Bellarine Peninsula

The Ultimate Guide to the Bellarine Peninsula

Nestled in the state of Victoria, the Bellarine Peninsula is a picturesque region to the southwest of Melbourne and southeast of Geelong, forming the easternmost part of the Greater Geelong region. It juts out into the Bass Strait, forming the southwestern shoreline of Port Phillip Bay.

This geographical positioning offers the peninsula a coastline with a mix of serene bayside beaches and rugged ocean shores and a truly breathtaking destination. It’s a popular destination for its natural beauty and wildlife, excellent wineries, historical attractions and fresh local produce.

 Bellarine Peninsula map

Accessible via road from Melbourne through Geelong or by ferry across Port Phillip Bay from the Mornington Peninsula, the Bellarine Peninsula serves as a popular holiday destination, known for its charming coastal towns, agricultural estates, and natural beauty. Its location makes it a scenic and convenient escape for those looking to explore Victoria’s diverse coastal landscapes.

Towns to Visit in the Bellarine Peninsula

The Bellarine Peninsula is dotted with quaint towns and seaside villages, each offering its unique charm and attractions.

Queenscliff

Famous for its grand Victorian-era hotels, opulent buildings, and well-preserved 19th-century streetscapes, Queenscliff bears a resemblance to a traditional British seaside resort and offers a glimpse into Australia’s colonial past. The town is also known for the Queenscliff Fort, a significant military installation with guided tours that delve into Australia’s defence history.

The Queenscliff Harbour provides a modern contrast, offering fine dining, boutique shopping, and boat tours. Additionally, the town serves as one terminal of the Queenscliff-Sorrento car ferry, making it a pivotal point for exploring both sides of Port Phillip Bay.

Point Lonsdale

A serene counterpart to the historic Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale is famed for its lighthouse, standing as a sentinel over the treacherous waters of The Rip, the narrow entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The Point Lonsdale Lighthouse offers guided tours, providing breathtaking views and photo opportunities.

point Lonsdale

The town’s beaches range from the calm, family-friendly front beach to the wilder back beach, loved by surfers and photographers alike. Point Lonsdale’s tranquil streets are perfect for leisurely walks, dotted with cafes and boutiques that embody the town’s laid-back coastal vibe.

Ocean Grove

Ocean Grove is a vibrant town that combines the appeal of a bustling community with the tranquillity of a seaside retreat. Its main attraction is the wide, surf-laden Ocean Grove Beach, which draws surfers and sun-seekers from across the Bellarine region. The town centre is alive with shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering an array of dining and shopping options.

For nature lovers, the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve presents an opportunity to explore native bushland and wildlife. The annual Ocean Grove Summer Carnival brings the town to life with rides, games, and food stalls, making it a highlight for families during the holiday season.

Barwon Heads

This picturesque village has gained fame for its starring role in the television series SeaChange. Barwon Heads are centred around the Barwon River, with beautiful estuaries and beaches that are perfect for water sports, fishing, and leisurely walks. The town boasts an artistic flair, with galleries, boutiques, and cafes lining its streets.

barwon heads

The Barwon Heads Golf Club is a draw for golf enthusiasts, offering one of the most scenic courses in the region. The walking bridge over the Barwon River provides stunning views and connects Barwon Heads with the neighbouring Ocean Grove, making it a favourite spot for an evening stroll.

Portarlington

Portarlington captures the essence of a quiet coastal town with its historic pier, gentle beaches, and unspoiled beauty. It’s renowned for its vibrant mussel industry, with the Portarlington Mussel Festival celebrating this local delicacy every January. The town’s heritage is reflected in its architecture, with numerous historic buildings like the distinctive Portarlington Mill.

The waterfront is the heart of the town, where visitors enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, fresh seafood, and stunning views of Melbourne across the bay. The Portarlington to Docklands ferry service provides a direct link to Melbourne, making the town an easy escape from the city.

Top Things to Do on the Bellarine Peninsula

The Bellarine Peninsula reveals a treasure trove of activities that cater to every interest, from the famous Bellarine Taste Trail to beach outings, cultural discoveries and outdoor adventures.

Go on a Historical Railway Dining Experience

The Drysdale rail resturant is a unique experience where guests travel along the Bellarine Railway between Drysdale and Queenscliff on The Q Train. This journey features a degustation of local food and drinks, allowing passengers to savor the beauty of the Bellarine Peninsula while enjoying the comforts of a restored heritage train.

q train drysdale

Highlights include scenic views, a relaxed atmosphere, and a selection of local wines, beers, and ciders. The experience lasts approximately 3 hours and is praised for its quality of service and food. For more details, you can visit their website here.

Go on the Bellarine Taste Trail

The Bellarine Taste Trail is a self-guided tour that takes food enthusiasts on a journey through the region’s most delicious and iconic food and drink destinations.

Jack Rabbit Vineyard 

Nestled atop a hill, Jack Rabbit Vineyard not only offers a selection of premium wines, including its acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also panoramic views of Corio Bay and the Melbourne skyline. The Jack Rabbit restaurant and café provide a gastronomic experience that complements the wine tasting.

Scotchmans Hill

Established in 1982, Scotchmans Hill is among the oldest and most acclaimed wineries on the Bellarine Peninsula. Known for its sophisticated cool-climate wines, the winery offers tastings in a cellar door set within a French provincial-style farmhouse, surrounded by picturesque vineyards.

Jack Rabbit Winery - Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Terindah Estate

As one of the Bellarine Peninsula’s most picturesque wineries, Terindah Estate combines wine, food, and art in a stunning coastal setting. Wine tastings are paired with seasonal dishes in the estate’s restaurant, where the floor-to-ceiling windows offer unobstructed views of the vineyard and Port Phillip Bay.

Flying Brick Cider House

Celebrated for its naturally crafted ciders, Flying Brick offers a modern twist on the traditional cider house. Visitors can sample a range of ciders, learn about the cider-making process, and enjoy contemporary Australian cuisine in the venue’s lively atmosphere.

Merne at Lighthouse

Offering panoramic views across the Bellarine Peninsula, Merne presents a seasonal menu that highlights the region’s produce in a series of grazing dishes designed to share.

Queenscliff Brewhouse

This destination for craft beer enthusiasts showcases an impressive selection of local and regional beers, along with fine wines and spirits. The Queenscliff Brewhouse has been rated the number one resturant in Queenscliff but also features a tasting room where visitors can sample the brews and learn about the brewing process from knowledgeable staff.

craft beer samples

The Bellarine Distillery

The Bellarine Distillery, otherwise known as The Whiskery, is renowned for its handcrafted gin. Visitors can tour the distillery, sample its spirits, including the signature Teddy & The Fox gin, and relax in the rustic setting of the tasting room or the outdoor garden.

Cafe Zoo

A favourite among locals for breakfast and lunch, Cafe Zoo in Drysdale offers a cosy atmosphere with a focus on fresh, local ingredients and friendly service.

Ket Baker

Known for its French-inspired pastries and bread, Ket Baker in Ocean Grove is a must-visit for those with a sweet tooth, offering croissants, baguettes, and sweet treats made with traditional techniques.

Mr Grubb @ Oakdene

Nestled within the Oakdene Vineyards, Mr Grubb offers casual dining with an emphasis on local produce and wines from the estate. The whimsical garden and quirky art installations create a unique dining atmosphere.

Vineyard - Bellarine Peninsula

Tuckerberry Hill Farm

For a truly local experience, Tuckerberry Hill offers pick-your-own berries, a café serving homemade delights, and a scenic spot to enjoy the rural setting of the peninsula.

Enjoy a Guided Winery Tour

If you don’t want to drink yourself, or do the planning you can take a guided winery tour through the region. For a classic tour through the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas, check out this tour. Participants can enjoy experiences like winery lunches with scenic vineyard views, cellar door wine and craft beer tastings, and the panoramic coastal scenery from Arthurs Seat Lookout.

For something alittle different, try a memorable American BBQ platter lunch with wine at Bellarine Winery Estate. This family-run vineyard, founded by Peter and Lizette Kenny, offers a dining experience that features house-made and house-cured meats with sides of seasonal local produce. Each guest is served a glass of wine from the Bellarine Estate range, known for its cool climate wines and visitors can even try a tipple of gin from the Thirty Acres Distillery Range.

Visit the Beaches

The Bellarine Peninsula offers a variety of pristine ocean beaches for sunseekers and watersports lovers. Check out these top beaches in the area.

Queenscliff Beach

This beach offers safe, sandy shores that are ideal for relaxing, swimming, and enjoying picnics. The wide, tree-lined foreshore reserves are equipped with excellent picnic, barbecue, and play facilities, making it a perfect spot for outings.

Ocean Grove Main Beach

A favourite among families, this beach is patrolled by lifeguards in the summer, ensuring a safe swimming environment. Its expansive sandy shoreline is ideal for sunbathing, beach games, and picnics, with nearby cafes and shops providing refreshments and beach gear.

13th Beach

Spanning several kilometres, 13th Beach is a haven for surfers, with consistently good surf conditions. The beach is also popular for walking and fishing, offering a more secluded experience compared to the peninsula’s busier beaches.

Lonsdale Front Beach

Situated in the heart of Point Lonsdale village, Front Beach is a picturesque and family-friendly beach that’s perfect for young children and those learning to surf. The beach, known for its tranquil atmosphere, is located adjacent to a strip of shops and cafes, making it convenient for visitors to access amenities.

lonsdale beach

Indented Head and St Leonards

Located next to each other on Port Phillip Bay, these beaches are known for its safe swimming conditions and relaxed envirnoment. The area is complemented by picnic and camping spots within the foreshore reserve, allowing visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Raffs Beach in Barwon Heads

Ideal for a tranquil beach day, Raffs Beach offers clear waters and soft sand, with rock pools at low tide that fascinate children and adults alike. Its quieter atmosphere makes it perfect for those looking to escape the crowds.

Go on a Wildlife Sightseeing Tour

The Queenscliff Harbour Wildlife Sightseeing Tour is a 1.5-hour journey on the historical vessel Maureen M, where participants can observe the diverse wildlife of Port Phillip Bay. Highlights include seeing Australian Fur seals, Burrunan dolphins, various bird species, and possibly Humpback whales during winter.

The tour is made even better by the knowledgeable crew members who share insights about local wildlife and the region’s history. The package includes light refreshments, drinks, and marine park access fees. The tour also supports environmental conservation through a levy.

Galleries, Museums, and Markets

The Bellarine Peninsula boasts a rich history, vibrant arts scene, and community spirit, and hosts a variety of cultural attractions and activities that reflect the region’s cultural diversity and heritage. 

Queenscliffe Maritime Museum

Situated in the historic town of Queenscliff, this museum celebrates the area’s rich maritime heritage, including its role in early Australian settlement, fishing, and sea rescue operations. The museum houses an extensive collection of maritime artefacts, models, and photographs.

Queenscliff at Dusk in Victoria Australia

Ocean Grove Market

Held at the Ocean Grove Park, this market is a bustling hub of local produce, crafts, and food. Visitors can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade jewellery, clothing, and artisanal products. It’s a great place to interact with local producers and artists.

Portarlington Market

Located near the waterfront, the Portarlington Market offers a variety of goods, including local produce, gourmet foods, crafts, and plants. The market’s picturesque setting makes it a pleasant outing for families and food enthusiasts eager to sample local delicacies like the famous Portarlington mussels.

Visit the Aboriginal Culture Center in Grovedale

The Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Grovedale, near the Bellarine Peninsula, educates visitors about Aboriginal traditions, history, and connection to the land, offering a unique and immersive experience. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore authentic Aboriginal art, participate in cultural demonstrations like didgeridoo performances and boomerang throwing, and learn about bush tucker.

didgeridoo performances

Visit Adventure Park

Adventure Park on the Bellarine Peninsula stands as one of Victoria’s largest theme park, blending water-based thrills with dry attractions to offer a diverse day out for families, groups, and individuals alike. The park boasts an extensive range of water slides, including the adrenaline-pumping Tsunami Waterslide and the family-friendly Tiny Tots Splashzone, alongside dry attractions like the Ferris Wheel and Crazy Coaster.

With facilities such as an 18-hole mini-golf course, an archery range, and a variety of dining options, Adventure Park caters to all tastes and ages. The park is open seasonally, with tickets available online.

Try Skydiving over the Bellarine Peninsula

Try something new. Go on an exhilarating tandem skydive from up to 15,000 feet, providing a unique view of Victoria’s coastline, including Barwon Heads, Torquay, Bells Beach, and Geelong. Participants experience a 60-second freefall at over 200km/hr before gliding under canopy for 5-7 minutes. The activity, lasting 3-6 hours, includes professional training and is led by an experienced skydiving crew, ensuring safety and an unforgettable adventure. For more details, you can visit here.

Go Diving

Bellarine Peninsula has many diverse dive sites including the ex-HMAS Canberra wreck, now an artificial reef teeming with marine life. The region also features historical shipwrecks like the J-Class submarines near Queenscliff and vibrant reef ecosystems at spots like Lonsdale Wall and Cottage by the Sea Reef. These sites provide divers with a mix of ecological diversity and historical exploration. Want to learn more? We recommend reaching out to Bay City Charters here.

diving

Visit Swan Bay

Swan Bay, a shallow, 30-square-kilometre marine embayment on the southern coast of the peninsula, is a must-visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts exploring the Bellarine Peninsula. As a Ramsar-listed wetland, it boasts an exceptional diversity of marine and bird life, making it an ideal spot for birdwatching, especially for those interested in migratory species.

The bay’s calm waters are also perfect for kayaking and sailing, offering a peaceful way to explore its extensive seagrass meadows and salt marshes. The surrounding areas provide scenic walking and cycling paths, with interpretive signage to enhance your understanding of the bay’s ecological importance.

Go on a Day Trip from Melbourne

The best way to visit the Bellarine Peninsula is by car since public transport is limited (althought possible). You can take the train from Melbourne to Geelong and then transferring to a bus that services various towns across the peninsula. For a longer but more scenic route, the Queenscliff-Sorrento car ferry connects the Mornington Peninsula with Queenscliff, offering breathtaking views of Port Phillip Bay during the crossing.

Queenscliff at Dusk in Victoria Australia

Reaching the Bellarine Peninsula by car is straightforward, with various transport options available. From Melbourne, you can drive via the West Gate and Princes Freeways, followed by the Geelong Ring Road, which leads directly to the Peninsula. This journey typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic conditions. 

You can rent a car from Geelong or Melbourne if you don’t have your own, and search the best deals by searching on Discover Cars. It’s the car rental website we always recommend to friends and family when they visit the area. It compares top rental brands and helps you find the best option.

Alternatively you can take a day trip from Melbourne. This guided day trip beautifully combines natural landscapes, cultural insights, and culinary experiences. You’ll be picked up in Melbourne and your first stop will be a walk along the picturesque Geelong Waterfront, where you can soak in the ocean views and fresh sea air. A visit to the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre is included, offering an opportunity to delve into Aboriginal culture through art and artifacts, as well as a unique experience of hand-feeding local emus and wallabies.

pt lonsdale

One of the highlights of the tour is the regional produce picnic lunch enjoyed during a relaxing 2-hour ferry ride with great views. Additionally, there’s an opportunity to walk through an orchard and pick fresh fruit at Tuckerberry Hill. The Point Lonsdale Lighthouse is also a stop on the tour, providing stunning ocean views. This experience blends nature, culture, and culinary delights, making it an enriching and enjoyable excursion from Melbourne.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway from Melbourne or a long relaxing holiday, the Bellarine Peninsula offers the perfect blend of stunning nature, incredible food, lots to do and see, and of course, lots of relaxation. It ticks all the ‘perfect holiday’ boxes.


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