Ten, nine, eight, seven….

December 29, 2023 BY

Cam O' Keefe on the best way to bring in the new year in Geelong.

Before we can start calling 2023 the past, New Year’s Eve gives us all one more chance to say goodbye to the year it was.

For many, annually this night roughly follows the same formula: champagne, midnight, fireworks, bed (or something along these lines).

If you’re anything like me though, who finds hearing the words ‘two thousand and twenty-four’ said out loud to be scary, you’ll want an excuse to indulge one last moment of this year.

Unless they’re booked out already, here’s a couple of late options for your consideration.

If you find yourself out Torquay way, 4 Pines have a huge, beer filled night for those cheers-ing (had to do it) in the new year. Great beers, sunset, live DJs with saxophones – all sounds like a great ticket.

If the CBD might be more your thing, the city’s waterfront fireworks display is spread over two shows (hey, it’s free thrills for some) being a 9/9.30pm dusk slot, as well as the traditional midnight bang. Worth calling past if you find yourself heading this way is one of our city’s newest (and smallest) spots to grab a drink, Hop City.

You guessed it already, I’m sure, but the bar focuses on domestic and international craft beers, boasting a range of over 20 freshly tapped kegs (I think that might be the largest in Geelong actually). For the beer-geek and casual ale-lover alike, this is probably your NYE go-to place.

Around the corner at the tried and true Piano Bar, it’s only fitting that the wild becomes even wilder this NYE. Although not really my thing, it certainly is for many, who can expect their usual Andy Pobjoy levels turned up past 10. Here is probably where you want to be if drag shows and fun drunken singalongs is your agenda for the night.

For a more tame (some call it “civilised”) option, newcomer Nectar is offering a Chef’s Menu selection across two sittings (an early and a late). NB: I haven’t eaten here yet, but a report from a solid contact, rated it “reasonable”. It’s the same crew that started Recess (a few doors down) years back, so I suspect the owners know what they’re doing, but you be the judge and let me know – I love to hear an opinion or two! [email protected]

The good thing about trying to score a table for NYE is that almost all restaurants/bars/pubs/cafes/nightclubs/any-hospitality-spot-namable feel the need to be open and are keen to fight for your loyalty, so check what extra deals your favourite locals are offering; just don’t leave it too late to book.

One final hospitality thought of the year, but it’s an interesting one, particularly if you’re a north-western resident of postcode 3216.

About 800km west of Brisbane is a place called Cooladdi. Heard of it? Probably not, but it’s famous for a reason though: it is actually Australia’s smallest town. It does have a pub though, like almost all of our nation’s towns/suburbs do. One of Geelong’s (and indeed, now Victoria’s) most populated suburbs however, doesn’t… this being none other than Highton.

Now with more than 20 000 residents calling this macro-suburb home, not one successful pub liquor licence application has ever been granted in its near 200 year existence. You might very well ask then, where does one thirsty 3216 resident go for a quiet drink? The answer is Geelong’s home of barefoot bowls: the Highton Bowls Club.

Besides the fun, and some seriousness, of this hard-to-not-like sport, here is a club quietly watering the local folk the best way they (legally) can.

I was a visitor a few Friday afternoons back for their regular end of week gathering and the place was pumping: hot meals leaving the kitchen, beer taps following, and (most importantly) countless smiles and laughs among a mixed sea of ages and addresses (and levels of bowling ability).

Authentic local spirit in one of the best community settings as you’ll ever find, and isn’t that what honest, merry hospitality is all about?

I hope 2023 bought you your own great local hospitality “find”.

Please enjoy your New Year’s Eve festivities and we’ll see you in (gulp) …two thousand and twenty-four.

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