TOWN SEARCH
Museum

Museums, History and Heritage

Stay Connected

Connect

Stay connected with us through Facebook and Twitter. We'll keep you updated with events, information and special offers throughout the region.

Not Now Connect
Town Search: Please type a location

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

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

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.

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.

Old Geelong Gaol

The Old Geelong Gaol museum has a great variety of displays that tell the history of the gaol and visitors get hands on experience of the harsh conditions prisoners and staff endured at the facility Open from 1pm - 4pm Saturdays, Sundays, school and public holidays, Visitors can experience solitary confinement cells, get a taste of prison life, meet some infamous figures who have spent time at the gaol and see the original hallows.

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.

Baywalk Bollards

104 bollards line the arc of Waterfront Geelong from Limeburners Point to Rippleside. Artist Jan Mitchell transformed the old timber pier pylons into this colourful piece of public art. Each bollard represents a different character from Geelong's history, from the Wauthaurong and together they tell a fascinating story. Further information and a booklet is available at local Visitor Information Centres.

Geelong Walking Tours

Start your trip to Geelong with a guided walk where you will visit the key attractions, the arts precinct and our stunning Waterfront. Get some inspiration for the remainder of your stay and even some discounts. Walks depart from the National Wool Museum, Cnr Brougham & Moorabool St. The 2 hour walk costs $12 and includes a delicious morning or afternoon tea hosted by Four Points Sheraton Geelong on the spectacular Waterfront. Bookings are essential - 03 5244 7102.

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.

Geelong Gallery

Treat yourself by visiting the Geelong Gallery, one of Australia's leading and oldest regional galleries. From iconic colonial masterpieces to compelling contemporary works of art, the Geelong Gallery is the perfect place to unwind and be inspired. Each year the Gallery presents a vibrant program temporary exhibitions along with a diverse range of artist talks, tours, workshops, lectures and family-friendly activities. Home to a number of iconic works such as Eugene von Guérard's 'View of Geelong' (1856), Frederick McCubbin's 'A bush burial' (1890) and Arthur Streeton's 'Ocean blue, Lorne' (1921), the Gallery's significant collection spans the art of Australia from the colonial period to the present day and includes Australian and international paintings, works on paper, sculpture and decorative arts. For further information please view the Geelong Gallery website or connect on Facebook. Drop-in tours of the permanent collection each Saturday from 2pm. Entry is free.

Geelong Heritage Centre

The Geelong Heritage Centre is Victoria's largest regional archive and history resource facility. The Centre provides public access to collection records for family history research, legal administrative recall, establishing citizen's rights and entitlements, cultural enjoyment and historical display purposes. The archive collection embraces the histories of locations in the City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast and Golden Plains Shires, dating back to 1838. The Geelong Heritage Centre has an extensive local and family history collection that includes council records, newspapers, reference works, maps and plans, photographs and oral histories. The Centre provides assistance and guidance to members of the general public in family, local history and school projects. The Geelong Heritage Centre has exhibitions of collection material for free public viewing all year round , and most of these displays are developed to enhance understanding of significant historic events, and, or celebrate anniversaries of major 'milestones' in Geelong and local district history. The Geelong Heritage Centre Reading Room is located on Level Two at the National Wool Museum in Geelong. The Centre collection consists of approximately 2 km of shelved archived material including over 40,000 images and more than 30km of microfilm. The Centre has a permanent staff of three, supported by a team of dedicated volunteers who help in a variety of ways. In 2012, the Centre received over 7000 visitor and client inquiries. The local community, as well as visitors from Melbourne and regional Victoria, interstate and international tourists have discovered amazing information about their ancestors who have lived, worked or travelled through the Geelong and surrounding region in the past. Visit online via the Centre's web page and access to the new historic image library is attached to it .

The Blues Train

Victoria's historic coastal town of Queenscliff is home to the world's one and only Blues Train. It is a unique experience that combines four of Australia's best live acts and the beautiful scenery of the Bellarine Peninsula on the Drysdale Railway line while aboard a real moving vintage steam train. It is one of Australia's most spectacular entertainment experiences - it is a mini festival in one night and a progressive party you'll never forget. Nothing captures the spirit of the blues quite like a steam train. Listening to the train whistle and the clickety-clack on the tracks you can imagine the old blues masters jamming it up on Mississippi freight trains as they were 'ridin' the blinds' around America's deep south. The Blues Train leaves Queenscliff Railway Station after guests have enjoyed a delicious meal complemented by fine Australian and local wines. The steam train then makes its way along 16 kilometres of track, gently rocking from side to side, seemingly in beat with the music. At each of the stops, Suma Park and Drysdale, revellers swap carriages to see another of the acts, so by the end of the night patrons have seen all four acts performing on the train. Drinks are available from the mobile bar that miraculously appears on each platform (from the converted guard's van). You can sit back, relax and listen to the music with a drinking on one of the seated carriages or get up and boogie the blues away in one of the dance carriages. Please visit the website for the different show dates.

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.

Bellarine Railway

The Bellarine Railway is a volunteer operated organisation located on the Bellarine Peninsula, offering heritage train rides and experiences between Queenscliff and Drysdale, on board a collection of steam and diesel trains originating from around Australia. The heritage service is available on Sundays, most public holidays, as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school holidays. Extra running days are available of the summer holidays. Carriage hire is available as part of the heritage service and perfect for children's parties or groups looking for the benefits of private train hire without the added cost. Experiences and special events offered are Steam and Diesel Train Driver Experiences, a Day out with Thomas weekends, Special occasion and wedding charters, Mid-week steam and diesel trips, Tailored group and school tours and Home of The Blues Train. Gift certificates and vouchers are available for all services, experiences and events.
 

Where Can I Stay?

Use our accommodation
finder to find and book online.
 

What Can I Do?

Plan your perfect getaway
before leaving the house.
 

Where Can I Eat & Drink?

Plan and locate your eating
and drinking options.
 

What's On?

Discover all the exciting
events in our region.

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.

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

 

Connect with us for the latest deals, offers and info

Keep up to date with offers, events and information from around the region.