Think you know a thing or two about Victoria’s second city? You probably do. But what about the hidden secrets and niche experiences that locals love and our visitors yearn to discover? Let me enlighten you with these 10 things you probably didn’t know about Geelong.
1. Pivotonian Cinema – the little theatre that could
Geelong’s much-loved independent cinema is pocket-sized and perfect for catching arthouse, international and indie flicks. It’s cosy and intimate, seating 71 patrons in plump armchairs with bean bags making up the front row. Grab a made-to-order jaffle and a local wine at the Candy Bar then head in to enjoy the show. Sessions daily.
2. The Old Paper Mills at Fyansford – a heritage highlight
This cluster of magnificent heritage buildings is emerging as Geelong’s newest arts and cultural precinct and a welcome hideaway spot to chill out. Come explore a rich industrial past and delight in a village-like enclave of art gallery and studios, musical performance, a café and, more recently the best value winery in Australia (according to James Halliday) - Provenance Wines.
3. Yarrabee Native Garden at Lara – blooming lovely
Revel in a morning or afternoon tea served in the surrounds of a private five-acre garden bursting with Australian natives and exotics. Explore at your own pace – a covered orchard, berry beds, ponds, a waterfall, winding paths, sunny spots and shady dells.
4. Mabel & Me, On The Road – inspired by travel
Your go-to place for unique products, designed with love by locals. It’s a stretch to call these products souvenirs. They’re more lifestyle pieces, inspired by notions of travel and a distinctive vintage charm. It’s worth visiting just to ogle the huge onsite wall mural of Geelong and the Bellarine. While you’re there, browse the stock and see if you can resist picking up a keepsake or two.
Come meet the pioneering luminaries of Geelong’s yesteryear. Let our lively guides, in full costume, lead you back in history as you wander the cemetery’s paths and graves, bringing alive the tales of early trailblazers and notables.
6. Public – a library café with a garden outlook
Public is a café cleverly integrated into the iconic architecture of the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre. Seating 60 and open 7 days a week, Public nestles between the library dome and beautiful Johnstone Park. It’s the perfect place to bring a book or newspaper and settle in for great coffee, food and wine. The sun-drenched deck is sure to be a summer favourite.
7. Local talent at Woodbin Theatre
Tucked away in a semi-residential street, The Woodbin Theatre is indeed a hidden secret. Geelong Repertory Theatre Company brings a season of performances to this tiny yet versatile theatre space, including a range of genres. It’s a grassroots experience from the moment you enter the foyer, grab an affordable drink at the bar (or a complimentary sherry) and take your seat within a stone’s throw of the stage.
8. Smoking cocktails at 18th Amendment Bar
Keep your eyes peeled … if you blink you’ll miss the entrance to 18th Amendment Bar (and you’ll never forgive yourself). Geelong’s newest bar is shadowy speakeasy-style with a mysterious, hidden vibe that makes the magnificent back-lit bar shine even brighter. This place has ambience and sophistication laid-on and an epic cocktail list of possibilities such as Shimmy Shimmy, Dissy With a Dame, Giggle Water, Char Char Sling and Butter Bramble.
9. Metropolis Gallery – get your art fix with a difference
When you come for The Archy, you’d be mad not check out this must-see independent gallery, exhibiting regional and national artists in ever-changing exhibitions. Metropolis has a reputation for stunning, contemporary art glass – is it just me who stops EVERY time to peer in the window? – but you’ll also find paintings, sculptures, jewellery, limited edition prints and works on paper.
10. To The Unknown Mariner – street art mastery
Executed by Cam Scale, this giant street art mural graces a lofty wall in Brougham Street, honouring Geelong’s maritime heritage. It’s one of many commissioned urban artworks bringing life to the city’s streets. Head out on a solo mission to unearth the latest local masterpieces, starting in the laneways off and around Little Malop Street. Don’t forget to look up.