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Museums, History and Heritage

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Museums, History & Heritage

Much of the region's maritime history and heritage is still visible in the lighthouses that dominate the landscape at various points along the road.  In Queenscliff the Maritime Museum celebrates the town's background in the marine industry with fantastic displays. 

Also in Queenscliff, Fort Queenscliff is an interesting look at a still functioning Australian Defence Force facility that was initially built on the cliff overlooking the Rip to protect ships during the gold rush of the 1800's.

Torquay's position as the capital of the international surf industry makes the local museum 'Surfworld' ideally placed to deliver a historic look at the origins of surfing and the phenomenon it has become.

Geelong grew on the back of the sheep, and the 1800's bluestone building in the centre of town that now houses the National Wool Museum was initially a woolstore facility.  The wool industry in Geelong was built around the need for wool grown in the surrounding districts to be processed and shipped internationally from the docks on Corio Bay.  Also in Geelong, the Ford Discovery Centre is an interactive museum profiling the history of Ford in Geelong as well as giving a behind the scenes look at the design, engineering and manufacturing processes in the automobile industry.

Across the broader region, there are several National Trust properties open to the public that give an indication of early life in the region.  There are also a range of interpretive historic sites, such as the old mill site at Triplet Falls and guided heritage walks in towns such as Queenscliff.

Historic means of transport in the region have been preserved by the Bellarine Railway, with their steam hauled engines still running on weekends and holidays and also powering The Blues Train - a moving, progressive concert on board.

Highlights

Barwon Grange

Barwon Grange is an elegant intact brick home dating from Geelong's earliest residential settlement. It was built in 1855 and reflects the aspirations of middle class businessman Jonathan Porter O'Brien and his family who had emigrated from Liverpool. The picturesque Gothic style architecture includes steep gables, unusual decorative timber bargeboards and veranda parapet. The interior contains a fine collection of early Victorian furniture and fittings faithfully accumulated according to an inventory compiled when the house was auctioned in 1856. The garden complements the house with a Victorian fountain. Lawns sloping down to the Barwon River are planted with species from a mid-19th century plant catalogue.

Steiglitz Historic Park

Situated between Geelong and Ballarat, Steiglitz is almost a ghost town today but in the 1860s and 1890s it was a busy goldmining township with hotels, shops, churches and a population of over 1000. At the height of the 1860s gold rush, Steiglitz township had more than 1500 residents, four hotels, a newspaper, a variety of shops and even an undertaker. Now most of the town and its surroundings are included in the Steiglitz Historic Park. Enjoy a pleasant bushwalk, relax with a picnic or pan for gold. Of course, a trip to the park wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Steiglitz Court House, with its display of photographs, maps and relics of gold year. The court house is open on Sunday and public holidays, and at other times by arrangement. Before you go Conditions can change in parks for many reasons. For the latest information on changes to local conditions, please visit the relevant park page on the Parks Victoria website. Be bushfire ready in the great outdoors. Refer to the Bushfire Safety section on the Parks Victoria website for tips on how to stay safe.

The Heights Heritage House and Garden

The Heights Heritage House and Garden dates back to the 1850s. The house was built in 1855 and is remarkable for being the largest (14 rooms) German, prefabricated house in Victoria. During the 1930s, the building was extensively altered to reflect contemporary taste although the extensive gardens, stables, outbuildings and water tower survive intact from the 19th century. The Heights retains a small collection of fine Georgian furniture collected by the last owners, Louis and Marnie Whyte. Early 1860s plantings still dominate this beautiful Geelong garden today and the aged oaks and conifers provide great delight to visitors.

Geelong Gaol Ghost Tours

The Geelong Gaol is one of Australia's most intact 19th century convict prisons and is believed to be one of the most haunted buildings in Victoria. A three story behemoth, it housed a host of convicts, murderers, lunatics and street children under extreme conditions. Four men were executed and one buried within its walls. Construction began in 1849, the prison was designed along the Pentonville plan to contain convicts being brought directly from England before being shipped across the colony. Tiny cells, lack of toilets and facilities and freezing cold temperatures made Geelong Gaol a virtual dungeon till the day it closed. Closing in the 1990's this is the one prison Chopper Read said he never wanted to go back to. Ghost and Paranormal tours of the Geelong Gaol run seven nights a week. Partnered ghost tours are at Beechworth Lunatic Asylum and Murder Tours of Beechworth, Carlton and Chinatown in Melbourne

Barwon Park

Barwon Park is a majestic 42 room bluestone mansion set in a sweeping rural landscape, built in 1871 for Thomas and Elizabeth Austin. The Enclosed bluestone courtyard catering for up to 120 guests, provides a stylish and enchanting venue for wedding receptions and functions. The elegant formal dining room with its superb polished tables and balloon-back chairs is available for smaller functions and receptions and caters for up to 30 guests. Barwon Park also features a novel cast iron veranda, monumental entrance hall and magnificent central staircase. The mansion captures the glory of Victoria's pastoral heritage. Visitors to Barwon Park are truly rewarded with a vision from the past.

National Wool Museum

The National Wool Museum is housed in a beautifully restored 1872 bluestone wool store close to the vibrant new Waterfront Geelong. The Museum is Australia's largest comprehensive museum of wool, showcasing the region's wool story from the sheep's back to the clothes rack, and from the birth of the industry in the 1840's to its place in the world today. Central to the Museum experience is the 1910 built Axminster Jacquard carpet loom. Daily demonstrations by the Museum's skilled carpet weavers show how the loom works, and at the same time produce the Museum's own Manor House Rug, available for purchase through the Museum Shop. The Museum has two permanent galleries telling the Australian story of wool. The first, The Wool Harvest, looks at sheep farming and wool production. Exploring the pastoral aspect of wool in Australia, visitors can follow the path of the fleece through shearing, classing, wool pressing and dispatch. A recreated shearing shed and a film about shearing demonstrate what life in the shearing industry was like. Shearing demonstrations can be arranged for group bookings. Gallery Two, From Fleece to Fabric, looks at the processing of wool into fabric and offers an insight into the people and processes involved in the textile industry. A sequential display of the machinery actually used in the process demonstrates the transformation of fleece to fabric. The Museum also has an exciting annual calendar of temporary exhibitions and events. On the ground floor, the Museum Shop stocks a wide range of woollen products and unique local crafts while Denny's Kitchen (previously Black Sheep Cafe) offers great food, wines, coffee and cakes. The Museum is fully wheel chair accessible and there are accessible parking spaces located directly in front of the Museum. Bus parking and group tours are also available.

Surf World Museum

The Surf World Museum in Torquay, Australia’s surfing capital, celebrates the story of surfing. It also charts Australia’s significant contribution to the development of surfing around the world. Through the colourful and exciting permanent displays and temporary exhibitions of important surfing artefacts and memorabilia, the museum commemorates Australia’s fantastic surfing heritage and rich beach culture. An unforgettable experience, Surf World provides the opportunity to immerse yourself in one of Australia’s most popular pastimes. It’s a place where you can experience or relive, surfing’s sense of fun, and marvel at the changes that have taken place over the years. We look forward to welcoming you.

Tour Geelong - Geelong Tour Guides

Geelong is not only a top global tourist destination as it has the world's best tour guide. Geelong entertainer Colin Mockett was named World's Best Tour Guide by a coach party of (mainly American) Seabourn Odyssey tourists at the end of their four-hour tour in February 2014. Colin recruited and tutored Geelong's other cruise-liner tour-guides, too, mainly from the city's entertainment and theatre communities. Colin is an entertainer as well as a member of the Historical Society and Tourism agency. But good guides are just part of the Geelong tour experience. History has gifted Geelong facilities second to none as an Australian destination. Geelong has the lot. The world's oldest living culture, the Wathaurong community has been here for 60,000 years, a century of wool heritage and fortunes made from the gold rushes led to our art-deco landscaped waterfront. The industrial sector was built on a wealth of migrant/refugee labour and now Geelong is re-inventing itself yet again in the post-industrial era as a university city with a strong tourism culture. Colin and the guides do not only display all this to luxury liner passengers. Colin conducts walking tours for groups and schools, provides step-on guides for bus tourists and bespoke tours for conventions and events. Geelong has the lot and excellent guides to display it.
 

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Packages & Offers

High Tea on the High Seas - Searoad Ferries

Experience High Tea on the High Seas in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge on board the Queenscliff Sorrento Ferry.

Blues Train & BIG 4 Beacon Resort - May and August

Enjoy the legendary Blues Train and the equally legendary BIG4 Beacon Resort with this package, from $497 for two people.

Family Supatramp & Stay Package at BIG4 Beacon Resort

Bring the kids and their bucketloads of energy to BIG 4 Beacon Resort with this Supatramp accommodation deal for 2 adults and 2 children, from $459.

High Tea on the High Seas - Searoad Ferries

Experience High Tea on the High Seas in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge on board the Queenscliff Sorrento Ferry.
Enjoy table service in elegant surroundings, exquisite food, quality tea and real coffee!

$40.00 per person and includes immediate return travel on the same ferry for a leisurely experience.

Every Sunday from February to November
12pm sailing from Sorrento
3pm sailing from Queenscliff.

To book visit www.searoad.com.au or contact 03 5258 3244

 

Blues Train & BIG 4 Beacon Resort - May and August

Enjoy the legendary Blues Train and the equally legendary BIG4 Beacon Resort with this package, from $497 for two people:

  • $40.00 per person and includes immediate return travel on the same ferry for a leisurely experience.
  • 2 nights accommodation.
  • Charcuterie Plate dinner and live band at Flying Brick Cider House, and a 1 litre cider ‘Growler’ to take home.
  • $50 voucher for Mud Day Spa, located at the resort.
  • Breakfast hamper.
  • Extend your stay with early check in (10am) and late check out (6pm).
  • P: 5258 1133 or book online

Only valid for Blues Train events in May and August 2015. Terms & conditions apply.

 

Family Supatramp & Stay Package at BIG4 Beacon Resort

Bring the kids and their bucketloads of energy to BIG 4 Beacon Resort with this Supatramp accommodation deal for 2 adults and 2 children, from $459.

  • 2 nights in a Queenscliff cabin.
  • A Supatramp pass for each child including an hour of clip ‘n climb and an hour of trampolining, plus socks and $10 to spend in the café.
  • 1 hour GoKart hire at the resort.
  • Unlimited DVD hire and a milkshake for each child from the resort shop.
  • Late 6pm checkout.
  • P: 1800 351 152 or book online

Offer available from 11 March to 30 April 2015. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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