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  1. The exterior of a historic brick building covered in leafy vines.
    Photograph: Supplied/Tourism Greater Geelong and The BellarineNational Wool Museum
  2. An aerial shot of a boomerang-shaped pier in Corio Bay.
    Photograph: Supplied/Tourism Greater Geelong and The BellarineWangim Walk
  3. Two people (one in a wheelchair) stop in front of a large-scale mural in a laneway depicting an Indigenous man.
    Photograph: Supplied/Tourism Greater Geelong and The BellarineKing Billy Mural
  4. Two musicians holding guitars perform on a train carriage.
    Photograph: Supplied/Tourism Greater Geelong and The BellarineThe Blues Train

Seven ways to immerse yourself in Geelong and The Bellarine’s fascinating history and culture

This vibrant region is brimming with galleries, museums, murals and music – here’s your guide to discovering it all

By Time Out in association with Great Ocean Road Tourism

Geelong and The Bellarine is a region renowned for many things: beautiful beaches, close proximity to the Great Ocean Road, a premiership-winning football team and an exciting food and wine scene. But did you know it’s also melting pot of history and culture? Down the cobblestone laneways, inside the heritage-listed buildings and further afield there is a wealth of contemporary art, live music, world-class exhibitions and enormous murals to discover. And lucky for you, we’ve got the lowdown on the seven key sites you need to visit in order to properly understand just how special this region is.

Go on a Mr History tour

Prepare for an entertaining and interactive experience like no other when you join Mr History for a guided walking tour of Geelong. Mr History, aka Jonathan Feldman, is a former classroom teacher whose lifelong interest in Victoria’s second largest city was sparked when his parents added Geelong & District - A Sepia Album of Historic Photographs to the family bookshelf. Nowadays, he runs two-hour walking tours of Central Geelong that cover significant landmarks like Customs House, Johnstone Park, City Hall and the Belcher Fountain. For a better appreciation of Geelong’s past, this is an absolute must-do.

Enjoy live music in Central Geelong

The live music scene is well and truly thriving in Central Geelong, with a regular line-up of gigs guaranteed to suit everyone. Head to Piano Bar for a night of arm-in-arm singalongs (you can even request your favourite song), or make a beeline for Beav’s Bar if a soulful acoustic sesh is more your thing. Lamby’s Tavern, Pistol Pete’s and Black Hatt are also all fab spots to enjoy some tunes. And as part of Geelong’s new Music in the City program, there will be performances every weekday by some of the city’s most talented up-and-coming musicians at a pop-up stage on Little Malop Street. 

Visit the National Wool Museum

Geelong is a city synonymous with the wool industry – after all, sheep farming began here in 1853, and the opening of the first wool mill followed in 1868. So it makes perfect sense for the National Wool Museum to be located in a place once heralded as ‘the wool centre of the world’. At this acclaimed institution you can discover why fleece was at the heart of the Australian economy for nearly 200 years via a carefully curated collection of documents, images, machinery, fashion items and historic wool-related objects. And don’t miss Wadawurrung Dja: Awakening Country (on until November 13), which features a vibrant mix of paintings and textile works by proud Wadawurrung woman Dr Deanne Gilson, or the ongoing exhibition On the Land: Our Story Retold, which explores the past, present and future of Australian wool. 

Stroll along Wangim Walk

Named after the Wadawurrung word for boomerang, Wangim Walk is the newest addition to Geelong’s waterfront area. The 440-metre long public pier – which is shaped like a boomerang, hence the name – stretches out into Corio Bay to form one of Australia’s longest on-water walkways. It also acts as a floating breakwater to protect the boats moored at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. You can stroll the entirety of the pier while admiring lovely views of the bay, or bring your rod and cast a line – there is snapper, flathead, salmon and whiting to be caught. 

Check out Salt Contemporary Art

Browse paintings, sculptures and ceramics by Australian artists at Salt Contemporary Art in Queenscliff. Established in 2004 within a former drapery store, the gallery plays host to a regularly changing exhibition schedule, as well as exclusive art events, lectures and tours. The works are spread across two spacious levels, and include stunning pieces by the likes of Craig Parnaby, Robyn Rankin, John Baird and Marina Strocchi. Salt Contemporary Art also runs a biannual Indigenous exhibition showcasing Aboriginal art from around the country, and there’s even a private client viewing room. 

See the King Billy mural

If you’ve ever stood at the corner of Little Malop Street and Denny’s Place in Geelong, chances are you’ve had the privilege of seeing the spectacular King Billy mural. Believed to be the last of the local Wadawurrung people, King Billy (also known as Willem Baa Niip or William Gore) was a well-respected and influential man who fought for his right to live on the land with his mob. He was immortalised by street artist Cam Scale in 2014, who created the nearly two-storey-high portrait using brushes, rollers and spray paint.

Take a ride on the Blues Train

All aboard the Blues Train! Experience a mini music festival – complete with four incredible live acts – as this historic locomotive chugs along the Bellarine Railway. It starts and finishes at Queenscliff, and on this evening journey you’ll be able to enjoy a selection of fab local bevvies, chow down on a delicious buffet dinner and listen to some blues and roots music. Don’t expect to be sitting in the same spot for the entire time, either – at each stop (there are three in total) you’re encouraged to swap carriages so you can mingle, dance and catch a different performer.

Competition – win a dream getaway to the Great Ocean Road or Geelong and The Bellarine

How would you like to win a fantastic road trip discovering these cultural experiences for yourself? Tourism Greater Geelong and The  Bellarine is giving away two unforgettable Victorian escapes. Simply head to the Great Ocean Road/Geelong and The Bellarine Facebook or Instagram account, answer a few simple questions, and you’ll be entered into the draw. Good luck!

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