Geelong, Victoria, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights

THE ONE MUSEUM

Here's a good start, for once there was a view that Geelong only started thanks to gold and wool. During COVID-19, the National Wool Museum had a makeover of its major exhibits and now traces the people of the pastures that so enriched Victoria's second city all the way back to the Wathaurong, who first inhabited the coast and country in these parts. They knew it as djilong, meaning "tongue of land". The museum is in an old wool store in the CBD and has sprawling exhibition spaces, one of them hosting (until May 2) the UK Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year. See geelongaustralia.com.au

THE ONE EXHIBITION

tra2-geelong
Geelong guide for Traveller, April 2021
Rone, pictured with one of his installations
Photo by Peter Tarasiuk

Photo: Peter Tarasiuk

Rone (Tyrone Wright, above) got to know his home town on a skateboard - the street sport of the street artist. He's returned with an exhibition of his huge, ethereal, stop-you-in-your-tracks paintings and installations at the Geelong Gallery. There's also an explanation of the three faces he painted on the cement silos above nearby Fyansford. The silos have since been demolished, but that's the fate of some street art. Rone in Geelong runs until May 16. See geelonggallery.org.au

THE ONE CAFE

For coffee and service of the kind urban Victorians have come to expect, make your way to Poco Cafe Expres in Geelong West (111 Pakington Street) and put yourself in the hands of Talya and Jared Cooper. They serve coffee in all its complexities along with cakes, pastries and focaccias. On Friday afternoon the ice buckets emerge for aperitivo with drinks and tapas-style food served until 8pm or 9pm. See facebook.com/pococafeexpres

THE ONE ITALIAN

Little Malop Street, in the heart of the CBD, has the kind of buzz Geelong used to reserve for the days its AFL team had a win. Of the many options on Little Malop, the Continental restaurant shines, with white tablecloths and a bar of temptations. The Italian-influenced menu is long on ingredients fresh and local - figs with Drysdale goats curd and hazelnuts perhaps. The Tiramisu is outrageously good, sweet and tart with that dry hit of cocoa powder on top and a crunchy praline surprise down below. Stay for a drink or slip across the street to the smart new Arborist. See facebook.com/thecontinentalgeelong

THE ONE WINERY

Wine Victoria 2019
tra2-geelong
Geelong guide for Traveller, April 2021
From Visit Victoria,
Provenance Wines, Geelong
Sam Vogel (left) and Scott Ireland

Back in the 1870s they built the paper mills above the Barwon River at Fyansford for the water to drive the machinery. The mills are long gone but the complex has been revived and is now a village of art and design studios and outlets and the wine and winery of Provenance, founded by Scott Ireland and Sam Vogel. They use grapes sourced from their own vineyards and others' across Victoria and offer tastings with snacks matched from the restaurant that also serves lunch (Fri-Sun) and dinner (Fri and Sat) and as you sip and swirl, you can watch the wine being made through the windows. See provenancewines.com.au

THE ONE DISTILLERY

While the paper was being milled by the river, in North Geelong the wool mills were being built down by the bay for transport by rail and ship. The sprawling old Federal Woollen mills site has come back to life as low-rise professional offices, studios and Anther distillery, the creation of Dervilla McGowan and Sebastian Reaburn. Their specialty is gin and they make it under the influence of various botanicals for their own subtle flavours. All is revealed at their gin tastings (Saturday and Sunday). There's also a bar and cellar door sales. See anther.com.au

THE ONE EAST FEAST

Baah Lah! in Geelong West (1/100 Pakington Street) brings some of the Singaporean background of its chef and owner Brian Anderson to Geelong, with a focus on fresh and local ingredients and some from the family farm in the state's north. He's inventive and creative - try fingers of eggplant in a yellow curry sauce, slurpy dumplings, Sichuan egg tofu or classics like a charcoal-roasted pork char siew. A dessert of urban-foraged plums was sublime. See baahlahdining.com

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THE ONE STAY

R Hotel Geelong, which opened in March, is an apartment hotel just a couple of blocks back from Eastern Beach on the edge of the CBD. It has hotel rooms and one and two-bedroom apartments built behind the facade of a heritage building that originally housed the Belle-Vue Hotel. Some of the R Hotel's apartments have bay views, some park views and some are dog-friendly. All the city's shops, cafes and restaurants are a stroll away and there's a cafe on site. Rooms from $199. See rhotelgeelong.com.au

THE ONE BRUNCH

It could be breakfast, lunch or brunch at the Beach House, right in front of the heritage bay pools of Eastern Beach. If the sun's out, grab a table outside under the shade of a beach umbrella, or head inside and dine in space and comfort. Standout dishes are Eggs Royale with salmon and hollandaise or Spicy Crab Scramble which is just that - scrambled eggs with chilli paste and crab meat. There's a kiosk at the side for fish and chips, burgers and smoothies. The coffee's good on either side. See thebeachhousegeelong.com.au

ONE MORE THING

This is a wonderful city for walking, with trails meandering along the Barwon River or beside Corio Bay. If you're strolling past Eastern Beach, keep going and head up the hill past the pools and the Stork Fountain and through Eastern Park to the Geelong Botanic Gardens, often calm and quiet and the best park in town. See geelongaustralia.com.au

The writer was a guest of Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine, see visitgeelongbellarine.com.au

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