The waterfront is Geelong’s new playground. Once a run-down derelict area left over from the days of a wool shipping port, this region has been transformed into one of Australia’s finest waterfront precincts.
Tens of millions of dollars from both government and corporate investments have transformed the area into the jewel of Geelong. Restaurants, hotels, apartments and leisure areas combine to make Geelong’s waterfront a favourite for locals and visitors alike.
Despite plans for an urban renewal of the waterfront drawn up as early as 1981, the redevelopment didn’t start until the mid 1990’s with the restoration of the historic Eastern Beach swimming enclosure.
Parklands and public infrastructure works were soon underway by the late 1990’s, with beautiful streetscapes with palm and other exotic plantings. The bay walk and public artworks followed including the more than 100 bollards painted by local artist Jan Mitchell. Parklands, Deakin University, The Ford Discovery Centre, Smorgy’s Cunningham Pier development and the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel soon joined the rejuvenated waterfront.
In recent years the waterfront has expanded even further with several exciting new stages of Deakin completed, towering apartments and a range of quality restaurants and bars housed in the striking Edgewater development. Cunningham Pier has also transformed, Smorgy’s is long gone and now the pier is home to new restaurants, cafes, a bar and a function centre offering stunning views of the city and bay. Another favourite attraction on our waterfront was the seaplane, but it met a sad end after an accident on the bay in early 2013. Another great loss to the waterfront precinct was the closure of the Ford Discovery Centre, with some of the collection moving to the Geelong Museum of Motoring and Industry in North Geelong. Another happier story for motoring enthusiasts has been the return of the Geelong Revival Speed Trials and the countless motoring exhibitions that are held on the Steampacket and Customs House lawns
Today the waterfront area is a vibrant meeting place, and the jewel in our city’s crown. The waterfront hosts a full calendar of events including the Australia Day Weekend’s Festival of Sails and New Years Eve Festivities.
Christmas 2014 the Geelong Waterfront rose to world attention with the unveiling of Australia’s largest floating Christmas Tree. The switching on ceremony attracted tens of thousands of people to what was an incredible display. The amazing light show was seen by millions of people on news casts, social media and You Tube. The tree is an integral part of Geelong’s push to increase tourism to the region.