Located directly below Geelong’s CBD is the Geelong Waterfront. This is the prime location of the city with great dining, entertainment and accommodation overlooking Corio Bay. Geelong Waterfront stretches between Cunningham Pier and Eastern Beach and has been designed brilliantly to give you a very good time.
Whether coming from the city or along Western beach you are greeted by an array of metal sculptures representing sailing boats out on Corio Bay (not shark fins as someone suggested to me recently). There is a spacious lawn between the road and the water as well as a timber and metal walkway that protrudes out into the water. If you are adventurous you can take a seaplane or helicopter ride out over the bay with views of the city.
A feature of the Geelong Waterfront is the Carousel. Inside a purpose built glass structure is a e Armitage-Herschell steam driven, hand-carved wooden carousel from 1892. It has 36 Dare horses and 2 chariots and is available to be ridden on throughout the day. Inside the building is the Visitor Information Booth and toilets for those in need.
The other reason for visiting the Geelong Waterfront is the dining. There are restaurants on the water, over the water and across from the water. It includes Thai, French, Australian Contemporary, and pancakes. You can also park on Cunningham Pier and dine in one of the restaurants at the end of the pier. I nearly always visit the Waterfront when in Geelong and recommend you try it as well.
The Geelong Botanic Gardens are situated in Eastern Park just around the corner from Eastern Beach. These magnificent gardens are not to be missed and are one of the best gardens I have ever visited. Being over 150 years old, the Botanic Gardens give the opportunity to experience the foresight of Geelong’s founders as well as enjoying the addition in 2002 of a new section at the entrance with a 21st century style.
In the 1850’s an ambitious plan to set up over 80 hectares of botanical gardens was undertaken but not completed. Realising their plans didn’t fit in with the harsh climate it was decided to limit the area to around 2 hectares and eventually just under 4 as it is now.
I enjoy visiting botanic gardens in any town. They are an opportunity to see plants and trees not being grown by the general public. They are also a place of peace and beauty that anyone can escape to, from a busy city or town and they’re nearly always free.
The Geelong Botanic Gardens are colorful lush gardens and hothouses that are well worth a couple of hours on your next visit. Huge shade and palm trees adorn gardens filled with flowers and bushes from around the world. It’s not just the plants though. The statues and fountains throughout the gardens are a pleasure and the walking tracks are designed to break up the views so it’s like walking through several gardens.
The new section added in 2002 takes advantage of drier climate plants and has what I regard as a futuristic look. I prefer the older section but enjoy walking through the new section as well. Check it out and form your own opinion – in 150 years it will just be another heritage section of the Geelong Botanic Gardens.
There is a picnic area with lush lawns and a small cafe – no cappuccinos unfortunately but the tea was nice. The Geelong Botanic Gardens are open 7 days a week.
Eastern Beach is located on the shore of Corio Bay almost at the foot of the city. Over a hundred years old it was renovated at the end of the last century and brought back to its former glory that it so richly deserved. The main pool is a very large shark proof enclosure with two levels of decking surrounding its length with a dock at the deepest end where you can book a sailboat adventure during the better seasons.
This is Geelong’s top beach destination. Art Deco with impressive buildings and sculptures with large palm trees, Eastern Beach is easy to find as it is at the end of Eastern Beach Road along the foreshore. It offers a huge shark proof enclosure (I have only heard of one shark sighting in Geelong but better to be safe than sorry) with diving boards, swimming channels and slides in the centre. On the shore is a large fenced concrete children’s pool with clear glass safety fencing.
The surrounding park has several barbeques, plenty of seating, a playground, shade covers and loads of grassy areas for picnicking. If you don’t want to take your lunch there is an upmarket restaurant upstairs in the pavilion with views of the pool. If you not very cashed up try the dining downstairs which is more casual and quite reasonably priced. As with any good pool there is a kiosk with ice creams and drinks.
To the left of the pool is a long sandy beach that leads back to the Geelong Waterfront. This is a good spot to check out the Bollards or hire a paddle boat. I spent a lot of time swimming here during my youth and still have fond memories of swimming here. For many years it was run down so it is pleasurable to see it back to a very good swimming destination. I recommend giving it a try.