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The White Hat Guide to

Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay

Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay

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Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay

Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay


This area of Victoria falls into three main sections:

Melbourne-Geelong and the north west coast of Port Phillip Bay

The main highway and the railway take a reasonably direct route between Melbourne and Geelong and this is a major commuter corridor. Many travellers are not particularly aware or interested in what lies on either side of this corridor, and it is true that much of the area is not accessible to the general public being either government land or part of the recycling area of the Werribee sewerage works. However the area does repay closer examination. The coastline of the bay meanders in and out. From the west side of the mouth of the Yarra in suburban Williamstown, the coast line gradually shakes off the suburbs, has the occasional encounter with modern housing developments before heading into territory that is a mixture of market gardens, farms, various forms of government land (including Point Cook Aerodrome with its museum and annual community airshow) and the occasional small town. Travellers along the main highway and railway line are rarely aware of the area between themselves and the bay, but White Hat gives occasional examples of the hidden gems in this area in our newsletter.

The major regional centre midway between Melbourne and Geelong is Werribee, and it is outside Werribee you will find the Open Range Zoo, the State Rose Garden and one of Victoria’s most imposing stately homes - The Mansion at Werribee Park.

The rocky outcrops known as the You Yangs are set in a forest park and form a major landmark in this area. Closer to Geelong is the Avalon Airfield which is regularly serviced by Jetstar flights and is the venue for the biennial International Airshow.


Geelong is Victoria's second largest city and as such we have included its details on a separate Geelong page.

Bellarine Peninsula

This peninsula presents some interesting contrasts. On the north shore, facing the relatively calm waters of Port Phillip Bay are a series of relaxed townships which take advantage of the boating opportunities offered by the sheltered waters. They also offer unique views of the You Yangs and (at night) Melbourne. The largest of these towns is Portarlington. Indented Head is also a settlement that was important in the early white settlement of Victoria.

The southern coast faces onto the open waters of Bass Strait and has a number of destinations popular with holiday makers including Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads. Barwon Heads became well known to Australian television audiences in recent times when it was used for the highly successful ABC television series Seachange.

At the eastern end and overlooking ‘The Rip’ - the dangerous stretch of water at the entrance to Port Phillips Bay - stands Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. Queenscliff was a popular 19th century resort and still retains much of that flavour.

The whole area was central to the wanderings of the remarkable escaped convict William Buckley and visitors with an interest in history will probably want to visit a number of the locations associated with Buckley.

Travellers can catch the ferry to Sorrento which forms a convenient way to complete a circuit of the bay by car. Alternatively, a short distance to the west is Torquay and the Great Ocean Road.

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Places to visit

Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay

Places to visit

Barwon Grange

A heritage home in Geelong from the 1850s with gardens and riverside walks. White Hat can recommend a visit to this this property for two reasons. Firstly it is is only fashionable mid 19th century valuable river frontage residences built along the Barwon River which remains intact. Secondly, while most homes change and evolve over time, it has been decided to maintain this property as a time capsule of 1855-6 which again makes it unusual among heritage homes in Victoria. A small entry charge applies. White Hat recommends that if you are interested in visiting Barwon Grange you are also likely to be interested in visiting The Heights Heritage House & Garden (see below) - this is about 10 minutes drive away and is also open on Sundays.
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Werribee Open Range Zoo

Almost 200 hectares of grassy plains and sweeping river terraces are home to a collection of animals from the grasslands of Africa, Australia and Asia. More info >>
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An impressive museum exploring the maritime history of Southern Port Phillip Bay. More information >>
National Wool Museum
Portarllngton Mill
A four storey sandstone steam mill built in 1856. This venue hosts various exhibitions throughout the year. More info >>
The Heights Heritage House & Garden
A German prefabricated house and outbuildings in Geelong constructed in 1855 then later refurbished in 1930s style. More info >>
The Mansion at Werribee Park
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Things to do

Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay

Things to do

Some forthcoming events in Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay:

Sunset Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo

Rhinocerous at Werribee Open Range Zoo

Experience Werribee Open Range Zoo in a whole new light with Sunset Safari.

In this new and exclusive after-hours event, spend a night out with some of the world’s most iconic animals. Start the evening with a complimentary drink on arrival at the pop-up bar then set off on one of the night’s three experiences. Adventure onto the Savannah for a guided sunset tour, feast with friends at an intimate dinner of African cuisine, and enjoy an immersive performance that showcases the rhythm and soul of Africa.

Proceeds from Sunset Safari help Zoos Victoria support international conservation partners such a Rhino Fund Uganda. Help fight wildlife extinction and be among the first to experience Werribee Open Range Zoo like never before.

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So Frenchy So Chic - Melbourne

This event seems a wonderful match of venue and entertainment. Our heritage homes can often be pigeonholed as places for historic re-enactments, but they are very young in European terms and were usually created as places to entertain and host cultural activities.

So Frenchy So Chic provides the opportunity to picnic with choice deli foods, entertain the kids, dance on the grass listen to French bands and all in civilised surroundings. 30-somthings with children and a taste for the good life - this is particularly for you. More info & booking details

Our rating - 5 Hats

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Lara Food & Wine Festival

Lara Food and Wine FestivalJoin us in tasting an array of produce. All from over 60 of our regions gourmet food and wine producers. Bring a rug and picnic on the lawns of the historic Pirra Homestead. White Hat suggests you bring a picnic rug.

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Portarlington Mussel Festival

This community festival is one of the most popular bayside holiday festivals in Victoria attracting around 30,000 people and is also a White Hat favourite. As you might guess the chief focus is on the locally produced mussels, but other attractions grow year by year including:

  • Live entertainment
  • Kids activities
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Art & Photo exhibitions
  • Classic car displays
  • Food & Wine producers
  • Products to try and buy

.. and needless to say, plenty of mussels.

Congratulations to the volunteers who make this happen each year. Details at Portarlington Mussel Festival >>

Our rating - 4 Hats

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Werribee Park Mansion Night Tour
The Werribee Park Mansion Night Tour  takes place on selected dates and uncovers the lives of the Chirnsides, the family that built Werribee Park Mansion, in a theatrical experience. For details of dates and prices click on the image to the right,
Flying Display
An interactive flying display at the RAAF Museum which introduces visitors to the history of Australian military aviation and provides an opprtunity to see the aircraft close up and ask questions of the pilot before they take to the skies. ..
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Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay


Village Market - Werribee Open Range Zoo

This February and March, Werribee Open Range Zoo’s lawns will come to life with Village Market. Browse the market stalls for locally-made beaded sandals, hanging planters, and colourful fabric tops and skirts. Join South Sudanese Yirol dancers as they perform in traditional costumes. Enjoy the rich smells and flavours of an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and taste speciality Sudanese tea. Then watch animals emerge from stone through traditional carving demonstrations. Entrace to the market is included in the ticket price to Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Ocean Grove Market
An outdoor market operated by Rotary and selling new and original arts and crafts with some produce and plants. Around 80 sites available. Full details at Ocean Grove Rotary Market ..
Werribee Undercover Market
Undercover market held on the first Saturday of every month. Spaces available; have to supply own trestle. Accommodation near this market >> ..
Geelong Greyhounds Saturday Community Market at Beckley Park.
A large indoor/outdoor market with variety stalls, produce and food. ..
Drysdale Community Market
An indoor/outdoor market featuring homemade, home grown and home produced goods and craft. This fair has buskers, a country fair atmosphere, and claims to be the largest in the Geelong/Bellarine area. ..
Geelong Showgrounds Market
An outdoor/indoor market with variety stalls, new and used goods. Casual stallholders welcome. ..
Queenscliffe Community Market
An indoor/outdoor market featuring homemade goods. Accommodation near this market >> ..
Laverton Rubble & Riches Market
A large indoor/outdoor market with trash & trasure, produce, clothes, furniture, hardware and a range of other goods. White Hat guarantees that if you are looking for a drive shaft for a 1983 Monaro or a missing pice of that Royal Doulton tea set then it will be there. We're just not quite sure where. ..
Barwon Heads Market
An indoor/outdoor village market with an emphasis on fresh local produce. Also local art & music. The Barwon Heads market operates all year, the last Saturday of the month Feb – Nov. Weekly Dec and Jan but for 2010, not on Dec 25, or Jan 1st ..
Newtown Farmers Market
Featuring a wide range of fresh local produce direct from the Farmer/Producer to you. Fall in love with local food. Full information at Regional Farmers Markets. ..
Steampacket Gardens Art & Craft Market
A quality market on the picturesque waterfront at Geelong. With a large array of arts, crafts, clothing, gifts and food stalls. Even if you are not a confirmed shopper, White Hat can recommend this market as a pleasant place to stroll and browse on a Sunday sfternoon. ..
Point Lonsdale Primary School Market
An indoor/outdoor markwt with home made goods and craft. Accommodation near this market >> ..
Belmont Market
A large indoor/outdoor market featuring craft & bric a brac. A small entry fee applies. White Hat suggests that if you enjoy garage sales then Belmont Market is like having 20 or 30 garage sales in the one location. In addition the indoor space has a range of low priced merchandise. ..
St Leonards Market
An outdoor market with a wide range of goods and refreshments. Possible dates include 7th March 2009 and 11th April 2009 ..
Geelong Computer Swap Meet
A large number of stalls selling new and second hand computer equipment and related goods. A small entry fee applies. ..
Werribee Computer Swap Meet
A large number of stalls selling new and second hand computer equipment and related goods. A small entry fee applies. (Note - the dates and venue of this event can vary. Click here to confirm the current information on this event. ..
Geelong Mill Markets
Until recently, this location hosted a large and popular market. That market has relocated to Newcomb (see below). The remaining Geelong Mills Matket now has a large array of retro advertising signs, furniture, and larger and quirky mechanical and industrial equipment. White Hat can recommend this market as a good source for those looking to do a quirky fitout as well as to theatre companies and film-makers looking for genuine period props. It now functions more as a warehouse so give a ring before making a special trip. ..
Point Cook Market
Art and craft market including quality stalls, fresh produce, free children's entertainment and activities. Stall holder enquiries always welcome. Come along and "catch the colour" of the Point Cook Market ..
Mill Markets Newcomb
A large indoor market with permenant and casual stallholders selling antiques,collectables, vintage clothing, homewares, memmorabilia and retro fashions. White Hat suggests that if you enjoy the Chapel Street Bazaar in Melbourne you will find a similar range of items at the Newcomb Mill Market but with more space to move. ..
Geelong Night Market
Based on the successful Night Market at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, the Geelong Night Market features stalls with everything from a well-being area to eclectic wares and artisans to live entertainment. Street food showcases cuisines from around the world and there are activities for families to enjoy. White Hat can recommend this market as an atmospheric contribution to the relaxed atmosphere of Geelong over the summer holiday period. ..
Golden Plains Farmers Market
A genuine farmers market promoting the gorgeous local produce of the Golden Plains region. ..
Frankly My Dear Vintage Fair
A new vintage fair is now happening in Geelong at the Nash Hotel, on the first Saturday of each month. Lots of stall holders selling Vintage Mens, Womens Clothing and Accessories, Soul DJ’s spinning records, ..
Drysdale Community Craft Shop Inc
The Drysdale Community Craft Shop has a range of unique uandcrafted uoods made by their members, Specialised baby bear, band bmbroidery, bnique jewellery, folk art, fand made cards, wedding charms, Australiana, paintings, patchwork & quilting. They also have a Lay-by and Order Service. ..
Osborne House – Makers & Growers Market
In the grounds of historic Osborne House overlooking Corio Bay. Arts, crafts and fresh produce, with sausage sizzle, coffee and hot soup. ..
Werribee Central Farmers Market

Food lovers can find a wonderful array of goods including olive oil, a variety of gluten free goodies that will send your tastebuds into a frenzy. Gorgeous artisan products include, breads, baked goods, jams, relishes, boutique beer and many more unexpected gastronomically pleasing delights. And for the green thumb, we can only delight – from native plants to herbs. Full details at Werribee Central Farmers Market

Portarlington Community Market
An indoor/outdoor market with a wide range of goods. Stallholders welcome with casual insurance available on request. Accommodation near this market >> ..

Places to stay

Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay

Places to stay

Selected places to stay in Bellarine Peninsula and the west coast of Port Phillip Bay:

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