I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published April 5th 2021
The Waterfront Bollard Walk
Geelong's colourful and intriguing Waterfront Bollard Trail is just one of the attractions bringing post-COVID visitors back to Geelong and the magnificent Bellarine Peninsula.
103 of Jan Mitchell's beautifully carved bollards decorate the Geelong foreshore. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Comprising 48 sites and 103 carved bollards the trail extends along the shore of Corio Bay from Limeburners Point north to Rippleside Park. Walking the trail will take about 2 hours one-way and provides an insight into the cities early history and recreates some of its local, sometimes colourful characters.
The bollards, carved in reclaimed timber pier pylons, are the work of Melbourne born artist Jan Mitchell. Jan returned to Australia after working overseas for almost 20 years, primarily as a graphic artist with the Irish National Television Network. Working as a book illustrator back home, she exhibited her first caved bollard at Barwon Heads before presenting the concept for the Waterfront Bollard Walk to the Geelong City Commissioners in 1994.
Two old 'sea dogs' found on Cunningham Pier. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Five years and 103 bollards later, she had created a unique tourist attraction which drew a good deal of international media attention. Fittingly, bollard number 1 on Hearne Parade at Limeburners Point, depicts a Limeburner, one of the earliest if not the earliest industry conducted in the region with Lime being exported to Tasmania as early as 1841.
'Hello Sailor' - Many of the 103 bollards celebrate Geelong's waterfront heritage. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Bollard number 2 shows Matthew Flinders, who first sighted Corio Bay from what is now Flinders Peak in the You Yangs in May 1802.
To detail the stories of the entire 48 sites would take a small book, but here are just a few to whet your appetite. Five bollards make up site number 7, the Bathing Tableau, showing the progression of design in male & female bathing costumes from the 1880s to the 1930s.
Bollard number 22 depicts a Tram Conductress and commemorates Geelong's trams, which ran from 1912 to 1956.
Number 23 is another group of 5 bollards representing members of the Volunteer Rifle Band, playing in Geelong's first band concert at the nearby Botanic Gardens in 1861.
Jan Mitchell's carved bollards add another dimension to a leisurely walk along Geelong's Eastern Beach foreshore. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
And remember to look out for the rabbits depicted on the base of several of the bollards.
They symbolise the introduction of the first 24 rabbits into Australia at nearby Winchelsea in 1859 by Thomas Austin. Those 24 bred in plague proportions, wreaking havoc at various times in the intervening 162 years and peaking at an estimated population of 300 million.
Walking the Waterfront Bollard Trail gives visitors a great opportunity to experience many other attractions along the foreshore including the beautifully restored Carousel circa 1892, Cunningham Pier and any number of cafes & restaurants.
For more details on the Waterfront Bollard Trail and everything else Geelong has to offer, go to the website www.visitgeelongbellarine.com.au, drop into the Geelong Visitor Information Centre at 26 Moorabool Street or call them toll-free on 1800 755 611 or (03) 5283 1735.
Bollard #23 - The Geelong Volunteer Rifles Band circa 1861. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Other carved bollard figures by Jan Mitchell are on display at Melbourne and Avalon airports. Jan Mitchell passed away in 2008 after a short battle with cancer.
Getting There …..
Geelong's Waterfront Precinct is on the Corio Bay foreshore 74-Kilometres south of Melbourne, an easy 1-hour drive via the M1 Freeway.