We arrived in Geelong at about 2pm without expecting much other than a boring country town with a few fish and chip shops, a shitty café, the Ford Factory and a stadium for the Geelong Football Club.
However, as we were driving along the lip of Corio Bay, Geelong emerged into our sights and our assumptions were blown out of the window. What a picturesque view of the bay, with the white and grand Cunningham Pier, the moored boats and the foreshore.
On closer inspection, the Geelong Revival was on, and the pier and waterfront were bustling with locals and visitors who had come to check out the hot rods, classic cars and motorbikes on display. There was a market, carnival rides, and a portion of Geelong sectioned off for time trials. We strolled along the pier and frothed over the shiny chrome.
There was also plenty of Holden Monaros around the place. The styling of the original Monaro – the HK in 1968 – was based on the muscle cars coming out of the General Motors factory in the USA. Some 30 years later, Australia’s ‘New Monaro’ of the 90s started being exported to the USA to be sold by GM and was rebadged as the Pontiac GTO.
- Second largest city in Victoria and the fifth most populated non-capital city in Australia
- Population of over 160,000 Geelongites
- Located approximately 75km south west of Melbourne
- Officially became classified as a city in 1910 due to industrial growth from the wool industry
- The home of Ford Australia and the Geelong Football Club
The first recorded non-aboriginal visitor was Lt John Murray, an Australian explorer who arrived in February 1802 to explore the land, and Matthew Flinders was not far behind. He entered Port Phillip Bay in April 1802 and charted the entire bay, including the Geelong area.
The name Geelong comes from the Wathaurong word jillong, which means bay, while the name Corio Bay comes from the Wathaurong word corayo, which means sandy cliffs. However, the European settlers got the names switched around the wrong way so the Bay was called Corio Bay and the sandy cliffs were called Geelong.
Geelong’s main trade was wool, and with the establishment of Victoria’s first wool mill in 1868, the town began to grow. However, during the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s, Melbourne cheekily started a campaign that dubbed Geelong as “the Sleepy Hollow” and encouraged the gold diggers to come to Melbourne to spend their newly found fortune. The campaign was successful and Melbourne overtook Geelong in development, and the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ reputation stuck for years afterwards.
In 1925, Ford Motor Company set up their manufacturing plant which is still in operation today.
Geelong experiences four distinct seasons with warm summers and cool winters, but it can get quite fresh in the evening if there is wind. It doesn’t rain much due to a rain shadow caused by the Otways.
Points of Interest
Parks and Gardens
This massive park is located on the Eastern Beach and is home to the magnificent Geelong Botanic Gardens. Established in 1851, it is the fourth oldest botanic garden in Australia and has been continually cultivated and maintained for over 150 years.
The first curator of the gardens was Daniel Bunce, a fellow traveller of Leichhardt. He started working on the Geelong Botanic Gardens in 1857 and successfully cultivated the Sturts Desert Pea, a coveted flower amongst the ladies who had pressed flower collections.
Its main purpose is plant conservation, acclimatisation and horticultural study, but it is also a public garden that is free of charge to enjoy.
Located at the intersection of Gheringhap Street and Malop Street, Johnstone Park is considerably smaller than Eastern Park but has its perks.
Acting as a World War 1 memorial, there is a great big bandstand in the centre of the park surrounded by manicured grass, tall palms and colourful gardens, and there is a very grand statue of King George V, who was King of the UK from 1910 to 1936.
The surrounding buildings are great to look at and include the Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong Town Hall and the library. There are a few sculptures in this park, as well as public toilets in case you’re hanging for a piss.
This is the oldest pub in Geelong, located on the popular Pakington Street strip. It was established in 1849 and is said to be an icon of the area, but when we went to visit it, we weren’t too impressed. It’s a divey TAB with flashy pokies machines, bar flies and gamblers watching the horses and CGI dogs.
If you pilgrimage to this historic building, feel free to stay and have a drink, but you may choose to leave shortly afterwards and spend your evening at The Barking Dog Hotel about 100m up the road, or at Sebroso, a lively bar with Spanish and French influences.
ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
National Wool Museum
Located in the same building as the Geelong Information Centre, the National Wool Museum tells the Australian story of wool and how the wool gets from the sheep’s back onto your back.
The museum is open every day of the week and entry is $7.50 for an adult. We chose to give it a miss because we didn’t want to miss out on checking out the cars at the Geelong Revival.
If you love antiques, memorbillia and other old stuff, check out the Mill Markets on Brougham Street. This place is huge and you can easily spend half the day looking at stuff that your nan would get excited about. Clothes, furniture, books, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac – Mill Markets has got it all.
Geelong Riverview Tourist Park – 59 Barrabool Road, Geelong – 03 5243 6225
Visitor Information Centres
Geelong Visitor Information Centre, 26 Moorabool Street, 03 5222 2900
There are two bus companies that operate around Geelong – Benders and McHarrys. The main terminal for both bus companies is at Geelong Station, which is where the V/Line train from Melbourne is at. For more information about V/Line trains, visit http://www.vline.com.au
The Queenscliffe-Sorrento Ferry is a short drive away from Geelong and connects the two southern points of Port Phillip Bay. Ferries depart every hour and the journey across the bay takes 40 minutes. Fares depend on peak and off-peak times, but if you’re planning a return trip with your car, then expect to pay about $110. For more information, visit http://www.searoad.com.au