rod and reel. Finish the day with a feast of freshly caught mussels and oysters from Advanced Mussel Supply available at The Little Mussel Cafe, take away fish and chips, and of course, make sure you stop by Daniel’s Donuts for doughy treats with familiar combinations and surprising twists. There’s also The Whiskery, a rustic space to have a cocktail, gin or whisky on the way home.

This option’s close to home but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

Embrace nostalgia at Split Point Lighthouse

If you ever watched Australian adolescent TV show Round the Twist, then this is definitely a day trip for you! Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet was the filming location for the home of the Twist family, and is now simply home to breathtaking views on the Shipwreck Coast.

While tours of the Lighthouse itself are currently on hold, you can still go check out the iconic structure, which can be spotted as you travel along the Great Ocean Road. There’s also heaps of walking opportunities abound in Aireys Inlet with the Surf Coast Walk, the Cliff Top Walk and the Lighthouse Precinct Walk all within easy reach. Take in stunning views of the coastline on the Cliff Top Walk and discover the fascinating surf culture, abundant native wildlife and coastal forests along the Surf Coast Walk. It’s also whale season now so keep your eyes out!

Fun fact, the iconic Aussie TV series ‘Round the Twist’ is being turned into a musical.

 

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Explore The Redwoods and The Otways

Located an hour and a half from Geelong and tucked within the heart of the Otways, on the banks of the Aire River south of Beech Forest surrounded by the native eucalypts, stands a spectacular forest of Californian Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) worthy of a day trip. This 85 year old plantation of Californian Redwoods has become a favourite local picnic area, and walking between the massive trunks flanking the river for the first time creates a special feeling of awe and reverence – one that’s really not to be missed in your lifetime.

As you’ve already jumped in the car, Hopetoun Falls and Beauchamp Falls are within close driving proximity to The Redwoods and are highly recommended to visit while in the region.

Find out more here.

Finally do the Great Ocean Road

This one links into the above, but how many of you have lived here for years and never explored the Great Ocean Road and all its delights?

Hailed one of the bucket list places to visit in the region and sprawling out for 243km around Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is one of nature’s most marvellous creations and a place you have to set out to visit at least once in your life. So, a three day weekend seems like the perfect time to just that.

Alongside the obvious 12 Apostles, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite lookouts and trails here that you should definitely put on your list if you feel like making the trip.

 

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Stock up on homewares, indoor plants and other local goodies

Regional towns have some of the best and finest small businesses that shine a light on local creators and fresh produce. There’s nothing better than spending some money supporting a local producer, who makes their stuff fairly, unlike the unfair production standards that many big department stores follow.

If you don’t feel like hitting the road, why not get out and about and support some of the local businesses doing it tough. There is 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.

Explore Geelong from above

Ever wanted to see our stunning town from up above? Then check out Geelong Helicopters, which is a super fun way to spend your day. They fly out of Geelong Waterfront, for that extra premium experience.

They’ve got a bevy of flight types, ranging from around 20 minutes, to a whopping hour and a half, where you’ll tour the marvellous 12 Apostles. And If you’re ever strapped for time but still feel like going on a helicopter ride for some reason, they’ve even got a 5 minute flight that still takes in some of Geelong’s most beautiful views.

As these different flights cater for all the different budgets and tastes, there’s scenic flights, private charters, even a photography flight for those who want to beef up their portfolios. A Geelong Helicopter Gift Certificate is also a great gift for those who are too hard to buy for.

Book in a flight here today.

Explore Street Art

Geelong is bringing their A-game to street art in recent times. It’s an absolute treasure trove of unique and vibrant street art to explore, whether you’re in the CBD, on Pakington Street or out in North Geelong – there’s something for everyone.

We’ve come up with a non-exhaustive list of some stellar works you can see right now. Don’t forget to take some snaps!

If you really feel like embracing Geelong and all its quirks, head out and explore the Geelong Bollards that line the Waterfront from Rippleside Park to Limeburners Point and the Botanical Gardens. Local artist Jan Mitchell transformed a bunch of old timbers and piles from a damaged city pier into 104 unique artworks that chronicle the city’s past. See how many you can find!