Geelong is becoming well known within Australia for its emerging music scene; it is proudly called home by many of Australia's up and coming musicians.
The nearby town of Torquay, Victoria is also the location of many surfing equipment and clothing manufacturers, as well as some of Australia's finest surf beaches. Along the coastline to the west is the Great Ocean Road.
The first non-aboriginal person recorded as visiting the Geelong region was Lt. John Murray, who commanded the brig Lady Nelson (Refer external link below). After anchoring outside Port Phillip Heads (The narrow entrance to Port Phillip Bay, onto which both Geelong and Melbourne now front) on 1 Feb 1802 he sent a small boat with six men to explore. Lead by John Bowen they explored the immediate area, returning to the Lady Nelson on 4 Feb. On reporting favourable findings, the Lady Nelson entered Port Phillip Bay on 14 February, and did not leave until 12 March. During this time, Murray explored the Geelong area and, whilst on the far side of the bay, claimed the entire area for England. He named ‘Port Phillip Bay’, Port King, after Philip Gidley King – Governor of New South Wales. Governor King later renamed the bay Port Phillip Bay [with two ells] after the first governor of Australia.
Hot on Murray’s heels was Matthew Flinders, who entered Port Phillip Bay on 27 April 1802. He charted the entire bay, including the Geelong area, believing he was the first to sight the huge expanse of water, but in a rush to reach Sydney before winter set in he left Port Phillip on 3 May.
In December 1802, Surveyor-General Grimes and Lt. Charles Robbins walked around Port Phillip Bay, but finding no fresh water in the Geelong area reported it as uninhabitable. Staying close to the bay, they had completely missed the Barwon River, which, flowing into the ocean and not the bay, passes through present day Geelong on the inland side of a ridge.
The next visit to the Geelong area, apart from a short-lived settlement at Sorrento, on the far side of the bay (1803/4) was by the explorers Hume and Hovell. They reached Corio Bay – the area of Port Phillip Bay that Geelong now fronts – on 16 Dec 1824, and it was at this time they reported that the Aborigines called the area ‘Corayo’, the bay being called ‘Jillong’. Hume and Hovell had been contracted to travel overland from Sydney to Port Phillip, and having achieved this they stayed the night and begun their return journey the following day.
Note that during this time, the convict William Buckley, who had escaped from the abovementioned settlement on 27 December 1803, was living in the Geelong area. Aborigines had taken him in, believing him to be the spirit of a deceased chief. It was some thirty-three year before he eventually returned to white society.
In March 1836, three squatters – David Fisher, James Strachan and George Russell – arrived on the Caledonia and settled the area. By 1838, when Geelong (By this time the Aboriginal names for the land and water had somehow been swapped) was first surveyed, the population was 545. There was already a church, hotel, store and wool store; and by 1841, the first wool had been sent to England. A regular steamer service was also running between Geelong and Melbourne, and a newspaper – the Advertiser – had been established.
By 1850, buoyed by the gold rush, Geelong was the fifth largest town in Australia, but as the gold petered out, so did Geelong. In the period leading up to World War I, Geelong’s former nickname ‘The Pivot’ (symbolizing how Port Phillip’s trade revolved around Geelong) was degraded by the Melbourne press to ‘Sleepy Hollow’; the population remaining below 100,000 until the 1960s.