Road trips are good in theory, but not so much when you’re going in the wrong direction, your phone is on two percent and you’ve been out of car snacks for the last ten minutes.
Luckily for you, Geelong and The Bellarine is only a little over an hour away from Melbourne, meaning you’ll be there before you’ve finished scrolling through Instagram (you lucky passenger, you).
A hub of finger-licking foodie finds, local wines, water sports and distinctive shopping, here are all the reasons to book a weekend staycation on The Bellarine. You bloody deserve it.
#1 You Can Start The Weekend Right
If you’ve spent your last three weekends in a food-filled, Netflix-binging haze, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But yoga-nna be grateful for the opportunity to shake off a month’s worth of stress and start the weekend fresh-faced and bushy tailed
Barwon Heads Yoga hosts classes alongside the luminous, shallow Barwon River. A seamless blend of meditation and traditional yoga, classes run at 8am every morning.
#2 You Can Get Active, Without Torturous Exercise
Seasoned surfers will love one of Victoria’s most popular surfing beaches. If you’re a beginner surfer, Ocean Grove Main Beach usually provides ideal conditions for a flailing good time. Go Ride A Wave provides private and group surfing lessons, which is an excellent place to start.
If you’re more of a land-human, you’ll be in trustworthy hands with Paddle Life Barwon Heads. A family-run business run by wife and husband duo Mick and Kate, the pair are elite kayakers and have represented Australia at the world championships. They (probably) won’t laugh when you fall into the river. Try stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or surf skiing.
#3 You Can Eat Your Weight In Pies & Brunch
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at Annie’s Provedore. The vintage cafe / produce store is lined from top to toes with local brands, treats, spreads and sauces. From baskets stuffed with homemade sweets to free range eggs, and house-made chocolate pretzels to peanut butter, help yourself to a basket near the front. You’re going to fill it up.
Once you’ve shopped and dropped, Annie’s Provedore offers decadent brunch plates including the green eggs & ham with smoked ham hock, poached free range eggs, smashed peas, grilled brioche and hollandaise. Glass cabinets lined with house baked pies, pasties and salads also won’t last long—so you better take some to go, just in case?
#4 Dry Off While You Shop And Prepare To Overspend
Vintage shops in and around The Bellarine are giving Melbourne’s boutiques a run for their (your) money. Endearingly mismatched, start with local favourite Kiitos. A renovated old gas station, browse through ethically-made, Scandinavian and Greek designed items including fashion, homewares and jewellery. The one-of-a-kind Kiitos brand is also on show.
In Ocean Grove, KYO is an old-fashioned, vintage treasure. An enormous, multi-faceted warehouse, find everything from garden statues and cookery to $10 kimonos and vases.
#5 A Local Wineshop That Puts Our Bottle-O To Shame
With a wine range that encompasses bottles from $10 up to $400, you’re unlikely to leave the Barwon Heads Wine Store without a few cheeky bottles. A fully independent local store, every bottle, spirit and beer is curated by the team. There’s a heavy focus on unique, small batch producers, along with a dedicated “local wines” wall (yes, make a beeline here).
#6 A Hidden Art Gallery…Yes, Seriously
Established over 15 years ago, The Hive Gallery & Wildlife Sculptures isn’t exactly what you’d expect in the middle of an industrial street. Spanning two floors, the top level acts as a showcase for local artists. Featured artworks will rotate every week or so to keep the gallery fresh. Don’t forget to say hi to the blue-tongue lizard and snail (sculpture) on your way out.
#7 Luxe Accommodation For Design Nerds
If you’re bringing the whole crew along for the weekend of your life (…or the extended family), there’s no shortage of accommodation. Great Ocean Stays offers a huge range of design-savvy homes, all of which are fitted with mobility aides. We’ll shotgun the pink bedroom.
The best bit? If you stay long enough (and why wouldn't you?!), you’ll get a complementary, Insta-worthy Food Purveyor hamper. Think salty-sweet chocolate covered pretzels, local raspberry sauce and hot chocolate pops...in BED.
#8 Dinner You’ll Die For
Along with a cafe, luxury restaurant and cellar door housed in an upside down house, Oakdene is home to a boutique vineyard, because the team are obviously extreme overachievers. Come along to sample varieties which champion the region including chardonnay, shiraz and sauvignon blanc at the cellar door. Afterwards, you can toddle into Marty @ Oakdene for modern Australian cuisine with touches of European influence.
For sweet tooth lovers, make sure to save room for the Dessert Plate with a little bit of everything naughty and nice.
#9 All Those #Insta Views
AM brunch spots are anything but sparse. A local favourite, The Dunes is nestled into the edge of Ocean Grove and overlooks a picturesque ocean. Frequented by fluffy four-legged creatures as often as caffeine-deprived locals, order yourself a generous helping of fluffy pancakes or acai bowl for the ideal start to the day.
Image credit: Michelle Jarni for The Urban List
Editor's note: This article is proudly sponsored by Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.