Bellarine Peninsula is the western arm of land around the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. Just over an hour from Melbourne and with the townships generally not more than ten kilometres apart, there is plenty to see on the Bellarine Peninsula on a day tour or stop in one place for the perfect short break.
Activities on include all the water-based sports and pleasures you can think of - snorkelling, jet-skiing, swimming with dolphins, surfing, kayaking, fishing, marine sanctuaries, sailing and more. World class wineries are peppered throughout the area, as are superb restaurants, quaint cafes, fresh local seafood and Sunday markets.
The Bellarine Peninsula is dotted with many villages and holiday resorts. One of the best ways to get a feel for them is with a driving tour. The Peninsulaˆ‚s compact nature and excellent roads make it easy to get around. These towns include Barwon Heads, Clifton Springs, Drysdale, Indented Head, Ocean Grove, Portarlington, Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff, St Leonards and Wallington.
The Borough of Queenscliffe, situated on the peninsula is the last remaining borough left in Victoria, and was the only Local Government Area to escape change in the mass Victorian munincipality reorganisation of the early 1990s. This was enacted by Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett. If the rules applied everywhere else in the state were applied here, the Borough of Queenscliffe would have become part of the City of Greater Geelong.
The Peninsula enjoys a long and colourful history that took a radically different course with the start of white exploration and the subsequent colonisation and development that ensued. Today there is ample evidence of the early days of white settlement with many historic buildings dotted around the Peninsula's villages. Remnants of Aboriginal civilisation are much harder to find.
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Dozens of bird species, native wildlife and rare and endangered flora populate the Bellarine Peninsula. Nature reserves, bays, lagoons and wetlands provide the habitat for birds and other animals. Most sites are easily accessed, and some have facilities, including bird hides and picnic areas. At Barwon Heads, Jirrahlinga Koala & Wildlife Sanctuary allows visitors a close-up look at native animals.
One of the arms that form Swan Bay, Edwards Point State Reserve is a popular bird-watching area, especially for rare species like the orange-bellied parrot. Access to the reserve is off Bluff Road, St Leonards. There are dozens of species that inhabit and forage in the area, including wrens, goshawks and wading birds.
The bay's ecosystem is based on seagrass, intertidal mudflats and salt marshes, and is one of the healthiest of its kind in Port Phillip. In summer and autumn, black swans feed on seagrass while pelicans, cormorants and other water birds can be identified. The rare and endangered orange-bellied parrot uses the saltmarshes as a winter refuge and feeding ground.
How To Get There
The city of Melbourne is the hub of the state of Victoria, with all forms of transport radiating out from it. The region can be accessed by road west from Melbourne via Geelong.
Best Time To Go
As Victoria has a temperate climate, there is no one season or month that the visitor needs to avoid, except perhaps summer (December - February), if you find hot weather unbearable. In and around Melbourne, which gets more cloud and disturbed weather despite a lower rainfall, sunshine hours per day in winter (June - August) are three to four as against seven to eight in summer. Cold spells are brief and never severe on the coast, and temperatures can drop much lower inland in winter.