Touring the Top Places to See in Geelong
Flanked by the Corio Bay and Barwon River is the second-largest city in Victoria, Geelong. This port city was named in 1872 after the Wathaurong Aboriginal name for the area “Djillong”, which roughly translates to “cliffs”, “tongue of land”, or “peninsula”. It was proclaimed a city in 1910 and saw a growth in population. The following decades saw a decline in the manufacturing industry but redevelopment in the 1990s gave the city more life. Today it is a buzzing area with improvement in other sectors. Geelong is now an emerging centre for education and health. Tourism is one of the sectors that is bringing life into the city. The surrounding coastline and the countryside offer a lot of attractions for visitors who are looking for vacation spots for relaxation, leisure, and enjoyment. The top places to see in Geelong are perfect for the whole family.
1. Geelong Waterfront
If you are looking for a place where you can simply unwind, relax, and just have an enjoyable day, head to one of the area’s main highlights, Geelong Waterfront. What was once a simple port in the 1800s is now a vibrant hub that combines beautiful gardens with public attractions that are full of family-friendly activities focusing on education and tourism. Overlooking the amazing view of the Corio Bay are restaurants and cafes serving a variety of cuisines that will surely satisfy your palate. You can choose to have fun at Eastern Beach and relax amidst the art deco style of the resort. The swimming enclosure is a popular area for families as children can enjoy the facilities there. The diving platforms and towers are favourite spots of those who like a little excitement in their swimming activities. There are also other places to see in the Waterfront like the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, The Bouys, and the art sculpture Noah. As these are all just a few feet away from Cunningham Pier, you can enjoy the ocean view while resting at one of the restaurants in the area.
2. Geelong Botanic Gardens
Outside the central business district within the Eastern Park is Geelong Botanic Gardens. It was established in 1851 and is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Australia. The Botanic Gardens is a popular place to visit in Geelong because of its large collection of flora. Plants from different parts of the world can be seen in the Botanic Gardens. Because of this, there are also different water requirements that the Gardens meets. This Victorian Heritage site is also home to some of the city’s original heritage treasures, such as the statue of Queen Victoria and the Ladies Kiosk. The Garden is also the new home of what was previously the Market Square’s and Cabman’s Shelter’s fountains. The Geelong Botanic Gardens will undoubtedly relax the mind and the spirit of anyone who wants to reconnect with nature.
3. Balyang Sanctuary
What has once considered a rather unattractive piece of the swamp is now one of the most popular tourist spots in Geelong. Years of industrialization and onset of the manufacturing industry rendered the area unpleasant even for local residents. Rejuvenation projects were taken by the city and soon, the area was given back to the people as park and picnic place. Now Balyang Sanctuary is a waterbird haven, with pelicans, Pacific black duck, pied cormorant, Eurasian coot, geese, and swans calling the Sanctuary their home. Families troop to the Balyang Sanctuary that has become a popular picnic place, the unspoiled area giving you the chance to run around, cycle, or simply relax in the beautiful view that it gives.
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4. Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Giving ode to the traditional custodians and original inhabitants of the land is the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Take a glimpse into the culture of the Wathaurung people as you enjoy the artworks, songlines, and cultural artifacts found in the Center. The award-winning Aboriginal centre is home to an Art Gallery that features work from both new and established Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists. The Gallery holds Victoria’s biggest collection of Aboriginal art and the experience is heightened by the activities around the Center, such as didgeridoo performances, the boomerang-throwing gallery, a café that offers delicious dishes prepared with indigenous ingredients, and the native gardens where you can even meet kangaroos, wallabies, and emus.
5. The Carousel
Another popular attraction in Geelong is The Carousel. It was built in 1892 and each of the 36 hand-crafted horses and two chariots was carefully restored to reveal its original colour. A ride in the Carousel will be like getting back a little in time, as it is rich in history and has just been restored recently. Located beside the Steampacket Gardens, the Geelong Carousel is now housed in an enclosure with large glass windows. The inner child in you will be happy when you ride the Carousel as you take on the beautiful view of the waters and the calming music from a band organ that gives off a carnival atmosphere to the place. The enchanting Carousel is one of only 200 in the world that is still in operation, making a ride here a once-in-a-lifestyle experience.
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6. Little Creatures Brewery
Walking around the different establishments in Geelong might make you thirsty. What is the best way to quench your thirst? None other than Geelong’s very own Furphy beer from Little Creatures Brewery! The Brewery is a bar that will definitely be enjoyed by the whole family. It opened in 2011 as a great addition to the Geelong community. The food is heavenly, the atmosphere cozy, and the beer very unique to the place. Little Creatures Brewery is the best place to try the Furphy. This is a refreshing ale originally only available in Geelong but is quickly becoming the favourite beer brand in Victoria.
7. Johnstone Park
Along the western edge of the town is an enthralling place that is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a relaxing stroll and a calm setting. Johnstone Park is one of the top places to see in Geelong as it has been there since the late 1800s. It was once a swamp that was converted into a dam. Renovations started in 1872 to turn it into a park. The beautifully landscaped parks are a sight to behold at any time of the day. As it is surrounded by the Geelong Gallery, Regional Gallery, and the Peace Memorial. There are several festivals that are held at Johnstone Park throughout the year, including the White Night Festival and the Nightjar market. It is also becoming a popular shopping spot because of the stalls and boutiques around the area.
8. Cartel Coffee Roasters
There are many food establishments and cafes in the Geelong area but what sets Cartel Coffee Roasters apart is its commitment to traceability of the coffee from farm to cup. The owner of Cartel has travelled to many places like Africa and Ethiopia to study coffee and has brought his learnings to Australia. Cartel not only boasts of home blends that are made from single-origin beans, but also an educational centre where coffee enthusiasts can learn more about the intricate art of coffee-making. There are daily masterclasses and tastings where customers will appreciate the traceability and transparency of Cartel Coffee Roasters as they share stories on how they prepare coffee from crop to cup.
9. You Yangs National Park
YouYangs National Park is a popular destination for people who are looking for a bit of adventure when visiting Geelong. The name, coming from the Aboriginal Wathauraong people, translates to “big mountain in the middle of the plain”, and You Yangs is exactly that. The series of granite ridges rising across the vast plains are perfect for those who want to mountain bike or hike. You will be rewarded with an awesome view of the Corio Bay and Avalon Beach especially when you go up Flinders Peak, the highest point of the ridges in the National Park. Apart from hiking and biking, You Yangs is also perfect for abseiling, horse riding, bushwalking, and picnics. Kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies may also roam the area so keep your eyes open for them. This is the perfect place for those who are looking for physical activities to do during their vacation.
10. Queens Park
This picturesque reserve on the banks of Barwon River is the perfect place for the whole family. Queens Park has everything that you might look for in a vacation. There are sports areas like a netball court, cricket nets, and ovals for hard and turf wicket. There is a golf course where you can play some rounds as well as a pavilion where even our furry friends can run in supervised areas unleashed. The regional playground will surely be a hit with children, with unique facilities that feature rope climbing and even a treehouse! The whole family will surely enjoy having a picnic at Queens Park, with electric barbecue facilities so you can treat yourselves to a delicious grilled meal.
Geelong has come a long way from being a swampland to being a manufacturing site, to becoming the buzzing and vibrant town that it is today. There are many attractions that entice tourists and locals alike. The top places to see in Geelong are perfect for individuals who want to relax, for couples who want to deepen their relationship or celebrate special occasions, and for families who want to bond over activities ranging from swimming to playing to dining. The beach city is the ideal place to spend a weekend or a week-long vacation, indulging in the beautiful weather and picturesque scenery.