Corio bay comes alive over the Australia Day long weekend with The Festival of the Sails hitting the shores of the Geelong waterfront. Hundreds and hundreds of sails flying across the horizon is a beautiful sight.
The Festival of Sails is the largest annual yachting regatta in the Southern Hemisphere. This classic event not only brings with it a competitive international aspect, but also delivers fabulous family fun (featuring a waterfront festival with market stalls, live music, entertainment, carnival rides, food and fireworks).
In the spirit of the Festival of the Sails and feeling rather inspired by the motion of the ocean, we're serving up a few water-side/water-based activities to supersize your trip. Come for The Festival of the Sails, stay for…
A Day by the Water
As you wander the Geelong Waterfront, soaking up the festival atmosphere, check out some permanent (and semi-permanent) attractions that will have your kids (and yourself) buzzing with excitement.
A meticulously restored c.1892 Armitage-Herschell portable steam-driven carousel holds pride of place. The Carousel is housed within a grand floor-to-ceiling glass pavilion, designed specifically to complement this gorgeous piece of heritage design. Climb aboard your trusty stead and take a ride.
Through the warmer months, the beachfront hosts the striking Giant Sky Wheel. Our very own charmingly nostalgic Ferris wheel but on a massive scale (it is the largest travelling Ferris wheel in the southern hemisphere). An incredible vantage point to take in the panoramic views of the waterfront, the cityscape and the surrounding bay.
Toward the western end of the waterfront lies the Youth Activities Area and the Geelong Skate Park. This five star arena (as ranked by the Australian Skate Park Guide) offers fans of all ages and skating/scootering/bmx’ing abilities an environment to master their ollies, fakies, bunnyhops and anything else in their repertoire. Plenty of seating for parents not wanting to climb on board (literally).
A Play in the Water
The Australia Day long weekend generally delivers the sunshine, making ways to cool off are a must. So pack your togs and towel, and make a beeline for Eastern Beach.
Originally built in the 1930s, Eastern Beach's cosmopolitan charm harks back to a simpler time. The kids will love splishing-and-a-splashing in the fully fenced children’s pool. While those a little more adventuous can walk the art deco boardwalk and plunge into the depths of the enclosed sea baths, complete with floating islands and diving towers. Patrolled during the summer months and also equipped with a playground, kiosk, change rooms and BBQ facilities, makes it a perfect family outing.
And don’t forget to follow the famous Bollard Trail and snap a selfie with some of the local residents.
A Stay by the Water
Find yourself planning all of the above and thinking… that's just way too much to do in one day! There is a solution to this problem... stay! Yep, right on the Waterfront. The picturesque promenade is home to some sumptuous accommodation options that all offer views of the water (and the Festival) and easy access to the countless goings-on.
Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong has plenty of guest rooms (ranging from king/double/twin/family rooms to self-contained apartments and even a manor house). There is an onsite restaurant, 24-hour reception, ample (and free) parking, heated outdoor pool & sauna and satellite TV.
Novotel Geelong boasts 109 beautifully appointed modern hotel rooms, all of which feature a balcony. There is a fitness centre, heated indoor pool and steam room (all of which are open 24 hours). And not forgetting the deliciously Mediterranean-inspired waterfront restaurant and bar.
Choose from five apartments and four townhouses at the lovely boutique Waterfront Apartments. Although this accommodation option may be on the smaller scale compared to the above two, the location still lends itself to easily explore the myriad of cafes, restaurants and other iconic Geelong attractions. Access to Novotel’s fitness and swimming facilities are also granted to the guests of The Waterfront Apartments.
Sail into a great long weekend at The Festival of the Sails. Flick the switch to cruise control and stay on to experience all the other spectacular waterfront offerings of Geelong.