We’re excited to share a new feature on the blog called “Travel Expert of the Week.” Our Travel Expert will share a favorite destination and itinerary from their travels – it’s like having your own virtual tour guide to help navigate new places! First up, we welcome the travel duo known as Gumnuts Abroad!
Living on the doorstep of the Bellarine Peninsula we’ve spent countless hours exploring the area, so it came as no surprise to see it getting world recognition as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 value destinations for 2017.
Dotted with historical seaside towns and fishing villages, the Bellarine as it’s simply known, has a lazy laid-back vibe. But it’s not just a beautiful sleepy place that people come to for a holiday and never leave. Visit at any time of year and you’ll find sporting events, vintage markets and festivals where you can spoil yourself with the finest gourmet food and wine.
We’re often asked “What’s your dream itinerary for the Bellarine Peninsula?” There are so many options it’s hard to answer, but here’s what we came up with. Just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne it’s possible to visit the Bellarine as a day trip but we recommend spending a couple of nights.
Make your way to Barwon Heads and start your day with a hearty breakfast at Annie’s Provedore. The shelves at this popular café positively groan under the weight of local produce, gourmet treats and specialty wines. Soak up the rustic atmosphere while enjoying a touch of Europe with a barista-made coffee.
Then grab your golf clubs and head to the beach for a round of golf!
13th Beach Golf Links hosts the Victorian Open Championship and is rated as one of the best public access courses in Australia. The challenging natural links style 36-hole course, is positioned on true links land, and offers a rare, genuine links golf experience. Golf isn’t your thing?
Jirrahlinga Koala & Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for injured and rescued koalas, kangaroos, dingoes and other unique Australian wildlife. Jirrahlinga is Aboriginal for “seek a home for a kangaroo” and is completely funded by donations. It’s a great place to bring the kids to learn about Australian wildlife and for the opportunity to touch or hold a koala or baby joey!
Then it’s onto Wallington for lunch and wine tasting at Oakdene Vineyards. Enjoy informative wine tasting at the unique and colourful cellar door that looks like a house that’s been blown over in the wind! Have a casual lunch at Mr. Grubb café or if you prefer something more formal try the restaurant. Don’t forget to take a stroll in the garden and check out the quirky artifacts and sculptures scattered around the grounds. The more you look the more you’ll find!
Accommodation is available here, but we recommend staying in the historical seaside town of Queenscliff. Once a defence post with the most heavily armed fort in the Southern Hemisphere, Queenscliff is now a delightful tourist town with cafes, museums, galleries and fabulous beaches. Spend a couple of nights in an elegant grand old hotel, quaint B&B or a heritage-listed inn.
A fun way to end your first day is to have a night of live entertainment aboard the Blues Train! Enjoy a meal at the historic Queenscliff Railway Station, then hop on board and dance the night away as the steam train moves through the night.
After breakfast at one of the many cafes in Hesse St, head over to the harbour for an amazing morning out on the water with South Bay Eco Adventures. Learn about the unique history of the area, shipping navigation and the coastal landscape, while viewing bottle nose dolphins, sea birds, Australian fur seals and penguins. There’s even a chance of spotting a whale! Don’t rush off afterwards, stay and have some lunch at the harbour.
Queenscliff Harbour is a busy marina and working boatyard with diving schools, tour operators and private pleasure craft. There’s a modern retail precinct with specialty shops, boutiques, trendy cafes and restaurants. Sit outside on the boardwalk and enjoy pizza, wine, fresh seafood and perfectly brewed coffee while you relax and take it all in. For dessert treat yourself to an ice cream from the cheerful Lix Ice-creamery.
Don’t miss the forty metre Observation Tower for spectacular 360 degree views of the bay’s natural beauty. From up here you get a great overview of the area, and can watch the pilot boats returning from their trips through the heads.
Afterwards drive over to neighbouring Point Lonsdale, a coastal hideaway popular with day trippers and families. Stop off at the Rip View Lookout for panoramic views of the rip, where the calm waters of the bay meet the turbulent waters of Bass Strait.
Have a swim at the front beach before taking a walk along the cliff path to the lighthouse. The path circles down to the back beach (a favourite with surfers) where you can explore the rock pools at low tide.
Take a walk out to the end of the pier, chat to the local fishermen and be rewarded with great views of the lighthouse and surrounding coastline.
Then, for a true Aussie experience end your day with fish and chips on the grassy foreshore as the sun goes down for a perfect end to a perfect day.
Andrew and Audrey are a couple of self-described Aussie empty-nesters, who have made the enviable decision to “fly away themselves,” embrace wanderlust as a lifestyle and document it for the rest of us to enjoy. You can follow their travels on their blog, Instagram @GUMNUTSABROAD and on Facebook.