Just an hour away from Melbourne’s CBD lies Geelong, a charming port city surrounded by sprawling sea views, world class wineries and an emerging dining scene. A former hub for major industry – the region was once home to Ford’s first Australian manufacturing site – Geelong is in the midst of reinventing itself as both a leisure and business destination. Bonnie Tai hits the road to find out what’s new in the region and why it makes for the perfect spot to host your next event.
Eat: Wah Wah Gee
Wah Wah Gees delivers Asian fusion cuisine at its funkiest. The waterfront venue is vibrant and colourful and the atmosphere is electric. Indulge in a crispy chicken bun (or two) all the while enjoying a cocktail from the extensive mason jar cocktail menu. Wah Wah Gee can accommodate groups larger than 30 upon request.
Stay: Novotel Geelong
Novotel Geelong is ideally positioned directly on the waterfront and in the heart of the city’s CBD. The property offers 109-keys, many with sea views and sunny balconies. There is complimentary Wi-Fi; a 24 hour fitness centre; and an onsite restaurant serving up Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Perfect for corporate meetings and events, Novotel Geelong also offers five flexible meeting spaces and an onsite team ready to assist you in executing the perfect event. Pro tip: Enquire about Novotel’s Inbalance Meetings program for a super zen conferencing experience.
Eat: Terindah Estate
Just 20 minutes away from Geelong is Terindah Estate, a beautiful boutique winery right on the water. The award-winning winery produces pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, rose, zinfandel and shiraz, with its cellar door open for both private and public tastings. Terindah Estate’s food philosophy is to create delectable meals using only the region’s freshest produce; the fish is from Port Phillip Bay and the mussels are from Port Arlington. For events, Terindah Estate offers a private dining room capable of hosting 200 guests sit down. There are also plenty of scenic outdoor spaces that can be easily configured to tailor each occasion and group size.
Play: GolfBoarding at Curlewis Golf Club
Curlewis is not your typical golf club. Here, the dress code is “hip” and the venue is proudly “anti-elitist”. If you want to wear a tee shirt or a cap indoors, the club is all for it. And we say ‘amen’ to that. While it’s entirely possible to play your standard round of 18 holes here, what draws the crowd in is its FootGolf offering. The rules of FootGolf are the same as in normal golf – complete 9 to 18 holes in the fewest possible number of kicks. The only thing different is the ball is a soccer ball and instead of a golf cart, you can ride around on surf riders (think segways crossed with surfboards). And we can attest it makes for an amazing teambuilding activity.
Eat: Jack Rabbit
Get wined and dined at Jack Rabbit, a quirky winery situated in The Bellarine. Whilst the Jack Rabbit team is undoubtedly serious about their wine and food, the vibe about the venue is fun and completely unpretentious. There are two dining venues suitable for group bookings onsite, each offering spectacular views of the You Yangs and the sea. The House of Jack Rabbit is perfect for private wine tastings and casual dinners; whilst the award-winning Jack Rabbit restaurant offers an amazing a la carte menu showcasing the region’s best produce.
Unleash your inner child at Supatramp Geelong. With over 80 plus interconnected trampolines, dodgeball courts and a climbing arena, the team building possibilities for corporate groups at this playground are endless. There are also private rooms available onsite for hire for a quick motivating pow-wows before your group activity begins.
Eat: Sip cocktails at The 18th Amendment Bar
The 18th Amendment Bar is a speakeasy hidden away on Little Malop Street in the centre of town. From the collection of vintage shakers which date back to the 1850s to the custom-made bathtub table paying homage to the illegal gin trade in the prohibition era; every corner of this venue lures you in for a closer look. The venue, run by award-winning mixologist Gorge Camorra, runs like a sit-down restaurant, with its capacity capped at 93. Camorra is a showman and puts a theatrical spin when serving up his signature cocktails. The Potion 2:11 cocktail comes highly recommended.
Eat: The National Hotel
The National Hotel is Geelong’s newest gastro pub, serving up modern Australian cuisine with a twist. There are three levels to enjoy, each offering up a difference experience. On a warm day, wander up to the rooftop bar to enjoy the sun and take in the sprawling city views. A private function room which seats 65 is also available for larger groups.
Meet: GMHBA Stadium
The GMHBA Stadium (formerly Simonds Stadium) has seen a massive multi-million dollar refurbishment, revealing slick new function rooms, an inviting welcome café, and improved amenities. Choose from an array of different flexible spaces to hold your next event including the Presidents Lounge, Social Club, the Centurions Lounge and more. If you get in early you may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the regions pride and joy – the Geelong Cats – training for their next match as you sip on your morning latte.
Eat: Little Creatures
Taste your way through Little Creatures’ hopping good repertoire of cold ones on a private tour of the brewery, and learn about the intricacies of brewing beer. There are two venues suitable for holding private events on site; the White Rabbit Barrel Hall and The Canteen. During the summer months, Mystery Lane transforms itself into a buzzing craft market and supports local artists selling their wares.