Tag Archives: history

A significant duct

27 Jul
Blending into the scenery like a chameleon and spanning far into the distance, I ponder how it is that this 738 metre long, historically significant structure sits literally in our backyard yet many a local are oblivious to its existence.

Image: Kevin Patterson (2000) National Trust Australia

The Geelong Aqueduct, constructed in 1913 was purpose built for conveying a sewer pipe across the expansive Barwon wetlands. The Tasmanian engineers commissioned for the task of building the structure sort inspiration from a steel rail bridge in Scotland. The result was a reinforced concrete, fourteen pylon, cantilever aqueduct and upon its completion, the Geelong Aqueduct was celebrated as an engineering masterpiece and a first of its kind in Australia.

Today it remains a rare example this type of engineering construction and as Dr Miles Lewis, an associate professor of architecture at Melbourne University comments “the aqueduct is internationally significant and was one of the most extraordinary engineering structures in Australia”.

Decommissioned in 1993 the aqueduct and pedestrian footbridge that runs its length has sadly fallen into disrepair and is unstable for public access. Although you can sneak a peek of the beginning of the aqueduct from a property on Leather Street or a side view from the bottom of Tanner Crt.

Geelong Aqueduct Footbridge

Image Copyright National Trust

You can also catch a glimpse if you head across to Marshall and down Tannery Rd, being sure to look across the paddocks for the iconic structure.

Geelong Aqueduct

In the past there has been much debate about what should be done with the structure – demolish, repair, repurpose. Its future appears to remain in the too hard basket and a debate currently still without resolution.

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Some mystery in our history

10 May
Picture is for illustrative purposes only

We’ve all misplaced or completely lost a set of keys before. Its frustrating and annoying, however never does their disappearance become a curious city story like the mysterious Geelong Keys tale.

The sketchy information I could gather tells of a set of iron keys that were discovered in 1845 at Limeburners point. Perhaps they were the keys to a treasure chest accidentally lost from a speculative Spanish or Portuguese ship chartering the waters of Victoria long before Captain Cook. Maybe they were intentionally placed there as a method of soil testing as has been said was a common practice at the time. Or, even more mundane a tale, were they simply the keys to a china cabinet misplaced by a local resident.

The number of keys is debated, the description of the keys is varied, the location not confirmed and the accuracy of the discovery date questioned. A sketch of the keys was supposedly done, but it has been lost. As for the keys, well like every good tale they too have mysteriously disappeared.

Whether the Geelong Keys are legend, an urban myth, part fact or total fiction we will never really know, however a little mystery in a town’s history makes for wonderfully intriguing stories. And who knows, next time your digging up the garden you may just stumbled upon a key piece of Geelong’s history.

Pier into history

20 Apr

Signpost Entrance Cunningham Pier GeelongOver the last few years I have become strangely interested in history. I am not sure if it’s an age and maturity thing or if perhaps my desire to discover the past was awakened when we began renovating a 1920’s house. Either way I often find myself reflecting on buildings, places and objects and wonder what their previous life entailed.

As a purpose-built, functional structure visitors to Geelong’s Cunningham Pier barely reflect on its hardworking past. Today the boards of the pier hear only the clicky clack of high heels as they bustle over the disused rail line that runs up its length.

The pier was constructed in the 1900’s by The Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company and started its life aptly named the Railway Pier. The rail line ran the length of the pier but also extended further up Cunningham Street (responsible for its current namesake)  and into what is now the Geelong city centre.  Those with a keen eye can even spot some of the visible tracks that now lay dormant around today’s city precinct.

Once the port operations moved to its current North Shore location in the 1950’s there was little need for the infrastructure. It remained unused and fell into disrepair until the late 1980’s when it was resurrected to serve as a party space.  The pier spent just over a decade as the place to bring in the New Year. The next iteration for the pier was as home to buffet food restaurant Smorgys. Smorgys closed its doors in 2010 and made way for the shiny new hospitality precinct that we enjoy today.

From infrastructure to fine dining, the pier has served Geelong well.