Gastrology recently spent the weekend in Geelong and The Bellarine, home to some of Australia’s finest gourmet producers, celebrated eateries and renowned winemakers.

Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city, boasts a stunning waterfront bustling with activity. The waterfront, with its whimsical bollards, has prime position on a north-facing bay, rare in the Southern Hemisphere. The waterfront hosts markets, events and has many places for a lazy lunch. Across Geelong, old industrial spaces have been reinvented as new galleries and on-trend cafés. There are museums, galleries and mainstream and boutique shops to explore.

6pm: Pre-dinner drinks at Geelong Cellar Door

We started our Geelong gastronomic journey meandering along Little Malop to discover the city's thriving foodie scene before stopping for a pre-dinner drink at Geelong Cellar Door.

Geelong Cellar Door is a truly local wine bar and store. Located in the heart of Geelong’s vibrant inner CBD, the bar conveys an ‘old world’ charm, look and feel with the ambience of a smart, sophisticated wine bar space. Geelong Cellar Door proudly showcases a fantastic array of premium cool climate wines produced within the Greater Geelong wine region. It is a ‘one stop shop’ for wine lovers, with the most comprehensive range of local wines on offer. We enjoyed chatting to the knowledgeable staff that guided us through the wine list. 

Location: 97-99 Lt Malop Street
Phone: 5229 9568

8pm: Dinner at Restaurant IGNI

IGNI holds the Gourmet Traveller Regional Restaurant of the Year award and also The Age Good Food Guide Regional Restaurant of the Year. Much of this acclaim can be credited to IGNI's head chef, Aaron Turner (The Age Good Food Guide's Chef of the Year), who having acquired his culinary skills from the world’s very best kitchens – those of Denmark’s Noma and Spain’s El Celler De Can Roca to be precise - brings his gastronomical mastery to this sleek restaurant in Geelong's CBD. The unparalleled hospitality provided, and congenial atmosphere created, by the front of house team, including Loam's Andrew Hamilton and Joanna Smith, and new recruit Gareth Burnett (Woodland House), are mere bonuses. 

IGNI's focus is on the open kitchen's charcoal grill with a menu based on conversations had with guests. The menu is fresh and novel, consisting of a list of ingredients rather than a selection of dishes. Diners discuss their preferences, leaving the chef with an array of produce to use at his discretion. 

Our favourite course from the degustation was the Marron, macadamia and nasturtium. The dish deliciously celebrated the subtle sweetness of the marron with the creamy hues from the macadamia brightened by the peppery nasturtium.

The pork belly, carrot and emu bush was yet another notable dish, made particularly memorable by the rehydrated (previously dehydrated) carrot which boasted a beautiful flavour that worked wonders with the pork.

Dessert was similarly well devised. Onion gelato was served with a quinoa crisp and honey comb. Both interesting and absolutely divine.  

With daring flavour combinations that excite and entice along with exceptional service, IGNI is certainly capable of providing a memorable dining experience.

Location: 2 Ryan Place, Geelong
Phone: 5222 2266

Where to stay: Devlin Apartments


Devlin Apartments was opened in April 2016 and is Geelong's first 4.5 star luxury accommodation offering. A mere walking distance from Geelong's CBD, Devlin Apartments boast 37 luxury self-contained short stay apartments and rooms located in the heritage listed Gordon Junior Technical School. Guests can choose from The New Yorker, The Industrial or The Modernist style apartments. 

Location: 312 Moorabool Street, Geelong
Phone: 5222 1560

9am: Breakfast at King of the Castle

King of the Castle opened in 2013 as a hole-in-the-wall café operating out of the storeroom of an old Geelong bakery.

The brainchild of Geelong born and bred Robbie Lecchino, King of the Castle soon became the reinvented space of an empty panel beater shop a few doors down. Robbie spent several years working in the café scene in Melbourne before being drawn back to Geelong.

King of the Castle has succeeded in crafting a convivial atmosphere in which to enjoy a lazy weekend brunch. The ambience is wonderful - bright, airy with splashes of greenery.  Most importantly, friendly and hospitable wait staff will be at your service throughout your meal.

Coffee is brilliant and poured by adept baristas. On the food front, the brunch options are interesting and absolutely delicious. Think big vegan brekky breakfasts with scrambled "eggs" made with tofu and warm breakfast salads of beetroot, avocado and goats cheese.

Location: 24 Pakington Street, Geelong West
Phone: 0418 227 366

11am: Brewery tour of Little Creatures Brewery

Little Creatures Brewery opened in Geelong in December 2013. The Fremantle-based brewer extensively renovated a historic woollen mill in South Geelong, having outgrown the one brewery on the west coast. This new base incorporates brewing facilities, a restaurant and a large bar serving up the range of Little Creatures offerings, including Geelong’s own beer, a refreshing ale named Furphy.

The Brewery conducts public tours every day at 11am and 3pm (with an extra 5pm session from Friday to Sunday) for $15 per person. We loved being taken on a brewery tour of the facilities by tour guide extraordinaire Troy who provided us with an insider's view into the workings of the brewery where you can truly be immersed in the craft of brewing, and get behind the scenes to see for yourself what it takes to run a brewery. 

Location: Little Creatures Brewery, 221 Swanston Street (Corner of Fyans Street), Geelong
Phone: 5202 4009

Next stop:  The Bellarine

Step out of the city and you’ll stumble upon The Bellarine, no more than 30 minutes from Geelong. With its landscape laced with lush vineyards, captivating bay views and coastal villages, The Bellarine is home to exceptional food and wine...CONTINUE READING.