Victoria's second largest city, Geelong is a bustling port city in the state's South West Coast region, about 75 km southwest of Melbourne. It forms the gateway to the Bellarine Peninsula, a popular family getaway destination, and the world-famous Great Ocean Road.
The city however has no shortage of things to do and see. Settled only a few years after Melbourne, Geelong has a proud history, with various museums and grand historic buildings across the city telling its story. The city is also well known for its connection to the water, with holidaymakers flocking to its beautiful beaches each weekend for a splash in the water or a more relaxing sunbathing session on the sand. When it's time for a bite to eat, a number of cafés and restaurants dot the city centre's main street. Or if it's shopping you're after, Geelong has everything from small, indie boutiques to its large Westfield shopping centre. It may be Melbourne's smaller brother but Geelong is well and truly a destination in its own right.
Geelong is more than just a regional city – it is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city. It has a diverse range of activities for all the family from nearby wineries to an antique carousel for the kids on the waterfront. Its close proximity, and good transport links, to the Great Ocean Road (including Torquay, and the Twelve Apostles) and to the state's capital Melbourne make Geelong an ideal city to spend a few days. Whether you want to indulge in Australian History at the award winning National Wool Museum or swimming at the beach - Geelong has it.
- Geelong and Great Ocean Road Visitor Information Office, ☏ , toll-free: 1800 620 888, fax: . Daily 9AM-5PM. Princess Hwy, Little River.
- Geelong Visitor Information Centre, 26 Moorabool St (cnr Brougham St), ☏ , toll-free: 1800 620 888, fax: . Daily 9AM-5PM.
- Main article: Lara (Victoria)
Avalon Airport (AVV IATA) is Geelong's international airport, doubling as Melbourne's second airport. From there, Jetstar operates domestic flights to Sydney, the Gold Coast and Adelaide. AirAsia X operate twice-daily flights to Kuala Lumpur, connecting to a plethora of other destinations in Asia or further afield. Fares are often cheaper than Melbourne Airport due to the airport's smaller size. It is about 20 minutes by road to the Geelong city centre along the Princes Freeway, with the Avalon City Express providing a shuttle bus service to Geelong and South Geelong railway stations and meets every Jetstar flight.
Geelong is also easily reached from Melbourne Airport (MEL IATA), the state's international airport with services to various destinations across the country and the world. By road, the trip is about 1 hour and 15 minutes to Geelong along the Western Ring Road and then the Princes Freeway. Gull Airport Service operates pre-booked shuttle buses between Melbourne Airport and Geelong's city centre every day. Otherwise, you can also take the SkyBus from the airport to Southern Cross Station then an onward train to Geelong.
Geelong is easily reached by train, with V/Line operating a near-suburban level of service between Melbourne and the city on the Geelong Line. The city has seven stations: from north to south, they are Corio, North Shore, North Geelong, Geelong, South Geelong, Marshall and Waurn Ponds. All trains stop at the grand Geelong Station, a five-minute walk from the city centre. Trains on the long-distance Warrnambool Line also stop at Geelong and provide a connection to inland towns including Colac, Camperdown and the western city of Warrnambool.
On weekdays, there are services from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne every 20 minutes, with services every 40 minutes on weekends. The train takes about an hour, with a timetable available here. A myki smartcard is required for all travel to Geelong, with the fare costing $9.24 one-way for adults in the off-peak. Reservations and paper tickets are required for all services towards Warrnambool after Waurn Ponds. Full fare information is available on the PTV website.
North Shore railway station, in the northern suburbs of Geelong, hosts a stop for the twice-weekly Overland - the lesser known cousin to the world-renowned Ghan and Indian Pacific railway journeys. This service operates from Melbourne to Adelaide.
Geelong is on the Princes Freeway (M1), which to the east connects the city to Melbourne and Gippsland via a freeway connection, and onward on the longer, coastal highway route to Sydney and beyond. To the west, the highway passes through towns such as Colac and Warrnambool before crossing the border into South Australia towards Adelaide and beyond.
Ticket prices depend on time of year and your sleeping accommodation. A seat (no bed) is the cheapest, starting (in off-peak season) from $108 for adults and $82 for children. The seat is most uncomfortable, equivalent to a cinema seat. Cabins with bunk beds start from $187 adults, $97 children. Peak season costs are about 25% higher. Cars cost $59 all year round.
Car and passenger ferries cross the mouth of Port Phillip Bay between Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula and Sorrento on Mornington Peninsula. They depart each terminal on the hour every hour 7AM-6PM every day. From 26 Dec. until end of daylight saving there are also 7PM sailings. Foot passengers adult $8, 5-15 years $6, under 5 years $1, foot passenger’s bicycle $2, tandem $3; passengers with vehicle adult $4, 5-15 years $2, under 5 years $1; vehicle rates vary with season – car up to 5.5 m between $38 and $45.
Port Phillip Ferries operates regular passenger services from Geelong to the Bellarine Peninsula town of Portarlington to Melbourne's Docklands and vice versa. A one-way fare costs $14.50. Limited services are operated directly from the Geelong CBD (on the waterfront between Cunningham Pier and the Carousel) to coincide with the Geelong Cats AFL away games played in Melbourne.
Port Phillip Ferries opened a Cunningham Pier ferry in 2019, operating services from Cunningham Pier, to the suburb of Docklands in Melbourne. Tickets are available online. The ferry takes a little longer than the Princes Highway, taking an extra half hour. The ferry has no car service.
McHarry's Buslines run to Geelong from Queenscliff (30 km) and other Bellarine Peninsula towns.
Metered parking in the city costs $2.90 per hour M-F (excluding holidays) between 9AM and 5:30PM, and is often time limited. Outside the city centre and waterfront areas, parking is free.
Traffic is generally light however parking spaces can be scarce at times. Often off-street or private car parks are the safest bet to find a space.
Geelong has a good road network within the city, with highways making the backbone. The Geelong Ring Road (part of the M1 Princes Freeway) navigates along the western edge of the city, from Corio in the north to Waurn Ponds in the south. This may be a good option when travelling across the city, but for shorter distances, or to the eastern suburbs, stick to local roads for a quicker journey time.
Geelong has a reasonable bus network operated by two separate companies, McHarry's and CDC Geelong. Myki cards are used on these services and the entire urban area lies within the zone 4 fare region. The central bus interchange can be found on Moorabool street, in the heart of the CBD, and most routes terminate at Geelong's main station. Some of the northern suburbs in particular have their own routes which do not connect directly to the CBD, but instead interchange at Corio Central Shopping Centre, or North Shore or Lara railway stations.
The Geelong railway line runs frequently enough and with enough stops so that it is possible to use the train service to get around within the city. There are plenty of areas in Geelong that are not within walking distance of a train station though, so a bus connection may be required to get to your destination. These are timetabled to connect with the trains to limit waiting times, and Myki cards are used for both bus and train so there are no extra charges for using multiple modes/lines within the city.
There are two traditional taxi companies directly serving Geelong; 13CABS and Geelong Taxi Network. As taxi services are regulated, they both provide identical fares and similar service. They can be hailed on the street or from a taxi rank (usually by major shopping centres and train stations) or booked over the phone or via smartphone app.
Two rideshare companies provide services in Geelong, Uber (Uber X and Assist) and DiDi. Service and pricing is similar, often drivers will work for both services. Uber has surge pricing, whereas DiDi does not, so it may be worth checking both apps for wait times or to find a cheaper fare.
Bike hire is available on the waterfront in the afternoons on weekends and school holidays - no reservations are taken. Future rentals has longer term rentals available. There are no other rental options available in Geelong.
- Geelong Waterfront. A working maritime area, incorporating cafes, a carousel and botanical gardens.
- 1 Geelong Maritime Museum.
- 2 National Wool Museum, 26 Moorabool St (cnr Brougham St). Every day 9:30AM-5PM except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Allow 90 minutes. Includes a tourist information office. $7:30 adult, $5.90 concession, $3.65 child.
- You Yangs Regional Park, Branch Rd, Little River (55 km south-west of Melbourne and 22 km north of Geelong. Access from Princes Freeway is via Little River if coming from Melbourne and Lara if coming from Geelong.), ☏ 13 19 63 (domestic). M-F 8AM-4:30PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM. Four main walks traverse the park. The 3.2-km walk to Flinders Peak (348 m) takes 90 minutes and has expansive views. The longest track is the 3-hour Branding Yard Track.
- Geelong Performing Arts Centre (GPAC), 50 Little Malop St. Geelong, in the cultural precinct. GPAC offers a plethora of local and international performances
- 3 Geelong Library and Heritage Centre (The Dome), 51 Little Malop Street, Geelong, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM 08. Architecturally unique public library with free access to the balcony during daylight hours (weather permitting). Also hosts a well-regarded, but expensive, cafe.
- Geelong Botanical Gardens, open every day 8AM-5PM, or 7PM during daylight savings. Free entry. Also contains the Tea House Cafe.
Home of the ABC television "Seachange" program with a children-friendly safe estuary beach and rugged ocean beaches such as 13th Beach for the more intrepid. Barwon Heads has long been a summer holiday destination for Victorian families. Barwon Heads sits on the lower Barwon River Estuary where it enters Bass Strait. This estuary and the extensive Lake Connewarre wetlands to the north form a wetland of international significance and is part of the Port Phillip (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site because of its importance to both migratory and resident wetland and shorebird species. Where the river meets the sea is one of the coasts most dominant features, the calcarenite Barwon Bluff, also known as Mt. Colite, an important place for local Indigenous Victorians for thousands of years, and a beacon for the nearby entrance to Port Phillip Bay for navigators. The Bluff has been actively restored and revegetated from a degraded site, including a gravel car park, into a haven for nature by many volunteers, local managers, and school students. Beneath the Bluff lies the Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, a 17 hectare reserve which aims to protect the rich intertidal reefs and the diversity of life they support, both above and below the water. Rich kelp forests cover the much of the sub-tidal reefs that have been carved and weathered by the surging southern swells. Large schools of reef fish are often found amongst the kelp while a rich diversity of invertebrates can be found on the reef. The site is a popular destination for students investigating local marine life and the local Marine Discovery Centre in Queenscliff (52583344) also conduct holiday activity programs here. The Marine Sanctuary is one of 11 Marine Sanctuaries and 13 Marine National Parks in Victoria set aside to provide protection of representative and significant areas of the states rich and diverse temperate marine environments. These areas are managed by Parks Victoria / and like National Parks are fully protected from all forms of extractive or harmful activities. Fishing is not permitted in the Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary or any other Marine National Parks or Marine Sanctuaries and penalties apply to offenders.
- See an Aussie rules football match Kardinia Park, located on Moorabool Street is the home of the Geelong Cats, the local Australian Football League team. They are somewhat of a local institution. There are about half a dozen home games per year from April to August; the rest of Geelong's home games are played in Melbourne. Expect to pay about $20 for an adult, $12 concession and $5 for a child. Alternately you could catch a local league game on a Saturday afternoon. There are dozens at venues spread around Geelong, and matches are of a very high standard. Most grounds you can walk in free, whilst some have gates, expect to pay no more than $7-8.
- Bellarine Rail Trail starts from near South Geelong Station, and is a 35km cycling track to Queenscliff.
- 1 Australian International Airshow (Avalon Airshow), Avalon Airport. Described by the organizers as the biggest airshow in the Southern Hemisphere (and the 2017 show had more than 200,000 visitors), it takes place biannually in odd years. Military aircraft from different countries' airforces as far as from the UK and USA are often on display and performing. Manufacturers display new military planes and helicopters, but also civilian planes.
Two major shopping centres operate in the CBD, Westfield and Market Square. They are situated directly across the road from each other on Malop Street with free Wifi and can offer cheaper parking than the city-operated street parking.
In the suburbs of Geelong West and Newtown, Pakington Street is host to thriving shopping strips, as is High Street in Belmont.
Corio Central and Waurn Ponds shopping centers are the mainstay for the northern and southern suburbs, respectively, together with smaller shopping centres that provide ample coverage to the city.
- 1 Riverview Coffee House, 59A Barrabool Road, Belmont, ☏ . Cafe right on the edge of the Barwon River. Quoted to be the best hamburgers in town with just as decent coffee to match. Well worth checking out after a leisurely stroll down the Barwon.
- Aberdeen Motor Inn, 9 Aberdeen St Newtown, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A well-established, 36-room motel a 10-minute walk from Geelong CBD. $85 - $145.
- The National Hotel, 191 Moorabool Street, ☏ , email@example.com. Central Geelong
- Irish Murphy’s Backpackers, 30 Aberdeen St, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. From $19.
- Gate House On Ryrie, 83 Yarra St (Crn Ryrie & Yarra Street), ☏ . Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10AM. A Bed and Breakfast offering accommodations with all the grace and charm of bygone days this beautiful home was built in 1897. This B&B is serving ' traditional' continental breakfast and is included in the price, with a selection of fruit, yoghurt, cereals and breads with all the condiments, juices, tea and coffee. $100.
There are paid internet (and printer) access kiosks in Market Square shopping centre within the CBD, located on level 1. All Geelong public library locations provide internet access computers at no charge, and guests can access free WiFi hotspots outside of opening hours, from immediately outside the building.
Throughout the CBD, and along the Waterfront, city council provides a free WiFi network with a 100 MB per day limit. Various businesses also provide free WiFi, such as McDonald's (some are open 24 hours, including the CBD store) and APCO service stations, though at one of these places it would be considerate to buy something in-store, particularly if it is late at night or you are staying a while.
Australia Post mail outlets are common, and usually located in shopping areas. 24-hour parcel lockers are available to 'MyPost' members within Australia to use at the main Geelong Post Office (Gheringhap and Little Myers Streets), Worksafe Building (1 Malop Street) and the 7-Eleven in East Geelong.
|Routes through Geelong|
|Adelaide ← Ararat ←||W E||→ Melbourne|
|END ← Waurn Ponds ←||S N||→ Lara → Melbourne|
|Warrnambool ← Winchelsea ←||S N||→ Lara → Melbourne|
|Warrnambool ← Colac ←||W N||→ Melbourne|
|Warrnambool ← Torquay ←||S N||→ END|