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Victoria country trips, Heading west form Melbourne

Geelong – Is Victoria’s second city biggest city after Melbourne, and it is also located on Port Phillip Bay. The city originally developed as an industrial city with a mix of industry (Ford cars have been built here for many years), wool and other industries (see the Wool Museum). The Target store group’s head office is also located here, and today the City is in the process of revitalising itself, taking advantage of its port side location to develop the beachfront areas with piers and walkways, restaurants, an Adventure Park, overlooking the marina areas and other attractions.
 
Geelong also has a Heritage Centre, a Botanic Gardens and a mix of interesting architecture dating back to its origins as an industrial city. From Geelong there are highways that lead northwards to Ballarat (A300 Midland H’wy), west to Mortlake (B140 Hamilton H’wy) and to Warrnambool (A1 Princes H’wy), southwards to the Great Coast Road (B100 Surf Coast H’wy) and south eastwards to the Bellarine Peninsula (B110 Bellarine H’wy).
 
Mooroobool Valley wineries – These boutique Cool Climate wineries, which date back to 1842 are located north of Geelong, in and around the towns of Anakie and Lethbridge.
 
Bellarine Peninsula – is a small area east of Geelong and located on the western side of Port Phillip Bay. It forms the western side of the entranceway to Port Phillip Bay from Bass Strait, the eastern side being the Mornington Peninsula. A Ferry service from Queenscliff to Portsea links both sides together. The peninsula has a number of small bayside towns and the area has a growing reputation for its wineries, birdlife and sea-change lifestyle. Portarlington on the peninsula is home to a number of fishing boats, a mussel festival and has an old stone Flour Mill that was built in 1856-7. The area is close to a number of boutique wineries with such interesting names as Jack Rabbit Vineyard and Scotchman’s Hill as well as an Olive Grove called Manzanillo Grove. Queenscliff on Swan Bay has a long jetty wharf, historic buildings and lighthouse, and just off the coast is a special dive site where the HMAS Canberra was purposely sunk there, making for an intriguing underwater experience. Point Lonsdale with its lighthouse is right on the entrance to Port Phillip and a great place to see ships coming in and out of the Bay, and the ocean and calmer waters of the Bay come together. Ocean Grove is also close by, with a wide open sandy beach facing Bass Strait, while Barwon Heads is at the mouth of the Barwon River, with the Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary just off shore.
 
Great Ocean Road – (B100) This is said to be the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Australia, the road starting at Anglesea and following the coastline westwards and eventually leading back to the Princes Highway just outside of Allansford, near Warrnambool.
 
The Great Ocean Road winds its way past spectacular coastal cliffs, headlands, beaches, the Twelve Apostles, small coastal villages and some of the best scenery in Australia, all against a backdrop of the Otway Ranges and areas of rainforest.
 
Bells Beach – is one of the main beaches in Torquay – Australia’s most famous surfing beach, where thousands of surfers come to watch Pro Surfers on the World Championship Tour try to win the Rip Curl Pro title. Torquay has a number of beaches including Jan Juc and Bells Beach, and it is also where the brands Rip Curl & Quicksilver started their businesses from. The Surf World Surfing museum is also located at Bells Beach, and Surf City Plaza is in Torquay. Point Danger Marine Sanctuary is also close to Torquay too.
 
Some of the villages along the Great Ocean Road to either stay at, drop in at a café or pass by include Anglesea which has magnificent ocean views; Ailey’s Inlet which has a wide open beach; Fairhaven and then the bigger village of Lorne which has a long open beachfront and is next to Erskine river with a Golf Club, Restaurants and many places to stay, including a Caravan Park, a YHA and Bed and breakfast accommodation; travelling on you will wind your way past Wye River, Kennett River, Grey River, Cape Patton and Skenes Creek before coming to Apollo Bay – which has a number of hotels and other accommodation, nice places to eat and it is also close to Otway National Park. Apollo Bay is a good place to base yourself if you are looking to spend more time on the coast; further west is Princetown which has a small population of around 500 residents and is just 6km away from the Twelve Apostles ocean stacks. These rocky outcrops make a spectacular site standing in the ocean, with high stone cliffs forming the coastline. These are one of the most photographed locations in Victoria. Less known are Gibson’s Steps (further west ) which is a very steep stairway that leads down to the ocean beach below the cliffs, and a few kilometres further west, the amazing Loch Ard Gorge, named after a clipper ship that ran aground here in 1878, with 52 of the 54 people on board losing their life here. The great arch was here but it collapsed in 2009 leaving just the two sides to stand today, creating the entranceway to the Gorge. The next village past Princetown is Port Campbell which has a number of hotels, cabins and other accommodation and is located next to the Port Campbell National Park, with great scenery and walkways.
 
The Great Ocean Road takes some time to drive along, but that is part of its attraction, but it is also possible to turn off it at various points and head inland to meet up with the Princes Highway, which is a faster road back to Melbourne. Note the roads over the mountains may also take time too. Towns on the Princes Highway like Camperdown and Colac are also worth visiting.
 
Camperdown is quite a historic town with a 2 kilometre avenue of Elm Trees, buildings that date back to the 1890’s (Post Office 1863), a Botanic Gardens and historic stone walls around on many of the rural properties. Trout fishing is possible at the nearby Lake Purrumbete, and there are twin crater lakes nearby too – Lake Bullen Merri and Lake Gnotuk.
 
Colac is also surrounded by many lakes and volcanic craters, and Colac itself is located on the shores of Lake Colac, a large freshwater lake that is popular for boating and swimming, with walkways, boat jetties and a bird reserve. The town itself typifies Australian country towns, and is surrounded by farm properties running sheep and cattle. There are a number of lakes around this area, including Lake Corangamite, the biggest inland lake in Victoria.

We hope you have a great time seeing Melbourne and also the towns and cities in Victoria.
 
Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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