Geelong: Melbourne’s little sibling grows up

Victoria’s largest regional city is transforming old industrial zones into attractive public spaces and enticing eateries.

Geelong is sometimes unfairly portrayed as a backwater by Melburnians, but the city has been transformed into a terrific place to play while honouring its industrial past. A picturesque waterfront, delightful sea baths and heaps of history are among the attractions.

The city’s past as a wool exporter is evident in the large number of historic bluestone warehouses, many of which have been converted into fashionable restaurants and shops. So don’t drive by on your way from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road — stay and enjoy the new Geelong.

The Geelong Waterfront

Step back in time

The National Wool Museum is a fascinating glimpse into the influence of the Australian wool industry on Geelong’s economic and social development. The industry even shaped the way Geelong looks today — many of the buildings in town are former woolstores. Kids are sure to be mesmerised by the massive 1910 carpet loom that operates on weekends.

For further insight into Geelong’s history, visit the Old Geelong Gaol, dating from 1849. An accompanying audio guide describes life in the prison, including stories of famous former inmates such as Chopper Read. It’s eerie wandering through the cells, watchtowers and gallows, and even spookier on one of the night-time ghost tours.

Speaking of history, go back much further in time at the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The centre is surrounded by native trees and an indigenous garden, and offers free entry. You can watch a didgeridoo performance, view Aboriginal art, and purchase indigenous books and music in the gift shop.

Get some fresh air

The Geelong Botanical Gardens date to 1851. Wander through the beautiful collection of rare and old trees, along with a contemporary garden with indigenous plants from across Australia.

Geelong's Carousel Pavilion, housing a steam carousel from 1832.

Once part of the industrial port, the Geelong Waterfront was redeveloped in the 1990s and is now a charming place for a stroll or a scenic meal. Sculptures, playgrounds, and grassy spots make for the perfect picnic setting. Don’t miss the Carousel Pavilion, housing a steam carousel from 1832.

Take a dip at Eastern Beach, a sandy beach with an art deco style enclosed sea bath.

If it’s warm, take a dip at Eastern Beach, a sandy beach with art deco-style enclosed sea baths. Perfect for kids, the sea baths have several floating islands, diving boards and a toddler pool.

Enjoy a stop in Geelong as part of a nine-night Southern Australian Cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines from $1780pp twin share. Visit RACQ Travel or contact one of our friendly travel consultants on 1300 096 166.

Image credits include: City of Greater Geelong.