Port of Geelong
Review and History

Geelong Port is the second largest city in the state of Victoria, Australia. Located on Corio Bay of Port Philip Bay, it lies on the southern coast over 700 kilometers southwest of Sydney. It is on the opposite side of the Bay from Melbourne, the state’s capital. In 2001, over 130 thousand people lived there.

Port History

Geelong Port received its name in 1837 from Governor Richard Burke, who adopted the indigenous Wathaurong peoples’ name, Jillong (meaning land or cliffs). The first wool store was built in the late 1830s, and the wool industry soon made Geelong an important port in the western district. By the middle of the 1850s, Geelong Port had grown to a population of 22 thousand as a result of the gold rush in Ballarat. For the next few years, more industries came to town. Wool and paper mills and ropeworks were established. After the 1850s, however, population growth slowed until the turn of the century.

In 1853, the first shipping channel was created in Corio Bay, and the Geelong to Melbourne railway was guilt in 1857. The popular department store, Bright and Hitchcocks, opened in 1861. Convict labor raised the HM Prison Geelong in 1864. In the late 1870s, the railway was extended, and construction began on the Hopetoun shipping channel soon after. Geelong Port was home to a prosperous wine industry until it was struck by a grapevine eating insect in 1885 that ultimately killed the industry.

Becoming an official city in 1910, Geelong Port began to acquire modern conveniences. Electric light had arrived in 1902. The Geelong Harbor Trust was founded in 1905, and the waterworks and sewer system were formed in 1908. In 1912, electric trams began to take residents between the suburbs and city center. The first Gala Day festival took place in 1916.

In the 1920s, Geelong Port attracted more industries. Wool mills, fertilizer plants, a whiskey distillery, and Ford Motor Company established bases there. The Eastern Beach swimming area was opened in 1939. Just before World War II, International Harvester opened a factory and Shell Australia built an oil refinery at Geelong Port.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Geelong Port continued to grow. New homes appeared, and automobiles became the popular mode of transportation. Parking meters and gas stations soon followed. The city welcomed an Alcoa aluminum smelter in 1962 and a second cement works in 1964.

Federal tariff policies in the early 1970s forced the closure of industries. The wool mills closed, and the city center was left with much empty warehouse space. However, Geelong Port’s cultural base thrived with the opening of Deakin University in 1974 and the Geelong Performing Arts Center in 1981. The 1980s also saw the arrival of a new Australian Animal Health Laboratory and the National Wool Museum.

A period of economic stagnation visited Geelong Port in the 1990s, forcing city leaders to take action. In 1993, several smaller towns were combined with to form the City of Greater Geelong, and a waterfront redevelopment project started in 1994.

2004 brought upgrades to Avalon Airport and suburban growth. By 2007, several major construction projects were underway to add commercial and retail centers and upgrade existing properties. In 2006, the government of Victoria announced the relocation of its Transport Accident Commission headquarters to Geelong Port, bringing over 800 new jobs to the city. In 2007, Ford Australia announced the closing of its Geelong Port plant, bringing an offsetting loss of about 600 jobs. In 2008, a new $100 million AUD apartment tower complex was approved to encourage development.

Today, Geelong Port is an important center for education in Victoria. It houses a large library, the Naval and Maritime Museum, an art gallery, the National Wool Museum, the Gordon Institute of Technology for textiles, and several private schools. Geelong Port is also a large resort area, with 40% of its area being parkland. Geelong Port’s major commercial interests include manufacturing and processing industries, retail, and health and community services.

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