The Quickest Guide to the Towns of The Bellarine
By Natalie Richards
Join us on a whirlwind tour of the must see towns and activities on The Bellarine.
Ready? Let’s go…
Barwon Heads is where the river meets the sea. Situated in a dream location, with a mix of gentle estuary, rocky coastal headland and broad ocean beaches. The iconic Barwon Heads bridge spans the Barwon River and extends into the town; providing visitors with a gentle and picturesque walk and/or prime fishing spot. Hitchcock Avenue is the main drag and is lined with leafy trees and dotted with boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
A must do in Barwon Heads is to experience the town in its entirety by taking to the river on a SUP (stand up paddle board). Hire a SUP for a couple of hours, a couple of days or even a week through WSUP. Prime conditions can be generally assured at Barwon Heads due to its large protected banks. A view like no other, take to the water, paddle under the bridge and see the breathtaking bluff right in front of your board.
As you walk through the main street of the surfside village of Ocean Grove, there's no shortage of restaurants, cafes and specialty shops. As you reach the rise of the hill, there's no shortage of spectacular views. Look to the east and take in Point Lonsdale’s iconic lighthouse, look to the west and take in the rugged outcrop of Barwon Head’s Bluff and up front you've got Ocean Grove’s main beach, an aquatic wonderland for children and adults alike.
Ocean Grove means surfing is a must do, of course! With gently rolling waves, Ocean Grove Beach is the ideal destination to learn to surf. So book yourself in for that long awaited lesson at Go Ride a Wave - they offer up daily, beginner surfing lessons for groups and/or individuals.
Drysdale, in the centre of The Bellarine, gives this charming town a distinct advantage; easy access to all the wonders and delights of The Bellarine. Beaches, bays, wineries and olive groves are all easily accessible from this community. The town itself is surrounded by lush farmland, while the centre boasts quaint country charm and is home to three historical churches. Drysdale is a true gem of The Bellarine.
The must do of Drysdale comes down to a choice; rail or trail? Choose between taking an adventurous ride on a vintage steam train between Drysdale and Queenscliff, OR mount your bike and take to the trail that runs alongside the track. Whichever travel method you opt for, you'll be soaking up some luscious Drysdale countryside.
The views that stretch across from Portarlington are nothing short of spectacular. Not only can you see across to the You Yangs, but on a clear day you can also see the Melbourne skyline. Famous for its sweet blue mussels, Portarlington is recognised around Australia for these fresh seafood morsels. There's plenty more on the menu though! Portarlington is a foodies dream. Goats cheese farm, olive orchards, wineries, hydroponic vegetables and berries are all within 15 minutes of the township.
The must do of Portarlington, the renowned and ever-so-tasty Mussel Festival. This annual event is host to food and drink stalls, market stalls, talented local musicians, roving entertainers, art shows, cooking demonstrations and local beer and wine tastings. This once-a-year event gives festivalgoers a true taste of Portarlington. Put it in your calendars people!
Situated on a rocky outcrop, Point Lonsdale is at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The lighthouse dominates the sky, and the main street accommodates cafes and restaurants that look across the grassy foreshore, extending down to the front beach. Walking and cycle tracks stretch along the foreshore as does a fantastic wooden adventure playground.
The must do of Point Lonsdale is exploration of the lighthouse and its surrounding rocky headland. Take a tour of the iconic lighthouse (est. in 1902), and enjoy the rugged ocean panorama. Then wander the walking tracks that extend down to the headland below, kids can spend hours clambering along the rocks, stopping to investigate the rockpools and discovering the marine flora and fauna.
Queenscliff offers a 19th century feel with 21st century taste. Historic hotels, momentous public buildings, fishermen cottages, a defence post and spectacular old-fashioned mansions can be found within this township. Scattered throughout - and even within - these historic structures you can experience the tastes of The Bellarine, with local food and produce served up for your dining pleasure. All this surrounded by water on three sides.
The must do of Queenscliff is The Queenscliff Harbour. Spend some time meandering through the shops, cafes and restaurants. Soak up the unique 360-degree view from the 42-metre observation tower. You can see right across the bay, the heads and the Bellarine & Mornington peninsulas. Or for more of a hands-on experience, take to the seas on a maritime adventure; dolphin swims, fishing charters and angling adventures are all available at this gateway to the sea.