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The Bellarine Peninsula

Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
To the south-west of Melbourne lies the Bellarine Peninsula, one of Victoria's most picturesque regions. Bordered by Port Phillip Bay to the north and the Bass Strait to the south, this Peninsula provides the perfect combination of hinterland, rugged coastline and smooth bay waters. Touring it in a campervan hire Victoria will unearth geological wonders, natural beauty, a rich cultural heritage and delightful small villages that have retained the quaint charm of a bygone era. If diversity is the spice of life, then the Bellarine Peninsula is all about living. You could fill a thousand touring holidays here, and the hardest part of each one would be deciding where to go and what to see next.

Many people choose the historic town of Queenscliff as a base when they are touring the Peninsula. Steeped in history which is evident in its majestic old buildings, Queenscliff is connected by an isthmus to the Peninsula, and extends out into Phillip Bay, meaning it is surrounded by ocean views whichever side you look. Initially this was an old fishing town, and many of the original fishermen's cottages still stand. More unique architecture is evident in the solid churches dotted throughout the town, and especially in the large military fortress guarding the entrance to Port Philip. To gain local knowledge about the elegant past of this town go on a historic walking tour, which departs from the Queenscliff Visitor Information Centre every Saturday. Whilst in the town be sure to indulge in some of the fabulous restaurants that serve only the freshest seafood. The fish and chipperies here are especially popular, with many of them having won awards.

For amazing ocean views a visit to Point Lonsdale is essential. Situated right on the point of the Bellarine Peninsula, the lighthouse here overlooks the Rip, the notorious entrance to Port Philip Bay where the wild waters of the Bass Strait meet the calmer waters of the bay creating strong and treacherous currents. This small town has some intimate eateries and shops, and you have the benefit of being able to choose from two distinctly different beaches to pass your day at. On the Bass Strait side the large swells create perfect surfing conditions, and on the other side of the point the smooth waters of the Lonsdale Bay beach are perfect for swimming. The white sands of the beach are sheltered from the wind, and perfect for lazing away the hours.

The town of Barwon Heads is one of the most popular tourist spots on the Bellarine Peninsula, and it owes a large amount of this popularity to the filming of the popular television series SeaChange that was filmed here. But there is so much more to this town than a television series. Situated on the banks of the Barwon River Mouth, it lies across the estuary from its twin town of Ocean Grove, also popular amongst visitors to the region. Between these two towns there is plenty to keep you entertained. The ever-popular Thirteenth Beach is an ocean beach that has become a mecca for surfers from around the region. Just north of the town is Reedy Swamp and Lake Connewarre, which are important migratory bird habitats where you can view many species of waterbirds in their native habitats. For panoramic views of the ocean and coast head to 'The Bluff' in your campervan hire, where there is also a monument to those killed in an 1853 shipwreck.

The hinterland of the Bellarine Peninsula is lush and fertile, and the combination of the climate and soils has made it perfect for the production of wine, and some of the countries finest vintages come out of this region. A tour of the cellar doors is essential, and on this tour don't drive past the Bellarine Estate. The friendly owners, the cosy restaurant and the fine wines epitomise everything about the industry that the Bellarine Peninsula represents. The Minya winery, close to Barwon Heads, is another exceptional institution that has been producing fine quality wines for over three decades now.

Whatever your pursuit, you are sure to find it on the Bellarine Peninsula. Fishing is incredibly popular here, as are all other watersports, from sailing to windsurfing. The beautiful coastal surrounds make the undertaking of these sports that much more special, and if you tire of the coast then there is always the hinterland. The freedom of a campervan hire Melbourne places the entire expanse of the Peninsula literally at your doorstep, which is a recipe for a relaxing, fun and exciting holiday.

Gavin Wyatt

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