With Christmas and New Year’s now a distant memory for most, many of us are looking to the next reason to get together with friends and family to eat, drink and be merry… cue Australia Day!

Although there won’t be the usual Australia Day fireworks and festivities this year, there are lots of venues, businesses and services across Central Geelong to help you enjoy a fun and memorable Australia Day weekend!  

Celebrate in Central Geelong! 

If you are planning to head out and about, several of Central Geelong’s restaurants, bars and pubs are hosting functions and gatherings to celebrate Australia Day.

The historic Sailors’ Rest on the corner of Moorabool Street and Eastern Beach Road is inviting you to their free, rooftop party on Australia Day eve, Monday 25 January from 3pm. Enjoy live entertainment from ‘Coco Du Ma’ & Friends and stunning views of the spectacular Geelong Waterfront. Visit their website www.sailorsrestgeelong.com.au for more information.

Victoria’s only dedicated piano bar, Piano Bar Geelong’s wonderfully energetic and elevating entertainment never disappoints! Their Australia Day eve event offers classic Piano Bar enjoyment where their superstar pianists and vocalists will take your requests and play your favourites right through until midnight. Book your table online at www.pianobargroup.checkfront.com/reserve

Sweet Cheeks located above Parma Bar in Yarra Street, is also hosting a ‘Hottest Rooftop 100 Summer Party’ from midday on Saturday 23 January to celebrate music from 2020 and the Australia Day long weekend! This new and gorgeous cocktail and dessert lounge serves sensational drinks and sweets including pancakes and desserts produced in house by the Sweet Cheeks Pastry Chef. For more information and to book your ticket visit the Sweet Cheeks Facebook page or www.sweetcheeksgeelong.com.au

The Inn Hotel in Corio Street is hosting their Australia Day Eve Car Park Party on Monday 25 January from 1pm. With live music, food, punchy, summer cocktails and an open-air dance floor where you can dance the day and night away, the Inn is a vibrant and edgy pub to gather and celebrate. www.theinnhotel.com.au

Recess Bar + Eats invites you to their bottomless dinner and drag show on Sunday 24 January from 6pm. Gather your friends (maximum of six per booking) and book a table for five courses and two hours of premium beverage service followed by drag show entertainment from Lady J and the Go Go Dancers from 8pm. Bookings are essential at www.recessbarandeats.com/eats

For something a little slower paced, why not meander through the Geelong Gallery, one of Australia’s leading and oldest regional art galleries and home to a number of iconic Australian paintings? If you’ve always planned to visit, this Australia Day weekend may be the opportune time to drop in. With free entry and open daily from 10am – 5pm (check opening times on public holidays) visit www.geelonggallery.org.au to plan your visit.

Or discover more about Australia’s rich history in wool and the wool industry at the National Wool Museum (NWM), Australia’s only comprehensive museum of wool. Located on the corner of Moorabool and Brougham Street, the NWM is open from 10am – 3pm, seven days a week. www.geelongaustralia.com.au/nwm 

Fancy a BBQ or Picnic in the Park?

If you’re thinking you’d like to celebrate with a traditional Aussie BBQ, Eastern Beach Reserve is a much-loved location for many over the Australia Day long weekend. With its historic and magnificently restored art deco swimming enclosure, surrounding gardens, public BBQ's, amenities and facilities, playgrounds and free public pool, Eastern Beach Reserve has everything you need to create a great Australia Day out with friends and family. With pool lifeguards on duty daily from 11am – 6pm, Eastern Beach Reserve is a fantastic and free way to beat the summer heat this weekend.

While you’re down there, the Beach House Kiosk is open 7am – 9pm (summer hours) to help you out with icy cold drinks or piping hot coffees (and more!).

You can pick up your BBQ essentials from The Fresh Food Merchant in Malop Street. Their ‘From the Butcher’ range includes mincemeat, sausages, chicken, hamburgers, cevapi and more and their range of delicious fresh fruit and vegetables, deli and pantry items will help you pull together a fantastic, all-round Australia Day Feast.

For some delicious sweets after your lunch, drop by Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse in Westfield Geelong. Their French éclair’s and yoyo’s have had an Aussie makeover to celebrate Australia Day with the help of some delicious native ingredients. Select from a Davidson Plum and Coconut éclair, a Finger Lime and Pear éclair or a Kakadu Plum and Mango éclair. Their yoyo’s have also been transformed with lemon myrtle shortbread and a drizzle of Davidson Plum chocolate. Very fancy and well worth dropping in for! Check out their range at www.fergusonplarre.com.au/geelong

If you’re thinking more of a picnic than a BBQ, why not order some delicious picnic fare from Café Go’s range of ‘GO on the GO’ options? Located on Bellerine Street, they have a huge selection of ‘to go’ choices including their large sized antipasto box, delectable pork and apple sausage rolls or their daily baked scrumptious quiches and house-made muffins. And for a special treat, indulge yourself with one of their ‘Mixed Sweets Boxes’ – the perfect way to top off your picnic.

Take your picnic goodies and head to Geelong’s iconic Johnstone Park for a quintessential picnic experience. Johnstone Park delights with big open spaces and undulating lawn and provides plenty of room to stretch right out and enjoy the sunshine but stay cool under the lush, shady trees.

Complete you BBQ or picnic and add some extra fun with Big W’s range of Australia Day decorations including tableware and bunting, flags, stickers and costume props. Check out the range online at www.bigw.com.au

For a full list of public parks and playgrounds in Central Geelong to help plan your BBQ or picnic visit www.centralgeelong.com.au   

Long Weekend Get Away!

For many of us, the Australia Day long weekend means camping!

Grab last minute equipment and supplies for your camping adventure from Kathmandu on the corner of Moorabool and Malop Street. From apparel, to camping and hiking gear, footwear, accessories, equipment and more, Kathmandu’s got you covered for the long weekend ahead. www.kathmandu.com.au 

You can also find super high quality and multi-functional outdoor clothing for your great outdoors adventure at the Patagonia Outlet in Moorabool Street. Here you’ll find environmentally kind and socially responsible bargains to last a lifetime. Visit www.patagonia.com  

So, however you choose to celebrate, please remember to follow the government guidelines relating to physical distancing, hygiene and gathering restrictions when visiting Central Geelong.