Stretching from Eastern Park to Johnston Park at the western end, Malop Street has over the last two decades, become the retail heart of Geelong’s CBD. The city moved downwards from the Ryrie and Moorabool Street areas, with the opening of the large Market Square and Bay City Plaza (now Westfield) shopping centres.
The first few blocks at the Eastern Gardens end of Malop Street are home to some of our city’s premier properties. These properties stretch from Eastern Beach in the north to Ryrie Street in the South. Many have views of Eastern Park or the lovely rose gardens of Pevensey Park. Over the years, some of the most beautiful properties have been turned into guest houses and bed and breakfasts.
As you cross Fitzroy Street and Bellarine Street heading west towards the city centre, many of the houses have been converted into small businesses with quite a few service businesses like accountants, lawyers and consultants. One notable business, which is no longer in this strip, was Noddy’s Soft drinks; this was a long time institution in Geelong well before the big cola brands took over the market. Noddy’s had their small factory and bottling works in this section of Malop Street before moving in the 1980′s and later merging with a larger company.
The retail section of Malop Street actually starts as you cross Bellarine Street heading westerly. One of the first large retail complexes you will pass is Officeworks. This mammoth office supplies store was originally home to Coles New World, one of Geelong’s first supermarkets. Before Coles, Geelong people actually only had corner stores but Coles offered a whole new experience to the shopper. Later the building tried its hand at becoming a market, but this didn’t really take off. Later the Coles group took over the building again in the late 1980′s and redeveloped it into their enormous mega toy mart World for Kids, before again transforming it into Officeworks. The murals on the side of the Officeworks building date back to when Coles New World was built and depict the early streets of Geelong.
The historic Corio Chambers, or what is colloquially known as the Cressy Building is one of central Geelong’s finest examples of Victorian Architecture. Its beautiful red brick and rendered cement features are in stark contrast to the modern glass and steel Westfield tower diagonally across the street. Before the restoration in the late 1970′s, the building was home to the Cressy. This was an intriguing rural store and emporium where you could purchase anything from clothing, farm supplies and food. Today the building houses several clothing retailers and one of the city’s best Thai restaurants.
The two giant shopping centres pretty much take up most of the block between Yarra and Moorabool Streets. Westfield recently underwent a massive makeover and extended its shopping plaza across Yarra Street. The two sections of Westfield connect via an ultramodern sky bridge to the huge new floor space to the east of the original shopping complex.
Before these two centres were built in the mid to late 1980′s, the area was fairly run down with a mix of small lanes, derelict warehouses and a mix of shops. The massive developments did take a lot of old buildings with them, but fortunately many facades were saved and now make up many of the exterior walls of the two complexes.
Market Square is home to Harris Scaffe, Westpac and JB Hi Fi, as well as dozens of specialty shops. Westfield stands on the southern side of Malop Street with Target, Myer, Coles and Big W plus over 100 leading brands stretching all the way back to Brougham Street.
Beyond Moorabool Street, the retail area slows down a bit with service businesses and dining starting to blend in. This large block of Malop Street is home to some fantastic Indian and Thai restaurants as well as the ever popular La Porchetta Pizza. This section of Malop Street is also home to the splendid art deco styled Carlton Hotel, There There Restaurant, Mr Hyde and one of Geelong’s most unique and fun culinary experiences; The Rheingold, where a Bavarian smorgasbord complete with a spit roast hog takes centre stage. This restaurant is one of the best nights out you can have with a group of friends, it is immensely popular for work breakups and celebrating the big occasions during the year, including Oktoberfest!
Johnstone Park is the green bookend at the west end of Malop Street. The park is used for many celebrations throughout the year including the New Year’s Eve Carols By Candlelight and the Geelong Night Market during the summer months. Johnstone Park is also home to the Town Hall, Council Offices, Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong Library and the Geelong Peace Memorial.