As Australia begins to re-open and we start our slow journey back to normality, many are looking for things to do outside the four walls of their home.
With rules preventing long-distance car trips finally lifted, and from June 1st overnight stays in private residences will be allowed, alongside camping and tourist accommodation (if no use of shared facilities), a day trip could be the perfect way to ease yourself back into a COVID-19 world – especially if you’re someone who loves the outdoors and just wants to ‘get away from it’ all.
Luckily Geelong has plenty of day trip options that might tickle your fancy – and they’re just an hour or so drive away. Just make sure to stick to current social distancing measures (maintain 1.5 metres from people at all times) to ensure you’re not spreading more than just your picnic blanket.
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 activities such as rock climbing on offer (booking required) and designated areas for both horse riding and downhill mountain bike riding you have the opportunity to utilise the peaks made from surrounding volcanic plains for a great outdoor adventure. If you weren’t feeling like an action-packed day you can also head to the You Yangs for multiple bush walks and picnics surrounded by the most picturesque landscape you will see from anywhere around Geelong. You have the see the incredible view for yourself to believe it. Hot tip: the hike is incredible at dawn or dusk so you can see the stunning golden sky over the entire bay.
Werribee Open Range Zoo
Why travel thousands of kilometres when a taste of African adventure is available just 30 minutes from Geelong, at Werribee Open Range Zoo? Located within the Werribee Park Precinct, an amazing array of animals live on 225 hectares of wide, open Savannah. Come face-to-face with amazing gorillas, a pride of lions, see monkeys at play, watch cheetah prowl, and feel the sand between your toes and watch the hippos at Hippo Beach. You will also find rhinoceros, giraffes, zebras, antelopes and more grazing together on the picturesque Savannah. It’s just been confirmed that the Zoo will reopen to the public from 1 June. Limits have been placed on the reopening, with state guidelines allowing up to 20 patrons ‘per space’ and a number of measures will be introduced across their sites to ensure safe physical distancing and hygiene practices. Visit the website for the latest details.
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. While the iconic Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa is currently closed, you can still have a wander along the creek to each mineral spring and taste the famous mineral water from the pumps or free-flowing pipes throughout the reserve.
Stevenson’s Falls is one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets. The incredible scenery accompanies you along a bush walk that leading you to Stevenson’s Falls, a truly breathtaking waterfall. The waterfall is completely accessible with large rocks surrounding the bottom providing makeshift seats and easy access to stand directly under the waterfall, or you can just sit back and take in the beauty in front of you. There is something so therapeutic about watching a waterfall. If its beauty is too much to just pack up and leave after the day there are also 50 free camping grounds on the same site about a 1 km walk from the Falls. Each site is equipped with its own fire enclosure and communal toilet blocks. Stevenson’s Falls is a must-see destination being only just over an hour from Geelong.
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. 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.
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. Fun fact: the lake hosted the rowing and canoeing during the 1956 Olympics.
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. Hot tip: on your way to Portarlington, take a detour to Leura Park Estate and take advantage of their massive Barrel Shed Sale showcasing some of The Bellarine’s biggest brands, guaranteeing something for all wine enthusiasts and budgets. This option’s close to home but it’s beautiful nonetheless.
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!
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 Redwods and are highly recommended to visit while in the region.
Ballarat feature image photo credit: Chippy Rivera
Tipperary Walking Track photo credit: The Life of Py