Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula Wine Region
Geelong, Australia, has a history nearly as old as Australia itself. First visited in 1802 by Matthew Flinders, this district, located less than an hour from Melbourne, Victoria, still maintains much of its heritage. Many of the local names, including Geelong, Malop, Moolap, Gheringhap and others are derived from the language of the original inhabitants, the Wathaurong tribe.
Geelong was officially pronounced a town in 1838 with a grand population of 545 inhabitants and the standard infrastructure of a hotel, church, general store and wool store. Only four years later the first Geelong, Victoria vineyards were planted by Swiss and German settlers in Barrabool Hills.
Though the district supported 116 vineyards by 1869, many collapsed after an outbreak of phylloxera vine aphid in 1875. Today, the Geelong wine region boasts over 50 vineyards growing a strong, diverse range from pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and shiraz, with over 20 open to the public for cellar-door tastings. Once, Geelong hotels catered mostly to sailors. Now, the historic docks and hotels are transformed into up-market restaurants and cafés and luxury accommodation.