The Road Ahead : February March 2008
40 FEB/MAR 08 travel & leisure STORY JIM MATHERS One of the advantages of a holiday in Victoria is that you can base yourself in Melbourne, then tackle several interesting regions within 90 minutes drive. Such is the case with the Geelong/Bellarine area and the Mornington Peninsula, each of which offer enough attractions for an enjoyable short stay. Both are about an hour's drive from Melbourne. These regions can easily be tackled on one holiday, because you can get from one to the other via the 40-minute Queenscliff- Sorrento ferry across Port Phillip Bay. Geelong was in the news late last year when its home team took out the AFL premiership. But the locals have plenty of other things to be passionate about, aside from football. For starters, the waterfront of Corio Bay is a terrific spot. Check out the colourful Bay Walk Bollards, 104 wooden characters along the 4 km walk from Rippleside Park to Limeburners Point. Cafes, parks and boatsheds feature along the way. Or take to the water with Freedom Bay Cruises. A 40-minute bay cruise (adults $12, children $6) is a relaxing way to acquaint yourself with waterfront Geelong. The boat is very comfortable. Refreshments are available and a commentary covers local history and attractions. The cruises run regularly from 11am on weekends and school holidays between September and May. Group charters are available. Back on shore, if you are looking for lunch or dinner, try Fisherman's Pier Restaurant. It's right on the water and is a local institution. Fisherman's Pier offers an extensive, mainly seafood-based menu (mains from $29), using fresh, local produce. Winner of the Victorian Restaurant & Catering Award for the Best Seafood Restaurant in Victoria, the quality and presentation of its food are impressive. From Geelong, you can explore The Bellarine, with wine, food, history and great scenery on the 'menu'. Pettavel Winery, for example, is one of more than 50 located in the area. The winery's restaurant is a venue sought after by 'foodies'. Open daily, Pettavel has more than 60 ha under vine, covering about 12 varieties. It's Evening Star wines (e.g. sauvignon blanc, riesling and shiraz) are $18 a bottle, and the Platina range (e.g. chardonnay, viognier, pinot noir) cost $27. The wines are highly regarded and the restaurant has won many awards. The food is well prepared and presented, with dishes featuring local produce. Tasting plates with food and wines to match can be arranged. It's a great way to sample Pettavel's expertise in the winery and the kitchen. Book ahead. Located at Drysdale, about 10 km east of Geelong, you'll find Lighthouse Olive Oil (open daily). Take a factory tour and taste the range of olive oils. Soothing down SOUTH The peninsula regions south of Melbourne offer a smorgasbord of touring treats.
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