I was lucky to be part of a Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) organised media fam to discover Melbourne last month while attending the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) in Melbourne. We visited the Bellarine Peninsula with a group of travel journalists.
A relatively hidden treasure on Australia’s Victoria coastline lies between Melbourne’s laneways and the famed Great Ocean Road. The Bellarine Peninsula has long been a popular weekend retreat for city dwellers seeking surf, sun, superb wines, and hip breweries. On the other hand, international visitors are the second-largest group visiting the Bellarine Peninsula after cruising along one of Australia’s most incredible coastline drives.
During my brief stay in Melbourne and multiple trips, I had never heard of the Bellarine Peninsula, which is only a one-hour drive or boat ride from Port Phillip. Let me elaborate on my experience and why it is a fantastic destination for conference and incentive delegates.
What is the best way to get there?
Delegates will board a 35-metre catamaran ship operated by Port Phillip Ferries from Port Phillip for a premium experience travelling to Geelong’s gorgeous Bellarine Peninsula.
A café with fresh barista-produced coffee, snacks, and a fully licenced bar are available onboard. For charter excursions, additional culinary choices to fit your event are available.
All vessels are accessible, with a lower deck that provides access to the café, facilities, and spectacular views through big panoramic windows.
If you want a more upscale experience of the Bellarine, take the Q Train, a three-hour ride on a moving restaurant through the Bellarine Peninsula on the historic Bellarine Railway. This is the greatest solution for group and team activities.
Packages are available for your group to cruise directly from Docklands to Portarlington on Port Phillip Ferries, where they will be greeted and taken to The Q Train.
This magnificent location provides several incentive programme options, including one-day gourmet and cultural excursions.
Delegates will be rewarded with sea breezes, lengthy table dinners, and wine tastings with a view of the ocean. They’ll be able to eat famous Port Arlington mussels harvested and prepared onboard a refurbished mussel trawler. Discover a distinctly Melbourne bar and one of the city’s hottest new eateries. Finish the day with a live performance in Melbourne’s theatre area.
Choose between two distinct cuisine and wine experiences upon arrival in the ancient coastal village of Portarlington, or split your group to rotate between both.
Portarlington is well-known for its tasty mussels. They are likely to appear on restaurant menus around Victoria.
Portarlington Mussel Tours, a new tour experience arriving in April 2023, offers a unique chance for smaller incentive groups to discover exactly how great these local mussels are. You’ll board a gorgeously restored 40-year-old Huon pine trawler to meet your mussel master hosts and discover how the mussels are skilfully grown.
Set yourself up with a glass of Bellarine bubbly for a live culinary demonstration and tasting accompanied by Bellarine wines and other fine local food. You could even spot dolphins if you’re lucky!
This is a three-hour adventure. The Trawler can accommodate 12 people.
Jack Rabbit Vineyard wine and dine.
Jack Rabbit Vineyard, perched on a hill overlooking the ocean, is a diamond in the Bellarine Peninsula’s crown.
Sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, and Shiraz Cabernet are among the award-winning, elegant cool climate wines produced by Jack Rabbit Vineyard.
We began our experience with a guided wine tasting of the vineyard’s famed and nuanced cool climate wines, followed by a delicious lunch at Jack Rabbit, their award-winning fine dining restaurant.
The same may be arranged for conferences or incentive delegates, which can be treated to a delicious lunch at Jack Rabbit Restaurant or House of Jack Rabbit after the wine-tasting experience.
Customised returns to Melbourne
Following the exquisite meal, we boarded Microflite, Melbourne’s premier helicopter operator, which maintains a fleet at Jack Rabbit Vineyard and flew back to the city on the Yarra River Heli Platforms. This was an unforgettable experience.
Onboard these luxury helicopters, your delegation may enjoy the same experience and be flown back to Melbourne for a cultural evening to remember.
Or, return to Melbourne in style on The Luxcoach, which seats 20 passengers and has a second luxury coach on the way. The Luxcoach is a one-of-a-kind experience that includes an onboard cocktail bar, butler service, a 50-inch LCD Screen, and powder room facilities.
An evening of culture in Melbourne
When I arrived in Melbourne, I checked into the Langham Hotel, located on the banks of the Yarra River and surrounded by must-see attractions, making it the ideal base for a city adventure. The Langham is about 10 minutes from Crown Casino, a vast entertainment centre filled with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Top 15 Hotel Bars in Australia by Vogue
Within 10 minutes of the Langham lies the Douglas Club, named one of Vogue’s Top 15 Hotel Bars in Australia. The Douglas Club draws influence from the age of the building it is situated in, capturing the elegance of travel and hospitality in the 1930s while maintaining a definite modern edge that is uniquely Melbourne.
For dinner, I went to adjacent Federation Square for a delectable meal at Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters. This fine diner takes the finest of the state’s products to Melbourne’s epicentre and provides a variety of private dining choices and complete venue hire.
After dinner, I returned to the hotel. However, Melbourne boasts a variety of theatres, from large events like The Melbourne International Comedy Festival to thrilling musicals like & Juliet, a Romeo & Juliet adaptation presently showing at The Regent Theatre. Your group’s representative can obtain VIP tickets to one of these iconic venues. There is always something fresh, engaging, and fascinating to do in Melbourne.