The Great Ocean Road is one of the best destinations in Australia if not the world so if you are going to make the trip you need to know where it goes. A little over an hour from Melbourne (where most visitors will begin the journey) Geelong is a vibrant city overlooking Corio Bay with the Moorabool River running through its centre.
Is Geelong part of the Great Ocean Road? No. In fact a definite no. It has been known as the Gateway to the Great Ocean Road as it is only 20 minutes from Torquay and is a popular seaside destination. I would see at as close cousin to the GOR. Before heading off on your GOR adventure consider spending a day or two in Geelong as this rural city has a lot to offer.
Geelong has a population approaching 220,000 (almost as big as Hobart). The city is sophisticated with very good dining with views of the bay (you can even dine over the water at the end of Cunninghan Pier). There are clubs, hotels, bars and theatres to keep you entertained as well as several movie theatres. Accommodation is abundant with plenty of choice in quality and price.
So now you know Geelong is not part of the Great Ocean Road but is the key that unlocks your coastal adventure so don’t give it a miss on your way through.
If you haven’t been to Geelong for Christmas it is not too late. Every year I take a trip to Geelong to take in the local festivities, shopping and dining. For the last two years it has been near impossible to get parking in the CBD but this year I nabbed one only a short walk from Bay City Plaza. If you get there early you should have no trouble.
Geelong is huge now so don’t just get caught up with the CBD as Waurn Ponds and Pakington Street offer great shopping as well. This year the Geelong CBD has a floating Christmas tree at the bottom of Moorabool Street which gives a light show at night. If you are coming from Melbourne and looking for easier access then forget the CBD as it is very, very busy. You may fluke a park but don’t count on it. Waurn Ponds had more parking but even earlier this week it wasn’t easy to park.
If you like specialty shopping then head to Pakington Street. Pakington Street offers some very good cafes and shopping with parking more available. I am a fan of Pakington Street and as a coffee enthusiast it is on my list of must do Geelong destinations.
If you are happy to take a drive and haven’t been to Geelong before then I recommend you spread your Christmas cheer.
Western Beach in Geelong is a stretch of water that runs between Rippleside Beach and Cunningham Pier. You can walk along the edge of the water on man made paths or high above the steep cliff edge near the water’s edge. The walk along this beach has been upgraded including a section that takes you out over the water.
Western Beach is not a destination for swimming (although you can). It is more for taking in the tranquil views of Corio Bay, watching the boats or enjoying a walk along the beach. The houses along the top of the cliffs are some of the most sought after in Geelong for their close proximity to the city and great views over Corio Bay.
As you walk along Western Beach, enjoy the Bollards depicting the character of Geelong from the past. As you get closer to the city you will pass the Western Beach Boat Club and can view several vessels upon the bay.
Western Beach is not a spectacular location to spend a day but well worth a walk either on its shore or above the cliff just to enjoy its panoramic view of the bay. Better still grab some fish and chips and seat yourself under a shady tree high above the water and just drift away.