The best ways to enjoy a free day out in the Geelong region

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The best ways to enjoy a free day out in the Geelong region

Words by Benjamin Lamb

Looking for free things to do in Geelong? Check out these tips for exploring the region for zero dollars.

Has your bank account been looking a little bit depleted lately following the festive season? You’re not alone! With the cost of living and Christmas, spending has been at an all-time high with budgets almost completely blown. 

Today we’re diving into some of the best ways to spend your day or kill some time, and it won’t cost you a penny. 

Visit the Geelong Gallery  

Art fans rejoice! One of Geelong’s top-rated galleries won’t cost you a cent! 

The Geelong Gallery has is one of Australia’s oldest art houses, having been around for just over 100 years, delighting thousands of people, and inspiring many to enter the art world. 

The Geelong Gallery is dedicated to bringing some of the world’s best works to Geelongites. Some of Australia’s most iconic paintings call the Geelong Gallery home, Russell Drysdale’s Hill End, and Eugène voc Guérard’s Aboriginie met on the road to the diggings to name a few.

Free exhibitions currently running include ‘John Nixon—Four Decades, Five Hundred Prints’, ‘Kungka Kuṉpu (Strong Women)’ showcasing major contemporary works by celebrated women artists from the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY), and RISE – a collaborative installation produced by the artists who attend genU’s James Street Gallery and Eastern Hub studios.

Note, the Geelong Gallery is closed on Boxing Day.


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Take a Hike

Victoria is rife with walking tracks and trails that you can spend the day with. There’s a variety, ranging from 50km tracks that’ll take you a day, or a few 5km tracks that’ll kill a few hours.

There’s a heap across regional Victoria, some of the best including Geelong’s 6km Barwon Walk, which should only take a couple of hours, there’s the massive 53km hike in Ballarat called the Ballarat-Skipton trail, and the 4.2 km Thunder point walk in Warrnambool. Of course, there’s the You Yangs which is always a favourite, situated only 22km North of Geelong. Or if you’re up for a challenge, the Surf Coast Walk is a 44 kilometre adventure that boasts total immersion in nature and the sanctuary of coastal villages within easy reach along the way.

Going for a hike is a great first date idea, great for your mental health, and gets the blood pumping. There’s a bevy of spots across the state, you can check a track close to you here. Make sure you take a packed lunch to make sure you’re not tempted to waste some money on takeaway. 


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Visit the Narana Cultural Centre 

If you’re keen to learn more about the First Australians, look no further than the Narana Cultural Centre. No matter how much you think you know about Aboriginal culture, you’ll walk out of Narana knowing so much more, and it won’t cost you a cent. 

They focus on bringing attendees an “introduction to today’s Indigenous culture”, and they achieve that through some amazing displays, intriguing programs, and a native garden. People from all backgrounds are brought into the conversation, as Narana believes everyone is capable of adding to the shared history of Australia. The spot is named after the word “Narana” which translates to mean ‘deeply listening and understanding’. This is what the cultural centre is all about, listening and understanding those Aboriginal stories.  

They work out of the Surfcoast Highway in the suburb of Charlemont, about a 10km / 15-minute drive from Geelong’s city centre, a stone’s throw away. 

Cool off at Eastern Beach

Australia isn’t short of absolutely beautiful beaches. There’s Surfers Paradise, the Mornington Peninsula, and Bondi Beaches, but there’s one in Geelong that gives all of those a run for their money, Eastern Beach. 

The beach is perfect to spend the day, it never gets too crowded, and it goes on for miles. There’s also a pretty cool bath section, which is basically an enclosed section of the beach, which is super fun. On top of that, there’s also some BBQ facilities, where you can bring some Snags and cook some lunch for some friends and family. Plus there’s a fully fenced children’s pool, art deco boardwalk,  floating islands and many magnificent diving towers!

A trip here will truly blow you away, and the best thing about heading to the beach? They’re absolutely free, it’s the perfect way to spend your day without spending a cent. And with the next few weeks hitting the hot mid 30’s? It’s the best place to head to right now. 

Wangim Walk Wave Attenuator

While you’re at Eastern Beach, if you like to stretch your legs, maybe check out Geelong’s new $10.1 million, 440m Wave Attenuator.

A major milestone in the Geelong Waterfront Safe Harbour Precinct Project and named after the Wadawurrung language for Boomerang, Wangim Walk stretches out over Corio Bay to form one of Australia’s longest on-water walkways, providing safe harbour to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club and allowing the public to walk on water.

Providing stunning views of the bay, the Wangim Walk is protected with a safety gate installed at the start of the landmark, allowing the attraction to be closed when the weather turns dangerous.

Find out more here.


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Get Active 

Another thing we in Australians do well is get people moving. There’s no shortage of free classes in any suburb in Victoria, things like kickboxing, yoga, and lots more. With Regional Victoria also not having a shortage of parks, there’s no doubt you live a short walk from one of these free classes taking place, so there’s no need to waste money travelling there too. 

It’s usually a good idea to check out websites like Livelifegetactive, who list free active boxing, cross-training, yoga, and more classes that are happening near you. 

It’s also a good idea to check websites like Eventbrite for free things happening near you as well, who often list free dance classes, virtual yoga classes, and a whole heap more, you’re bound to find something that’s up your alley. 

Picnic in the Botanic Gardens

Is there such a thing as a breakfast picnic? Because I wholeheartedly believe that should be a thing. And if it is, the Botanic Gardens are THE perfect spot for it. With The Teahouse serving up great coffee, all you need to do is find a quiet place to enjoy your morning cup of joe and perhaps a pastry and some fresh fruit.

Looking around at the perfectly curated plants at the Botanic Gardens is so meditative to me, and the perfect peaceful way to start your day. It’s truly like being in an outdoor art gallery – and similarly to an art gallery, people tend to be on the quieter side, so if that’s your vibe this is definitely the place for you.

Pack a picnic rug from home and bring along some food you’ve already got, and you’ve got one beautiful, free couple of hours on your hands.


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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 for free, 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.

Your only cost will be petrol and any snacks along the way.

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.

Embrace nostalgia

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.

For zero dollars, 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!


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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.

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.

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!


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