White sandy beaches, rolling vineyards, historic villages and a proud progressive city – it’s easy to see why the Bellarine Peninsula is so avidly championed by locals and visitors alike.
Traditionally the land of the Indigenous Wathaurong people, the Bellarine Peninsula can claim to be the birthplace of the state of Victoria, as it was here, in the quiet waters of Indented Head that Melbourne’s founder, John Batman first set up a camp, having arrived from Van Diemen’s Land.
From the earliest days of the colony, the area was recognised for its fine fishing, sheltered bays and excellent agricultural potential. While the city of Melbourne grew, interest in the relaxing combination of green pastures, inviting coastlines and secluded ambience led to the Bellarine’s immense appeal. And despite its popularity, the Bellarine has never lost its sense of seclusion and fishing-village charm.
Nowadays, the peninsula is popular with visitors, holiday makers, and residents. Victoria’s undisputed ‘sea-change’ destination, the Bellarine area is a veritable paradise for all. At just an hour’s drive south from Melbourne, the gateway to this coastal paradise is historic Geelong – a modern and significant city that provides every amenity for the region’s population. However, it’s the quaint towns and hamlets that hug the coastline which give the Bellarine its truly beguiling character. Less ‘seasonally touristy’ than its sister peninsula across the bay, the Bellarine has managed to retain much of its laid back charm while still providing convenience and quality.
The renowned wine region takes advantage of its natural assets, with mouth-watering cooler climate varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with friendly cellar doors and outstanding restaurants, all making the most of the region’s fresh gourmet produce.
The coastal, jetty and off-shore fishing and diving is superb, offering anglers of all ages and skills plenty of opportunity to catch their dinner. Wide sandy beaches provide for the full spectrum of watersports, from toddlers discovering the shallows for the first time, to salt-speckled yachties making the most of fast southerlies, and of course, the international surfing drawcard of the famed Bells Beach at the start of the Great Ocean Road and stunning Otways region.
The historical nature of the towns has created a magnificent diversity of homes and properties. Character-filled beach houses provide for endless memories of carefree holidays, and range from humble timber shacks to the most awe-inspiring contemporary homes that capture the beauty of their elevated and beachfront views. Nestled within the laid back towns, family villas, renovated fishermen’s cottages and stunning, modern residences – including townhomes, apartments and spectacular architectural creations – provide a complete palette of choice. Meanwhile, inland, magnificent homesteads and evocative farmhouses on acreages further help promote the Bellarine’s rural appeal to those looking for space or a career change.
Of course, there’s also myriad of shopping, dining and wine tasting to be enjoyed. Amongst our personal favourites are Basil’s Farm at Swan Bay, the Flying Brick Cider House and Oakdene Winery in Wallington, fine dining at Marty’s in Ocean Grove and the more casual Driftwood Café nearby. Equally relaxing are Pasquini’s in Point Lonsdale and the Beach House at Barwon Heads.
To work off all that food and wine, locals and visitors alike head for the Bellarine Rail Trail to ride, walk or jog, or ply the waters with some stand-up paddling on the Barwon River, indulge in a round of golf or, of course, take to the waves at 13th Beach for surfing, or Ocean Grove main beach and River Beach at Barwon Heads for some a more leisurely splash around.
So whether you’re after a sea-change, a regular holiday bolt-hole or a beautiful environment within which to raise a family, the peninsula has it all in bucket-and-spadefuls and our teams at Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads would be only too keen to share their secrets about the beautiful Bellarine.