Updated: May 12
Written by Amanda Sherring for Tourism Greater Geelong & The Bellarine
The Bellarine’s rich volcanic soil and inspiring bay views is a magnet for passionate makers and growers. From Drysdale to Queenscliff, you’ll find lush olive groves, blueberries fresh for the picking, creamy goats’ cheese and enough wineries and distilleries to have you reconsidering the size of your liquor cabinet.
Though exploring such a bountiful region can take a bit of mileage. Which brings us to Hop It: The Bellarine's first and only hop-on, hop-off bus service giving wine lovers the chance to taste some of the top-notch wineries on offer (of which there are dozens on The Bellarine).
HOW IT WORKS
Depending on your ticket, your journey will start at either Cunningham Pier in Geelong or Portarlington Pier where a friendly Hop It driver will pick you up to kickstart your journey.
For those arriving in Geelong or Portarlington via Port Phillip Ferries, it’s a short walk from either ferry to your Hop It pick up point.
As a choose-your-own-adventure style tour, you can combine up to five venues from 12 stops on the ‘Blue’ (aka Bellarine) route in whichever order you see fit. Stops generally last one hour, with two hours possible for those who like a slower pace.
You’ll finish back where you started with a new appreciation of wines and gins on The Bellarine. And maybe a fuller liquor cabinet when you get home!
HOW WE DID IT
As a local, a short bike ride to our pick up point at Cunningham Pier helped build an appetite for a day of swirling, sipping, and tasting without the stress of choosing who was designated driver that day.
A 30-minute drive sound tracked by some serious Hop It bangers got us to our first stop at Lethbridge at Hat Rock. Cellar door attendant, Peter, eased us into our first venue, taking us through the collection of wines, most ranked highly by James Halliday.
In no time we were transported to Bennetts on Bellarine where a few glasses and woodfired pizza were calling. Opting to stay a little longer at this stop, two hours rather than one, we settled into our spot under the shady arms of the gum tree with views out to the bay.
Mid-way through the tour and a few glasses in, Hoppers excitedly shared their recommendations and next stops as we made our way to our third venue. For us, it was a change of pace to sample the gin and whiskey at The Whiskery – the cellar door of the Bellarine Distillery.
Our fourth, and final, stop took us to Leura Park Estate, where wine tastings cleverly displayed in test tubes went down far too easy. Full of good food and greater wine, we were dropped back where it all started armed with a list of new favourite drops to take home.
Top tip: It’s easy to get caught in the moment, so setting reminders on your mobile helps ensure you’re back at your pick up spot when you need to be.
MAKE IT A WEEKEND
Keen to experience a bit more of Geelong or The Bellarine? Stay a little longer at central Geelong’s Novotel Geelong, R Hotel or Vue Apartment Hotel or on The Bellarine at the Portarlington Grand Hotel– all brief walks when it comes time to catch the ferry back to the other side of the bay.