Day-tripping the Bellarine Peninsula

The Bellarine Peninsula is probably the Great Ocean Road’s less well-known cousin and highly achievable in a day trip without a niggling regret that you likely should have stayed a night or 2 just to enjoy the damn place. It’s an hour and a half away from Melbourne and a small chunk of a long stretch of brilliant coastline that’s world-famous and slightly quieter—the way I love it.

Like Geelong, it wears its settlement-era heritage proudly but is quick to assure people that it’s got its feet firmly in this century too: a mix of old facades but swanky interiors, holiday beach-town feels, gourmet produce, lively strip malls and hipster cafés that vie for the better blend of barista-snooty type coffees.

Fitting parts of the Bellarine Taste Trail and helpful guiding from Seegeelong, going through the townships (hopefully not at record speed) and some beach walks was exactly what I wanted to do for the day I had. The final itinerary however, ended up as a haphazard mix of walking, eating and then trying to make the food shops while they were still open…and still get back to Melbourne in time before it got dark.

The Travel Companion and I started off at Torquay (the dramatically beautiful Surf Coast simply needed more time but we had to leave that for another day), then backtracked into Barwon Heads to watch some kite-surfing and look pathetically at the fine sand beaches, ate a harried lunch at an extremely crowded pie-place at Ocean Grove, carried onto Point Lonsdale for another walk and onto the quaintly historic Queenscliff. Then we thought we could still squeeze more things in, and so headed ‘inland’ to Drysdale, Wallington and Mannerim to look at some wineries and chocolate.

The good things never did go to plan, anyway.

The commute between Melbourne and the Bellarine isn’t a new one; in fact, Queenscliff was the port where paddlesteamers came and went, leaving fanciful imaginings of the ‘good ol’ days’ with the same windswept views.

Rushing through the townships might not have been the wisest idea especially after we returned to Melbourne an exhausted mess, but it’s silly to visit every wine shop in the area simply because these things are listed as attractive and colourful squares on the tourist map. Mark the stuff that appeals around the area and connect the dots with a pen – a rough route will eventually appear, pointing the way into and out of the peninsula…more so if the focus of the trip is on food over walks or hikes and be led by the opening and closing hours of the shops as well.

We drove off through Geelong’s city centre thinking however, that the beachy bits were more to our liking despite the fact that we’re the furthest people from surfers. There is something mesmerising about watching rough waves crashing into rock and wandering the meandering cliff walks while watching tiny figures of surfers searching for the perfect curl that it’s enough to plan a return trip…this time further west, to the surf coast.

Tbilisi for the Uninitiated

The Caucasus is a region I had absolutely no clue about, except that it is where Europe and Asia converge, and where ancient man, as anthropologists and linguists posit, first walked out of Africa and into this part of the world. Georgia seemed like the logical choice when I planned this trip, along with Azerbaijan or […]

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Wine Education

I was just along for the ride to Kakheti, the richest and most fertile part of Georgia that lies in the shadow of the magnificent Caucasus range. The wine tour that we did with Colour Tour Georgia (and with Gvantsa and Tazo) was more for TC than me, but the journey into the mountains and […]

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Food, wine and revolution

The long road to democracy, a squeaky-clean police force (thanks to a reality show called ‘Police’ to restore its standing in the eyes of the public and a concerted effort to clamp down corruption) and a booming tourist industry that almost everyone is happy to capitalise on pretty much characterises what I saw in Tbilisi […]

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Beyond the culinary

The crowds and the smells always indicate that something food-related is near. Well, it’s certainly true of the legendary night markets in Taipei – there’re 14 of them at least, some lesser known to the tourists which locals frequent – that are noisy, bustling affairs of smoke, dirt and well, some delicious finds. We managed […]

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The Path of Peace

In Ryukyuan legend, Nirai Kanai is the mythical realm across the sea where deities dwell and when invited, bring blessings into the home of the villagers. However seductive that imagery really is, present day Okinawa still styles itself as the island paradise (there’s even a bridge here named after this place), if the tree-lined paths, […]

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The comfort zone

Copenhagen’s sheen has stayed fresh for a few years now and really shows no quick sign of abating, which is primarily the reason TC and I chose to end our 2-week jaunt there…once again. To visit our favourite haunts, walk our favourite streets and simply take in the stylish and sophisticated Danish interior and furniture […]

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