From fairground rides for little ones to indoor rock climbing for bigger kids, and wildlife encounters fit for all ages, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula has plenty to offer even the pickiest of family members.
1. Barrabool Maze Estate, Geelong
Get the kids off their devices and into the fresh country air at this Greater Geelong destination. Occupying 1.6 hectares, Barrabool Maze Estate’s principal attraction is, of course, its maze, but there are also gardens full of cacti and succulents to tour, as well as a cafe to relax in with a flat white and a wodge of cake.
Try to get out of the Barrabool Maze. (Image: Tourism Geelong)
2. Museum of Play and Art (MoPA), Geelong
A museum built solely to encourage play and creativity among the already inquisitive minds of kids aged one to seven, Geelong’s MoPA is unlike much else on offer in Victoria. Featuring immersive exhibits and interactive art experiences, the museum’s aim is to help engage and educate little ones through play-based learning: think glitter-doused millennial pink water play exhibits, soft play ‘mosh pits’ and more.
A museum built solely to encourage play and creativity among the already inquisitive minds of kids. (Image: Melissa Lau)
3. Adventure Park Geelong
If you’re looking for a family-friendly outing that can easily chew up the better part of a day while exhausting energetic little ones, make a beeline for Victoria’s biggest water theme park. The crowd-pleasing Adventure Park Geelong gives equal billing to water rides, fairground rides and activities, and the entrance fee provides access to all three.
During summer, kids can enjoy corkscrew waterslides more than seven storeys high.
Come summer, the kids can enjoy corkscrew waterslides more than seven storeys high, a meandering lazy river, a waterpark replete with dozens of jets, a Ferris wheel, tea cup ride, small-scale spinning roller coaster and two mini golf courses. If you’re making a day of it, consider renting one of the cabanas or sunbed pods, which offer a little retreat from the mayhem.
Rent one of the cabanas, which offer a little retreat from the mayhem.
In winter the venue offers something a little different. With the water park rides shut for the season, visitors can instead explore a winter wonderland with a vast Christmas lights display, activities including UV face painting, fire twirling and ice sculpting shows, and a snow play zone. Even the food and drink offering is winter themed: think roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate for the kids, and spiced cider or mulled wine for the grown-ups.
4. The Carousel, Geelong
Enjoy a dose of good old-fashioned childhood nostalgia at The Carousel. Housed within a glass pavilion on the city’s waterfront, this sensitively restored hand-carved wooden carousel dates all the way back to the 1890s, and is one of only 200 in operation globally. The fairground ride features two chariots and 36 horses, 24 of which are original. There’s also a mobility lift, enabling wheelchair users to enjoy the vintage fairground ride too.
Housed within a glass pavilion on the city’s waterfront, this sensitively restored hand-carved wooden carousel dates all the way back to the 1890s. (Image: Visit Victoria)
While the carousel now runs on electric power, the original twin-cylinder steam engine that used to power it stands proudly on display and is operated on a regular basis. An attraction in itself, it’s believed to be the only one of its kind in Australia, and possibly one of only five in the world.
You’re sure to enjoy a dose of good old-fashioned childhood nostalgia. (Image: Visit Victoria)
5. Fairy Park, Anakie
Little ones with a penchant for fairy tales will enjoy this self-described ‘medieval wonderland’, home to fairies, elves, hippogriffs and dragons. Set amid the rolling green landscapes of Anakie, a 30-minute drive north-west of Geelong, Fairy Park affords visitors 360-degree views of the local countryside, all the way out to the Corio Bay, from its summit. There are 22 animated fairy tales to explore, as well as an adventure playground, model train set and train museum. Set aside at least 90 minutes to see it all.
Little ones with a penchant for fairy tales will enjoy this ‘medieval wonderland’.
6. The Rock Adventure Centre, Geelong
The perfect training ground for rambunctious or sporty kids aged five and up, The Rock Adventure Centre in Geelong is a vertical playground that will wear out minds as well as bodies. Here you’ll find more than 100 climbs across 25 walls, some up to 12 metres high, ensuring that novices, experts and everyone in between will feel appropriately challenged. Watch on as the kids tackle one of the two auto belays or bond while belaying them yourself. It also houses a huge bouldering cave (with a fully padded floor) that features more than 500m² of problems to solve and physical limits to test.
Take your sporty kids at the vertical playground of The Rock Adventure Centre.
7. The Range at Curlewis, Geelong
Carve out some time for a pitstop at this Geelong driving range where you can thwack a few balls with the family while chewing the fat – no golfing experience necessary. Even teens and tweens who would rather have their noses in phones can be lured into teeing off here, with the bays boasting Toptracer Range screens that allow for a real-time deep dive into your shots.
No golfing experience necessary when you visit The Range at Curlewis.
8. Sea All Dolphin Swims, Queenscliff
Frolic with wild Burrunan dolphins and Australian fur seals to create some core family memories on a half-day tour with Sea All Dolphin Swims.
Create some core family memories on a half-day tour with Sea All Dolphin Swims. (Image: Visit Victoria)
On the Dolphin & Seal Swim, you’ll spend close to four hours on the sheltered aquamarine waters of Port Phillip Bay; keep an eye peeled for bird and marine life and plunge in to get a closer look. There’s no minimum age, and thanks to the buoyancy of the operator’s thick wetsuits you don’t even need to be able to swim to have a crack. Best of all, you’re in the safe hands of a friendly, patient and experienced crew.
Plunge in to get a closer look at the seals. (Image: Visit Victoria)
If your little ones get nervous at the prospect of diving into open water, try the shorter 90-minute Wildlife Sightseeing Tour instead. You’ll eye all kinds of creatures without even getting your feet wet.