Geelong is 65km from Melbourne across Port Phillip Bay and 75km via freeway from the State capital. Geelong's city centre is bounded by La Trobe Terrace, Corio Bay, Eastern Park and a railway line in the south.
Victoria's second-largest city has one of the country's most dynamic city centres. The Waterfront - one of the few facing north in Victoria - has an exciting array of restaurants, bars and attractions, from Cunningham Pier, past the Royal Geelong Yacht Club to Eastern Beach.
The Waterfront has undergone a $170 million redevelopment over the past five years. The landscaped foreshore contains several restored historic buildings. An historic woolstores building contains a Deakin University campus and a world-class concert stage, Costa Hall. Eastern Beach features jetties, a famous art-deco swimming pools complex - now restored - parklands, and a world-class restaurant.
Smaller reserves and parks dot the foreshore and inner city Geelong. Johnstone Park is home to thetown hall, library and the impressive Geelong Art Gallery. Geelong's commercial and retail centre radiates out from Moorabool Street, the backbone of the town's 1838 survey. The western end of Little Malop Street is the city's cultural precinct, with fine cafes, studios, and art galleries all within walking distance of the Geelong Performing Arts Centre and the Court House Youth Arts Complex.
Explorers Hume and Hovell recorded the Aboriginal word 'Jillong' - thought to mean land or cliffs - in 1824. The Wathaurong word actually meant 'tongue-shaped' and referred to the entire Bellarine Peninsula. One of eight Wathaurong clans in the region - the 'Wudthaurang' - owned the land between the Barwon River and Armstrong's Creek which encompasses what we know today as the city of Geelong.
The word Wathaurong was derived from words for 'owning or belonging', 'level' or 'water'. They were the people who owned and belonged to the water, the people of the rivers and the lakes. In June 1835, John Batman crossed Bass Strait from Tasmania and claimed lands from local Aborigines. The western boundary of Batman's treaty land included Geelong. Governor Burke gave the name 'Geelong', from the Aboriginal word, to the area in 1837.
Seventeen months later, two of Geelong's earliest settlers, John Cowie and David Stead, brought sheep from Tasmania to the Geelong district. In 1838, a customs house was built to handle increasing shipping activities. Possibly Victoria's oldest building, the restored customs house still stands today. Geelong grew quickly in the early years. The Geelong Advertiser began publication in 1840 and the Geelong town council was incorporated in October 1849. Goldfields traffic came through Geelong's port from 1850 and wool exports from the Western District increased the outbound maritime activity. Geelong's population went from 8,000 in 1851 to 22,000 in 1853. It then stabilised and didn't reach 30,000 for another sixty years.