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Corio Bay and Geelong, and Geelong Waterfront

Home > Geelong > Fun Things To Do | Parks | Swimming Pools | Views | Weekend Escapes
by CassandraJoy (subscribe)
I write for Weekend Notes and I take photographs, usually sunsets and sunrises. Occasionally I include my photos in my articles. I like to promote Geelong, and activities around Geelong.
Published December 19th 2015
A Brief History of Corio Bay, Geelong and Geelong Waterfront

Corio Bay, Foreshore developments
Image CassandraJoy


The Geelong Waterfront is one of Geelong's great places to visit. It is my favourite place to visit too. There is lots to do in Geelong, however a visit to The Waterfront is a great way to fill in a day as you experience some of the magic of our lovely walking tracks, lawns and historic bollards.

A lot of locals also enjoy visiting the Waterfront. It's a great place to come to for a couple of hours or for a whole day. There is so much to see and do that you may have to come back for a second day if you missed some of the entertainment.

The Floating Christmas Tree, Carousel and Ferris Wheel
Image CassandraJoy


From St Helen's beach, all the way around the Corio Bay to Eastern Beach, there are safe walking tracks. As you walk along the tracks / paths, your journey will be shared by The Bollards. The Bollards tell a bit of the history of Geelong, with Bollards representing the Bath Houses and bathing beauties that lined Eastern Beach and Western Beach, the rabbits that invaded Geelong, and other historical figures which are also represented.

Poppy Kettle Playground, Youth Park in background
Image CassandraJoy


There are numerous playgrounds along the way. There is a playground at St Helens beach, at Rippleside, beside Cunningham Pier, at Eastern Beach and at Eastern Park. There are also lots of toilets, which is important if you have young children with you. They always want to go to the toilet.

You can come to the Geelong Waterfront and have a cheap day out, as there is so much to do that is free, like walking and playing in the playgrounds. If you're like me, and live on a tight budget, I usually pack a meal, lunch, or picnic, and bring my own water bottles.

Sea Dragon, boats moored in Corio Bay
Image CassandraJoy


If money is not too much of a bother, then you can dine in style at some of the restaurants along the way. From The Wharf Shed, to Le Parisien, there are so many different restaurants and cafes to choose from.

The Geelong Waterfront is a lovely place to visit while you're holidaying in Geelong. It is also a favourite spot to visit if you live in Geelong. There is so much to see and do along the Waterfront.

Bathing Bollards, the Boat Shed in the background
Image CassandraJoy

To become the beautiful Waterfront we see today, the Waterfront went through many changes. I remember going to Eastern Beach for a swim when we were teenagers. The Waterfront didn't have much to offer in those days. Now it has become a great, lovely, attractive place to visit.

Restaurants on Cunningham Pier
Image CassandraJoy


I have written about Geelong Waterfront and other authors have also written about Geelong, things to do and see, and entertainment to be had along the Waterfront. Please come and see our lovely Jewel in the Crown, Geelong Waterfront, facing Corio Bay. A visit to Geelong isn't complete if you haven't been to see the lovely, attractive Geelong Waterfront.

During the life of Geelong, and of the Geelong Waterfront, there have been some major transformations along the shores of Corio Bay. Geelong was founded in the 1800's as a port. From its humble beginnings as a Port town, Geelong's Waterfront has become a tourist drawcard, which has won many prestigious awards. Now Geelong has a reputation as a cosmopolitan and vibrant area, with a range of restaurants and cafes to whet your appetite, and with local markets to let you taste test wines and cheeses, and to purchase handmade crafts.

Cunningham Pier, a favourite fishing spot
Image CassandraJoy


Some of the beauty of the waterfront is the landscaped lawns, the excellent walking tracks, the art dotted along the walking tracks, the Bollards, and the amazing view of Corio Bay from where ever you are along the walking tracks, Western Beach, Eastern Beach, Eastern Park or Rippleside.

You will also find entertainment along the Waterfront with many different exhibitions and displays, markets and events held along the Waterfront. There are the Ritchie Boulevard Time Trials, art and craft markets, car shows, beer and wine festivals, to name a few of the events staged along this lovely Waterfront. You can also find plenty of accomodation along the Waterfront. If price is important to you, then there is plenty of accomodation further away from the Geelong Waterfront.

Waterfront path, palm trees, Corio Bay
Image CassandraJoy


Some of the best attractions include The Carousel, Poppy Kettle Playground, the Youth Activities area, Geelong's famous Bollards, and The Geelong Botanical Gardens.

You could take a helicopter ride, a Harley Davidson ride, a tour on the Thomas the Tank train, or a boat cruise. If it's really hot bring your bathers and towel and cool off in the children's pool or the pool within the promenade.The diving platform and swimming enclosure are patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months.

Geelong - her history - in brief

The first residents of Geelong were The Wathaurong People. They called the bay "Jillong" originally, and the surrounding land "Corayo". Jillong's meaning was similar to "a place of the sea bird over the white cliffs". Somehow the meanings and names got mixed up, with the land now being called Geelong and the bay being called Corio.

Geelong has been left with a lasting legacy from the Wathaurong People. Many of the regions place names and street names are anglicized (English) versions of Wathaurong words, including Moorabool, You Yangs, Birregurra, Colac, Beeac, Bellarine, Gheringhap, Malop, Moolap, Corio, Geelong and Barwon, to name just a few.

Geelong Town Hall, wrapped in light projections
Image CassandraJoy


In February 1802, Lieutenant (Lt.) John Murray sailed the Lady Nelson into the Geelong region, and sent a party led by John Bowen to explore the land. Lt. Murray returned a few days later and claimed the region for Britain. It is thought that Lt. Murray may not have been the 1st European to sail into Corio Bay.

It is thought that the Dutch, Portugese or Spanish might have landed in the region centuries earlier. According to legend, Charles La Trobe found a set of Spanish keys in an excavation near Limeburners Point in 1871. Limeburners Point is a few hundred metres to the east of Eastern Beach. Details of the keys are sketchy, however there are some stories in the region that help to back up the story of the keys, including a story of a large mahogany ship wreck near Warrnambool. Both the keys and the ship are myths as both have never been found, nor sighted since Charles La Trobe claimed to have found the keys.

Geelong Town Hall, Christmas 2015
Image CassandraJoy


In April 1802, Matthew Flinders sailed into Corio Bay. Matthew Flinders charted the entire bay, including the Geelong area. In January 1803, Surveyor-General Charles Grimes sailed into Corio Bay aboard the Cumberland. Charles Grimes mapped the area.

One of the 1st reported deaths of an Aboriginal person by Europeans occurred in October 1803. The First Lt. JH Tuckey and his party were camped in the area around North Shore when this death occurred. About this time, William Buckley, a convict, also escaped to the area. His name is written into history with the Buckley Falls in Geelong named after him. Hamilton and Hume, explorers, came through the region in 1824.

Dalgety & Company Building, now Deakin Waterfront
Image CassandraJoy


The town was named Geelong in 1837 by the Governor Richard Burke. Geelong was surveyed in 1838. Geelong's main trade in the 1800's was wool. Some of the best wool in the world was grown in the Western District and around the Geelong region. Geelong was an important port city.

The Geelong waterfront was surrounded by huge wool stores during this time. Some of the original wool stores still remain in Geelong today. They have been re-designed as modern buildings including Deakin University Waterfront Campus, Westfield Shopping Centre, the National Wool Museum and various other buildings which house shops or businesses.

Deakin Waterfront Campus built around the old structure
Image CassandraJoy


Geelnog's first big manufacturing industry was the Woollen Mills. In 1925 Geelong became the centre of Ford;s manufacturing facilites, with a huge plant opening in North Geelong in 1926. Ford was, until recently, a major employer in Geelong, with stamping, engine manufacturing and design facilities plants in North Geelong. Other major industries (until just recently) were Alcoa (aluminium smelter) and Shell (petroleum). Shell, Ford and Alcoa have almost finished manufacturing products in Geelong, so Geelong has become more reliant on tourism, and tourism related industries, as major employment opportunities in the city.

During the gold rush period of the 1850's Geelong's wool prosperity was starting to gain ground over Melbourne (the capital city of Victoria). Melbourne ran a campaign dubbing Geelong "The Sleepy Hollow" which stuck with our town for nearly 100 years. Apparently, there was a false map put out by Melbourne traders, showing Melbourne to be much closer to the goldfields than Geelong. It is believed that this map fooled many gold seekers, who were enticed to spend their fortunes in Melbourne. Melbourne developed much faster than Sleepy Hollow Geelong, perhaps due to this map.

Ford Engine plant, Norlane, Geelong
Image courtesy of City of Greater Geelong


Geelong became known as "Pivot City" in the 1860's. Geelong was the central hub for shipping and rail to Melbourne, Ballarat and the Western District. Local businesses in Geelong still retain the Pivot name today - with Pivot fertilisers in North Shore, and one local football club named the Pivotonians. The Pivotonian football club changed their name to the Cats in 1923 (now the Geelong Cats, part of the AFL).

During the World Wars and up to the mid 1970's Geelong's manufacturing boomed. With a change in markets and modern needs, the industry has slowed and many jobs have been lost in Geelong.

During the 1970's International Harvester in North Shore closed. The Pyramid Building Society collapse, in the 1990's hit the region hard. Industry is still a large force in Geelong, however thousands of new jobs have been created in health, education, services, retail, business, hospitality and tourism.

Geelong has finally lost the tag "sleepy hollow" and the city is now a vibrant city with a magnificent waterfront, new housing estates, new developments and modern shopping facilities. New businesses coming to Geelong include hotels, shopping, apartments and leisure activities. The suburbs are growing, Avalon Airport is bringing visitors from all over Australia to our city, and the new Geelong Ring Road has opened up access to The Great Ocean Road and coastal beaches.


If you're planning a trip to Geelong, The Great Ocean Road, the coastal beaches and the Bellarine Peninsula are wonderful places to visit.

Geelong hosts more than 1000 events annually, with events like Car Shows, Speed Trials, All Holden Day, All Ford Day all drawing visitors to the city. Hope to see you in Geelong for one of the many events during the year.
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Why? to experience the Geelong Waterfront
When: anytime
Where: From St Helen's Beach to Eastern Park
Cost: walking is free
Your Comment
You do make Geelong sound very enticing Cassandra. I think it deserves more than a day trip.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|5681) 721 days ago
Very informative article
by Rota (score: 2|701) 715 days ago
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