Hiking, skydiving, mountain biking, scuba diving and more: these activities in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula promise to satisfy even the most adventurous of souls.
1. Hiking, Brisbane Ranges National Park
Once an area awash with gold prospectors, the Brisbane Ranges National Park is now mined by hikers for its natural beauty, plentiful trails, and abundant flora and fauna. The terrain here is gently undulating – though some walks traverse the park’s sharp rocky cliffs and gullies – and is populated with rare wattles, grevilleas, gum trees and bush peas. Among its superlative features, the Brisbane Ranges National Park is home to the greatest density of koalas in Victoria, as well as an abundance of birdlife (up to 180 species of birds frequent the park) and the richest wildflower habitat in the state.
The Brisbane Ranges National Park is now mined by hikers for its natural beauty. (Image: Visit Geelong & The Bellarine)
With more than a dozen walks, ranging from 10 minutes to three days’ duration, there are ample attractions for even the most demanding hiker. Should you wish to wander longer amid the great Aussie bush, there are two drive-in campgrounds within the park’s boundaries, too.
2. Mountain biking, You Yangs Regional Park
Looking for an adrenaline hit with a side serve of beautiful views and birdlife spotting? Bike and hike your way around the You Yangs Regional Park. The granite ridges of this mountain range rise just 320 metres, but the scrub and gum tree-freckled slopes hide a plethora of trails made for those on two wheels. The four-kilometre Cressy Descent loop is one of the mountain’s frontrunners for hardcore enthusiasts, and experienced mountain bikers will enjoy the array of jumps and technical twisting sections of this long fast single track.
The You Yangs is fantastic mountain biking terrain. (Image: Visit Victoria)
If you’d like to linger for longer, take a wildlife tour with conservation-focused operator Echidna Walkabout.
The granite ridges of this mountain range rise just 320 metres. (Image: Visit Geelong & The Bellarine)
3. Hot air ballooning, Geelong
Make like Phileas Fogg and sail through the skies above Geelong and the wider Bellarine Peninsula. You’ll ascend over the rugged coastline, urban sprawl and patchwork of rolling green farmland all draped in gossamer morning mists as the sun slowly rises above the horizon. Local operators Liberty Balloon Flights and Geelong Ballooning offer airborne adventures.
Ascend over the rugged coastline, urban sprawl and patchwork of rolling green farmland. (Image: Visit Geelong & The Bellarine)
4. Snorkelling, St Leonards
Don your snorkel, tighten those goggles and wade into the water at St Leonards Pier; you might be surprised at what you’ll find lurking under the waves. This Bellarine Peninsula locale is a hotspot for snorkellers, as the pier’s pylons are a playground for seahorses, nudibranchs, puffer fish, stargazers and rays by day, and southern bobtail squid and octopus by night, all just a few metres below the water’s surface.
5. Swimming with dolphins, Queenscliff
When the call of the water beckons and you’re searching for a one-of-a-kind experience, sign up for a tour with Sea All Dolphin Swims. On a half-day adventure in Port Phillip Bay you’ll get up close and personal with Australian fur seals and, with any luck, encounter a pod or two of wild bottlenose dolphins and some stingrays, too.
Sign up for a tour with Sea All Dolphin Swims. (Image: Visit Geelong & The Bellarine)
6. Scuba diving, Queenscliff
Sheer drop-offs, sponges and soft corals in a riot of colours and textures, and an abundance of sea life, from thousands of small baitfish to southern rock lobsters, southern blue devils and wrasse: the appropriately named Spectacular Reef is just one of a handful of special dive sites in the Port Phillip Bay that are accessible from the coastal town of Queenscliff. Beyond the bay’s reefs there are also a number of historic shipwrecks begging to be explored, as well as kelp forests to discover. To hit the water, give Scubabo Dive a call.
7. Adventure flight, Barwon Heads
Only true adrenaline junkies with strong stomachs need apply for an aerobatic adventure. With Adventure Flight Co you’ll take to the skies in an original ex-military fighter aircraft – the Nanchang CJ-6A, which is capable of powering from 0 to 300 kilometres an hour in less than five seconds – and tackle all manner of aerobatic manoeuvres. Performing loops, spins and rolls, the pilot will slowly dial up the g-force over the course of your flight (unless, of course, you’d rather just cut to the chase and up the ante from the get-go).
Only true adrenaline junkies with strong stomachs need apply for an aerobatic adventure. (Image: Visit Geelong & The Bellarine)
8. Skydiving, Barwon Heads
It doesn’t get much more adventurous than jumping out of a prop plane from an altitude of 15,000 feet, so if you’re in the mood for some serious thrills, book in with Skydive Australia. You’ll freefall for close to a minute at speeds that top more than 200 kilometres an hour, until your tandem instructor releases the parachute and you float back down, gazing over the rugged coastline and towns and cities that make up the Great Ocean Road dropzone.
If you’re in the mood for some serious thrills, book in with Skydive Australia. (Image: Visit Geelong & The Bellarine)