27-30 October 2022
I was fortunate recently to travel to Australia for work and to stay over for the weekend with a friend Beth who lives by Lake Modewarre in rural Victoria southwest of Geelong. We are looking to host a conference in Geelong next year and the local business events organisation arranged for us to explore the surrounding region and investigate a range of venues and activities on the Bellarine peninsula that we could include as part of the conference.
Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula area were known originally for agriculture, particularly wheat, and the coastal towns and beaches were popular holiday resorts even in the 1870s. The port of Geelong experienced a boom during the Victorian gold rush period. Geelong then diversified into manufacturing and became one of the largest manufacturing centres in Australia during the 1860s with wool mills, ropeworks, and paper mills. Today Geelong is Australia’s second fastest-growing city known for its sports (home to the Geelong Football Club, the second oldest club in the Australian Football League) and Deakin University, and as a gateway city for rapidly increasing tourism around the area.
According to the promotions you can:
Kick up your heels in Geelong’s waterfront precinct, explore tranquil seaside villages, and meet local makers and growers along the Bellarine Taste Trail.
Soak up the good life in the Geelong and Bellarine region. Wander down historic streetscapes and tee off at lush golf courses, perfect for summer afternoons. Explore the burgeoning foodie scene, complete with craft breweries, local wineries, farm gates and provedores. Surf, paddle and swim at bay and ocean beaches, and get close to local wildlife in Port Phillip Bay.
It is very easy to get to the area: the Gull Bus departs regularly from just outside Terminal 2 at Melbourne’s International Airport, taking approx 1 hour 20 minutes to get to Geelong with a selection of drop off points.
We investigated potential conference venues at Waurn Ponds (next to Deakin University) and also at Kardinia Park, which is also known locally as ‘The Cattery’ as the football stadium there is home to the Geelong Cats.
After that came the fun part: looking at potential dinner and other activity venues – and what a choice there was! Anywhere on the peninsula is within about 30 minutes drive from Geelong.
- Curlewis Golf Club & the Range
Golf course, driving range, mini-golf, new clubhouse, accommodation (and winery)
- Jack Rabbit Winery
Hop to it for sophisticated cool-climate wines, an award-winning restaurant, cellar door, tasting room, bistro-style cafe and stunning coastal views. On a clear day you can see Melbourne in the distance.
- Go Ride A Wave, Torquay
Surfing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, beach olympics
- Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Nestled amongst native trees, walkways, gardens and the resident emus and wallabies, is the cultural display and performance building, Art Gallery, Café Narana and retail outlet
- Q Train, Queenscliff
The Q Train is a moving restaurant train that travels through the heart of The Bellarine between Drysdale and Queenscliff, providing every customer with a delicious rail journey, and unique views of Swan Bay and The Bellarine Peninsula. A heritage rail line and restored carriages showcasing local food, wine, beer and cider.
- Queenscliff Distillery
Queenscliff Distillery create spirits that reflect the beauty of the coastal town Queenscliff. Committed to supporting sustainable practices and local producers, using ethically sourced and often local ingredients to create a variety of complex spirits.
- Anther Distillery
The Anther Distillery is housed in the historical Federal Woollen Mills, built in 1915 in North Geelong. Explore the history of gin around the globe, be guided through the flavours and delectable Australian native ingredients used in Anther Gin and learn about the process of distillation.
- 18th Amendment Bar
Themed around the illegal ‘speakeasy’ venues in the US that sprung up in response to the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution that effectively established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages from 1920 until 1933. The speakeasies of New York and Chicago became a dark and mysterious business where gangsters seduced people of all classes with jazz, lust, love and, of course, booze.
- Lake Modewarre
My lovely friend Beth’s place