Geelong's online entertainment, leisure, tourist & city guide ™

City by the Bay Concept – 1981

The City by the Bay concept was the first major plan for the then relatively unused Geelong waterfront. The wool stores had pretty much all gone and the city’s prime waterfront land was falling into disrepair and wasted, while the CBD area needed an injection of new life.


Released to the public in November 1981, it was the most amazing planning concept ever seen by the city and really caught the imagination of the entire region. The whole waterfront area was to be revitalized into a tourist mecca, while the old dreary city area was to be rebuilt into a mix of huge retail malls, leisure and tourist zones. Other than the shopping centres and clearing of land little of the plan actually happened at the time, but some 25 years later many of the original concepts were readdressed, re-evaluated and redesigned and are now part of our shining new waterfront and city precinct.

Some of the highlights of the plan included

The old sheds on Cunningham Pier were to be transformed into a “Grand Jetty Restaurant”. The pier was also to have covered areas for events and markets, and what was to be Australia’s only first class Aquarium. The aquarium plan fell through and then developers tried to get it up again in St Kilda, this also failed and now is a premier attraction on Melbourne’s Yarra River. An all you can eat restaurant known as Smorgys was eventually built on the pier in the 1990’s. The Smorgys building was transformed into a function centre, restaurant and bar known as The Pier, Baveras and City Quarter in 2010.

Yarra Street Pier (no longer standing) was to be redeveloped with a marina, botel and jetties. Today there are dreams of bringing the old pier back from the dead and once again reliving this dream, time will tell if it is ever successful.

What is now Steampacket place was to be home to “The Farmer’s Market” and the “Gourmet’s delight” which was to be a huge international food court. The area was also to have a huge glass canopy which could be used for skating, theatre, concerts and the like. Where Four Points Sheraton and the new Edgewater tower now stand, an International Pavilion was to be built, this was also to house a market and food court.

city-by-the-bay-aquariumWhere Deakin University’s huge waterfront campus now stands a huge hotel and convention centre was to be built. The area around Brougham, Moorabool Streets and the now Harbor was to be home to museums, including the Science and Technology Centre, Industrial Hall and the Children’s Museum and a Maritime Museum in the Customs House. The National Wool Museum was also part of the plan which was completed.

The city was also planned to have a huge overhaul. The huge brick wool stores along Brougham Street were to be transformed into a huge shopping mall which stretched to Ryrie Street and linked undercover with the Steampacket Garden complexes. Interestingly there was a huge amount of controversy in Geelong with the over road flyover in Yarra Street for the Westfield redevelopment. The City by the Bay Plan had several linking the buildings including one giant flyover over Moorabool Street to around where Homehouse now stands, in the 1980’s no one seemed to care. Much of this retail plan became what we now know as Westfield Bay City Plaza and Market Square. Much of Moorabool Street was to become a huge pedestrian walkway transformed with street art, furniture and plantings. Much of this has just been complete with our palm trees and new paving.

geelong-walkwayThe complete City by the Bay plan was to take nearly 10 years with stage one taking five years. Financed with a mix of public and private money exceeding $65 million, the plans required several streets to be removed or closed off including Corio Street (which happened to make way for Bay City Plaza). Other streets that were to go include Eastern Beach Road, Little Malop Street, and even Malop Street between Yarra and Moorabool streets but all of these have remained open.

2000 additional car parking places were part of the plan and a transit bus to move people around the area was also proposed.

Some of the more notable icons in the city were planed to be removed they included:

malop-street-flyoverCommonwealth Offices- (Now apartments)
Geelong Harbor Trust Building (Still Standing)
RSL Club (Now 4 Points Sheraton)
Powerstation (Now Coles Bay City Plaza)
Blakinstons Building – (Now Deakin)
SEC Offices (Removed as part of Bay City Redevelopment in 2007)
Corio Theatre (now Market Square parking ramp)
Harry Hoopers (now Market Square JB Hifi)
Jacobs Street Carpark (Now Market Square – centre mall)
Waterside Workers Hall (now Bay City Plaza)