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Bellarine Peninsula
Barwon Heads The Bellarine Peninsula guards the western side of Port Phillip Bay and is a playground for the city dwellers of Melbourne and Geelong. With a choice of the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay or the surf beaches facing Bass Strait, swimming, sailing, boating, scuba diving and surfing are all popular pastimes. There's history galore at Fort Queenscliff and Geelong and railway enthusiasts shouldn't miss the railway trip from Drysdale to Queenscliff. Nature lovers, too, will find plenty to explore, both above and below the surface of Port Phillip Bay.

Like Melbourne, you can expect "four seasons in one day" on the Bellarine Peninsula. Summers are warm to hot, while winters are cool, but conditions can change rapidly due to the effects of the water in Port Phillip Bay on the surrounding land.

Where should I stay?
For all your accommodation needs in the Port Phillip Bay region, just click here.

How do I get there?
The Bellarine Peninsula is only a short drive from Melbourne, along the Princes Freeway as far as Geelong and then on the Bellarine Highway.

What are the main towns?
The main towns in the region include: Geelong, Ocean Grove, Drysdale, Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale.

What's there to do in the region?
As you head out of Melbourne to explore the Bellarine Peninsula, stop at the outer suburb of Werribee. Here you will find Werribee Park, a stately mansion dating from the 1870s, surrounded by superb formal gardens - even the trees have a heritage listing! Be sure to visit the Victorian State Rose Garden, with over 5,000 rose bushes. Close by, you can visit Victoria's Open Range Zoo, an open range zoo where animals from the grasslands of Australia, Africa and Asia live in conditions as close as possible to those they encounter in their natural habitats.

Next, head to Geelong, Vistoria's largest provincial city. The promenade on Eastern Beach has lovely views across Corio Bay as well as a fully restored 1930s sea-bathing facility. The National Wool Museum is housed in a historic woolstore and has numerous displays relating to Australia's wool industry. There are many historic buildings in the city, many of which are open to the public, including The Heights, a pre-fabricated timber mansion, and Barwon Grange. For a history of the Ford car industry in the area, visit the Ford Discovery Centre.

From Geelong, head south east to the Bellarine Peninsula. The town of Drysdale is the service centre for the surrounding farming district. From here, you can take a ride on the delightful Bellarine Peninsula Railway to Queenscliff.

Other towns in the area include Leopold and Clifton Springs. The road between Drysdale and Portarlington has several wineries, which are open for tastings and cellar door sales. Portarlington is a popular holiday town for the city dwellers of Melbourne and Geelong who enjoy the safe swimming and excellent fishing. There is a museum in the town's historic flour mill. The small seaside town of St Leonards was used by the producers of the popular ABC series, Sea Change, and is popular with families for safe swimming, fishing and sailing.

Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale are the twin guardians of the western side of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The turbulent water at the narrow entrance is known as the "Rip", and in Point Lonsdale, you can watch from the Rip View Lookout as ships entering and leaving Port Phillip Bay battle with the currents. The lighthouse reserve at Point Lonsdale is worth a visit for the magnificent views of the town and neighbouring Queenscliff, Barwon Heads and Point Nepean. There are fine surfing beaches and the waters off Point Lonsdale are protected by a marine National Park, making it a popular area for scuba diving.

Queenscliff was established as a commercial fishing town, and it still has a fleet of fishing boats. The Queenscliff Maritime Centre highlights the town's maritime past. At Fort Queenscliff, you will find the Black Lighthouse and the White Lighthouse, still used to align ships on their tricky journey through the Rip. The black lighthouse is the only one of its colour in Australia and reputedly one of only three in the world. A stroll along the Queenscliff seafront with its historic hotels will take you back to another era. Regular passenger and vehicular ferries from Queenscliff link the Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas.

On the southern coast of the Bellarine Peninsula, the twin towns of Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads lie opposite each other at the mouth of the Barwon River. Ocean Grove has surfing beaches while Barwon Heads has protected river beaches and safe swimming. In the area are several nature reserves, including Ocean Grove Nature Reserve, Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary and Moorfield Wildlife Park. The mangrove swamps of the Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve are a few kilometres upstream.

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