Start lighting those fires

May 31, 2024 BY

Gelato Gelato has had a win at this year's Dairy Industry Awards


That’s if you haven’t already. I mean, when it starts getting dark at 5pm and the day’s top temp reaches a max of 14 degrees, surely there’s only one solution.

Hands down, my favourite local open-fire to sit by would still have to be Geelong Cellar Door’s.

I can never pull off arriving at just the right moment when the (limited) seats around it seem to free up, so generally it’s get in early and set up camp – even if that’s when the place opens for the day.

Plus, there’s no harm cracking the first bottle at noon anyway, right?

Jokes aside, that faint smoky mist and smell of lightly burning red gum is one of the more comforting elements our best local hospitality venues get right around this time of year.

Maybe it’s that slither of European in me, but stepping in from the cold and feeling this warm, it’s hard to beat.

Anyway, shout out to those around town who make the most of their fireplaces this time of year – it takes effort to stoke these beauties each and every day until the warmer months decent on us again, so let’s celebrate those helping to keep us warm: The Arborist, Petrel Hotel, Whiskery, White Rabbit, and Telegraph Hotel are a warm handful worth noting.

Cam O’Keefe says there’s no finer fireplace than the one at Geelong Cellar Door. Photos: SUPPLIED


The Blues Train has changed hands after more than 30 years of continued ownership.

Don’t be expecting any major changes soon though to the fun-filled nights full of tunes, whisky and singalongs, as the new owners plan to only slowly refine the decades-old model of this successful local business.

Probably considered the highest accolade when it comes to everyone’s favourite iced sweet treat, Gelato Gelato has taken the crown at this year’s Dairy Industry Awards with their take on a classic mint choc.

It’s not the first time they’ve made it into the news with their success, having also featured heavily in last year’s gelato show circuit.

If you haven’t tried any of their well-loved original favourites yet (maple walnut or caramelised fig, anyone?) you can find their gelaterias in Geelong, Anglesea and Lorne.

Call me plain, but their lemon curd gelato is simply my favourite.

Keep your eyes peeled as the City of Greater Geelong announces the full program for this year’s Tastes of Greater Geelong (previously call Tastes of Central Geelong).

Running from later this month until mid July, the city promises a mixed bag of culinary events that kicks off with a laneway event, The Winter Warm-Up, on June 21.

After having told traders months ago that this year’s festival wasn’t going ahead (funding “issues”, apparently) it sure was a surprise to many to then be recently engaged to submit ideas or themes for the “now imminent” festival launch date.

Still, with no real financial incentives for traders to help activate their own initiatives, it begs the question why any – probably already struggling – hospitality business would take on the extra workload of rushing/setting-up a submission just to be included.

And in what exactly? A “program” that has had zero lead time and with no major culinary events on its calendar to excite people (not to mention held in the middle of winter when everyone is itching to get outdoors… not).

Pistol Pete’s Food n Blues was one of the originals that helped shape
the revitalisation of the Little Malop Street strip.


Come on: the Geelong public – as well as our struggling hospitality operators – deserved better than this.

Our region has so many culinary delights to offer and this is our council’s best case forward to help celebrate these?

Yes, funding can be tough, but other cities (who Geelong love to be compared to when it comes to lifestyle and living) make program like these a priority, not just for local but to showcase nationally what our region is doing when it comes to food, wine, produce and hospitality. It’s a bit embarrassing, really.

And sadly, Little Malop steward Pistol Pete will be shutting up shop at the end of this month after a decade championing Louisiana bites and made some of the best blues, soul and Americana music made available to our Geelong audience.

The venue was one of the originals that helped shape the revitalisation of the now-popular strip, and I’m willing to bet their trademark blue and red guitar neon sign still remains part of the hallmark of any image that precinct uses for promotion.

Pete and team have built a cult following over the years, and although we hate to hear of any local hospitality business closing their doors, this one, it seems, will really hurt.

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